Calisthenics Intoxication: Can Muscle-ups Make You Muscular and Ripped?

Summertime. Harry TheBicepsFlexKilla was working as a waiter in a luxury restaurant. It was a seasonal well-paying job which he’d found on a popular site. At the beginning, it was nothing but a fairy tale – a clean restaurant, an unusually polite manager and good tips from the customers. However, there were two major downsides. First, Harry’s legs were killing him from staying upright for long hours every day. Second, there was no gym nearby. The place was located in a tourist area 10 miles away from the city. The trip to the nearest training facility was 90 minutes and required the use of two different buses. Not an option.

After serving a rich businessman and his wife or daughter (hard to tell), Harry decided to ask his magic phone how can a man build muscle without a gym or weights. Millions of answers flooded the screen, but the first thing that got Harry’s attention was the video of an older guy in his 50s doing pull-ups in the local park. The guy was ripped, vascular, and his arms appeared enormous. Harry was inspired by the physique of this man, especially compared to the middle-aged individuals visiting the restaurant.

“I would be very happy to look like that at my age let alone in my 50s,” thought Harry.


It was decided – bodyweight training was going to make Harry’s summer anabolic again.

Harry subscribed to a few forums and started watching more and more videos of guys pumping muscle on the monkey bars. For the first few days, he tried doing pull-ups in his small rented room using socks attached to the door but failed miserably. He even damaged the door.

“This is it. I am going hunting for pull-up bars,” said Harry.

It was almost 8 o’clock in the evening – the peak of the summer day. After 40 minutes of walking in various directions, Harry saw something resembling a pull-up station. At first glance, it seemed like a false alarm, but as Harry was approaching, the image became real. “Is it really happening? Did I find my muscle preserver for the summer?”.

It was indeed a very old playground designed for pull-ups, dips and many other bodyweight exercises. Everything was rusty, and the neighborhood was questionable, but when you are in love you can’t see the imperfections. Harry was in love. Seconds later he was hanging off the uneven and contaminated bar. It was a little too thick for Harry’s preferences and required extra grip strength.

Harry did a few pull-ups with really good form despite being out of shape. How? He felt as if somebody was watching him. We always perform better when we are trying to impress strangers, don’t we?

Harry turned around and saw a crew of teens doing teen things. There were two boys and a blonde girl. She seemed mentally unstable which explained why she was in such a bad company.

Harry didn’t like teens at all. In his view, they were annoying, stupid and before all unnecessarily cruel. He also hated the typical attitude of spoiled teens who think they would be worth something without daddy’s money.

“A rich bitch and two boys with questionable sexual orientation,” said Harry to himself.

He decided to do a few more sets before going home. It was getting dark already. In the middle of his second set, which was a grinder, he heard the sound of fist exchange. Harry turned around and saw the boys fighting. They were probably trying to impress the girl or to determine whose daddy is the bigger baller.

“What are you looking at,” said one of the teens.

His stats were as follows: 17-18 years old; already receding blonde hair; dumb look; iPhone with a broken display; Adidas lover.

“There’s that line again… ‘What are you looking at?’ Everybody uses it these days. I am looking at you, bitch. Can’t you see,” said Harry. He felt like those words were not his. Maybe that rusty pull-up bar had channeled a testosterone demon into him?

The Adidas lover got close to Harry and pushed him. Harry was a lightweight, but he had that age advantage. Besides, Harry was convinced that people who use the “What are you looking at?” phrase are less likely to hit you. “Mommy called. Dinner’s ready,” said Harry.

Boom. A fist in Harry’s face. “I guess I am wrong,” thought Harry while trying to stay upright.

The Adidas lover grabbed Harry and started suffocating him. “Bitch move,” thought Harry. The Adidas lover punched Harry in the face once again. Then, he grabbed Harry and started dragging him like a sled. After a few steps, Harry’s key chain got out of his pocket. He saw an opening, grabbed the keys and stabbed the Adidas lover in the lower ankle. “Eat this iron,” said Harry.

The Adidas lover transformed into a screaming cat. Blood started to contaminate his white sneakers. A nice wound had formed. There was a big chunk of skin on Harry’s key.

What happened next? The other teen and the girl beat the hell out of Harry.

After an hour Harry woke up. His sunglasses were broken in half, but they were fake anyway. No wallet, no phone.

Harry got up, dusted himself off and started walking. He was too tired to think about his miserable life.

To his surprise, there was a muscular old man in a swimsuit doing dips, muscle-ups, and pull-ups under the moonlight. The man’s movements had a nice flow. It was obvious that he was not new to the world of calisthenics. Normally, Harry would have avoided passing close to this peculiar specimen, but this was the shortest path, and the desire to get to his small room was stronger than ever. He wanted to perform a detailed examination of the damage that those brain dead teens had caused to his body. He was also trying to hide from the police because without an ID he was a target. You gotta have a serial number in this world.

