How To Get Ripped Using Only Bodyweight Exercises


One question I get a lot is if it’s possible to get ripped without having access to a gym.

Even though I don’t train a ton of bodyweight workouts myself (I just like the gym to much hehe), I’ve still done my fair share of bodyweight training and I’ve found it to work very well. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Can you get ripped using only bodyweight exercises? The main goal of working out to build strength and muscle is to achieve progressive overload, which basically means getting better and stronger overtime. And this is definitely achievable training only with your own bodyweight.

Some people believe that you can’t build a lot of muscle with bodyweight training. But, why then do the guys at Santa Monica Beach in LA or Thompson Square Park in New York look incredibly ripped doing almost exclusively bodyweight training?

Muscle beach calisthenics

In fact, some of the best physiques I’ve ever seen were built by using bodyweight training. Or at least bodyweight training took up the majority of their training program.

Why Bodyweight Training Works Well For Making You Ripped

Bodyweight training works well because the main goal of training for getting ripped is to achieve progressive overload. This means that as long as you’re doing more work and are making the exercises you do harder and more challenging overtime, then you will see incredible gains.

For example, if you build your way up from doing regular bodyweight pull-ups to multiple strict muscle ups, well then your back and biceps will have no other choice than to grow.

The same is true with regular push-ups, build these up to one-arm push-ups for multiple reps and your chest, shoulders and triceps will grow like nothing else.

This is the reason why guys practicing calisthenics looks like this:


So as you can see, getting ripped using mostly bodyweight exercises works very well, you just need to make sure you’re getting stronger and better at it overtime. In fact, there are even a few benefits of doing bodyweight training as opposed to training with weights. Here they are:

The Six Benefits Of Bodyweight Training

Benefit #1 – Work Out Anywhere


With bodyweight training you can workout anywhere you want. Training outside when it’s good weather is just an incredible feeling. If you haven’t trained outdoors before, make sure you give it a try. It’s awesome! Just find a spot that has a pull-up bar and you’re set for a great workout.

The world is filled with outdoor gyms, such as in parks and schools etc. and almost every city have at least a coupe of these places.

Another huge benefit that comes with being able to workout anywhere is that you don’t lose your gains when you can’t make it to the gym, such as when you’re away on a vacation or times when you’re very busy.

With bodyweight training, you can quickly crank out a good workout wherever you are. Everyone can just drop down and on the floor and do a set of push-ups or why not one-arm push-ups! It’s the commute back and forth to the gym that takes up most of your time.

Benefit #2 – Bodyweight Training Will Build Your Core & Coordination

In order to do most of the bodyweight exercises well you need a strong core. When you build up to one-arm pull-ups, one-arm push-ups and front leavers, your core will just feel and look incredible!

Exercises like these forces your body to be centered, balanced and stable in order for you to do the movement correctly, so your core has to become extremely strong. Consistent work of these kind of exercises will build a strong, dense and chiseled set of abs.


Benefit #3 – Bodyweight Training Promotes Aesthetics

Bodyweight training promotes incredible aesthetics simply because you need to be very lean! The less fat you carry on your body the more effective you will be at performing the exercises. Not only that, I’ve always found that bodyweight training actually makes it easier to get and stay lean than what lifting heavy in the gym does.

I don’t know why this is really, but my best guess is that it’s less stressful on the central nervous system to work out with “only” your bodyweight. I also think that it’s because dieting and body weight training complement each other so well. Getting leaner and losing fat improves your bodyweight training performance, while dropping weight tends to decrease your weight training performance.

In fact, one of the most frustrating things that usually happens as you’re cutting down to low levels of body fat is that the weights you train with in the gym have to come down a bit. This might lead to you subconsciously putting a crimp in your diet to try and maintain your lifts. Whereas, with bodyweight training getting to a lower body fat will just make it easier to move your body through space.

This is something I’m noticing all the time. In fact, just a 3 to 4 pound drop in fat weight usually improves my bodyweight performance a lot.

Another big reason why bodyweight training promotes great aesthetics is because of improvements in relative strength. In fact, relative strength is the greatest indicator of aesthetics.

