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What is the best book to self-learn calisthenics? (My favorite + Alternatives)

My favorite book I recommend and have used to learn the most about bodyweight training is called Overcoming Gravity (Second Edition).

It’s a huge 600 page book written by Steven Low and actually contains everything you need to learn about calisthenics even if you are a complete beginner.

Click here to check it out on Amazon (and learn more)

But in case you want a bit more information, here’s why I like it so much.

What you will learn

  • Who is the author (a bit info about Steven Low)
  • What can you expect to learn from this book?
  • What it contains (table of contents)
  • Why I like it so much (and what I don’t like)
  • Alternatives (other books and videos to learn from)

Who is the author (a bit info about Steven Low)

Steven Low (the author of Overcoming Gravity) is a former professional gymnast with many years of actual bodyweight training.

He also has a PhD in Physical Therapy and actually does what he writes about. 

Because of his years of bodyweight training as a gymnast he can:

  • Hold a 10-second iron cross (one of the most difficult exercises)
  • Do a couple of one-arm chin-ups
  • Can do a muscle-up on gymnastic rings while carrying additional 70 lbs of weight (35 kg)

But the best thing I like about him is the fact that he can actually write in a very understanding way so you can easily grasp and use the new information you can learn from his book. 

What can you expect to learn from this book?

Overcoming Gravity (Second Edition) is a very big book full of useful knowledge you can actually use. (I really hate reading about stuff I won’t be able to apply immediately in my workouts).

Even if the book is very long (around 200-300 pages more than the majority in the same category) somehow I don’t find any parts unnecessary or boring. 

There isn’t any fluff and you can learn useful things from every chapter.

The book is so big that it’s like owning a mini version of Wikipedia for bodyweight training.

But most importantly it’s written in such a way that anybody can learn. Even if you are a complete beginner. 

There’s literally everything you really need to know in order to be successful in bodyweight training.

I’ve read a couple of books in this genre and sadly I can’t say the same for all.

If you want a bit more more info about what exactly you can expect click here and see the official documentation.

What it contains (table of contents)

Because it’s a very long book I’m going to share with you a couple of screenshots of what’s on the table of contents so you can take a grasp of what’s inside and how the book is structured.

Part 1 (Fundamentals)

Here you are going to learn about:

  • Basics of bodyweight training
  • How to train for muscle mass and strength
  • How to progress and create reachable goals
  • How to balance your training
  • How to rest, which exercises to pick, when, etc.
  • Basic Differences between the types of training, people, etc.
Part 2 (Image 1)
Part 2 (Image 2)
Part 2 (Image 3)
Part 2 (Image 4 – Final)

After you learn the basics in part 1 you are going to learn (part 2,3,4,5):

  • How to warm up
  • All the necessary things you need to do in order to workout correctly and efficiently
  • How to progress
  • How to isolate movements, how to improve your flexibility and more
  • How to plan exercises and routines based on mesocycle planning
  • How to avoid overtraining
  • How to handle injuries and sickness
  • What to eat and how it affects you
  • How to construct and progress in a program
  • What are common bodyweight injuries and how to avoid them
  • Recommended equipment, exercises and mistakes
  • All calisthenics movements and exact levels and steps on how to progress (he uses levels)
  • And much more

As you can see there is literally everything you really need packed in one big book. 

Click here if you need more info about what’s included.

Why I like it so much (and what I don’t like)

Things I like about the book:

  • It’s huge and answers almost every question you can possible have about calisthenics
  • There is step-by-step progression for every calisthenics exercise you can think off
  • Everything is written in such a way that you can understand it (even if you are a beginner)
  • The author knows his stuff and is somebody you can learn a lot from

Things I don’t like about the book:

  • It’s currently not available for online for kindle reading (you must buy it on paper)
  • I would prefer it had a bit more illustrations in some sections
  • Even if the majority of the text is easy to understand I don’t like some words and find them a bit advanced (if you are not a native english speaker)

If you like my honest review and would like to give it a try you can currently buy Overcoming Gravity (Second Edition) on Amazon. Click this link to check it out.

Alternatives (other books I have read and like)

If Overcoming Gravity seems too long and complicated for you here are some of my other favorite books I have read and also recommend for calisthenics:

Click the links above to check them out. They are all great.

If you need a bit more info about each one and how they compare with Overcoming Gravity read my in-depth comparison article here.

And don’t forget that learning is really rewarding!


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