Once he got closer to the veteran pull-up master, Harry saw that the dude was ripped to shreds. The dark lighting was complementing his leanness – your muscles always look more defined during the night. The light kills the cuts. At that point, the guy started doing muscle-ups on the straight bar and got a clean set of 8 without cheating. “Not bad for a lunatic in his undies,” thought Harry.

“Hello, stranger,” said the old man.

Now that Harry was close to the psycho he was able to see explicit details. The old man was wearing some sort of shiny metallic posing trunks and flip-flops. His face reminded Harry of the eccentric bodybuilding guru Vince Gironda.

“They’ve beaten you pretty badly. How many were they,” asked the bizarre muscle-up master.

“About 5. They had a knife too.”

“No baseball bat?”

“No, just a knife.”

“How did you manage to stay alive?”

“Kung fu movies and lots of bodybuilding training. I have almost 14.5 inches arms with a pump.”

The old man knew that Harry was feeding him lies because there are not many people in the world who care so much about their arms size and yet have the strength and skills to survive a fight against five armed guys.

“How many? Don’t lie!”

“Ok. Two guys and a girl. About 17 years old. Happy?”

“What’s your name?”

“Harry.”

“Look, son, you just have to get stronger, my friend. How many muscle-ups can you do.”

“I’ve never tried muscle-ups. Do you think they are good for size?”

“How do you think,” said the weirdo and flexed his arms.

Striations everywhere.

Harry was all in. He climbed and tried to do a muscle-up. He got one. It was probably the ugliest muscle-up ever done on this pull-up bar, and yet for a second Harry felt at peace.

“This is a good start, but you have a lot of work in front of you,” pointed out Harry’s new hero.

“Teach me.”

Blood started running from Harry’s nose. He had to get on his back. While he was lying on the sand, he saw the clear sky and the stars. He didn’t know their names because he was not into astronomy. The main priority of his thoughts was his future as a muscle-up master. He connected a few stars and formed a pull-up bar in his mind.

“Magic. It’s going to be an awesome summer.”

Over the next two months, Harry trained under the guidance of the old man almost every night. He was training only his upper body because the long shifts at the restaurant were killing his knees. On the good side, he had access to free protein – the leftovers of the bourgeoisie.

By the end of the 8th week, Harry was capable of 6 strict muscle-ups and 8 with a little swinging. It was a great improvement over his previous state. However, he wasn’t any bigger and that was bothering him.

“I am not getting any bigger, master,” stated Harry during another evening training session.

“First, don’t call me master! Second – who said that you will get bigger?”

“You did.”

“Not really.”

“No! You showed me! Don’t you remember? You are ripped.”

“I didn’t. I just manipulated the angles. I am not really that big. Мuscle-ups don’t make you huge, to be honest. Moreover, I am ripped not because of muscle-ups, but thanks to my diet. I lied to you because I wanted you to work and enjoy the process instead of constantly thinking about arm size like a girly man.”

“What are those muscle-ups good for then? What’s the point?”

“Imagine that you are running from a bear, and you have to climb a tree. I would rather be the guy who can do multiple muscle-ups than somebody who can bench press 160kg/350lbs while weighing about as much.”

“Sure. Like I will have to run from bears one day,” replied Harry and thought of the last time he’d been in a forest. (10 years ago)

“You never know.”

“Cool story. I spent most of my evenings this summer doing muscle-ups in the company of an old crazy guy in golden underwear who apparently is preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Are you one of those doomsday guys who have a bunker in their living room too?”

“Get down,” said the old man and covered Harry’s head.

A gang led by the Adidas lover was throwing empty beer bottles at them. One hit the right pillar of the pull-up bar and broke into a million pieces. A small part scratched Harry’s face.

“Are those the guys who broke your nose?”

“Yes. Are you going to obliterate them with your ninja skills?”

“What skills?”

“Muscle-ups, pull-ups, dips?”

“Are you kidding me? Those are close to useless in a fight.”

A dog started barking in the background. A brown pitbull with cut ears – probably the dog of the insecure Adidas lover.

“We have no choice! We must resort to the oldest martial art in the world.”

“I knew you had some fighting skills in you, old man. What is the oldest martial art in the world? Paleo-karate?”

“Running!”

The old man pulled Harry’s T-shirt, and they started running under a rain of beer bottles. A few minutes later, the crew of the Adidas lover was already far behind. The intoxicated teens couldn’t catch the two men in optimal form, although Harry was slower than usual because of his fatigued legs. The dog, however, didn’t give up. It was running after Harry and his teacher.

Luckily, there was a tree nearby.

“I told you so,” said the old man to Harry while they were doing a swinging muscle up on two separate branches of the tree.

At the end, Harry TheBicepsFlexKilla did not get any bigger thanks to his muscle-up summer, but at least his muscles weren’t eaten by a mad dog either.

“The muscle-up will not make you enormous, but it can definitely preserve your muscles,” wrote Harry in his diary the next day.

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