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I've done pushups in the past:

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Is there a word that describes exercises done using only your own body? Is there a book that guides one to fitness by using these exercises?

  • 1
    Do we really need this question or want questions similar to it? The title is not really descriptive ("…exercises that don't use weights" would be better) and identify this questions are very often not really useful for anyone except the person asking, see meta on this. The second question is a shopping request (or a question polling for a list of things).
    – Baarn
    Aug 26, 2013 at 16:40
  • I think it is calisthenics, that you are looking for.
    – Freakyuser
    Aug 26, 2013 at 17:04
  • Do you have a more specific question about what kind of goal you want to achieve via bodyweight exercises? This type of question doesn't suit the site too well.
    – user241
    Aug 28, 2013 at 1:42
  • @MattChan Well. My objective is to avoid being too fat. But my primary concern was only to discover the names of the exercises. After reading a little about them, I'll be able to elaborate some good questions. Thanks for the help.
    – Red Banana
    Aug 28, 2013 at 14:41

3 Answers 3


The term you are looking for is "bodyweight exercise" and includes activities such as yoga, gymnastics, pilates and calisthenics.

As for books of programs on the topic, there are quite a few but they very much depend on what your goals are. Its probably best to look for, or make, a question focusing on what you want to be able to do, how you want to look, or what your goals are for peoople to be able to recommend one.

  • Are these exercises also effective? It seems there is a trend of using dumbbells in gyms, I never understood why people don't use these bodyweight exercises since they are a lot cheaper.
    – Red Banana
    Aug 20, 2013 at 10:26
  • They can be very effective. But you want progress, and only increasing the number of repetitions might not be effective. Depending on your goals, you should increase weight but not reps. So you do variations, in the case of the pushup this will lead to clapping pushups, one handed pushups, handstand pushups, etc. But progress is better to measure with dumb bells, and you don't need to get as creative. And for me personally, I like to separate my workout space from my home, which is where I want to relax. So I go to the gym anyway.
    – Volker
    Aug 20, 2013 at 13:28
  • @Volker No. I'm actually concered only in not getting too fat and having some strength. I guess these exercises fit what I want.
    – Red Banana
    Aug 25, 2013 at 13:20

Body weight, gravity based, plyometrics exercises are all considered strength training using your body weight.

I have read a few books on the topic and never loved any of them. You are your own gym has great examples but is very poorly written - but you should be buying for working out not reading right?


Is there a word that describes exercises done using only your own body?

Yes. That kind of exercises is called calisthenics (see Wikipedia), or you may spell it callisthenics in US english. It comes from the ancient Greek, "Beautiful Strength"

The Push-Up in your picture is probably the most popular, but there are many more. See for instance this amazing video (Tee Major), or do a search in Youtube with the word "Barstarzz".

Is there a book that guides one to fitness by using these exercises?

There is a famous book about progressive strength training using only your body and some place to hang from. It is called Convict Conditioning.

The author (under a pseudonym) claims to have spent many years in prison, training himself and training other people with bodyweight exercises uniquely. I think it is all invented, but the system he proclaims seems sound.

There are between four and six exercises to master, each of them with a lot of variants in increasing difficulty. For example, for doing pushups, you would start doing them standing against a wall. After mastering 3x40 of them, you would change your hands to a bench, then to kneeling pushups and so on. Eventually, the athlete would master one-hand pushups, one-hand pullups and other exercises.

There is a nice poster and graphics for the progressions here. When my tendonitis eventually heal, I think I am going to give it a try. At least all the first steps in the progressions seem nearly innocent (the author call these steps "rehabilitation" stages).

Everybody seems crazy about barbell training with systems like HerniatedDisks5x5 and similar. You are free to give credit to whatever you want, but there is no doubt that, if you manage to do pullups and lots of pushups (not to mention that you progress very far an reach the ability to do one-arm pullups) you will have become really strong, and the system in this book divides the progression towards that goals in steps that (at least at first glance) seem realistic.

Additionally, the book is funny, because the author hates modern bodybuilding and states a lot of controversial affirmations against it. He depicts modern bodybuilders nearly as slow, clumsy animals artificially pumped up, with their joints damaged. Of course, all is to be taken with a grain of salt, but sometimes is nice to read something from a perspective other than the cult of Rippetoe.

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