If you’re here to find the best calisthenics books to accelerate your badass bodyweight training goals, you’re in the perfect place!
I first became interested in calisthenics when I realized I couldn’t do a single pull-up. (This will never cease to bother me, as I had been a personal trainer for years by that time!).
After I stumbled along through training and finally mastered my first one, I became fascinated by what our bodies are capable of. And calisthenics just hits different than lifting heavy weights or – dare I say it? – even being able to run far distances.
Can you tell I was a cross country runner for a large part of my life?
There’s something so crazy cool about being able to lift, support, and manipulate your own body. Having the control and strength do perform calisthenics exercises makes you feel so empowered.
Since I personally love learning more and more about the amazing skill – and you clearly do too or you wouldn’t be here – I’m excited to share the 5 best calisthenics books in 2023.
Whether you’re a calisthenics beginner or are looking to level up your skills, you will find the perfect book below to up your game.
Please note: Check with your physician before starting any exercise routine or starting any particular diet. See this Disclaimer for more details. This post may contain affiliate links. For details, please visit my Disclosure page. Thank you!
Why You Should Get a Calisthenics Book ASAP
What is calisthenics and why is it a great type of exercise?
Calisthenics is a type of strength training that uses only your bodyweight. While this could be something as simple as a squat, it could also be something as complex as a planche. It’s pretty incredible how difficult calisthenics exercises quickly become.
Calisthenics is so beneficial because it strengthens your body while also forcing you to increase mobility and flexibility. Since many are functional movements – mimicking things we do in daily life – they also allow us to get stronger for our day-to-day, as well as lessen our chance of injury.
Just like with weight lifting, there are many ways to make calisthenic moves harder so you can continually progress. Look at some of the amazing moves that can be accomplished:
What criteria did each book have to meet to make the list below?
There are a LOT of calisthenics books out there now, but they are definitely not created equal. Unfortunately, some books seem to be thrown together without much thought. Way too many lack pictures or good details on how to work up to a tough move.
In order to make the best calisthenics book list below, each needed to:
- Be written by someone who has real calisthenics knowledge and experience
- Devote a good portion of the book to actual calisthenic exercises and workout plans (you wouldn’t believe how many fill their pages with mostly mentality advice and nutrition plans – which yes, are important. But you’re buying a calisthenics book to…um…have a calisthenics book.)
- Go beyond very basic moves like regular lunges and push-ups
- Offer advice and progressions on the moves
- Have pictures so you can ensure you’re doing the moves properly
5 Best Calisthenics Books in 2023
1. Complete Calisthenics: The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Exercise (2nd Ed.)
Ashley Kalym set out to write the calisthenics book he wanted for himself, but couldn’t find. This book details many difficult calisthenics exercises and their progressions. People are divided about whether this book is best for beginners, some arguing that the moves are too advanced and others saying they felt there were appropriate progressions. I’d say it’s best to have an exercise base if you purchase this one.
2. Calisthenics: The True Bodyweight Training Guide Your Body Deserves
Contrary to what the cover suggests, this is a better option for calisthenics beginners. While John Cooper has a military background, he also has years of experience as a personal trainer. This book focuses on 30 essential exercises and then presents intermediate and advanced options. It’s a great book to get if you’re just getting started on your calisthenics journey.
3. Get Strong : The Ultimate 16-Week Transformation Program for Gaining Muscle and Strength
This book is written by the Kavadlo brothers, both of whom have incredible calisthenic backgrounds. It features a unique workout program that has “tests” before you can progress to the next level. The 16 week program is broken down into four phases, each four weeks long. You’ll do their workouts 3-4 times per week, depending on the phase you’re in.
Very well thought out, this is a book well worth your investment.
4. Overcoming Gravity
Yes, the word calisthenics is not even in the title. But there’s a reason this book has a 4.8/5 stars on Amazon with over 1,700 reviews. It is very, very in-depth, with many helpful progressions for each exercise. It’s definitely the most detailed on this list. If you’re serious about calisthenics and really want accomplish amazing things, this is the book for you.
5. Convict Conditioning
When I first saw this book, I thought it was for people in prison. And as he writes in the beginning of the book, apparently the author Paul Wade was actually an inmate for 19 years.
Regardless of the title, Convict Conditioning is a great calisthenics book. It focuses on the big six moves: push-ups, squats, pull-ups, leg raises, bridges, and handstand push-ups. This is another great book for those serious about making real progress in their calisthenics journey.
All of these are great books to help you learn how to get better at calisthenics exercises. Calisthenics is a very accessible option for fitness training, but often gets tough and frustrating really fast. Having someone with experience to guide you through makes all the difference!