If you’re looking to put on some weight, it’s important that you do the right exercises. Some exercises are better for weight gain than others. If you want to make the most of your workout, you need to know which ones they are. You don’t want to waste your time trying to gain weight, only ending up with the same or even lower weight! So in this article, we’re going to cover which exercises help with weight gain.

✊ Many think that super advanced, complex, complicated exercise will help them build muscle and gain weight. However, it’s actually more simple! Let’s talk about the most effective exercises for muscle-building and gaining weight so you don’t waste time in your training.

It’s a common belief that you need external weights such as dumbbells and barbells to build muscle. However, you can 📍build muscle using only your body weight. It takes the proper implementation of the right calisthenics exercises to start building weight and muscle.

If you’re ready to learn more, let’s get started!


🤔Why are some exercises not effective for gaining weight

Not all bodyweight exercises can efficiently build muscles. For example, muscle-ups and burpees are excellent exercises, but they serve other purposes such as a cool “party trick” and endurance-building exercise respectively.

Let’s take a closer look at muscle-ups. While at the surface, you might think this exercise is excellent for gaining weight since you incorporate two high-value muscle-building exercises: dips and pull-ups.

However, the muscle-up requires the technical skill of transitioning from the pull-up to the dip phase. Your muscles can fatigue sooner before you can reach a good amount of training volume for stimulating either your pushing or pulling muscles. You’re better off training dips and pull-ups separately with a higher intensity.

Looking at burpees, the exercise incorporates push-ups which are also a great muscle builder. But because you also need to jump into a squat and follow up it with a jump, you will soon reach fatigue sooner before getting enough upper body stimulation.

☝️So instead of using low-value exercises for weight-gaining purposes, we’ll put our focus on the simple yet effective fundamental calisthenics exercises.



👊Gaining Weight

When people talk about gaining weight, they usually also think about building muscle in the process. However, take note that it is natural also to build minimal layers of fat while gaining weight.

But don’t worry. If your nutrition is intact, you can minimise gaining fats. Or you can also take a separate fat loss phase after gaining weight to reveal the hidden muscles you have built.


What you eat plays an essential role in gaining weight. Not even the best exercises and best programs can help you gain weight if you’re not watching your diet.

You need to consume more calories than you burn. It would be best if you also took in the right nutrients for muscle-building purposes.

A caloric surplus is not an excuse to eat everything under the sun. You’re still better off consuming quality foods that are dense in nutrients and not processed junk food.

Learn more about what you need to eat to gain weight in the best way possible here:📍 Bodybuilding Nutritional Guide

👊Beginners start with foundations

Before you play around with higher-level progressions and exercises, everyone should first refine their calisthenics fundamentals. Setting a good foundation of strength and mobility provides a safe, efficient, and effective way to progress.

Beginners will definitely build muscle even using the easier progressions of the foundations.

Check this out: 📍Beginner Calisthisthenics Workout

Here are the following exercises you would want to focus on if your goal is to gain weight and build muscle.


🎯5 Top Calisthenics Muscle-Building Exercises

Don’t get disappointed that you didn’t see any fancy, complex exercises on this list. To tell you the truth, you just need to work on your CALISTHENICS FUNDAMENTALS to build muscle with📍progressive overload.

This means using the suitable exercise progression for your skill level while getting enough training volume (reps + sets).

You can get more understanding of muscle-building at home in this article: 📍5 Tips to Build Muscle at Home


The pull-up is an amazing exercise to build your back and bicep muscles. While the exercise emphasises the latissimus dorsi or the lats, it also targets other back muscles such as the rear delts, traps, and rhomboids.

You can also increase the level of difficulty by adding weight with a weighted vest or dipping belt or using the 📍one-arm pull-up progression.

But if you find it too challenging, you can begin with other pull-up progressions to build your way towards the actual pull-ups.

Read here: 📍Best Pull-up Progressions for Beginners

If you want to learn more about the pull-up, you check out this article covering all aspects of the exercise: 📍How to Do a Perfect Pull-up: Ultimate Guide


Dips are also known as squats for your upper body. The motion is basically similar but uses your upper body muscles such as your shoulders, chest, and triceps. This is a vital exercise if you want to grow your upper body.

