The Calisthenics Illusion: Bodyweight Exercises Won’t Make You Super Big

Calisthenics training is enjoying enormous amount of fame. Popular bar athletes such as Lazar Novovic, Hannibal For King, Adam Raw, LittleBeast and many more are considered to be Gods among men and enjoy great attention on sites like Facebook, Twitter and especially Instagram. Their followers aspire to develop similar bodies by having fun on the bars.

Cool, but it’s not that easy.

The refusal to think logically has once again created a false perception that one can become a shredded 190 lbs monster by occupying playgrounds and hanging off of monkey bars. Let me explain you why this does not make any sense whatsoever.




The lighter you are, the easier it is to do advanced bodyweight exercises. I am not talking only about extra body fat. Additional muscle mass is also counter productive and pure bodyweight exercises do not promote growth past a certain point.

Imagine that you are 145 lbs and relative lean at 10-12% body fat when you begin your bodyweight training. You decide to focus all your energy on learning the so-called planche, which is one of the most advanced bodyweight exercises one can do. Do you think that once you have mastered the planche, your bodyweight will increase? Of course, no. You may gain a few pounds around your shoulder area, but for the most part any extra weight will just make the movement much more difficult.

The video below shows a boy who has spent over 20 months training the planche specifically. Why isn’t he as massive as the calisthenics gangsters? Why isn’t he 180-190 lbs, shredded with striated triceps?

Because he is natural and has a small frame. That’s why.

You can do your dips, push-ups, pull-ups and muscle-ups, but if you are not adding weight, the body has zero reason to grow after you have reached a certain threshold. Of course, if you are terribly untrained, bodyweight exercises alone will do wonders for your upper body, but once you have built yourself a decent base, it’s game over, and the only way to continue is to add weight using a belt or similar device. Obviously, a push-up with added 100 lbs will cause more hypertrophy than just using your own bodyweight.

However, even that will not make you a shredded 180-200 lbs monster like some of the popular bar athletes who supposedly use only bodyweight exercises. Those numbers are out of reach when you are natural, unless you are tall. Therefore, it’s completely illogical for “heavyweight” calisthenics to exist in the first place.


Many unaware trainees believe that bodyweight training comes with some unique muscle building capabilities. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bodyweight training does not promote faster muscle growth than weightlifting regardless of what the brainwashed members of gymnastic cults are telling you. There is no evidence, nor logic behind such beliefs. You cannot break the natural limits regardless of how advanced your bodyweight training is. You will certainly become quite strong in the upper body, if you are able to master advanced movements, but massive will never be a word describing your physique as long as you remain natural.



Could anyone explain why people like Hannibal For King and other “heavyweight” calisthenics athletes have gynecomastia? How do you get that at over 35 years of age?

By the way, there is zero logic for a naturally big and muscular person to have gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is growth of female breasts due to high levels of estrogen. Bodybuilders using drugs get it, because when you take anabolic steroids your natural testosterone production is shut down. As a result the estrogen levels take over and you get “bitch tits”.

If you are a true natural bodybuilder, you should by default have high testosterone levels, which would make gynecomastia extremely unlikely to occur, especially past your teenage years.

The truth is that many bar athletes are not natural and take anabolic steroids. However, the naive crowd wants to believe the impossible, and thinks that just because somebody is not in a gym, that makes him natural by default. Wake up people! It’s a business, not a game.


Fuck motivational videos.

One of the main reason people get caught in the net and refuse to think rationally is that their emotional state is manipulated and attacked through dramatic video clips. There are hundreds of motivational videos which have significant impact on your perception of reality. Like an action movie, they make you believe that the impossible is possible and all logic disappears.

The motivation speeches in the background contain a powerful psychological effect which alters your state of mind. Once your are captivated, you are more likely to accept a subliminal message.

Do you really think those guys are working that hard? Seriously. How hard is it to go in the park and do pull-ups, dips and muscle-ups? How hard it is to train with bodyweight exercises a few hours a week? It’s not like you are working 18-hour shifts in a medical facility or a factory. You are just doing muscle-ups.

In conclusion

You can develop a pretty decent upper body with bodyweight training, but the limitations of natural bodybuilding still stay. You ain’t breaking the limits just because some mainstream drama clip containing naked shots of muscle elixir drinkers says so.


  1. Jaden

    FUCK OFF WITH THESE BULLSHIT ARTICLES. It’s always stupid bro science pricks like you that try to downgrade these exercises. Been doing calisthenics for years and look way better than a lot of dudes that lift. And for the record I’m 6″1 and weigh 209.

  2. Sam

    Bro ure just so stupid to think that calisthenics doesn’t shape the body. I did the experiment my self. First of all I was 75 kg and the became too fat like 110kg then start calisthenics till getting 82kg and for time in my life I go the six pack. So don’t come here to say that doesn’t work.

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