The Best Calisthenics Books [An In-Depth Look]


I don’t want to take you back to school, but books are hands down one of the best ways to learn about anything.

And whether you are a beginner or not, there are a few books, in the world of calisthenics, that are a must-read.

These are the best three calisthenics books that you can learn from:

Book TitleAuthorPagesLevel More Information
Overcoming Gravity (2nd Edition)Steven Low598Beginners to AdvancedCheck Current Price on Amazon
Complete CalisthenicsAshley Kalym356Beginners to AdvancedCheck Current Price on Amazon
Convict ConditioningPaul Wade328BeginnersCheck Current Price on Amazon
calisthenics book

The Best Calisthenics Books

With so many different programs and books out there, it can be really tough to go through all the information and data on your own.

It definitely takes time—and it has taken me time too.

Below you will find in-depth information about the 12 best calisthenics books, including everything you need to know about them.

Overcoming Gravity (2nd Edition)

This is an excellent book for people of all skill levels. 

It is also my pick for the best calisthenics book.

It is a hefty book. But a book has to be hefty to achieve what this one does.

The book takes a different approach compared to other books. It does not aim to give you a cookie-cutter program that you can follow; instead, it teaches you how to create your own training program.

This may seem a bit intimidating but is one of the best things you can learn. You can easily adapt your training to your personal needs. You will get a better and more in-depth understanding of how your training should be structured so that you can progress relatively quickly while staying injury-free.

On the downsides, because of the greater volume (almost 600 pages), this makes the book more expensive. However, the price is well-justified.

Overall this book is heads and shoulders above any other in the field.

  • Best for: Beginners to advanced

Complete Calisthenics

This is another excellent book. It is straight to the point, no messing around type of a book. There is no unnecessary hype and nonsense.

The book is very good at laying out easy to follow programs.

It starts with the Fundamental Five program, which is well thought out. 

It is a beginner-friendly program that will help you master the most basic exercises which you can use to move on to the next two programs, which are targeted towards more experienced people.

The second program takes things one step ahead and introduces more challenging exercises like the handstand.

Once you master it, you can move on to the third program, which makes things even more difficult, introducing the back and front levers, and other more advanced movements.

This book is very similar to Convict Conditioning but offers a wider variety of exercises and progressions for them. If you are looking for a book that covers advanced stuff like L-sits, planches, levers, human flags, and more, this one may easily be one of the best books for you.

Overall I really like the explanations and the instructions in this book. They are conveyed in a clear and easy to understand way.

The book also covers other very important topics like proper conditioning, mobility training, stretching, and so much more.

  • Best for: Beginners to Advanced

Convict Conditioning

Convict conditioning is written by Paul “Coach” Wade (you will see his name more than once in this article).

The book contains a lot of useful information that will be helpful to many beginners. If you want to get an excellent introduction to calisthenics and bodyweight exercises, this is an excellent book to start with.

There is a lot of information about the exercise progressions, and the training programs are easy to follow. If you are interested in learning how to do pistol squats, one-arm push-ups, and more, this is the right book for you.

The exercises are explained well with details about which muscle groups are being used and so much more.

With that being said, not everything mentioned in the book really needs to be followed to the T. Some exercise techniques can be adapted and adjusted, and you may be able to start working on some harder progressions and movements a lot earlier. However, this is definitely not something bad.

The overall tone of the book is very hardcore and motivating. For some reason, I got more of an army vibe from it despite the whole federal prison story.

This may or may not be to your liking as some people may find this unnecessary and a little off-putting.

Whether you will consider that a drawback or not will depend on your personal taste, however, this does not take from the fact that the book is a good source of valuable information.

  • Best for: Beginners

Street Workout

This is probably one of the books that you will read more than once.

The Kavadlo brothers are well known in the calisthenics community, and they do know how to deliver. This book is a source of high-quality, valuable information that will aid you on your calisthenics journey.

What I personally like is that it is a no-nonsense type of book. I can appreciate that, especially in the fitness world that is filled with many lies.

There are no shortcuts, no magic pills, only hard work.

If you are expecting any ready to use workout routines that you can just follow without reading the book, you will be a bit disappointed.

The Kavadlo brothers have a different idea of how things should happen. Everything should be happening naturally—as your strength grows and develops, you should aim to move to more challenging exercises.

There are many different exercises in this book. They are accompanied by very good and detailed explanations that will not leave you confused as to what is going on.

You will find a lot of information about how to train outside, including some real, down to earth, street-wise ways to incorporate the exercises into your training.

  • Best for: Beginners to Intermediate

Calisthenics Mass

By now, you probably know who Paul Wade is (the author of the Convict Conditioning series). And is that Al Kavadlo on the cover with him? This should do for an interesting book. Right?

Well, I certainly thought so.

However, this book seemed a little lackluster.

There are a lot of references back to the other books by Wade, namely Convict Conditioning One and Two. To many, it may even feel too salesy and like a giant advertisement for his other books.

The book focuses on some common myths around the fitness niche. However, many have questioned some of the claims in the book. Although the author raises many good points, some claims are left unbacked.

Overall a decent book. Not great, but not too bad, either.

  • Best for: Beginners

Get Strong

This is another book from the Kavadlo brothers.

The program that is presented in the book is perfectly doable even for complete beginners. You also do not need a lot of equipment, which is great.

