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Can You Get Ripped With Calisthenics? (Yes, Here’s How!)

The first time I discovered the world of Calisthenics, my mind was blown at the list of possible benefits, including:

  • Being able to work out at home
  • Saving money on gym memberships
  • Being able to work out whenever you want
  • Saving time commuting to and from the gym
  • Being able to work out alone without others judging

Not long after, I cancelled my gym membership and started doing Calisthenics every day.

I was so pleased with all the money and time that I saved that I had to tell others about the exciting world of Calisthenics…

…but the overall reaction was disappointing to say the least.

Bro, you need to lift weights to get ripped…

You’re not going to build your chest with just press-ups…

Robb, those bodyweight squats are a waste of time dude…

(They’re just a few of the responses that I received.)

Now, whilst they weren’t the responses I hoped for, they definitely made me think.

What good is saving $50 on Gym Memberships if Calisthenics won’t even get me in shape? I asked myself.

So, from that moment onwards, I had a burning desire to know whether you even can get ripped with calisthenics.

And after hours of research, I finally found my answer.

Yes – you can get ripped with calisthenics...

But only if you follow the steps in this article.

Why do you have to follow the steps in this article?

Well, regardless of whether you use dumbbells or bodyweight exercises to train your muscles, the principles of getting ripped are exactly the same.

So, with that in mind, let’s see the steps that you need to follow in order to get ripped with calisthenics.

Man doing ring push-ups calisthenics

6 Steps To Getting Ripped And Shredded With Calisthenics

1. Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is such an important principle in resistance training.

Without it, you won’t build strength or put on muscle.

So, what even is progressive overload? I hear you ask.

Before I tell you, please get a pen and write this down as it’s that important.

Got one?

Now write down and memorize the next sentence…

In order for a muscle to grow or strength to be gained, the human body must be forced to adapt to a tension that’s more than what it’s experienced before.

Notice how the principle mentions nothing about going to the gym? Or lifting weights?

Now, let’s see how we can use the principle of progressive overload in calisthenics…

Let’s say you just did a calisthenics workout and managed to do 10 pull ups.

(Which is pretty good by the way…)

In order for your muscle to grow, your next workout will require you to exceed this tension.

Now, there are a few different ways to do this. You can:

  • Increase the volume (I.e. Aim for 11 pull ups)
  • Use a more difficult variation (I.e. Aim for 10 pull ups using a wider grip)
  • Increase the time under tension (I.e. Aim for 10 pulls up but with slower reps)

I also advise changing only one parameter at a time to minimize the risk of injury.

For example, don’t increase both the volume and the time under tension at the same time.

2. Train to Failure

This is another crucial principle of resistance training, that sort of goes hand-in-hand with the principle of progressive overload.

Training to failure basically means that you repeat an exercise until you literally can’t squeeze out another rep.

By training this way, your muscles will have no choice but to adapt (by getting bigger and stronger, which is of course the goal.)

Again, this principle mentions absolutely nothing about having to lift weights or go to the gym, so it’s doable with calisthenics.

Now, one of the main criticisms of calisthenics is the perceived difficulty.

People say if it takes 50 press ups for you to reach failure, then you’re doing too many reps and your chest muscles won’t feel enough tension to adapt.

And I somewhat agree with this statement…

But there are multiple ways to make each rep more difficult, which increases the tension of each rep.

For example, if you can manage 50 press ups, then try doing 10 press ups but take 5 seconds for each part of the movement.

I.e. 5 seconds “going down”, followed by a 5 second hold at the bottom of the movement and then 5 seconds pressing back up.

I guarantee that this will make your calisthenics more difficult, which will help you on your journey to get ripped.

3. Eat High Protein

Eating adequate protein is a must if you want to get ripped with calisthenics.

This is non-negotiable.

So, why are high-protein diets essential for getting ripped?

Well, first and foremost, if you’re following steps 1 and 2, then you’ll need to provide your muscles with enough protein to grow and repair.

Also, many studies (like this one) have shown that high protein diets increase lean muscle mass whilst decrease fat mass, when compared to lower protein diets.

In other words, eating high protein helps you build more muscle and lose more fat.

(Which is the 2 main objectives when getting ripped.)

4. Eat your Carbs in the Evening

This step is all about optimizing your meals for maximum fat loss and muscle gain.

By eating your carbs in the evening, you’ll notice the following benefits:

  • Improved sleep (Source)
  • Less hunger during the day (Source)
  • Stable energy levels during the day
  • Increased fat loss during the day (Source)

Each of these benefits will help you in your journey to Shredville.

5. Sleep 8 hours per night

Woman sleeping in a bed

People like to argue whether exercise or diet is more important when it comes to improving body composition.

But both sides are missing a crucial factor – sleep.

Without enough quality sleep, your dream physique will be hampered by the following:

  • Lower insulin sensitivity (Source)
  • Lower testosterone output (Source)

So, with that in mind, I highly recommend you aim for 8 hours sleep each night.

But if you can’t achieve 8 hours of sleep each night, then at least try and improve your sleep quality.

You can do this by the following:

6. Stay Consistent

Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come. – Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

I really love that quote from The Rock.

It shows that success is about turning up and getting things done.

And this could not be truer in the world of health and fitness.

All of the steps mentioned in this article are crucial to getting the best body possible, but only if you follow them consistently.

The harsh reality of bodybuilding is that you’re either in an anabolic state or a catabolic state.

In other words, if you just want to “take your foot off the gas” and slack off for a few weeks, you’ll make backwards progress.

Alternatively, by following these steps consistently, you’ll always be moving forward!

How Long Does It Take To Get Ripped With Calisthenics?

This is very much a “how long is a piece of string” question.

It depends on multiple factors, such as:

  • How hard you train
  • How often you train
  • Your diet
  • Your sleep pattern

But as a general rule, you can get in great shape in 4 months by doing calisthenics consistently and eating properly.


By reading this article, you now know that it IS possible to get ripped with calisthenics by following the right steps consistently.

I hope you enjoy your new found love for bodyweight exercises like I have 🙂

And if you do have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!

P.S. How are you planning on spending that money saved from gym memberships?


Wednesday 4th of May 2022

Im curious what proteins you eat, plant? So no protein rest of day, just evening?


Wednesday 1st of June 2022

Mainly chicken/turkey. Nothing wrong with protein at any time of day!

Mr Figaro

Tuesday 8th of March 2022

Very Informative! Will definitely give this a try!


Friday 11th of March 2022

Thanks :)

Kimberlee Dodson

Monday 17th of May 2021

Thanks this was very useful informative

Jim Johnston

Wednesday 21st of April 2021

Thanks - great article. Am just starting out on this journey but your article has really helped me understand the process more fully.


Thursday 22nd of April 2021

Glad you enjoyed it Jim! :)