I recently switched over from lifting to calisthenics and I am really loving it. I do, however, acknowledge that I will lose some size due to not using weights. For that reason I would like to start weighting certain exercises. My routine is as follows, with the exercises I hope to weight highlighted in bold:


  • Wide pullup 3x8
  • Close pullup 3x8
  • Normal pullup 3x8
  • Diamond pushups 3x15
  • Triceps extension 4x8
  • Straight bar dips 3x8
  • Dips 3x10


  • Pistol squats 5x5
  • Normal squats 4x20
  • Close squats 4x20
  • Lunges matrix 3x8
  • Calf raises 5x20


  • Rest


  • Military press 3x8 (I am at risk of a detached retina so I do not want to do handstand pushups)
  • Hindu pushups 4x10
  • Pseudo pushups 4x10
  • Straight bar dips 4x10
  • Dips 4x10


  • Rest


  • Wide pushups 3x15
  • Close pushups 3x15
  • Decline pushups 3x15
  • Dips 4x15
  • Chinups 4x8
  • Chinups negatives 3x8

I have a few questions:

  • If I were to continue this routine without weights, is it effective, balanced, and sustainable for several years?
  • Will adding weights make a substantial difference in results?
  • Do I have the right proportion of weighted to non-weighted exercises?
  • 1
    Add some leg raises or L-sits or planks into the mix. Some core movements will go a long way ;)
    – Roman
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 20:11

2 Answers 2


First of all, as I mentioned in my answer on your other question in july, the fact that you go from training with weighs to calisthenics doesn't mean you're going to lose mass or weight. This depends on how you train, your nutrition, etc.

That being said, adding weight to a calisthenics routine can be done in many ways. You can simply add weight to calisthenics movements, i.e. weighted pull-ups, push-ups or dips. This will be the most beneficial for your calisthenics progress.

What you can also do is add a few strenght exercises in your routine. For example, having a strong core / lower back is very important for most calisthenics movements (handstand, planche, front/back lever, human flag, etc.) so adding deadlifts can be very beneficial.

As for your routine, it's not very balanced. I don't see any core exercises, yet you're doing dips and push-ups 3 times a week. This is going to be detrimental for your progress. I would suggest balancing this out to make sure that you're training everything equally.

If you have further questions, hit me up!

  • How might you modify the plan?
    – Someone
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 15:02
  • That depends on what your goal is. What do you want to get out of your calisthenics? Do you want to be able to do a handstand for a minute straight? Or do you want to be able to do strict muscle-ups? Or do you want to be able to do a front lever? Your plan will be very diffirent based on what your goals are for the coming year/years.
    – MJB
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 7:49
  • If you want to learn to hold a handstand for example, you should be working a lot on shoulder strength, core strength and flexibility. You can still do dips for some tricep and shoulder progress, but you don't want to do it 3 days a week in this case. You should be standing on your hands atleast 2 days a week for 45min to an hour. At the start you'd be standing against a wall, working on your hand placement, endurance (being able to hold yourself up in a handstand) and "opening up" your shoulders (work on flexibility) and after a while you'll be able to start doing handstands without a wall.
    – MJB
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 7:52
  • If you want to learn a front lever, you'll be working on this multiple times a week. Once again, you won't need to do dips 3 times a week but you'll be focussing a lot more on core strength and upper back. Core is the most important for everything in calisthenics, so no matter what you want to focus on, learning to active certain muscles and being able to rotate your pelvis will be the most important thing to focus on.
    – MJB
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 7:54
  • What about doing variations of weighted pullups, chinups, dips, pushups, squats, and lunges? Could I get away with that? My goal is to build a balanced physique, one that strikes a happy medium between a calisthenics physique and a powerlifting physique.
    – Someone
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 15:27

The routine is effective for building the basic strength and internalize the motions of calisthenics exercises. But I don't think the routine is sustainable for several years. There are too many exercises and to little range to increase because of the high reps. But since you seem advanced when it comes to high reps this makes the perfect base for starting to add weights. If you want to see results in strength I recommend the following:

stick to the basic exercises:

  • Pull-ups (different grip)
  • Dips (straight bar or neutral) and Push-ups
  • Squats and Pistols
  • Deadlifts
  • Military Press (if handstand push ups are not possible)
  • Muscle-ups

For those, first find the weight with what you can do about 5 clean!! reps (no kipping and full range of motion). Example: you can do 5 pull ups with 15kg. Do 5-7 sets. Next week try to improve either in weight, in sets or in reps. No need to go above 10 reps and 7 sets. Try to improve every week. You can do this for a very long time and (in my opinion and from my experience) it is more motivating and effective than doing sets of 20 reps. Combine these days with isometric days and/or high rep and no weighted days. So for example do the following week plan (for all of the following 5-7 sets with 3-7 reps):

  • Monday: Weighted Pull-ups and Dips
  • Tuesday: Weighted Squats, Pistol Squats and calve raises
  • Thursday: Muscle-ups and isometric exercises (pull ups, dips, push-ups,...) and/or high reps
  • Saturday: Deadlifts and Military press

You can see results for years with that routine and it is very easy to overlook, change and expand.

  • For weighted pull-ups, would that be multiple sets of the various grips? Like 3xwide, 3xclose, 3xnormal? How many sets in total should I be shooting for?
    – Someone
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 14:59
  • For the most part do wide and normal ones. For example 5 sets with wide pull ups and 2 sets with chin ups. If you do very low reps (3-4) do 7 sets. If you do 5 or more reps than 5 sets are enough. Shoot more for quality in the execution than for reps or sets ;) And if you can do 5 sets with 5 or more reps increase the weight and work with that until you can do 5 sets with 5 or more reps again. And so on. The improvement from week to week will be small but do this for several months and you can see significant results in strength and muscle building.
    – stew.nesc
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 15:30
  • Would 5 sets with pull-ups, 2 sets with chin-ups, and 5 sets with dips be a full day then, or would I do anything else?
    – Someone
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 15:40
  • Also, should I be incorporating a day of pushups?
    – Someone
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 15:41
  • Warm up first and do some controlled body weight exercises before the weighted exercise. (warm up around 15 min). Warm up can also include low weights (depends on your level, if you aim for 5 reps of 30 kg pull ups than warm up with low, controlled reps with 10 or 15kg). After the main weighted-sets you can add one or two sets of maxed-out pull ups and push-ups/dips (but not required). Change Dips with Push-Ups if you want to or even add Push-ups to Monday and Thursday but you definitely do not need to. But archer-push-ups are a nice exercise to do on Thursday.
    – stew.nesc
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 15:53

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