Can You Get Ripped With Bodyweight Exercises?

can you get ripped with bodyweight exercises
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Can You Get Ripped With Bodyweight Exercises?

As more people realize the potential of bodyweight exercising, the more popular it becomes.  Whether it’s building strength or losing weight, calisthenics has proven to be an ideal alternative to weight training.  But more strength and lower weight do not equate to having ripped muscles.  So can you get ripped with bodyweight exercises?  The answer is yes – but there is more to it than that.

can you get ripped with bodyweight exercises

It’s no secret that many people exercise to be able to show off more impressive physiques.  Getting toned muscles (AKA being “ripped”) is a part of that goal, along with getting bigger muscles overall.  Similar to building muscle mass, focusing on getting toned muscles with calisthenics has a double benefit:  it will also build your strength for making progress on tough calisthenic moves, like levers or one-armed pushups.


Can You Get Ripped With Bodyweight Exercises? The Basics:

Your Genetics Affect Your Results

Obviously, your inherent body type will play a role in how toned you will get.  Some people are blessed with DNA that REALLY makes their toned muscles pop, while others are less so.  I don’t think this should discourage anyone though, because if you do work at it, you will understand your body better.  And when you understand your body, you will know how best to adapt your workouts and get the results you want.


Range of Motion is Key

Don’t slack off with your range of motion with ANY of your exercises.  You need to go with a full range of motion with every single move.  Will this tire you out faster?  Yes.  But you will target more muscles than you may think, and it will all come together for a more toned look.


Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Along with a full range of motion, it is important that you do every single rep slowly and methodically if your goal is to tone your muscles.  Some people actually time every single rep: 2 seconds against the resistance (your body), 1 second of holding at the apex of the move, and then 3 seconds when releasing.

can you get ripped with bodyweight exercises


Range of Motion and Speed of Reps: An Example

Let’s look at the pushup.  It’s a great move for your chest and triceps no matter how you do it.  But let’s look beyond just the chest and triceps.  You also push with your shoulders.  You maintain a flat position with your core and buttocks.  Think about ALL the muscles you engage with just one single pushup.

So, get in the pushup position:

Legs outstretched behind you, hands on the floor below your chest, arms extended.

Then, slowly lower yourself and count to three until your chest is almost touching the floor:

One, two, three.

Now, hold yourself down there for one full second!can you get ripped with bodyweight exercises

And then push yourself back up – ALL the way back up.  Even when your arms are full extended, push yourself up those extra few inches with your shoulders!  All the while, you count to two:

One, two.

Not like the typical pushup, is it?  Now do this with every move, every time you work out.


Diet Is King

You can work yourself out til you’re blue in the face (actually, don’t do that), but at the end of the day, the biggest factor in getting those tired muscles ripped will be in what you do AFTER you work out.  A caloric surplus will be important for building muscle mass, but for actual toning you will want to focus on low-fat, REAL foods. 

You must eat LOTS of vegetables (raw, frozen or cooked).  Make salads a standard part of your daily meals – romaine, kale, spinach, along with other veggies that you love.  Include cooked veggies like peppers, broccoli, and squash with your dinner.

Lean proteins are also critical.  Fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts, poultry, and beans are some of the best you can get.

For many, the diet aspect of working out is the hardest part.  You can check out this calorie calculator to keep track of yourself when you first start.  Once you make healthy dieting a habit, you won’t need to do that since it will become routine for you.  Stop eating at restaurants every day!  Do you REALLY know what’s going into those meals?  I love my home cooked meals.


Variety Is the Spice of Life (And of Getting Ripped)

You can never go wrong with the standard calisthenic moves: pushups, pullups, squats, dips, lunges, leg lifts… Yadda yadda yadda.  Don’t ever stop doing them!


Still, adding variety to your workouts will continue to challenge your muscles and make them more defined.  Maybe, one day a week, or a couple times a month, take a break from the calisthenic training and do a complete resistance band workout instead.  There are still loads of great bodyweight-focused moves that you can do with resistance bands – they are similar in the muscles targeted, but at the same time many new ones will be hit as well.


Don’t Count Reps – Time Them

Instead of worrying about how many, worry about how long.  Timing your reps allows you to truly focus on your form and range of motion.  I can’t emphasize that enough, especially when it comes to getting ripped.  Whether you set a clock for ten minutes and devote those ten minutes to pushups, do the 3-1-2 count for your reps until failure, or BOTH, the progress you make will be phenomenal.

Yes, I still count reps myself.  It’s a hard habit to break.  But I also focus on a full range of motion, and timing each rep to ensure that I can keep toning my muscles a little bit more with every workout.


Can You Get Ripped With Bodyweight Exercises? Yes!

If you follow my advice above and commit yourself to it forever, your muscles will get toned while you also make progress towards your other fitness goals.  So if you’ve asked this question like so many others: can you get ripped with bodyweight exercise? the answer is a hard yes, as long as you commit to it.  Oh, and remember to stretch!


Is getting ripped one of your calisthenic fitness goals?  Let me know how it’s going in the comments below!

can you get ripped with bodyweight exercises



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