Weighted calisthenics effective routines and how to perform them

THE MAIN PURPOSE OF WEIGHTED CALISTHENICS ROUTINES

Ok guys, it’s about time to discover which are the best ways to start introducing weights into your classic Calisthenics workouts.
In order to do so, I’m going to show you below a few very effective routines that, in my humble opinion, might come in handy to achieve the main goal, that is: develop and increase the strength (submaximal and maximal).

Especially if you are a newbie to such kind of trainings, these routines will help you avoiding getting mad looking for weird or complicated ways to combine the exercises and not wasting time understanding how much load you can start with.

On a general basis, the main goal of weighted routines is to provide your body with an adaptation to new loads that are indeed additional to your own bodyweight so to progressively activate a process that leads the C.N.S. as well as muscles to increase consequently the overall strength.

The new increment not only will help you developing more and more strength, but also acts indirectly on building a proper foundation of tendons and ligaments so to progress also with the skills.

CAN I MIX WEIGHTED BASIC CALISTHENICS EXERCISES WITH THE SKILLS’ ONES?!

As you might wonder from this paragraph’s title, I’d like to open a little bracket before going more in depth of the routines and I think it’s necessary to make things clear regarding the question above.
As a matter of fact, the thought about mixing weighted Calisthenics exercises with the common progressions of the skills or also compound exercises, is nothing new.

It surely depends on which are your priorities because of the following two main reasons:

  • If you wanna achieve the maximum results in terms of bulking and strength increase, well in this case you might wanna “isolate” your weighted Calisthenics trainings from the skill ones.
    In this way you’ll be able to concentrate all the energies and focus the C.N.S. on developing the strength needed to pull or push your bodyweight plus additional weight, in all different work planes.
    Of course, it’s not forbidden combining such bodyweight exercises (with additional weight) with some other strengthening exercises such as deadlifts, barbell squats, dumbbell lunges, weighted pistol squats and so on.
    Say, you train three times a week for instance you can choose to dedicate a whole session to weighted Calisthenics while the next one you can instead focus on skills’ progression and so on
  • If instead your goal is to maintain a decent level of progression also of the skills because you don’t wanna lose a month (or sometimes more) focusing only on strict basic weighted Calisthenics exercises, well in this case the opposite choice is the best.
    By “opposite choice” I mean fact that, you can split your weighted Calisthenics exercises into different workouts throughout the week.
    In this way you can keep a good level and quality of the execution (without lacking of strength so to increase progressively the loads) while keep training also the skills

These are the two best ways that, in my opinion, can work fairly so to enjoy your trainings either you decide to combine them, hence weighted Calisthenics exercises with skills’ progressions or strict basic weighted Calisthenics exercises targeting the strict strength development.

WEIGHTED CALISTHENCIS ROUTINES: WHICH AND HOW

Below I’m going to enlist three of the best routines you can test on yourself, that will help you understanding the mechanics of adding weights into your trainings as well as the periodical progression to follow in order to see concrete results.
All the routines are aiming to increase the strength, first thing first, since they’re all strength protocols and they can be adopted to whichever level you are at this very moment.
Don’t forget of course that, whichever level after you have mastered all the basics with a consistent volume in terms of reps and sets always for a matter of conditioning.

BILL STARR 5×5 CYCLE

With this strength protocol the goal is to increase the strength, but not until 100%.

The schedule indeed, works in a way that each repetition represents the 85-90% of your body’s strength (according to your level) hence we are referring here to the submaximal strength.
It is highly suggested for all those who are newbies to weighted exercises since it represents a very effective method to develop the initial strength; later on you will eventually be able to switch to other different cycles that will better focus on developing instead the maximal strength.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE INITIAL WEIGHT: as we said above, according to which is your level, choose a load that allows you to perform at least 6-7 RM (Maximum Repetitions).
It’s very important to pay attention to such element, since if you choose a load that instead allows you to perform 5 sets but in each one of them, you might be able to start with 5 reps then 3, 2, 1 and eventually fail the last one, this means that you have overestimated your possibilities.

HOW MANY SETS AND REPS AND HOW LONG LASTS THIS PROTOCOL: strictly follow the rules so to perform always 5 sets x 5 reps for 25 reps total, at the end.
In terms of time, this protocol is considered to be working on a weekly basis and it can be applied to all main basic Calisthenics exercises.
This means that, if you also chose the correct load, the first week you might be able to perform sets and reps as follows:

  • 1st set x 5 reps
  • 2nd set x 5 reps
  • 3rd set x 4 reps
  • 4th set x 4 reps
  • 5th set x 3 reps

So in this case your total would be: 5+5+4+4+3 = 21 reps total

The second week, if you have properly rested after the previous workouts, there’s a high possibility that your body have regenerated completely, enough to start all the way from the beginning the cycle, but with a very significant difference that is:

  • 1st set x 5 reps
  • 2nd set x 5 reps
  • 3rd set x 5 reps
  • 4th set x 5 reps
  • 5th set x 4/5 reps
  • 5+5+5+5+4/5 = 24-25 reps total

As you can see the chances that you might be able to perform almost in each set already 5 reps or maybe one less in the last set, so to have a total around 24/25, is simply great and trust me, it works!!!

