Does Bodyweight Training Work for Building Muscle?


Remember how tired you get after doing a few sets of push-ups? Your muscles are literally on fire! Bodyweight squats, chin-ups, pull-ups, and other similar exercises leave you out of breath within minutes.

The question is: do they really help with muscle growth? Can you build size withoutactually lifting weights? Let's find out the truth!

What are calisthenics?
Calisthenics or plyometrics are exercises that use your bodyweight only. They involve gross motor movements, such as pulling, pushing, squatting, and running. Their end goal is to build strength, power, and flexibility. However, they may not be the best choice for packing on size.

Bodyweight training is the way to go when there no machines or weights around. For instance, if you're super busy and can’t make it to the gym, you can exercise at home. A few sets of pull-ups, burpees, and push-up variations will do the trick. It's a great way to keep fit and burn calories.
These exercises can be customized to any fitness level and require no equipment. All you need is your own bodyweight and some space to move. This allows you to work out anytime, anywhere.

When done right, bodyweight training can be just as good as traditional gym workouts. But don't expect to build huge muscles or get a super ripped body.

The surprising benefits of bodyweight exercises
Calisthenics are not just convenient but beneficial too. In the long run, they boost your metabolism, increase speed and power, and torch stubborn fat. Studies have found that soccer players who mixed strength training and plyometrics experienced improvements in jump, strength, and sprint performance within six weeks.

Research also shows that bodyweight exercises stimulate the fast twitch muscle fibers, leading to improved strength and overall fitness. Moreover, they build core strength and enhance athletic performance. Over times, you'll get leaner, faster, and more flexible.

With plyometrics, fat loss is no longer difficult. This training method raises your heart rate and metabolism, so you'll burn more calories at rest.

To torch fat, use calisthenics for HIIT and full body circuits. For best results, train at high intensity. According to health experts, metabolic rate increases for up to 14 hours after a single 45-minute bout of intense exercise.

On top of that, calisthenics will keep your workouts varied. There are literally hundreds of bodyweight exercises to choose from, such as:

  • Pistol squats
  • Box jumps
  • Burpees
  • Push-ups
  • Handstands
  • Single leg hip thrusts
  • Jumping jacks
  • Squat jumps
  • Planks
  • Sit-ups
  • Dips 
  • Hyperextensions

Most exercises can be done in a variety of ways. For instance, you can try plyometric push-ups, mountain climber push-ups, pike push-ups, diamond push-ups, single-armpush-ups, and much more. The same goes for squats and planks.

With bodyweight training, it's impossible to get bored. Your workouts will never be the same.

Do plyometrics build muscle?
As you see, plyometrics have lots of great benefits. However, they're not enough for building muscle. These exercises have a negligible impact on type I muscle fibers, which are responsible for muscle growth. They do increase muscle strength and endurance, but not muscle size. Additionally, it’s hard to isolate smaller muscles and stabilizers without lifting weights.

If you're a newbie, you can build muscle with bodyweight training. Unfortunately, you'll stop seeing gains once your body adapts. The only way to gain size is to graduallyincrease the load. This can only be done through strength training. Bodyweight exercises have their perks but can not replace free weights and gym machines.


  • Calisthenics are exercises that can be done with your own bodyweight. They’re ideal for both cardio and resistance training. 
  • When done right, bodyweight exercises improve physical performance, muscle strength, endurance, and functional fitness. This training method also aids in fat loss and increases metabolism. 
  • Over time, your muscles adapt to bodyweight training. The only way to gain size is to increase the load. Calisthenics can not replace machines and free weights.