Beginners can start off by using bands or leg assistance. As you grow stronger, you can proceed with the complete dips, add weights, or do ring dips for added intensity.

This exercise can be performed on parallel bars, rings, or even two pieces of sturdy furniture.

For intermediate athletes, free download for ring dip tutorial: 📍The Ultimate Guide to Ring Dips


Normal Push Up

The regular floor push-up is a highly underrated muscle-building exercise. Many gym goers think push-ups are too easy. However, if done with good form and the correct progression, research shares that it can compete with the barbell bench press in terms of strength and muscle development. It’s a great way to build your chest, shoulders, and triceps when combined with your dips.



Squats are a golden exercise for your lower body. When done with the right form, they activate most of the muscles in your lower body, such as your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and even your calves.

To make things more challenging and to add more intensity, you can add weights or do single-leg variations. You can also combine it with other exercises on this list for maximum leg development for 📍tree trunk legs.

🔥Pike push-ups

Pike pushup 90 degree elbow

Building massive shoulders are possible with body weight, thanks to the pike push-ups. This exercise, if done correctly, targets the front and middle shoulders, rhomboids, and traps.

It’s a progression for the 📍handstand push-ups but can also be a stand-alone exercise for shoulder-building purposes.


⭐️Best Exercises by Body Part

Segmenting your routine per body part is an 📍effective workout structure for muscle-building. Let’s cover the most effective exercises for each major body part so you can fix any 📍muscle imbalances while gaining weight.

💯Most Effective Exercises for Biggest Chest


Paused jumping incline push-up

As mentioned earlier, push-ups target the chest with similar results to a barbell bench press granted that weight and training volume are equated.

This means getting enough intensity from your push-ups to start building muscle.

One-arm push-ups

One arm pushup

The one-arm push-up is an 📍advanced push-up progression that targets one side at a time. This unilateral movement allows you to focus on each side of the chest and correct any imbalances.

You can also increase your range of motion by elevating your feet on a box or bench while performing this exercise.



Want a beefy chest? Do dips. No questions asked. You can lean forward to hit the chest harder or keep it simple as maintaining a vertical body.

Ring chest flyes

Credits: BodySpicer

This exercise is an advanced chest exercise that “isolates” your chest for better stimulation. Gymnastics rings are fairly affordable and accessible, so we highly recommend adding this to your routine, especially if you already have mastered your stable-surface dips and normal floor push-ups.

💯Most Effective Exercises for Bigger Shoulder

Pike push-ups

Overhead pressing exercise such as the pike push-ups is crucial for bigger shoulders. The pike push-up can benefit beginners (assuming you already have push-ups) to advanced athletes. Weights can also be added to this exercise for higher intensity.

Wall Handstand push-ups

Facing Wall Handstand Pushups

We recommend using a wall to remove the balance component. A freestanding handstand shows amazing control and strength. However, for muscle-building, the balance component can be a limiting factor. This is why we recommend opting for wall assistance so you can grind out more reps even if you can no longer hold the balance.

Pseudo planche push-ups

Pseudo planche push-up


This exercise is popular for learning and mastering the 📍planche. But because of the easy scalability and no need for balance, the pseudo-planche push-up can also be used to build stronger and bigger front delts.

Simply lean forward to increase the exercise intensity. A very minimal increase in forwarding lean might not be much but adds a ton of difficulty to the exercise.

Ring face pulls

Face pull

The rear deltoids or the back part of your shoulders are a common undertrained muscle group. Ring face pulls solve this problem by targeting this muscle group while also strengthening your rotator cuffs so you can minimize shoulder injuries.

Read more: 📍Best Exercises to Bullet-Proof Rotator Cuffs

Wall handstand shrugs

Want those traps to grow? Then adding wall handstand shrugs to your routine is a must! This exercise is a great trap builder while also working your shoulders, upper back, and core.

💯Most Effective Exercises for Bigger and Wider Back



Pull-ups are a great compound exercise that works the lats, traps, and biceps. This movement is a must for any back workout routine. Would you want to substitute lat pulldowns for this exercise? It depends on you, but according to research, pull-ups provide a superior overall body. development. However, lat pulldowns isolate much better so you can still opt for it!