The number one reason why people who are masters of bodyweight training have such incredible physiques is because they must stay lean. If they gain 10 pounds of weight, they must make sure that each of these pounds is of quality. Gaining fat won’t cut it; but gaining muscle will. This is quite the opposite to weight training, where you can gain 20 lbs and half of it being fat and it won’t make any difference.

Bodyweight training will incentivize you on both a conscious and unconscious level to manage your body fat levels. If you goal is to build muscle, you’ll be eating to build only lean muscle mass and not fat.

Benefit #4 – Bodyweight Training Looks Cool

Training with bodyweight movements for several months will enable you to do some of the coolest variations of exercises known to man. In fact, don’t get surprised if people stop what they’re doing just to admire you.

Just imagine if you could do half of what these guys can do:

*Video from the Beast of The Barz competition at Fitnessfestivalen Stockholm 2018

The thing is that, in today’s world it’s not uncommon at all to see 300+ bench presses and 500+ deadlifters. But what’s totally rare is to see someone who’s mastered their own bodyweight, like the guys in the video above. It’s insanely cool in my opinon.

This is also the reason why Hollywood films turn to bodyweight exercises for workout scenes and clips… For example, in the show Arrow, Stephen Amell is doing muscle ups, hanging leg raises and one arm push-ups in the training montage scene. And people totally flipped over that montage!


Bodyweight training has an incredible impact on impressing people, in addition to helping you build a truly breathtaking physique, so don’t miss out on incorporating it into your workout protocol regardless what you’re currently doing.

Benefit #5 – Bodyweight Training Helps You Stay Injury-Free

Injuries from lifting weights is very common and it seems to be part of the game for a lot of lifters. This could be a pinched lower back, creaky joints or a nagging shoulder, whatever it is it seems that injuries are just a part of lifting in the weight room for most people.

In fact, I’m always getting aches and pains from lifting weights. However, interestingly enough when I do bodyweight exercises my pain just seems to diminish and eventually go away.

This has to do with the bodyweight exercises ability to keep the body in a proper and natural position. This is a lot healthier to the body that what lifting weights are.

Furthermore, doing periods of bodyweight training adds a lot more variety to your training as well, which can both help you stay injury-free and also allow you to move pass strength training plateaus in your weight lifting.

For example, if you keep trying to progress on a movement that has stalled, you will usually regress and get weaker. This is called monotonous overtraining, which is a form of maladaptation of the neuromuscular system. Your central nervous system requires a new and fresh stimulus to continue making gains and that new fresh stimulus can come from a bodyweight exercise.

Benefit #6 – Bodyweight Training May Activate More Muscle

This is a very cool potential benefit of bodyweight training. There’s something called closed-chain exercises and open-chained exercises. Closed-chain exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups and pistols (one-legged squats) are when your hands are fixed to an object while your body is moving freely trough space.

Open-chained exercises such as the bench press, lat pull-down and leg press on the other hand, are when your body is fixed and your hands or feet are moving through space.

What’s interesting is that closed-chain movements (bodyweight movements) actually help activate more muscle, while they’re also being easier on your joints. This is the reason why very few people get injured from doing push-ups as opposed to bench presses.

Get Strong On These Five Bodyweight Movements

If you want to build a ripped physique that’s aesthetic and well-balanced using bodyweight training, then make sure you incorporate these five exercises into your training plan.

I got these exercises from Kinobody’s Bodyweight Mastery Program and they work amazingly well!

Exercise #1 – Push-up Variations

The push-up is the most well known exercise in the world – and for good reasons! It’s a simple yet very effective exercise at building pushing strength and to increase muscle mass on your chest, triceps and even front delts.

Push-ups also work your core hard and will increase stability and core strength immensely, especially as you build them up to one-arm push-ups. Your goal is to eventually progress to doing push-ups with your feet elevated.

Once you’re able to do elevated one-arm push-ups your strength and muscle development in your upper body and core will be insane!

Exercise #2 – Pull-up Variations

One of the most functional exercise known to man is to hang from a bar and pull yourself up so that your chin passes the bar! No exercise builds your upper back and biceps as well as pull-ups of different variations do.

