Ditch The Gym And Build Strength The Old-Fashioned Way

One of the biggest misconceptions held among the modern fitness community is that you need to lift weights in order to pack on some muscle mass and build any real strength.

This is just plain false. As a matter of fact, the best results can come about from ditching the weights altogether. I know I’ve certainly never been so functionally and aesthetically impressive since doing so:

front strength

No flexing or “pumping up” before hand. No goofy lookin’ fake tan or special lighting. Just a casual picture I recently took after returning home from work one day.

I got to this point exclusively using bodyweight exercises, also known as calisthenics. No gym, no weights, no machines. Just my body and gravity.

You Can Get Ripped On Calisthenics Alone

No, I’m not talking about jumping jacks and burpees and all those other exercises you did at the beginning of gym class when you were a kid.

What I’m referring to are the types of bodyweight exercises that focus primarily on improving functional strength, muscle mass and flexibility while burning fat in the process.

I’m talking about multiple variations of:

  • pushups
  • pull-ups
  • squats
  • bridges
  • handstand pushups
  • leg raises
  • human flags
  • and much, much more

You don’t need to invest in a gym membership or any expensive equipment to do any of these.

Why bother with a $500 pull-down machine when you can just pull yourself up on some monkey bars or a door frame pull-up bar and get even BETTER results?

Back strong

Ditch the gym! You don’t need it!

Calisthenics are superior, plain and simple.

But don’t you need to lift heavy weights to build leg strength?

Absolutely not.

Strong LegsStrong Calves

Everything from your butt down to your feet can get a great workout from these three exercises (and their variations) alone:

  • bodyweight squats (most notably pistol squats)
  • bridges (most notably straight bridges)
  • bodyweight calf raises (especially on one leg and/or off of a block/stair)

Explosive jumps, sprints and bodyweight lunges will help get your legs strong as well, but they aren’t necessary.

Don’t they just become endurance workouts after a while?


There isn’t a bodyweight movement around that can’t be made more difficult and thus turned into a strength and muscle-building exercise.

You can always add resistance by adjusting the angle of your body or the distance between your hands or feet. Most of the more advanced exercises are done on only one arm or one leg.

Guys who can crank out 30 fast-paced pushups are a dime a dozen. But good luck finding someone who can do even 5 smooth, controlled one-armed pushups.

The Program

I’ve come across several exercise programs that put a major (if not exclusive) focus on calisthenics, and I don’t doubt most of them get results.

My only gripes with these programs are that they’re either too expensive or far more complicated than necessary.  Most of them don’t always give the best instructions on technique either.

If you’ve looked around this site much, you know I’m a big proponent of simplicity, but never at the expense of quality. That’s why, for over the past 2 years, I’ve based my entire workout routine around this incredibly well-written, detailed and highly entertaining book:

Convict ConditioningConvict Conditioning is THE ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY on calisthenics!

My workout routine is entirely rooted in what I learned from this masterpiece (and its helpful but unnecessary sequel).

Trust me: This stuff WORKS! It works for me and it will work for anyone who adheres to the instructions and progressions laid out.

Whether you’re trying to attain peak physical fitness, or just want to get in better shape without wasting your money on expensive equipment or a gym membership, Convict Conditioning covers it all!

You can check out my book review by clicking the picture below:

Convict Conditioning-Steeveau

5 thoughts on “Ditch The Gym And Build Strength The Old-Fashioned Way

        1. Steeveau Post author

          Back when I lifted weights, I had more your type of build and also weighed about 10 lbs more than I do now. The thing about calisthenics is they naturally work best with whatever natural body weight and body type you have. Bulking up with too much muscle mass will actually hinder you’re progress, but getting that shredded, “chiseled” look is a natural byproduct of it.

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