Inverted Rows

Wide Arm Half Pulls

This exercise is actually part of a progression of the pull-ups. However, even if you already are doing pull-ups, performing this horizontal exercise adds the benefit of providing more back stimulation at a moderate intensity. It’s a must-have for any calisthenics routine at any level.



Chin-ups and pull-ups differ in hand orientation placement. In this exercise, you’ll get more assistance from your biceps. Studies show that both exercises provide good back development with insignificant differences in back growth. Choose what’s comfortable for you and what serves your purpose better.

Read more: 📍What is the Best Pull-up Grip


Hyper extensions

Hyperextensions are a great exercise for lower back development. It works with both the erectors and the glutes. We recommend adding this to your routine, especially if you experience lower back pain often or if you want to avoid it.

💯Most Effective Exercises for Bigger Legs


The squat is the ultimate exercise for building stronger, bigger, healthier legs. It works the quads, glutes, and hamstrings while also providing good core stimulation. This exercise can be done with your body weight or with added weight such as a barbell.

Pistol squats

Weighted Pistol Squat

The pistol squat is a one-legged squat that works each leg individually. This exercise is great for developing single-leg strength and stability. It’s a great addition to any workout routine, especially if you want to avoid imbalances.

Quad extensions

Full quad extension


The bodyweight quad extension combines both mobility and muscle-building for your quads. This exercise also strengthens your knees; protecting you from any knee-related injuries!

Read more: 📍10 Most Effective Quad Exercises

Nordic curls

negative nordic curl


Targeting your glutes and hamstrings seems impossible using calisthenics since squats are mainly quad-dominant. But with nordic curls, you can finally give some love to your glutes and hamstrings!

Calf raises

Two legged calf raises


Calf raises are a great way to build strong, healthy calves. This exercise can be done with body weight or with added weight. It’s possible to build bigger calves with body weight, but you have to implement the exercise correctly.

Read more: 📍How to Build Bigger Calves with Bodyweight Exercises

💯Most Effective Exercises for Bigger Arms

Tricep extensions

Cross Tricep Extension

Isolating your triceps using this exercise will guarantee bigger triceps. This exercise can easily be scaled by adjusting the height of your hands. While you’re building your triceps, you’re also building core strength endurance.

Ring bicep curls

Ring Bicep Curls Mid


Not many know this, but bodyweight bicep curls are highly effective for bouldering biceps. The ring bicep curl is a great exercise is similar to an inverted row but with a supinated grip (similar to a chin-up grip) to activate your biceps.

Read more: 📍Best Calisthenics Bicep Workout


The additional bicep activation, thanks to the supinated grip, is great for building bigger arms. This is also one big reason why gymnasts have massive biceps. These high-level athletes have done thousands of chin-ups in their lifetime.

Diamond push-ups

Diamond pushup

An EMG analysis found that a close-grip push-up or also known as a diamond push-up can increase tricep and even chest activation. You can use this as a finisher for more advanced athletes or make it a primary exercise for beginners to intermediates.

💯Most Effective Exercises for 6-pack Abs

Hanging leg raises

Hanging straight leg v raises


The hanging leg raise is the most popular and most effective exercise for targeting your lower abs. It also works your obliques (sides) and hip flexors. If you want to take this exercise to the next level, then try adding weight between your feet. You can begin with knee leg raises first before moving towards the straight-leg variation.


V snaps

V-ups is a fundamental ab exercise for calisthenics and gymnastics athlete. This is because it targets the core effectively while training explosiveness and mobility at the same time. When done at a slower tempo, it becomes a superior ab exercise for developing 6-packs.

Side v-ups

Side V Ups

The side v-up is a great exercise for targeting your obliques. This is important for developing a well-rounded set of abs. The beauty of this exercise is that it can be done with no equipment, making it perfect for home workouts.

For developing a solid 6-pack, read more here: 📍How to Build 6-Packs



The takeaway from this article is that you don’t need to spend hours in the gym or use heavy weights to build muscle and gain weight.

You can do so by using your body weight with the right exercises and progressions. Of course, as you grow stronger, you can add more intensity through weighted variations or additional exercises.

But if you’re just starting out, focus on mastering the bodyweight exercises first. Then, once you’ve built a solid foundation, you can start adding more difficult variations to keep your gains coming!

You will gain weight. You will build muscle!


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