In fact, in order to build that V-taper look your goal should be to become a beast on the bar. Once you’re able to crank out multiple reps of weighted pull-ups, a few muscle-ups and even a couple of one-arm pull-ups then your back and biceps will be incredibly strong and big.

*Don’t forget to get a good belt that you can attach your weights to. My absolute favorite are the Brute belt. You can learn more about it here.

Furthermore, pull-ups also help to develop great shoulder width. Surveys made on both women and men state that the most attractive male physique is one with broad shoulders and a slim waist. In fact, here are the ratios they’ve find to be the most attractive:


And pull-ups support this look very well!

Exercise #3 – Handstand Push-ups

In order to build a great upper body push-ups aren’t enough, we also need to work on vertical presses as this will support well-developed, broad and round looking shoulders.

broad-shouldersNothing exudes masculinity and power as much as great shoulder development. And the key to building amazing shoulders is to get very strong on pressing stuff over your head, like yourself!

So it’s time to get upside down! Doing handstand push-ups against a wall will help you develop great looking, powerful shoulders.

Over your weeks and months of training try your best to build up your handstand push-up to 10 strict reps with your hands elevated on blocks or parallel bars, this will cause full range of motion and leave your with a set of incredibly strong shoulders!

Exercise #4 – Pistol Squats

It’s no secret that the best exercise for complete leg development is the squat as it involves all the major muscles in the lower body. So, when working with our own bodyweight, doing full squats on one leg is incredibly effective.

This exercise is called the pistol squat since it resembles a pistol at the bottom of the movement. One huge advantage of the pistol squat over the traditional barbell squat is that the lower back isn’t a limiting factor.

A few other benefits of the pistol squat is that they increase coordination, balance and flexibility. When you can explode up on your pistol squats for multiple reps, you will have grown some serious legs that will allow you to jump high and sprint fast!

The next step in your pistol squat progression is to do pistol jump squats and weighted pistol squats. When you can do that you’re legs will be and look extremely athletic.

Exercise #5 – Hanging Leg Raises & Front Leavers

We already got a bit of core from the other exercises in this list, but we need some direct targeting of your six pack as well. And no exercise beats the effectiveness and athletic carry-over to other exercises than hanging leg raises.

Once you’re able to do strict full range of motion leg raises, the next step is to work towards doing front leavers. Front leavers is a cool exercise that will develop your abs incredibly well! Not only will the front leaver build powerful abs, the exercise also helps to further develop your lats!

There’s More to Getting Ripped Than Just The Exercises

Even though everyone can get ripped, it still requires some work and dedication. You can’t just take the exercises from this list and do them a few times and expect to look incredible.

No getting a ripped physique is a process of getting stronger with the exercises overtime, which requires a well set up progression model. You also need to make sure that you’re eating the right amount and kind of food to ensure muscle growth and fat loss.

But I’m 100 % certain you can get the physique you’re after, if I did it so can you! And if you get the right guide you’ll get there quicker and with a lot less hassle.

And this is why I recommend that you get a course that’ll guide you through the process step by step, so that you can see the results you’re after sooner rather than later.

It took me 2 years of spinning my wheels in the gym before I jumped the gun on a course, and it’s safe to say that it helped me get in shape A LOT quicker and I wish I would have done it sooner.

If you’re interested in bodyweight training I recommend the Bodyweight Mastery Program created by Greg from Kinobody. It’s a great program for getting in awesome shape using bodyweight exercises only.

Not only will you get, what is in my opinion, the best program to be able to achieve the toughest bodyweight exercises out there, you’ll also get a complete nutritional guide that’ll get you in great shape!

So, check out the Bodyweight Mastery Program here. You won’t be disappointed!

Related Questions

Can you get lean with bodyweight exercises? Getting lean all comes down to your diet. In order to reveal your abs and get defined muscles you need to lose fat. This is done by eating in a calorie deficit, while doing resistance training.

It’s important that you don’t set up a too large of a calorie deficit, as this could cause muscle loss. Want to learn how to set up a good calorie deficit for fat loss, check out this article (or video.)

Niklas Lampi

My name is Niklas Lampi and I work as a fitness writer, nutritional consultant and personal trainer. My favourite exercise is the bench press and my favourite food is pizza!

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