Making The Move Toward Calisthenics


You’ve made some big changes to your training over the past 2 years. Looking back, was it the right move?


About 2 years ago I decided to switch over to calisthenics.

Bear in mind this was at age 51, after a series of very slow healing injuries conspired to rob me of my ability to squat, deadlift and press as hard as I would have liked.

Generally, I recommend bodyweight stuff make up at least your age insofar as being a percentage of your training.

So in my case, a little more than half the stuff should have consisted of calisthenics – but I’m an all or nothing type guy, so went all in on bodyweight stuff.

So almost 2 years later, was it the right move?

Yes and No

Partially yes, partially no. Let’s talk about why.

Switching to all bodyweight movements (and it was pure BW, at least initially) was certainly the right move for my joints and slow healing injuries.

The improvement in mobility and joint/soft tissue integrity has been noticeable and a welcome change.

As a result, I can still train my body to get stronger in these movements. Whereas previously slow healing groin, hip flexor and lower back injuries prevented that altogether (b/c you can’t squat, deadlift heavy anymore).

But getting stronger as a BW purist took away the simple solution I always liked best – adding a bit of weight every week, and get the same (or ideally, a greater number) of reps.

Yes, you can perform unilateral work instead or switch to more demanding variations of the movement, but again – I just don’t see these as optimal.

That meant progress was more often than not measured in more reps, which really bothered me.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Show me someone who can bench 300lbs once, and I’ll show you someone who can do plenty of reps with 225. The reverse however, is seldom true.

The rep artist using 225lbs can rep himself into oblivion – but will get smashed when going for that 300lb max single.

His CNS just can’t manage the necessary skill to pull off that 1RM.

I’d rather be the first guy.

Which is a long way of saying I should have added weight to exercises like chins, dips etc. earlier than I ultimately did.

Because even with the additional weight, I saw no change to the healthier joints etc. that I’ve enjoyed as a result of performing mostly BW work.

Otherwise I’m quite happy with that change, and continue to maintain 225lbs rather effortlessly.

I also mixed up intermittent fasting more so than in the past, meaning allowing myself some “free eating” days.

To be perfectly honest, it seems to work better.

And finally, stretching and conditioning. I added a ton of both, and neither took anything away from my size and strength, as I feared. If anything, they’ve added to those qualities.


So that’s the 10,000ft overview of the changes I’ve made over the past 2 years. Overall I’d say I’m moving in the right direction.

Meaning I’m adding years to how long I’ll be able to train, vs. continuing down the path I always took. There’s a reason you don’t see 90 year olds squatting and deadlifting heavy in your gym. You will occasionally see very old men doing chin ups though, which is pretty cool in my opinion.

I aim to be one of them.

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Coach Rob Regish

Rob Regish is an internationally recognized name in the field of health and fitness. He's been a weekly contributor to for almost a decade, answering listener questions from around the world.

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