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Calisthenics is right up there with other types of full-body workouts. It’s been slowly rising in popularity, and more and more people are choosing to pick it up because they don’t need to invest in a gym membership or equipment. However, a lot wonder and ask “Can you build muscle with calisthenics?” 

young man exercising on parallel bars outdoors

Yes, you can build a decent amount of muscle as long as you’re learning strength-building calisthenics. For you to understand it better, we will show you the necessary steps you can take to enhance your strength and make some gains. 

Can You Build Muscle With Calisthenics? 

Think of calisthenics as a sport; there are specific moves you’ll be able to perform that target different muscle groups, but if you’re using a mix of cardio calisthenics or HITT moves, then you’ll likely not gain much muscle. Instead, you’ll be burning more fat by putting yourself into your target heart rate, which is suitable for burning fat and weight loss. 

If you’re looking to bulk up, you’ll have to tailor a program or find a muscle building calisthenics workout to follow. Any muscle building program should include more resistance moves which help your muscles pull and contract. Think of exercises that use your body weight against gravity such as push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups. 

That is not enough to warranty muscle gain, though, since you will also need to ensure you’re setting the bar high enough with each of your workouts. Ask yourself, “Are you doing enough in one workout to warrant muscle gain?” ”How often are you working out?” 

Designing a Calisthenics Muscle Building Program 

The first thing you should do is test your strength by doing some standard workouts. If you’re a beginner, there are plenty of programs out there which can help you start your calisthenics journey. If you’re an intermediate to professional user, you can search for muscle building calisthenics programs. 

Nonetheless, it may be better to tailor a program to your own goals. The benefit of doing so enables you to have full control over which muscle groups you’re targeting, and you can easily change up your routine to suit any problem areas. For example, a muscle building calisthenics program may look like this: 

  • Muscle-ups 
  • Push-ups 
  • Burpees 
  • Pull-ups 
  • Leg flutters
  • Pull-ups
  • Sprints

The set and reps of each will change depending upon your ability to complete the task without hurting yourself. You want to aim at least three to four sets of eight to 15 repetitions. 

Do as many reps as you can while struggling on at least the last two to three reps. This ensures that you’re pushing yourself, but not too hard. 

After that, complete the sets multiple times while planning at least a one- to three-minute break in between. This gives you enough time to rest and replenish your energy but also keeps your body at your target heart rate. Once you complete one exercise, move onto the next. 

As a last tip, we do suggest that you switch up which muscle group you’re working on each set. This gives you enough time to rest between each set and enables you to push yourself further in every workout. You’ll also see more results, the more you’re able to do in one workout session. 

How to Maintain Muscle Gain 

One of the main problems we see with calisthenics is that once people get into a routine, they stick with it for the rest of their workout sessions. The problem is that you aren’t making any progressions in your workout. Once your body builds enough muscle, the workouts you’re doing may be too easy to help maintain muscle gain. 

To help fix this problem, you’ll want to change up your workout routine and make sure that each set and rep is adding to your workout. Do at least three or more sets of each workout, while adding up to 15 reps. If you still find that you aren’t struggling during your workout, you may need to change the type of exercises you’re performing. 

Intermediate Calisthenics Workouts 

Intermediate calisthenics is more challenging and often give better results if you’ve already mastered the beginner workouts. If the traditional style of workouts is beginning to make you plateau, we suggest watching some workout videos to get a better idea of what moves you can incorporate into your intermediate program. 

Here’s one YouTube video that demonstrates a basic, intermediate calisthenics workout: 


Extra Tips and Tricks to Being Successful 

It’s not easy to gain muscle using calisthenics if you’re not giving it your all. With regular gym equipment, you can easily gauge where you are and the progress you make because you can check how heavy the weights are and count how many sets and reps you’re performing. 

With Calisthenics, it all comes down to the basics with the correct form and if you’re pushing yourself enough in each workout. Here are some things to keep in mind: 

  • Correct Form 

One of the biggest tips we can give you is to learn the correct form to each exercise you perform. Not having proper form can hinder your workouts and even lead to injuries. 

  • Go Slow 

You should also be learning how to tighten your muscles and don’t rush yourself during your workout. If you need to do so many reps, then take your time performing each movement. This gives your muscles time to expand and contract, enabling muscle gain. 

  • Rest 

Another tip we can give is to get enough rest in between each workout. It’s key to being able to see enough muscle gain as if you’re not correctly giving your body time to recover, and you’re doing more harm than good. You need at least 24 hours of rest between each muscle group, so plan your workouts accordingly. 

  • Diet 

A significant influence on muscle gain is your diet. Choose high protein meals paired with healthy carbs and fat.  

You can work out as much as possible and still see little to no results if you’re not adequately fueling your body. Eating healthy lean food can help you gain muscle but be sure to stay within daily suggestions. 


As you can see, you can use calisthenics to build muscle, but it does take a bit of effort. Learning how to progress is critical, as you’ll want to change up your routine anytime you feel like the one you’re doing is too easy. Changing up your routine and ensuring you have a proper diet and rest time also will help maximize your results. 

Overall, calisthenics is a popular method to build muscle because you won’t have to invest in any extra equipment or membership fees. It’s easy to modify your workout, as you can easily use your body and gravity to your advantage. Hopefully, we’ve helped you learn can you build muscle with calisthenics. 

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