Combining Bodyweight And Weight Training Building a hybrid routine consisting of calisthenics and barbells.

Instead of wondering what’s better: bodyweight exercises or weight training, why not combine both? Bodyweight exercises can build a super strong upper body and abs, as seen among gymnasts, while full body barbell exercises build the hips and the legs. Combination of both is one of the most effective ways to do business on the muscle exchange market. It saves you money while keeping the value high. Muscles traders have no choice but to love it.

As we’ve said many times exercises like push-ups, dips, pull-ups, muscle-ups and their advanced forms such as planche push-ups, front levers…etc. can really develop a muscular upper body. You can truly reach your genetic potential without ever doing a single bench press set or a barbell row. The classic bodyweight exercises are more than enough to make the chest, arms, back, abs and lower back as strong as naturally possible.

However, the downside of bodyweight training is that there are no exercises such as the deadlift, for example, which works 90% of the musculature in your body at the same time. While movements like the glute ham raise are cute, the hips can benefit a lot from true overload that can only be achieved through exercises such as squats, deadlifts and their friends.


Even the skeletal system benefits from the heavy iron. People who squat have extremely dense femur bones and overall skeletal system. When you’re young you may not care about bones density, but sooner or later we all get worn out. It may be hard to see it right now, but in about 50 years Justin Bieber will be an old man too.

The classical approach to do this gangsta mix is to remove all upper body exercises you do in the gym, and go there only for squats, Romanian deadlifts, deadlifts, leg presses…etc. This will save you a lot of money from gym memberships and transportation. An example routine would look something like this:

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Day 1: Upper Body;

Dips – 5 sets;
Push-ups – 5 sets;
Leg raises – 5 sets;

Day 2: Rest;

Day 3: Lower body and hips

Squat – 5 sets;
Leg press – 5 sets;
Calves – 5 sets;

Day 4: Rest;

Day 5: Upper body;

Pull-ups – 5 sets;
Horizontal rows – 5 sets;
Back hyper-extensions – 5 set;

Day 6 & 7: Rest;

****

The above routine does not have weak links. Everything is worked pretty hard and you’re in the gym only once a week. Of course, there are many ways to mix things. If you are more advanced, you may add some weighted pull-ups and chin-ups to your gym sessions. Here’s another example routine:

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Ex. 1 (no squats)

Day 1: Back/Deadlift day

Deadlift – 1-2 working sets;
Weighted pull-ups – 3 sets;
Dumbbell rows – 5 sets;

Day 2: Rest;

Day 3: Chest/Pushing day

Dips – 5 sets; (take a backpack with you);
Push-ups – 5 sets;
Leg raises – 5 sets;

Day 4: Rest;

Day 5: Lower body speed training;

Sprints/Plyometrics

Day 6 & 7: Rest;

****

Ex. 2 (squats and deadlifts)

Day 1: Squat/Leg day

Squats – 5 sets;
Leg press – 5 sets;

Day 2: Rest;

Day 3: Chest/Pushing day

Dips – 5 sets; (take a backpack with you);
Push-ups – 5 sets;
Leg raises – 5 sets;

Day 4: Rest;

Day 5: Back/Deadlift day

Deadlift – 1-2 working sets;
Weighted pull-ups – 3 sets;
Dumbbell rows – 5 sets;

Day 6 & 7: Rest;

****

In order to come up with a routine that works for you, you first need to set your current goals straight and write a plan that allows adequate recovery. You may be able to do a lot more than what the described above routine suggest. However, if you feel you are not recovering, don’t be afraid to remove a few sets/exercises or add a couple of rest days as described here.

I never write routines with intention that they will work for everybody. In fact, I think that most routines I write suck big time, but I just use them to illustrate the principles I present to you.

FAQ:

What about the bench press?

When you are doing heavy dips, muscle-ups and working on advanced skills such as the planche, there is about zero need to do bench presses unless you are a powerlifter or just want to have a really strong bench press for some other reason. If that’s the case, you should use the bodyweight drills only as assistance exercises while treating the bench press as your main lift.

To summarize:

– Bodyweight exercises are the best when it comes to upper body training.

– The hips can benefit a lot from heavy weight exercises like the deadlift and the squat.

– Counting on bodyweight exercises to build your upper body will reduce your gym membership and transportation costs.

– You can use your gym days to do weighted dips and pull-ups.

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