how to go from lifting weight to bodyweight training

Many people attempt to transition from weight lifting to bodyweight training. It might be because they need a break from the gym, or the freedom of calisthenics seems appealing.

Even though the change from weights to calisthenics may be tempting, it can also be a little scary and it’s easy to see why. There’s a very real risk of losing strength or muscle when you make any changes in your workout routine, even if you use the same equipment and exercises. Imagine how risky it can be going from lifting heavy iron to push ups and pull ups!

weights to calisthenics

It is possible to make the transition from weights to calisthenics without losing ground, but you need to do it in a smart way. If you abandon your years and experience under the iron and revert back to what you did in gym class you’re most certainly going to lose ground. That’s why you want to follow these tips for a smoother transition that involves less risk of loss.


#1 Learn about progressive calisthenics

Most people never get much out of bodyweight training because they don’t understand how to progress and regress their training. The result is they always do the same exercises the same way without making any progress.

I highly recommend you start off with picking up a copy of Convict Conditioning. It’s a solid foundation of what progressive calisthenics is all about and will keep you from getting lost in the dead end bodyweight workouts most people adopt.

#2 Mix weights and calisthenics

You don’t have to go right from pure weight lifting to pure calisthenics. You can mix the two together for a killer combination. This way, you can gain the best of both worlds and learn how you transition your weight lifting habits over to your calisthenics.

#3 Do one calisthenics workout each week

Doing one workout bodyweight workout a week can help you get a feel for what a full on calisthenics routine will feel like. It gives you the chance to dial in your technique and find the weak links that can hold you back.

#4 Phase out your weight exercises to their bodyweight equivalent

Over time, just do less of the weighted version of an exercise and more of the body weight equivalent. So phase out the bench press for push ups, and pull ups for rows and pull-downs. I recommend phasing out one exercise every week or two.

Lastly, keep in mind that you don’t have to go exclusively with one or the other. A lot of people are better off with a mix and that’s perfectly cool. There’s no sense in being dogmatic about it.

You can find out more in this week’s podcast down below.


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