Calisthenics are often seen as lightweight exercises that do little more than improve endurance and muscle tone.
I used to think this myself, however I’ve used (and have seen others use) the following 3 body weight exercises exclusively to pack on muscle.
These three moves are a must for anyone looking to pack on muscle and strength, even if you worship the iron and make love to the bench press on a regular basis. Here’s why:
- These exercises all pit your entire body against gravity.
Push ups and recline rows are fine, but the big 3 force your whole body to move directly against gravity requiring maximum strength.
- ROM is easy to adjust and maximize.
All three exercises place a great range of motion at nearly every joint in your body, yet they are easy to shorten if need be. When done properly these moves also help to protect your joints.
- They are easy to load.
I can add weight to any body weight exercise, but these three are some of the easiest to load up.
What’s even better is that they usually don’t require a whole lot of extra weight to really amp up the intensity. When the technique is perfect it won’t take much thus saving your joints and delicate tissues from injury causing stress.
Just a simple set of adjustable dumbbells and a dip belt is all you need to add as much resistance as you can handle.
- Muscle activation is pretty even.
I once saw an article saying the dip was a chest exercise. I also have heard it referred to as a triceps torching move. Even still, it’s the one exercise that seems to make my deltoids sore the next day.
All three of these moves work the body in pretty even ways. There is little left out of the mix and weak links are quickly erased as technical proficiency grows with these moves.
- Loads of stabilization and balance are required.
Speaking of technical proficiency, all three moves require a lot of total body control and stability.
This makes sense because the only part of your body that are supported are either the soles of your feet or your hands. Every other muscle and joint needs to be consciously controlled and reined in. Not only does this extra stability help you grow muscle, but it also makes for fantastic functional carry over to activities outside of the gym.
- These moves are quick, simple and cheap.
Building a substantial amount of muscle is a long term endeavor. You can’t expect to reach your genetic limits within a few months. It takes years of consistent and progressive exercise.
Unfortunately this is seldom the case for many who are trying to put on a lot of muscle.
Traditional body building methods require long workouts, lots of equipment and the shear grit to make sure you always have the time and resources to keep working out.
The big three require little more than some gymnastics rings and something heavy (if you want to load extra weight). Due to this simplicity, you stand a much better chance of being able to stay consistent for the years required to build a lot of muscle even if life has your schedule and bank account playing dodge ball.
- Less chance of burn out.
Many mass building methods place a high amount of stress on the body and mind.
The world is filled with people who gained a lot of muscle and eventually burned out as the heavy requirements took their toll.
Since the big 3 are so simple and flexible you’ll feel free to vary up your routine to avoid burn out.
One more thing:
These three moves are not for the faint at heart. They require practice, focus and consistency. There is no magic or fancy gizmo to play with. It’s just you, the exercise and your will.
Now the only question is, are you strong enough to develop these moves or are you going to pass them by.