I am training Calisthenics now for a good 6 month and I like it a lot and its really progressing very good. But since the beginning there is one thing that is constantly on my mind, where I am not sure what to do. I don’t do Calisthenics just for the strength or the moves or the fun (although they are a big part) but also for bodybuilding, getting more muscle. I don’t want to be as big as some Weightlifters, but definitely bigger than I currently am. At the same time I want my muscles to be very defined, so I want low body fat.
That is what brings me to my problem. I am not overweight, I would say I have a pretty standard weight for my size (6’1 – 180), but I’m definitely not at the point where I wanna be, I have some fat around my waist I want to get rid of. That leads me to wanting to loose some weight. At the same time I am training to get bigger, and as far as I understand it, to get big you have to eat big (with that said, I don’t use and don’t want to use any supplements or a very one-sided mealplan like say only chicken all the time). So I’m constantly swinging between eating less to get rid of the excess fat and eating more to get bigger, that changes on a weekly basis.
So does anyone have some tips or insights to share regarding this topic? That would be very nice. The rationale I personally come up with, when I think about it, is to first become as big as I want to be and then eat less and loose the excess fat. On the other hand to become big really takes a long time, losing some fat is normally faster and I like my body at the moment enough, that I would be quite happy with just being leaner.
Anyway, thanks in advance for your thoughts.
1) Bulking up may hinder your progress in training, especially for guys like you and I who do calisthenics. Non-funtional bodyweight, i.e., excess fat will get in the way of doing pullups and pushups. We need our bodies to be as light as possible (without sacrificing muscle) in order to be able to do these exercises efficiently and effectively. For two guys of similar strength, who is likely to get more pullups, the lean or chubby guy? Putting on muscle without fat is fine though but chowing down like you mention is unlikely to achieve this.
2) Excess body fat can negatively affect flexiblity, such as the hip flexibility required to fully extend the leg in the pistol squat. As you will have realised, flexibility is very important for strength and calisthenics in general, as well as overall wellbeing.
3) If you keep body fat low, you will achieve the harder exercises in your training more quickly. Once you get enough reps, the harder exercises are more effective in building muscle than the easier ones. Fat will slow you down in achieving this.
4) Last but not least, excess fat is not good for one’s health
I have similar goals to you and I would love to look a little bigger and more powerful than I am now. However, I have gotten over the desire to look immediately bigger and just fuss over whether I am getting stronger or not. I believe that when I hopefully get more advanced in my training, I will automatically have more muscle anyway, without having to focus too much on it. All I worry about is: am I eating enough and am I eating healthy? Is it helping or hindering my training?
Here is a useful article. There is some very good advice we would all do well to take on board:
I am no expert and still learning, so anybody else, please correct me if I have said anything wrong.
There was one other excellent article I forgot to add, which is more detailed:
Plus the one I already put before:
Please have a read of both. Along with the guys here and PCC blog, Steve Maxwell is a goldmine of training information.
Moderator, I hope it’s ok to add links to posts?
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