26yo. 183cm 73kg. Male. Calisthenics. Routine: bwf RR Started in October. Couldn't do anything then. I progressed in strength, sure. But compared to others, progress is too slow. 6 months should be plenty to make 3x12 in all basic calisthenics exercises. Like chins, push, dips, inverted rows. But im far away from it. 2 chins I can do currently. Once my max pushup was 3x10. Then suddenly it dropped to 3x5. Wtf. Probably bcs. I removed creatin intake? I gained weight in first 3 months. Was just fat. No muscles. I'd even say that I lost a lot muscle since I train. Like some people do bcs of heavy inflammation. For real. Sleep, diet is excellent. If I don't gain enough strength per month I don't have to think about gaining weight. Short: i gained strength, 100 times slower than others though. I didn't gain good amount of muscle mass. 20 lbs in first year... I wish.... I could have that.

EDIT: Routine from bwf rr: 3 sets, 5-12 reps Negative pull ups, beginner shrimp squat, dips, inverted rows, incline pushups

Last workout recorded: https://photos.app.goo.gl/KtY9tVvih6MzDi8i7

Diet: https://i.sstatic.net/OsvIJ.png It's vegan I know. But according to current science, this won't disturb strength and size gains.

I also think that I lost muscle mass since I started to train.

EDIT: Here last workout.

warmup: 5-10 stick dislocates, 5-10 squat sky reaches, 10+ wrist prep, 30s deadbugs, 10 arch hangs, 10 squats

  1. negative chin ups, 1 full, 10sec 5x4x3

  2. beginner shrimp squat(means knee isn't going to ground but lands higher on something) 10x12x8

  3. dips negative, 6sec 4x6x5

  4. inverted rows, 6x9x6x4

  5. incline pushup, 7x5x6x5

I try to add reps linearly, but it's not possible. I am progressing like a bodybuilder who trains since 3 years. Very slow. Help me please. I've read aand watched almost everything on the internet. Nothing, it doesn't help me.

  • 1
    You have to give your muscles a reason to grow, if they aren't being sufficiently challenged they have no reason to grow. Also, if your body doesn't have enough protein/calories it won't even be capable of muscle growth. It sounds like you're eating enough calories if you are gaining weight, but your results clearly show that you aren't sufficiently challenging your muscles. Commented May 28, 2019 at 0:09
  • I don't know how I would give them a bigger reason than now. Increased hear rate is there when training. Ya, sure it won't have enough energy input, but did you forget that I am an beginner and that for strength gains you don't need need a surplus? I'd give my exercise 7-8 points from 10 points of how hard they are.
    – Stjema
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 7:07
  • 1
    Please post your routine. If it's just as confusing and unstructured as your question is, we might have identified your problem. Also perhaps post your diet, I don't trust you knowing for a fact that it's excellent when you can't even do more than 5 pushups as an underweight male. Something has to be seriously wrong
    – Raditz_35
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 21:15
  • Hi. I edited my post.
    – Stjema
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 23:01
  • And please don't tell that I might be a low-responder to resistance training. :( That would hurt.
    – Stjema
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 9:59

3 Answers 3


I think your main problem is that you don't really focus on anything with your current program. You do many different things at once and as a beginner that is fine but if you want to take it more serious you'll need to start focussing on different body parts or exercises you want to master.

The most important thing to know about calisthenics is that it takes years to learn the different movements. This is because even the easiest calisthenics movements require more technique than most people think. Because of this you need to focus on a few movements at a given time, don't try to learn everything on the same day. Focus on your back one day and on your shoulders the next. I'll use the chin-up as an example as this seem to be an issue for you.

To do a successful chin-up, you need to have a retracted scapula. So before you even try to pull yourself up to the bar, you want to learn how to retract your scapula and strengthen this before going into actual chin-ups. You can do this by doing scapular pull-ups. Once you've gained enough power and control over these muscles you can move into the next part which could be underhand inverted rows or negative chin-ups.

While doing these underhand inverted rows or negative chin-ups the focus should be to keep the scapula fully retracted throughout the movement, don't focus yet on doing as many reps as you can. Once you start feeling confident taht you can do multiple reps, you can try to move towards actual chin-ups. Do a few, and once your power starts to fade, don't do slopping chin-ups, go back to underhand inverted rows and finish the workout there with proper form.

If you do a full body workout everytime, you won't be able to focus on all these different stages of the movement.

Being vegan isn't a problem. I'm vegan myself (a few years now) and I'm very muscular and can do many advanced calisthenics movements (check my bio if interested). If you have any questions feel free to ask them.

  • I do a normal routine wih compound movements. :D Like everybody, and everybody makes good gains with it. Majority agrees to compound training for beginners and even for experienced people. My scapular pull is pretty fine according to others. Why can't I focus on all these exercises in one sessino? Everybody does that with good results.
    – Stjema
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 13:17
  • Everybody makes good progress with compound training. Split training is a bad choice for beginners. Everybody says that.
    – Stjema
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 13:30
  • Well, you can focus on everything at once, but this will result in having mediocre progression in everything. If you focus on fewer things, you'll have greater progress in the things you focus on. So it depends on what your goal is.
    – MJB
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 13:32
  • I'm pretty sure not "everyone" says that split training is bad for beginners, it's a matter of what you want to achieve. If you want to be allround strong, training compound is very good. If you want to learn for example chin-ups, you need to focus on more than just trying chin-ups and moving to squats afterwards. If someone wants to learn chin-ups and asks me, I tell them to workout back for atleast 1 hour on the day that you train chin-ups specifically. You need decent progressive overload for the muscles that you use for a chin-up to get better at them.
    – MJB
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 13:36
  • How do you know a split training in calisthenics is faster than whole body? I don't care about movements or strength, I just want hypertrophy.
    – Stjema
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 13:36

