Brain Gains: 5 Calisthenics Books To Skyrocket Your Training

Whether you are new to calisthenics or have been doing bodyweight movements for years, we can all benefit from a pump between the ears.

Calisthenics books are wonderful tools to improve your exercises and progress.

By immersing yourself in an in-depth book about calisthenics movements and philosophy, you get smarter with your workouts, which makes you better.

Here are 5 out of this world calisthenics volumes you should add to your library pronto:

Overview: What Are Calisthenics?

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“Calisthenics” is the fancy way of saying “bodyweight movements.”

These are exercises that strictly use your body as the weight you move through space.

No dumbbells, no barbells, no weighted plates. Simply your body and movement.

Calisthenics range from the basic – push-ups, pull-ups, dips, air squats – to the rather extreme – planche holds, muscle-ups, pistol squats, handstand push-ups.

If you focus on progressing through the different body part movements, you can get from one end to the other in a matter of months.

All you need is a pull-up bar.

There’s a ton of reading material on calisthenics.

Books are great because they give you a full-fledged outlook on a specific person’s routine or ideology on bodyweight exercises.

Plus, you can gain insight into their whole routine, including nutrition, sleep, supplementation, and more.

How To Choose The Calisthenics Book For You

Everyone is different. Newbies, veterans, anyone in between, there are calisthenics books that fit with your level and style of training, and books that don’t.

So, in order to dive into the right read, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Determine your level, then check out the table of contents. If you’re getting the book from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, you can peruse a sample of the contents. Read the table, maybe even the introduction. You should be able to comprehend the information and have it be just beyond your physical abilities level-wise.
  • Look for well-reviewed authors. Classic calisthenics writers, such as Steven Low, Paul “Coach” Wade, and the lethal powerhouse of Al and Danny Kavadlo are incredible resources to stack your shelves with.
  • Know what you’re looking for. Want a workout routine along with the science? Get a book that provides said workout. Want to know the science behind stretching? Go for a stretch-only manual. Even though it’s plainly “calisthenics,” this could mean a lot of things, like gymnastics, nutrition, stretching, and progression.

Essentially, take a good look at your own goals and regimen, and find literature that matches.

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Why Read Calisthenics Books?

So, what’s the point of taking time in your day to read about working out?

Well, for one, that time you use to read and learn could keep you healthy.

Knowing how to perform these movements correctly and safely lets you avoid injury.

Another reason: What if you master, say, push-ups, and want to figure out a tougher variation, calisthenics books are great exercise compendiums.

Also, learning the science behind the movements gives you a better understanding of what each exercise works in your body.

This gives you an enhanced mind-muscle connection.

If your physique or workouts hold any importance in your life, then it’s beneficial to get as knowledgeable as possible in those fields.

Overcoming Gravity

This is the “exercise Bible” for calisthenics. It better be: It’s 600+ pages long!

Overcoming Gravity follows the thread of Becoming a Supple Leopard and other functional fitness manuals.

Its main mission is to improve your bodyweight strength and gymnastics through a systematic approach.

This thing is a monster of a book, going over principles, physiology of strength and hypertrophy, and then giving you progression charts and goal-setting advice. (And that’s just in the first part!)

A truly all-encompassing tome, Overcoming Gravity is a great tool to have in your arsenal.

What it provides:

  • A structure to create your personalized workout from scratch
  • Progression advice
  • Fundamental knowledge base of all things calisthenics
  • Cross-training possibilities, to achieve elite levels of multiple fitness areas (flexibility, endurance, etc.)
  • Every training level is covered, from untrained beginner to advanced
  • Injury prevention, movement technique, and prehab work
  • An unreal library of calisthenic exercises and variations

An absolute beast of a book, if you choose to get just one book on working out, make it Overcoming Gravity.

Get Overcoming Gravity on Amazon

Convict Conditioning

For those built on strength, power, and toughness, this book is for you.

Convict Conditioning is written with the practical physique in mind; their #1 priority is creating a body that could last in the wild and be a dominant force of nature.

Instead of training like a professional athlete – or even as a military person, for that matter – Paul “Coach” Wade designs this book to train people for life-or-death scenarios.

Eliminating weakness is the key. Coach Wade tackles this by giving you a straightforward, to-the-point manuscript for coaching weakness out of your body.

What it provides:

  • Showcases the benefits of bodyweight training versus other modern methods
  • 6 “Power Moves” – calisthenic exercises that you build your routine around
  • Tips on how to coach yourself through the progressions
  • Workout templates and guidelines
  • Coaching from an actual convict (not sure if this is a benefit or not…)

No-nonsense, building strength and power for the real world, Convict Conditioning is there for those who want to have applicable abilities and overall badass toughness.

Get Convict Conditioning on Amazon.

Get Strong: The Ultimate 16-Week Transformation Program

The dynamic duo of Al Kavadlo and Danny Kavadlo have been in the business a long time.

This is one of their most popular manuals for creating an incredible physique with just your body.

Get Strong is their actual, detailed program for transforming your body in four months.

They drive home the notion that progression is everything.

Going from basic exercise to intermediate to advanced is crucial in building the body of your dreams. They expand on this in the book.

Not only does it give you the 16-week program, Get Strong touches on various areas of fitness and nutrition.

What it provides:

  • The feature-length program, from Phase 1 (The Foundation) to Phase 4 (Forged from Steel)
  • Supplemental exercises and general tips for succeeding in the program
  • Partner movements to get a friend or significant other on board too
  • Mentality tricks to keep your brain on-task with your body, including meditative practices, acting instead of talking, and more
  • Showing you exactly what the calisthenics body looks like (a.k.a. Your goal)
  • Six pack advice, walking for exercise, and other helpful bonuses

The Kavadlo bros are mainstays in calisthenics fitness.

Get Strong is their program and direct path to looking ripped and strong by simply doing bodyweight movements.

Get Strong: The Ultimate 16-Week Transformation Program on Amazon

Complete Calisthenics

Let’s be honest: You want to look like someone who knows his stuff.

With this book, you’re going to achieve that and then some, becoming an expert in gymnastics and bodyweight exercises.

In Complete Calisthenics, you get a comprehensive manual on all things bodyweight exercise.

Pull-ups, push-ups, squats, and more adorn the pages in this book, the goal is to improve your calisthenics prowess and get you looking like a complete badass on the bars.

The great aspect of this book is the number of illustrations it provides.

Over 600 photos capture different movements from numerous angles, providing you with a complete understanding of form and function.

What it provides:

  • The pros and cons of calisthenics
  • Specific strengths calisthenics give you
  • What equipment you need to build your bodyweight exercise routine
  • Advice on nutrition, how to recover, and sleep
  • A complete overview and detailed description of every calisthenics movement, including wrist and forearm exercises, as well as other obscure body part movements.

Another compendium of bodyweight exercises, Complete Calisthenics sticks true to its name and gives you more information than you know what to deal with (which is a good thing).


Your brain needs gains too. Starting a library of calisthenics books is extremely important for you, especially if you want to build a physique others will be envious of.

Once you decide what your goals and abilities are, you can use that info to find books that fit your mold.

Calisthenics books are vital for your workout success. Browse through these awesome vaults of knowledge and pump up that brain muscle!