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Stronglifts and calisthenics [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Jan 9, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Stronglifts and calisthenics 

Stronglifts and calisthenics


Stronglifts and calisthenics can be combined. They might not be the ideal pairing. Both are better paired with some cardio for fitness. If you want to go extreme bodyweight pair calisthenics with yoga. If you want to go hardcore strength pair Stronglifts with lifting stones and prowler work. 

What is your goal 


Why are you looking into combining Stronglifts and calisthenics? You want to get strong and look cool while doing it? Do you want to build strength on various levels? Why you do something matters. It is the deciding factor whether you stick with something or not. Your goals will usually fall into one of these three categories 


  • Looks 
  • Performance 
  • Health


It is important to know where your focus is as these goals have overlap but also have internal conflict.


When you are all about looks the standard is probably Hollywood. Six pack, big biceps, and white teeth. It is great to look good. It opens doors where you that otherwise might remain closed. There is more than enough evidence pointing at that the more attractive you are, the more successful you will be. To obtain these lions you will have to make big sacrifices. Your diet will be very strict. You might take substances which have a long-term impact on your health. You will starve yourself to get below 10% body fat. This can have mental implications and leave you depleted of energy. Not an ideal state for an athlete to be in. Actors might be able to keep up appearances but you have to perform on the field.


If you are all about performance your workout regimen is strict. You can not risk any injuries. You will also pay more attention to whether your workouts have carryover to your sport. Depending on which sport you do diet can be a bit more lenient. As long as you hit the ball or tackle the opponent nobody cares what you had for dinner or whether you have no six pack. Although that can help with sponsorship contracts. The high impact of your sport might have implications for your health. You also might not always look the best. 


If you are all about health you want to avoid health risks. Your training will not go to extremes. There is no real need to touch any metal during your workouts. Your diet allows for sugar and alcohol. This might make you the happiest guy in the room. Without taking any risks it will be unlikely that you will be the prettiest or most successful. The good thing is that you will not care and still live a happy, balanced life with some yoga on a reasonable diet. 


Whatever scenario is most applicable to your circumstances ir desires get your priorities straight. This will help with everything that comes thereafter. 




Stronglifts is one of the most popular beginner lifting programs out there. You will train for three times a week with four weeks off. Stronglifts uses linear progressive overload to make you stronger. This means that the weight is being increased by the same amount each workout for a specific exercise. 


As long as you hit five sets of five repetitions you go up in weight. The only exception is the deadlift which is programmed at 1x5 reps per week.


The exercises you do on Stronglifts are



You will squat every day. All other exercises will be rotated each workout. The goal is to increase the weight lifted each workout. If you fail three times on the same weight you will deload by 10%. 


The biggest advantages of Stronglifts are its simplicity and easy entry point. You will always know whether you did good or bad on any given day. In the beginning, progress will be easy which gives positive reinforcement right from the start. You also do not need to do a one repetition maximum test. This keeps beginners safe compared to other programs which might give them silly ideas.


If you want to know more about Stronglifts you can read my 10-month review of the program.




Calisthenics are bodyweight exercises. Some might even say they are a more modern version of gymnastics. You mostly perform exercises like 


  • Pull-ups
  • Dips
  • Sit-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Handstands
  • Hangs 


You will need a pull-up and dip bar and you are set to go. As you are doing bodyweight exercises there are many variations and movements you can perform. 


The biggest advantages of Calisthenics are its coolness and freedom. Once you have mastered it you can do it anywhere at low cost. It also seems to create great, stones bodies.


The biggest disadvantages of calisthenics are its complexity and lack of clear progression. You have to do calisthenics for a long time to see significant results. It also very hard to see how to get better. 


Can you combine Stronglifts and calisthenics 


You can combine Stronglifts And calisthenics. The question is whether it is an optimal combination. This highly depends on your goals. 


If you want to be an all-round athlete you are probably better of combining one if the two with cardio. This will take care of endurance and strength. 


If your focus is mainly on the strength you might want to combine stronglifts with strongman style work like atlas stones and farmers carries.


I feel that calisthenics is best paired with cardio or yoga. A pairing with Stronglifts is possible but I do not see a clear strategy here. You will neither get incredibly strong or acrobatic by this approach. So what is the point? Make use of your time wisely. 


Further reading 



Topics: Lift stronger, Stronglifts 5x5, Fitness, Strength