Weights + Calisthenics The Greatest Way To Build Muscle?

Weights + Calisthenics The Greatest Way To Build Muscle

I recently upgraded my calisthenic (body weight) workout and now I feel stronger than ever before.

What did I do? I simply changed things up and brought a few new weights along for the ride.

Now, you may know I hate lifting heavy weights, I don’t like the risk, I don’t like the pressure on my joints and I just feel like it’s nowhere near as primal as getting on the cold ground and doing 50 push ups followed by 20 pull ups.

Plus, my body responds much quicker to calisthenics and my muscle + strength growth is insane with this training alone.

However a few weeks ago I decided to add a little weight to see what the results would be…

…And I’m so shocked I had to do this article.

What will you learn?

  • My new UNREAL workout routine
  • How to use weights for Explosive strength and muscle gains
  • How not to use weights (Must See)
  • The new weight equipment I use

Plus there will be some revolutionary tips and tricks along the way.

Before We Start:

Here’s an amazing video on exactly what calisthenics is, I’m pretty sure you already know, but it’s still an awesome video:

What Type Of Weight Equipment Do I Use

my weight equipment

I use three simple weighted items:

  1. A Weighted Vest (Don’t use everyday but use on a week on/week off basis).
  2. Kettlebell Weight (One of the best all round investments)
  3. Two Dumbells (Mine are changeable weight, but I usually lift 7 – 10kg)

As you can see there’s nothing out of the ordinary up there and the BIG news is that I don’t train with heavy weight, you see I’m not trying to build muscles for show, that’s why I love calisthenics, I love to have muscle I actually use in every day life, as opposed to muscle that is just to make me look good.

What I train for is a lean, well proportioned body with as much strength and speed as I’m capable of.

My Results After Two Weeks

my body on this workout program

I’ll tell you about how I use weights in a second, but right now let me share my results.

So far I’ve found the best results using the weighted vest (My weighted vest) and the kettle weight, the weighted vest has increased my pull up/push up game an insane amount, I can go much longer and I’ve found out just how quick your body can respond to extra tension on the muscle, and the days without the vest highlight just how quickly it’s helped me grow my sets, reps and overall body.

And the kettlebell weight (Best kettlebell weight I’ve used) is so diverse I’ve used it to focus on my leg and shoulder muscles using explosive movements.

The dumbells (Best Dumbells) are always useful, but I have to use them in moderation, you see the beauty about body weight training is once you learn good form (and warm up before your workout) you can push yourself without risk of injury.

As even with perfect form and a good warm up behind me I feel like I can still have that ‘ping’ and then the next day realize that ‘ping’ was an injury.

But, the dumbells do come in useful and I’ll tell you why in a second, but first here’s some more results…

What has changed: 

  • My rep count has increased from 20 to 35 (without weight) on push ups.
  • My rep count has increased from 15 – 20 to 20 – 28 on pull ups.
  • I’ve really taken my legs to pound town as I felt they’ve been lacking since I started calisthenics and I’m already seeing results in how the bottom half of my body feels.
  • I’ve used the weights in numerous ways to train my back and shoulders and during my shadow boxing/home mma workouts I feel my punches and movements are much more explosive.

Now it’s far too early to tell anything else so I’ll be updating these results with pictures and more details in the up coming months.

My NEW Next Level Calisthenic Workout Routine With Weights


Before I hit you with my do’s and don’ts here’s a 3 day workout routine and underneath is some amazing weighted exercises you have got to try.

  • Monday: Start with 3 rounds of skipping and one Home MMA workout, then do a full push up cycle with weights, this involves normal push ups, wide arms, diamond push ups, matrix push ups and  archer push ups. I then do one super set without weights. Basically go till I can’t do any more.
  • Wednesday: Quick warm up, then go on a interval sprint and come back and do 10 rounds of squats,calf raise and then split squats, do 3 sets have 2 minute rest and do 10 rounds.
  • Friday: Warm up, Then weighted pull ups (close grip), weighted dips, weighted chin ups do 3 rounds of 8 reps, then repeat without weight but with an explosive incline and a slow decline, do this again three rounds 5 reps of each and then do this Home MMA Workout (If I’m doing ABS I only do the first part).

ABS: I hit ABS after each of these workouts, I do three rounds back-to-back and I’ll usually pick my workout off of darebee.com

PS: I usually train 4 – 5 days of the week, but when using weights I like to give my body more time to repair.

I also make sure I get 8 + hours sleep every night and I eat as much protein as possible each day.

Mixing This Up And Making It Your Own


Here’s the weighted exercises I highly recommend adding to your calisthenics workout:

These two push up tutorials are must tries, remember to be slow, don’t use such heavy weights and nice slow, correct movements.

Here’s another guide that’s really awesome and taught me some great, effective ways to use my kettlebell.

Now if you want some ideas on what to do with your weighted vest there’s some pretty nice movements in this video, but it’s really down to your body and what type of training you do:

My Do’s And Don’ts To Weighted Calisthenics

warming up

Here’s a little list that helps me keep my head clean and not make silly mistakes with my workouts.

Don’t let labels get in the way of your gains:

In theory as soon as you add any weight to calisthenics it isn’t calisthenics anymore, but I don’t really want to let a label get in the way of the ultimate way to train my body, and I don’t think you should either.

In theory just adding a weighted vest is a no, but the advancements I’ve made with that training aid alone makes it a must have.

Taking A MMA Approach To Training

When I did mma training it wasn’t about building mass, it was about being as strong as you could at the body weight you were, that’s why we avoided heavy weights and instead did high rep count, with lighter weights.

My lord does this create burn, but the power you build is crazy.

You Can Still Get Mega Pumped Without Weights:

My body has never packed on strength or muscle quicker than with calisthenics, and the only reason why I’m adding weight is to do some testing, just to learn if there’s a perfect mix and an even better way to become the best version of ourselves.

Plus: it’s a fun challenge.

Don’t Over Train

Since I’ve added weights I feel like there’s a much greater risk in over training, this is something that doesn’t really happen with me and straight up body weight training.

Make sure you sleep 8 + hours, eat great quality food and get the protein and the vitamins your body needs to repair.

Start With A Weighted Vest

You can do squats, pullups, pushups, dips, chinups, almost any calisthenic exercise with a weighted vest and it truly is the number one bit of weighted equipment I recommend, I mean the kettlebell is awesome, but it’s not a must have and the dumbells are useful, but all can be substituted with the vest.

My Progression Road

Start with calisthenics and just your body, build your sets and reps up.

Then add more complex movements like diamond and archor push ups + slow release pull ups.

Then you become intermediate and should try adding a little weight to your leg workouts and some pull ups.

Then try the more complex calisthenic movements like muscle ups, handstand pushups, etc.

How Not To Train With Weights

weighted calisthenics

Everyone is different, but here’s the guidelines I follow with weights:

  • I don’t lift until failure.
  • I don’t lift heavy (just jacks up your form and causes damage to joints, muscles and can lead to issues in the future).
  • I always try to be smart and not do complex weighted exercises.
  • Warm up properly before I lift anything.

I personally won’t be adding too many weighted exercises to my workout routine as I’m getting amazing results, but testing with the vest and the kettlebell proved to be successful and I’ll definitely be continuing using them during my workouts.

If you have any questions or need any help with your workout, please send me a message. I hope you have a lovely day. Oli.