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Are People Doing Bodyweight Exercises Skinny? (My Experience)

I have seen hundreds of people doing calisthenics throughout the years and the majority of them are not actually skinny. They are simply very lean, with a low percentage of body fat and have a lot of muscle and size. 

Here’s all the things you need to do to not be skinny with bodyweight training.

What you will learn

  • Why do most people that start doing calisthenics are skinny?
  • Can you be overweight and still do calisthenics?
  • How to build muscle and size with calisthenics (not be skinny)

Why do most people that start doing calisthenics are skinny?

The main reason why most people that start doing calisthenics are skinny is the fact that the less extra weight you carry, the easier it is going to be to do bodyweight exercises.

That’s especially true for pull-ups, chin-ups and dips because they require a lot of strength in your upper body.

And if you carry an extra 40 lbs (20 kg) of weight it will be a lot more difficult for you to do 5 repetitions compared to somebody who carries only 10 lbs (2.5kg) of extra weight.

So that’s why most people you can see in the local public calisthenics playgrounds are skinny or are in great shape.

Can you be overweight and still do calisthenics?

Yes absolutely. While it will be more difficult for you compared to somebody that doesn’t carry a lot of extra weight, you can still build a lot of strength, pack muscle and develop your body.

And because of all that weight you are going to build even more strength at a much faster rate than somebody who is skinny.

According to science that will result in faster muscle mass development which will create more calories burned per day and help you lose weight even faster. [1]

I had a friend that used to be overweight but I wanted to help him get into shape. So we went to the nearby park for a couple of weeks straight and we did basic bodyweight training and a bit of running. 

I won’t lie. It was very hard for him in the beginning to do even a couple of reps because of the extra weight he carried but he was persistent. 

While he could only do 4-5 push-ups and 20 sit-ups at the start he doubled those numbers in a week and kept progressing in all the basic movements.

And soon enough he started building some muscle and became very strong and started dropping the weight.

Today he is in shape and he could even do more reps than me in some areas!

So being overweight is not an excuse not to do push-ups, dips, sit-ups and other popular bodyweight exercises.

Just put in the hard work and even if it’s going to be hard in the beginning you are still going to achieve great results.

How to build muscle and size with calisthenics (And not be skinny)

In order to actually get big and strong while doing calisthenics you need to do these 4 things:

  1. Eat more calories than you burn (with enough protein)
  2. Aim to progress with your training (more reps, weight, harder exercises, less rest, etc.)
  3. Make sure to use proper form and tempo when doing all your training
  4. Get Enough Sleep (get a minimum of 7-8 hours for proper rest) [1]

Here’s a bit more info about each step:

Eat more food: If you don’t want to count calories you should simply aim to eat a lot of healthy nutritious food rich in protein and weigh yourself every week. If you keep gaining weight and it’s not fat but muscle, keep eating the same amount. If you prefer to be more specific, use a free calculator and start counting the calories of every food you eat until you get used to it.

Progress with training: In order to build muscle, strength and size you must progress (or at least try) with every workout you do. Doing the exact same exercises, with the exact same intensity, added weight (if any) and number of reps will get you the same results. You need to push yourself and aim for one more rep, one more set, less rest time or a bit more weight. A great tool I use regularly within my calisthenics progression is my weighted vest. If you don’t have one check it out from here.

Use Proper Form: Doing every exercise with proper form so you can do between 6-12 repetitions with great intensity will help you get faster results. So no matter what, don’t neglect it or you may cause injury or hurt yourself. (Don’t ask how I’ve learned that one…). If you don’t know how to do something simply ask somebody more advanced or look for a free tutorial video on Youtube!

Get Enough Sleep: I know it’s not easy for everybody to achieve this, but give your best to give yourself at least 7-8 hours of healthy sleep every night for maximum muscle recovery based on science. Also you will feel more energetic and be more productive and focused throughout the day.

If you do all those 4 things regularly I can guarantee you that there is no possible way you won’t get bigger and stronger. And best of all – you will not be skinny ever again!


Hey there, my name is Bozhidar and I'm a certified online personal trainer with University Degree in Sports and Nutrition.

With the help of my knowledge and over 8 years of workout experience, I can help you get on the next level. I own a home gym, do calisthenics, little gymnastics, and love to ride a bike.

About me