Three suggestions:

  1. Gain about 20 pounds. At your height and weight, it would be very hard to gain strength. Even a climber like Magnus Midtbo (who really needs to avoid any unnecessary weight) has a larger weight-to-height value than you at 5'9" and 152 pounds. This would be like 6'0" (your height) and 180 pounds. You could gain 20 pounds in just a few months by eating more carbs and fats. Then once you reach about 180 pounds, reduce carbs down to the level where your weight stays constant. Some of the weight you gain will be fat. Don't worry too much about that. As you get stronger, your body composition will get better.

  2. Use 5g of creatine a day. This should be especially beneficial for gaining strength since you use a strictly plant-based diet (meaning there is no creatine in your food). This is something that made it much easier for me to gain strength (I use a mostly plant-based diet, so I get very little creatine from my food).

  3. Join a gym. Since you can only do 2 pullups, it would be easier to make progress using something like a lat pulldown machine or assisted pullup/dip machine. Also, the resistance for belt squat or back squat and deadlift is much more easily adjusted than the resistance for shrimp squat.

  • Ehm. I didn't lost the weight for peanuts. I did this on purpose, because you can do more in calisthenics with a lower bodyweight. Starting calisthenics with 80 kg or more is a bad idea. I also stopped creatine, because it only gave me horrible symptoms. I don't want to comute.
    – Stjema
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 10:33
  • Look up Steven Proto and David Marchante. Steven Proto was the world record holder in weighted pullups with an added weight of 206 pounds. He weighs over 200 pounds at 6'0" tall. David Marchante is the current world record holder with an added weight of 230 pounds. He weighs 178 pounds at 5'9" tall.
    – J. Heller
    Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 18:40
  • What symptoms did you get from creatine? The only thing for me was that I gained a few pounds of water weight (which I don't consider a bad thing).
    – J. Heller
    Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 18:44
  • acne. constipation.
    – Stjema
    Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 19:37
  • Maybe skip the "loading phase" for creatine (if that's what you tried). I didn't use a "loading phase" for creatine. I just started off with 5 grams a day and kept that up till the present. Also, if you take creatine, you will need to drink more water than normal.
    – J. Heller
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 1:39

I took a look at the diet and it is good. Don't stop it. 144 g of protein with a ~500 calorie surplus. Keep this up for the muscle gain. Each day, every day. Consistency is key. Muscles need calories to build. If you're challenging them, it won't be fat gain.

I think your workout numbers are lacking in volume.

negative chin ups, 1 full, 10sec 5x4x3
beginner shrimp squat(means knee isn't going to ground but lands higher on something) 10x12x8
dips negative, 6sec 4x6x5
inverted rows, 6x9x6x4
incline pushup, 7x5x6x5

I'd like this to look more like so:

negative chin-ups  3 sets,  8 reps (24 total)
normal squats      5 sets, 20 reps (100 total)
negative dips      3 sets,  8 reps (24 total)
inverted rows      5 sets, 15 reps (75 total)
normal pushup      5 sets, 15 reps (75 total)

You've got a lot of times in there and personally, they're too long. For the negatives and dips, I'd look at doing 3 seconds on the eccentric portion, and then explosive on the concentric. For the squats, rows, pushups, 1 second down, 1 second up.

If you want to try to add in a progressive overload, aside from more reps/sets, try to see if you can get a hold of a weighted vest.

Try it out and see if you can complete this. If yes, and you've still got energy left, let's look at how we can make it harder. If not, and it was exhausting, or you failed, let's see how we can adjust it so it is challenging enough. As was said to you, in order to gain strength and promote muscle growth, you need to challenge your body. It isn't supposed to be easy.

Aside: for the purpose of this site, it is much easier for you to update the main question than to keep making new questions. If you haven't received a good enough answer, edit you question with pertinent details and/or explain why it isn't good enough. I see you've received a lot of advice so far in the last 5 months. What have you done with it?

  • Why you think I don't challenge me? I think I do. Heart bpm goes to 150 when training. I cannot give more physically. Lacking volume? Why that? Because low volume doesn't work? I can't do full chin ups or dips. And you can't do 5x20 shrimp squat, you don't do normal squats. That's not helping muscle growth. So in short you say more volume less intensity. Whilst doing full body workout.
    – Stjema
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 21:31
  • Volume = Sets x Reps x Weight. You've set the weight as static (your bodyweight) so to overload your muscles you need to increase the reps or change to a harder workout to increase intensity (diamond pushups, Bulgarian squats, etc.). I think you're not being challenged because you've said that you have been doing this for 6 months and seeing no progress. I changed the chin-ups and dips to negatives; that's plenty OK. Keep it at 3 seconds though, not 10 seconds. We're challenging your muscles, not your grip. For what it's worth, humour me: do this workout tonight and report back.
    – C. Lange
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 22:11
  • But why such a high volume? What if I couldn't progress because of training to muscle failure on every set? Or perhaps because I was not correctly applying progressive overload. You wrote that while I was training. So I'll do next workout. On Wednesday
    – Stjema
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 22:24
  • @Stjema -- my numbers are an example. You can also try this: do the workouts to failure. One set. Really push yourself. Take that number of reps and set your program at maybe 70-80% of that number.
    – C. Lange
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 23:41

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