The 6 Best Calisthenics Books For 2023

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This year, I’m all about taking back control of my fitness and getting stronger, so I started looking into calisthenics to improve my overall fitness.

Calisthenics is an exciting way to exercise; it combines strength training with movements like jumping, handstands, and pull-ups. This workout style is incredibly versatile; you can get a full-body workout indoors or outdoors with minimal equipment. 

What’s more? It’s totally free — no gym membership is necessary! 

For anyone else who’s interested in Calisthenics, I’ve gathered the best books about Calisthenics as recommended by fitness professionals and based on sales data, and millions of reader ratings, so you can further your reading about it.

But first…

What is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a form of exercise that can be implemented in various ways. It is commonly performed by using only body weight as resistance and it has the potential to build functional strength and athletic-looking bodies. 

This exercise encourages using many different muscle groups while avoiding the damaging impacts that weight lifting can often cause. 

Calisthenics can help you achieve increased physical strength, flexibility, and endurance – meaning it’s perfect if you’re looking for an all-rounded physical workout! 

This type of training does not have to be laborious; just 10 minutes a day will make a huge difference! 

Not only does it benefit your body but can also improve your energy levels, overall mood, and self-confidence. All in all, implementing calisthenics into your life allows you to strengthen your body with minimal effort!

The Best Calisthenics Books

Now you have been reminded what calisthenics is, it’s time to look at the best calisthenics books as recommended by industry professionals!

1. Complete Calisthenics: The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Exercise” – Ashley Kalym

Recommended by Lukman Patel, a pharmacist from the UK and health and fitness blogger at

  • Recommended fitness level: beginner to intermediate
  • Reader rating: 4.7

The best book on calisthenics I’ve come across is “Complete Calisthenics: The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Exercise” by Ashley Kalym. It covers all the important topics, such as the nutritional requirements for gaining strength and the importance of rest days. 

It could be argued that it’s not for complete beginners, but as I’ve owned and worked through this book, I can attest that although it contains a lot of difficult variations of each exercise, it does start with the most basic version first. 

Particular focus is given to how each exercise should be done properly, and this is one of the strengths of this book. When doing calisthenics, correct form is important, and this is emphasized throughout with detailed instructions and clear images. The author is clearly an expert, and his knowledge shows through.

Although images are in black and white, they are crisp and clear, enabling anyone to follow along without a personal trainer and with the bare minimum of equipment.  

2. Convict Conditioning – Paul Wade

Recommended by Dave Mace, a Personal Trainer, Founder, and Head Coach at Maximum Potential Calisthenics.

  • Recommended fitness level: beginner
  • Reader rating: 4.6

Convict Conditioning is a highly recommended calisthenics starter book for several reasons.

Written by a highly experienced and respected fitness expert, Paul Wade, who has a wealth of knowledge and experience in bodyweight training.

It provides a comprehensive and progressive program for beginners to follow, tailored to help individuals build strength and muscle using only their body weight. 

The program is divided into six different sections, each focusing on a specific aspect of fitness,, such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and leg raises. 

The book includes detailed instructions and illustrations for each exercise, making it easy for beginners to understand and follow the program.

Additionally, the book also includes information on nutrition, recovery, and injury prevention, which is essential for anyone looking to start a fitness program.

Paul also shares his journey and experience as a prison inmate and how he transformed his body using calisthenics. 

3. You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises – Mark Lauren

Recommended by Hannah Shine, AFA Certified Personal Trainer, Health Coach & Manager at

  • Recommended fitness level: 4.5
  • Reader rating: beginner to intermediate

A book that I would recommend for those interested in calisthenics is “You Are Your Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises” by Mark Lauren. 

This book is written by a former special operations trainer and covers a wide range of bodyweight exercises that can be done using minimal equipment. 

It includes detailed instructions and illustrations for each exercise, as well as workout plans for different goals such as weight loss, muscle building, and overall fitness. 

The book is suitable for all levels, as it includes modifications for each exercise, allowing you to adjust the intensity to your current fitness level. 

Additionally, Mark Lauren provides a lot of information on proper form and technique, making it easy to understand how to perform the exercises correctly. 

Overall, “You Are Your Own Gym” is an excellent resource for building strength and fitness using bodyweight exercises.

4. Total Body Beautiful – Andrea Orbeck, Desi Bartlett, and Nicole Stuart

Recommended by Nicole Stuart, Pilates instructor in West Hollywood

  • Recommended fitness level: beginner (women over 35)
  • Reader rating: 5

A woman’s mind and body change as she goes through life, and so should her outlook on what it means to be healthy and fit. 

If you’re a woman over age 35, you need fitness and wellness advice uniquely tailored to your needs so you can look and feel your best. You need Total Body Beautiful.

With combined decades of experience and dozens of fitness certifications and credentials, the expert team of authors, Andrea Orbeck, Desi Bartlett, and Nicole Stuart, have worked with hundreds of celebrities, supermodels, and ordinary women to develop workout and wellness solutions to stay active and feel good in their skin—and they can do the same for you.

These authors understand the complexities of women’s bodies and the changes that occur as women age. Suited for all levels of exercise.

5. Overcoming Gravity – Steven Low

Recommended by Ben Pavlovich, a Certified Strength Coach, and Calisthenics Trainer at TonedX.

  • Recommended fitness level: advanced (for coaches)
  • Reader rating: 5

Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low is hands down the best calisthenics book I’ve ever read. As a personal trainer, it’s important to be able to customize my workouts to fit my client’s goals.

Finding safe and effective bodyweight exercises can take hours, and this book has been a lifesaver. It has 300 different exercises to learn and has programs suited for absolute beginners all the way to professional gymnasts. 

The book covers how to program your calisthenics workout, the science behind building strength, and the best ways to prevent injuries while training. 

It’s the perfect book to pick up and skim through until you find something you want to practice or read cover to back and become an expert at bodyweight training. 

Out of all the fitness books I’ve read, this is definitely one of the best. I recommend this book to anyone starting their fitness journey, even elite athletes looking to take their training to the next level.

6. BAR STRONG – Greg Carver

Recommended by Marc Lebert, Chief Fitness Officer at LebertFitness

  • Recommended fitness level: beginner to intermediate

BAR STRONG by Greg Carver is a top recommendation for beginner to intermediate levels.

Written by Strength Coach Greg Carver, BAR STRONG features the Lebert Fitness Chrome Parallettes, covering 48 Exercises with Progressions (complete with color photos) and 24 Unique Workouts. 

BAR STRONG is 150 pages and is the definitive guide to getting started on parallette training. It is a must-have for anyone getting started in bodyweight training and calisthenics!

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best calisthenics books

Final Word on Calisthenics Books

I hope these resources proved interesting and valuable to you. If you know of any other great calisthenics books, let me know in the comments!

Want more fitness recommendations? Check out these other resources:

Disclaimer: This website uses affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase through a link at no extra cost to you.

Last Updated on March 26, 2023 by Louisa

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About Louisa

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the founder, editor, and head honcho of Epic Book Society. Once a published poet at the age of 7, she aspired to become a journalist, but that career hit a wall so here she is writing about books instead. When she's not writing about books, she's teaching English to primary school kids around the world.

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