How to increase intensity in Calisthenics (Progressive Overload)

Some people may wonder: Whether you can build huge muscle with Calisthenics? Am I only doing Calisthenics, but not weight training?

In fact, I am a regular GYM goer.  But I can assure you that we can build a lot of muscle with just Bodyweight Exercises (Calisthenics).  The point is that you have to learn the theory on muscle hypertrophy.  Some people don’t have a deep understanding and might think that:  “To grow muscle, heavy weight must needed.  Our own bodyweight is limited, so cannot build a lot of muscle”.  This is not true.


Progressive Overload

There are many parameters can be changes in the training.  Weight/Intensity is one of them,  But not the only one.  In fact, the principle we are following is:  Progressive Overloading,  Meaning increasing the training gradually, including the heavier weight, more sets/reps, less resting time etc.  Making the workout more intense/ more volume  So as to increase the muscle stimulation for growth.  If you can increase the weight used, you can also increase the reps/sets which still can be useful.


But I want to emphasise that: Bodyweight exercises can increase the intensity, but just a little bit complicated than weight training where you can just add one more plate, select a heavier dumbbell.  Instead, we need to learn more about exercise variations to change the intensity.


Ways to Increase Intensity

Let’s say, you think Pull Up is too easy for you to grow more muscle.  Then you can try more enhanced version,  Like Archer Pull Up, Assisted One Arm Pull Up etc.  These are more harder variations of Pull Up.  So, there are always ways to increase intensity.  The simplest way is just wearing weighted backpack to enhance the intensity.


And yet, the intensity gap for each progression/variations of bodyweight exercises can be significantly different.  If it is too big, you may not be able to learn immediately.  You can find the ways/the in-between progression via YouTube.  Or just improvise by yourself.  Can’t do Archer Pull Up?  Just do a half-range of motion version.  Pull yourself up and to the side.  The range need not be large, but still feel more intense.  When you got better, do a full range of motion version.


Even if you don’t know any variations, You can simply change the execution detail, Like Hold it longer, do it slower etc.  These can be very useful.


These examples can illustrate that as long as you understand the principle of Muscle Hypertrophy.  You can achieve the same result using Bodyweight exercises as weight training.  Weight training is just a little bit easier to execute and quantify.


In fact, there are a lot regarding the Muscle Hypertrophy.  Like how to arrange your workout program, what exercises,  Mechanical Tension, Metabolic Stress, Muscle Damage,  Exercise Execution like tempo, Mind-Muscle Connection etc.  These items may be discussed in future.

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