Weighted Calisthenics 101 – Best Exercises, Equipment, and Tips

weighted vest workout

Are you tired of adding more and more reps?

Are you interested in taking your calisthenics training to the next level?

In this blog post, we will cover all there is to know about weighted calisthenics including exercises you can do at home or in a gym setting using different pieces of equipment; helpful tips on how beginners should approach it; and ultimately how to make the most out of every workout session!

What is Weighted Calisthenics?

Weighted calisthenics, also known as weighted bodyweight exercises or resistance training, is a form of exercise that involves using additional weight to intensify movements and increase the level of difficulty.

This type of workout combines traditional calisthenic exercises with added external resistance, such as dumbbells, kettlebells, weight vests, or even household items like water bottles or books.

Why do weighted calisthenics?

  • Increase Intensity

  • Increase Strength
  • Progressive Overload

  • Can Be Done Anywhere

While calisthenics generally use a person’s body weight as the primary form of resistance, weighted calisthenics take it to the next level by adding extra weight.

This allows for progressive overload, which is essential for building strength and muscle mass. The added resistance challenges the muscles, forcing them to adapt and grow stronger over time.

Weighted calisthenics is a versatile form of exercise that can be done anywhere, making it a popular choice for those who prefer to work out at home or in outdoor settings.

It also offers a wide variety of movements and exercises, targeting different muscle groups and allowing for a full-body workout.

Equipment to Use

Here are a few pieces of equipment you can use to do weighted calisthenics:

Weighted calisthenics- weight vest and weight belt

Weighted Vest

Weight vests are great for giving you an even distribution of added weight. Instead of feeling like the weight is dragging you down, the vest will make you feel heavier.

This is one of the best pieces of equipment you can have for weighted calisthenics since it’s versatile.

Ankle Weights

Ankle weights are great for exercises like leg raises, walking, or even jumping jacks. There aren’t that many exercises that can be used with ankle weights, but it can be helpful for the ones that allow for it.

Weight Belt

Weight belts, also known as dip belt, is great because you’re able to load up even more weight than a vest.

These are typically cheaper than most weight vests but are limited to a couple of exercises like dips and pull-ups.

Weight Plates

Plates are another versatile external weight. For an at-home DIY weight vest, you can load up a backpack with plates to simulate the same effect.

You can also put the plate on your back during push-ups and planks.

Best Weighted Calisthenics Exercises

Here are some of the best-weighted calisthenics exercises to incorporate into your workout routine:

Upper Body

Weighted pull-ups

Use a weighted vest, dip belt, or backpack filled with weight. This exercise targets the back, biceps, and core muscles.

weighted pull ups - bokeyfit.com

You can use any variation you’re comfortable with like chin-ups, standard pull-ups, or even neutral grip.

Weighted push-ups

Place a weighted plate on your back or use a vest while performing push-ups to increase the difficulty and target the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Just like pull-ups, you can use any variation you want, like wide grip, diamond push-ups, pike push-ups (for shoulders), or just normal push-ups.

Weighted dips

weigthed dips

Use a weight belt or hold a dumbbell between your feet while performing dips to work the chest, triceps, and shoulders.

Lower Body

Weighted squats

Hold a weighted object at your chest or over your head while performing squats to target the legs, glutes, and core muscles.

Weighted lunges

weighted lunges

You can hold dumbells, use ankle weights, or wear a weight vest while performing lunges to target the legs and glutes.


Weighted planks

Place a weighted plate on your back or use a vest while holding a plank position to increase the difficulty and target the core muscles.

weighted plank

Keep your body in a straight line and keep your hips from dipping down.

Weighted leg raises

Using a weight vest and even ankle weights, you can increase your grip strength and abs with the added pounds.

Be sure to control your legs as you lower them down to avoid injury to your lower back.

Weighted Calisthenics Workout Example

Here’s a full-body workout example to start weighted calisthenics:

  • Warm/Stretch

  • 3-4 sets of weighted vest Push-ups

  • 3-4 sets of weighted vest Dips

  • 3-4 sets of weighted vest Pull-ups

  • 3-4 sets of weighted vest Rows

  • 3-4 sets of weighted vest Lunges

  • 3-4 sets of weighted vest Squats

  • Cool Down/Plank

Always make sure you’re doing proper form to avoid injury.

Other Ways to Increase Intensity

Don’t get me wrong, weighted calisthenics is great, but for those looking to only use their body weight, there are a few other ways to increase the challenge without having to have a gym or equipment.

Slow your reps

Slowing down your reps is a great way to increase your intensity. Doing this will increase the time under tension.

Do harder variations

If an exercise is becoming too easy, then progress up to a more challenging variation. For example, if normal pull-ups are too easy, you can try muscle-ups or high pull-ups.

Tips for Beginners

Work your way up

Don’t go straight into maxing out your weighted vest or belt. Gradually add weight as you become stronger to avoid strain and injury.

Walk around in your weight vest

Get used to the weight vest and the extra pounds. Walking around with the vest can help your body adapt to the weight and can help it feel less awkward.

walking in weight vest - bokeyfit.com

Also note that with most weight vests, you can feel shoulder discomfort from wearing it too long. This is normal, so make sure to not overdo it when walking around in it. Like the first tip, gradually work your way up.

Do a burnout set without weights

After you finish your sets with the weights, do a set without them to get some more reps in. When you take the weight off your body, you’ll feel much lighter and your form will be much easier to maintain to really pump up your muscles.


Are Weighted Calisthenics Effective?

Yes. Progressing to weighted calisthenics can build serious muscle and strength. At some point, adding reps will take too much time and may even get repetitive/boring.

Doing weighted calisthenics can help increase the overall intensity and provide your body with a new challenge.

How Often Can I Do Weighted Calisthenics?

It depends on your experience and skill level. For someone new to weighted calisthenics, training 1-3 times a week using weights is a safe way for your muscles to adapt.

More advanced calisthenics athletes may do weighted calisthenics every workout since their body is used to this level of intensity.

Listen to your body and gradually work your way up without injuring or straining yourself.

Are Calisthenics Harder if You’re Heavier?

Yes. Whether you’re heavier with external weights or you have a higher body weight, you can expect to struggle a bit more.

If you’re on a bulk, expect to see a slight decline in your reps for bodyweight exercises like pull-ups and push-ups.

This is normal and shouldn’t cause alarm. Your body is working against gravity so it’s expected to be more difficult to carry the weight.

Focus on proper form regardless if your rep count is lower than you’re used to.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, weighted calisthenics offers a great alternative to traditional weight lifting. Not only does it provide a full-body workout without having to go to the gym, but it also allows you to tailor your workouts according to your own level of fitness and goals.

With the right exercises, equipment, and tips from this article, you’ll be well on your way toward reaching your fitness goals faster than ever – what are you waiting for? Get started today and become stronger with weighted calisthenics!

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