Can I get ripped without going to the gym ?
I know it sounds lazy but I live in an area where there is no gyms at all. And going to the gym even twice a week can be really tedious for me.
So .. Can bodyweight exercises do the job for me ?

  • 1
    What Kneel-Before-ZOD says is very right, although I saw more improvement once I added dumbbells, later a barbell to my training. But bodyweight is a good start and if it does the trick for you there's no reason to do something else.
    – user8119
    Apr 8, 2014 at 6:51
  • 1
    I wouldn't put a whole lot of faith in simply just exercises. If you want to get ripped 90% of it's going to come from your diet. Apr 10, 2014 at 15:06

3 Answers 3


The answer is a resounding YES. Body weight exercises can bulk up your body with muscles, give you six pack, strong arms, and legs. It can even get you a babe (okay, that last part isn't true :)).

Tons of body exercises exist to sculpt your body. Variations of pull ups, chin ups, and plank exist. Push up is one of the most popular body weight exercises and can be done anywhere. There's L-sit and knee up to work your lower abs. In many cases, all you need is a pull up bar unless you are close to a public park with swings.

That being said, if you don't have access to a gym, you can purchase your own equipment. All you need is a barbell and discs, as well as dumbbells. You don't have to go to a gym to have a great workout.

Sample Routine to practice

  • Get a pull up bar and put it on your bathroom/bedroom door.
  • Every morning after waking up, perform 15 push ups.
  • Every time you pass through the door, perform 10 pullups, chin-ups, or L-sit.
  • During break (at work or school), perform 20 standing crunches.
  • When you get back home (tired and weak), perform 20 reverse crunches.
  • Before dinner, perform 10 pullups, chin-ups, or L-sit.
  • Before getting in bed, perform 15 push ups.
  • If you can, add 30-second plank into the mix.
  • Increase the numbers and frequency as you see fit.
  • Check your body weekly and notice the changes.

Now, go burn some goo :).

  • Most calisthenics guys seem to do every exercise every day. How does that work recovery-wise? I started with calisthenics too, but was told to do them only 3 times per week. How does one explain these differences in training philosophy?
    – user8119
    Apr 8, 2014 at 6:49
  • 3
    Having been a competitive bodybuilder for many years, I can tell you that exercise is only part of the equation for "getting ripped". The other part is a smart eating plan.
    – rrirower
    Apr 8, 2014 at 12:20
  • rrirower +1 for that. I completely forgot to add that in my answer. @LarissaGodzilla the recovery is outstanding (at least for me). I do it everyday and have never gotten sore from doing it. I've actually made it part of my daily routine and I strive to increase the number of reps periodically. The hardest part is starting; once started, your body adapts to it and recovers within a few mins or hours. I have no scientific claim except that I think calisthenics increases your heart and lungs' capacity, which enables you to perform better after a while . Apr 8, 2014 at 13:02
  • @Kneel-Before-ZOD: Now that you mention it, I did work on my push ups once with multiple sets all over the day. I managed 12 sets or so, which I could never do back to back. Recovery really seems to be much faster than with (barbell) weight training.
    – user8119
    Apr 9, 2014 at 6:44

Yes, you certainly can.

Zod's routine is a good starting point, and is a great workout. But the progressions in that routine are in numbers and frequency, which means that you'll eventually plateau on strength. In order to get ripped with bodyweight exercise, you'll need a true strength training program that progresses in difficulty as well.

There are many bodyweight training programs that focus on strength. One that I've gotten a lot of mileage out of is the Convict Conditioning (CC) program from Dragondoor publications (cheatsheet available here, book available here). It's not without flaws, but it provides a good general framework to start from. So, based on CC, this has what has worked for me as far as using bodyweight to get stronger and look better. Take what you like, leave what you don't:

Define long-term goals

Convict conditioning has some good long-term bodyweight strength goals, like the one-armed pushup, one-legged squat, and one-armed pullup. Just as an example, my current goals are to do one-armed pushups, one-legged squats, and dragon flags by the end of this year.

