I know this is a frequently asked question and it has a a lot of answers on various websites. However, I couldn't get a specific answer for my routine!

I'm interested in bodyweight training and I was told to read Convict conditioning. I did and it was good but the workout routines part got me confused. The routine which was written for the beginners of calisthenics was like that:
- Monday: (A) push ups & leg raises 3 sets for each exercise
- Tuesday: off
- Wednesday: (B) pull ups & squats 3 sets for each exercise
- Thursday: off
- Friday: (A) push ups & leg raises 3 sets for each exercise
- Saturday: off
- Sunday: off
Alternating between A & B.
Will I actually gain any muscle if I followed this routine ? I'm not an expert but I feel that it's not enough. Any thoughts ?

  • 2
    It's just a guide, not a prescription; why don't you try first and see for yourself. If they don't work, you can improve on them. Don't try to figure everything out without doing anything. Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 2:01
  • @Kneel-Before-ZOD: Truer words have never been spoken. As a beginner you can do so much wrong and still get better. In the beginning doing anything is so much more important than doing the best thing. Start with anything and improve it, but start.
    – user8119
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 9:01

2 Answers 2


Before I answer I just want to point out that when I was in high school (long ago) I was 5 foot 11 and weighed between 85 and 95lbs. Now I weigh between 180 and 190. I've tried a lot of things over the years. Some worked, some didn't. Bodyweight did.

As Mark Rippetoe says, training doesn't help you build muscle, recovering from training builds muscle. Starting strength is a barbell strength and mass program that is based on 3 sets of 5 reps at 3 exercises 3 days a week. Texas method is even more sparse, with one day at 5 sets of 5 reps of 3 exercises and one day of 1 set of 5 reps of 3 exercises per week. If you are really pushing yourself at your strength training, you will need a lot of time to recover.

This routine is probably a little light. You could do all four of those exercises on Monday Wednesday and Friday without difficulty to start with. You will eventually outgrow this routine, but there's a more advanced one, developed based on my experiences with Starting Strength and Texas Method in my answer to your previous question (I want to get ripped. Can bodyweight exercises do the job?) which will go a long ways towards helping you build muscle using bodyweight.

In particular I'd like to reiterate that you need to keep volume low and intensity high and maintain consistency over long periods of time. Another thing that I'll point out is that in order to build muscle, you'll need to be eating more. Adding large amounts of whole milk and eggs to your diet, and remembering the rule "meat with every meal" is a simple way to add sufficient protein.

Note that bodyweight routines will take longer to build muscle mass than barbell routines will. However, you can build a lot of muscle with body weight. It's time to just get started. I'd like to see your next question on bodyweight strength/convict conditioning be on a specific point that you're struggling to get past, instead of trying to make sure that it will work before you start.

And when in doubt, listen to Goku.

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  • Hi there, thanks for answering my question. But shouldn't I train a specific muscle group 2-3 times per week ? I've read that on many websites and I'm a little bit confused. Is this considered too much ?
    – Peter
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 22:41
  • That's a good question. Let me revise my answer.
    – brentlance
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 3:42

You probably will gain some muscle if you are new to working out, but I don't think it will be too long before you outgrow this routine. If you feel it's not intense enough, feel free to add extra sets, exercises, or different muscle groups. I think the number one ingredient for success is to push yourself.

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