The main focus is placed on exercises that will help you get stronger and condition you better. Although there is information about a lot harder and more advanced exercises like the one-armed chin-up, these are not a part of the program.

The book gets down to business almost immediately, which is a great thing— there is no unnecessary filler or fluff.

However, later in the book, there is a “motivation” part, which may or may not be to your liking.

In my opinion, Street Workout, which I reviewed above, seems to do a better job, but nonetheless, this is not a bad book. After all, the Kavadlo brothers know their stuff!

  • Best for: Beginner to Intermediate

Explosive Calisthenics

Explosive calisthenics is written by Paul Wade (the author of one of the best calisthenics books—Convict Conditioning, which I have mentioned above).

So he has a reputation to uphold, so to speak.

This book focuses more on the explosive movements (hence the name of the book) in calisthenics. I am talking about muscle-ups, explosive push-ups and pull-ups, flips, and many more.

The exercises are broken down into easy to follow progressions that will help you build the needed strength and power to achieve the end goal.

I like the fact that there is not much fluff, everything in the book is super practical and to the point. The exercises are well explained, structured, and fun to do.

The book focuses on several different calisthenics movements:

  • Explosive push-ups;
  • Kip-ups
  • Forward and backward rotations;
  • Jumps; and
  • Muscle-ups.

This is an excellent book for any calisthenics fan out there.

However, this is a great book for people that have been training for a while and have mastered some of the easier exercises.

For beginners, I would recommend getting the CC book series and later moving on to this book.

  • Best for: Intermediate to Advanced

You Are Your Own Gym

Another very good calisthenics book. However, I will not recommend this to the complete beginner.

This book, compared to the other books here on this list, is overall cheaper. Its goal is to provide you with the necessary information for improving your overall body, health, and strength.

It is a book that can definitely get you some good results, but it does not hold your hand, so to speak.

And this is one of the downsides of this book—that it doesn’t have a good detailed explanation of the progressions.

Arguably this can be good for someone that has been training for a while and have a better and more in-depth understanding of how the different exercises work.

But a complete beginner may end up feeling lost and with more questions than answers.

  • Best for: Intermediate to Advanced

100 No-Equipment Workouts (Vol. 1)

This book addresses things in a slightly different way compared to the rest of the books on this list.

In fact, before we start, let me point out that there is also a Volume 2 with different workouts and training ideas, but overall the style between the two books is kept the same.

This book has a lot of really cool illustrations. If you are somebody that prefers this medium, this may be one of the best books that you can get.

With that being said, this is a book on bodyweight exercises, and it is aimed at beginners.

There are just so many different workouts in this book that the chances of you getting bored are very slim.

Everything is easy to read and follow. If you have problems understanding some of the movements, you should know that they also have a website with lots of useful videos and information (including the information found in the book).

  • Best for: Beginners

Your Body Is Your Barbell

Another very good calisthenics book.

It is ideal for beginners that want to start working out and do not have a lot of equipment or gym access. However, keep in mind that you will need a pull-up bar in order to take full advantage of the training routines recommended in the book.

The book gets to the point and sticks to it. There is not too much fluff.

The book focuses on several exercises, eight to be exact. The author explains different aspects of the exercises and how you can adapt them to your strength levels.

Everything is well laid out and easy to follow, and the difficulty is scaled appropriately.

There is also a great chapter with some nutrition information that relates to physical training.

  • Best for: Beginners

Bodyweight Strength Training

In this book, you will find out a three-month training program that you can do from the comfort of your home. So it takes much of the guessing out of the way.

It focuses on bodyweight exercises, and you will find some information, even on Yoga.

In the same way, there is information that is focused on resting, meditation, mental preparation, and nutrition.

The exercises are well laid out and relatively easy to follow. There is a big selection of different exercises, and it is a very good book for beginners. Some people may find the overall intensity and volume of the exercises not enough.

Where the book falls short, in my opinion, is when we get to the more advanced stuff. I feel like it lacks proper progressions. Some of the advanced movements do need a better explanation and in-depth progressions.

Overall a very good read; however, there are certainly better books out there.

  • Best for: Beginners to Intermediate

The Naked Warrior

And last but not least, we have a book by Pavel Tsatsouline.

There is no way I would overlook him and his work. After all, I am a big fan of the Greasing the Groove method and have been incorporating it into my training on more than one occasion.

The old Russian-style talk is kept in this book as well, which you may or may not find entertaining. There is a little fluff as well.

However, this, in my opinion, does not detract from the book in any way.

I’ve read his other books, and I always thoroughly enjoyed them and considered them a light read that you can go through in almost one sitting.

Pavel talks about the Greasing the Groove method here, as well. He also tackles other topics like how to develop proper breathing and tension. These three things are the gold making this book a worthy read.

I have read his other books, and I know that he likes simplicity.

This is why I wasn’t surprised to find out that he focuses on only two exercises in this book: one-armed push-ups and one-legged squats.

One of the things that have bothered me even with some of his other books is that there is no bibliography, and often the things he states or quotes lack any references.

This is more of a pet peeve of mine, and despite that, he has proven to know his stuff many times over.

  • Best for: Beginners to Intermediate

Miro Ste

Hi fitness enthusiasts, my name is Miro, and I am the person behind everphysique.com. Here I share my tips and trick about how to achieve the best physique possible. I focus primarily on old school bodybuilding methods that have been tried and tested. With a huge focus on calisthenics and street workout.

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