Figure out where you are now

One rule of thumb that I've seen for CC is to start at level 2 in any of the progressions that interest you.

Define progressions to get to your goals

One thing that I really like about the CC program is the emphasis on regular progressions to gradually improve strength, similar to the way you add weight to a barbell. Unfortunately, the CC progressions are highly artificial, and limited to ten steps, with step 5 being the 'standard' movement. This leads to massive jumps in the later progressions. Instead, I find that having many small-increment progressions is more likely to lead to success. For example, I am currently working on one-armed pushups by doing kneeling one-armed pushups with a stack of thin books under my chest, which I remove one at a time. After I am out of books, I will put the stack back and do non-kneeling one-armed pushups. So I've expanded what are two progressions in CC into 30+ smaller progressions.

Keep Volume low and Intensity high

Most bodyweight workout programs focus on high numbers of movements such as pullups or pushups. Most barbell workout programs focus on small numbers of movements with regularly increasing weight. Combining low volume with incremental progression provides a strength training program closer to a barbell strength program. Sets of 5, 8, or 10 should be plenty. I tend to start with 2-4 sets of 5 reps, and increase reps in every set. Once I have achieved 10 reps in all sets, I move to the next incremental progression.

Maintain good form

Poor form leads to injury, so make sure that your form is good enough before you progress.

But don't sacrifice progress for form

But at the same time, CC recommends staying at one level until form is perfect on each and every rep. This I find actually inhibits progress. For example, when training pullups, I find it more productive to add a few kipping pullups at the end of a set instead of stopping when I can no longer do perfect form. I will also get bored and quit if I feel like I'm not making progress. If the incremental progressions are small, I'm not going to get hurt if the last few reps in the last set are crappy and I skip to the next progression, but I might get bored in the time it takes to iron the kinks out of those last few reps.

Consistency is key

Strength training only works if you stay at it day in and day out over long periods of time. Skipping training days or bouncing from bodyweight to barbell to kettlebell will make it harder or impossible to progress.

But don't overtrain

I have found it very hard to progress once down into the one-armed and one-legged movements if I train any specific movement more than twice a week.

My workout program

I train M/W/F, and alternate between two routines. So one week I'll do Day A on M/F and Day B on W, and the next week I'll do Day B on M/F and Day A on Wed.

Day A:

  1. pull-up progression (2 sets per side, 5-10 reps per set)
  2. push-up progression (2 sets per side, 5-10 reps per set)
  3. squat progression (2 sets per side, 5-20 reps per set)
  4. dragon flag progression (4 sets, 5-10 reps per set)
  5. calf raise progression (2 sets per side, 30-50 reps per set)

Day B:

  1. grip training progression (2 sets per side, 1 min per set)
  2. skater squats (2 sets per side, 10 reps per set)
  3. single-leg deadlift (2 sets per side, 10 reps per set)
  4. handstand push-up progression (4 sets, 5-10 reps per set)
  5. L-sit progression (4 sets, 1 min per set)
  6. calf raise progression (2 sets per side, 30-50 reps per set)

CC cheatsheet: cheatsheet


I personally went from overweight to gaining muscle using jogging twice a week and bodyweight exercises three times a week.

The run was a C25k program. Once I hit 5K I focused on improving my time slightly but haven't gone any further as it suits my schedule (25 mins)

As for the bodyweight exercises, I went with using a suspension system (TRX) for safety purposes. This is because I was far to obese to safely carry my own weight through a program safely. The exercises is a mix of 5 exercises; Pushup, Pullup, Squat, Lunch, Plank. I do these for 10 reps for as many sets as I can do.

All in all I don't do a large amount of exercise but have noticed a massive amount of muscle build. This could be due to having a good big frame. I suspect it has more to do with consistency though.

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