So, once you have achieved the 25 total reps with clean form of course for each exercise you choose, that’s the sign your body is giving that has first of all increased its level of strength and that is now ready for a new increment.

The increment of weight goes in the order of 5-10% maximum according to which is your level of strength and anyway, your previous load.

HOW CAN I COMBINE THE EXERCISES IN THIS PROTOCOL: the best choice would be to follow the classic rule of Calisthenics, which sees mixing a pushing exercise with a pulling one so to create an effective combination.

Said that, here are some simple examples:

  • 5x5reps PULL-UPS
  • 5x5reps DIPS
  • 5x5reps CHIN-UPS
  • 5x5reps PUSH-UPS
  • 5x5reps PUSH-UPS
  • 5x5reps DEADLIFTS

JIM WENDLER’S 5-3-1 CYCLE

PURPOSES OF THE CYCLE: another great strength protocol that aims to develop, opposite to the previous cycle, the maximal strength and it can be adopted once again for most of the bodyweight and non-bodyweight exercises, hence also bench press, shoulder press, squats, deadlifts and so on.

The real utility of this method comes from the fact that, you develop the maximal strength while working progressively towards it with loads far from it.

All percentages are calculated indeed on 90% of the maximal and by doing that, you will let your body be safe from injuries avoiding excessive efforts.

A mono-frequency approach that lets you focus on a single movement such as pull-ups for instance, by dedicating a specific workout/day of the week just to it.

PERIODIZATION ON A MONTHLY BASIS : here’s the progression schedule how should look like, supposing that for instance you decide to dedicate Monday to practice with this cycle on a monthly basis, hence three weeks of training (one day a week) + one week of de-load (one day):

MONDAY (1st week):

  • 1 set x 5 reps @ 65% of maximal
  • 1 set x 5 reps @ 75% “
  • 1 set x 5 reps (or more) @ 85% “

MONDAY (2nd week):

  • 1 set x 3 reps @ 70% of maximal
  • 1 set x 3 reps @ 80% “
  • 1 set x 3 reps (or more) @ 90% “

MONDAY (3rd week):

  • 1 set x 5 reps @ 75% of maximal
  • 1 set x 3 reps @ 85% “
  • 1 set x 1 rep @ 95% “

MONDAY (4th week – de-load):

  • 1 set x 5 reps @ 40% of maximal
  • 1 set x 5 reps @ 50% “
  • 1 set x 5 reps @ 60% “

I decided not to mention the specific rests in between sets since it’s very personal, so depending on each subject, it may vary.

HOW TO PROGRESS USING THIS METHOD: in regards of the progression, say you have completed the first cycle and it’s now time to repeat it in order to keep improving.
Well, the mechanic works like that: increase the previous maximal weight of 2,5 KG, especially if you are using it for pull-ups/chin-ups and dips, re-calculate the 90% of it and start all the way from the beginning with the new load.

STRENGTH PROTOCOL (MESOCYCLES)

This strength protocol, as for the previous cycles/methods analyzed, works very well for all main Calisthenics basic exercises such as pull-ups/chin-ups, dips and push-ups.
Let’s take a look at how it’s built and which periodization you have to follow.

THE PERIODIZATION: to make the example more clear and understandable, I’m going to show you below a table that summarizes the concept of periodization very well.
Basically, you should split the workouts throughout three months, hence 3 weeks a month of work and here the targeted exercise are pull-ups.
Another important consideration to make before going in depth of the table is that, you are supposed to be capable of performing at least 8-10 clean reps of pull-ups as a prerequisite:

1st
period: weeks 1-3
5
x 5 method
2’
rest in between sets
2nd

period: weeks 4-6

Pyramidal

sets: 5/4/3/2/1

2’30”

rest in between sets

3rd

period: weeks 7-9

Maximal

strength: (100%=1RM x 5/6 sets)

3’

rest minimum

example
of progression
1stweek
1
x 5
1
x 5
1
x 4
1
x 3
1
x 3
2ndweek
1
x 5
1
x 5
1
x 5
1
x 4
1
x 4
3rdweek
1
x 5
1
x5
1
x 5
1
x 5
1
x 5
Start
with 1 set x 5 reps with the previous load used for the 5 x 5,
then perform the other remaining sets with an increment of about
2-3% according to your body structure and strength level
Here
as you can see more in detail above, you will perform 5/6 sets x 1
rep with the maximum load so to develop the maximal strength,
that’s why you have also to take a longer rest of at least 3’
in between sets

VERY IMPORTANT : now that you have the full periodization, make sure to test your level of strength before starting the monthly cycle.
This means that before you determine your maximal strength, in order to define the weight to use in the 5 x 5 first cycle.
At the very end of the three monthly cycles then, to the opposite, you will test which has become your new level of strength.
Also, don’t forget that, if after performing and completing the first cycle 5 x 5 you feel sore and tired physically, nothing prevents you from taking a week off to rest (de-load) and then start the week after with the next cycle.
So, make sure not to over-train or to exceed with the efforts, just take your time and do things the right way.

IF YOU ARE GOING TO DOUBT SOMETHING..DOUBT YOUR LIMITS!

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