Can you build muscle with calisthenics alone? Part 2

This is the second part of my personal experience with turning bulky while menopausal just with mere push ups, pull ups and air squats.

Part 1 for a list of training methods I adopt here.

Eat like an old school bodybuilder

And I'm talking about way before supplements even existed. I don't take anything but maca root and cod liver oil to manage my menopausal symptoms. I don't even do protein powders. I tried whey protein for a bit, and then one that also had 2.5g of creatine. They raised my blood sugar levels, got some fat gains and water retention instead so I threw them away (after watching dr. Pradip Jamnadas lectures I understood why that happened. Never again.) I eat a LOT of only nutritious, unprocessed foods. My diet guide here

You see, usually, calisthenics athletes, they want to stay lean so they can progress easily to advanced skills. Not this girl, and not this guy. I'm all about the bulk. As long as I can still get my chin over the bar in pull ups, I don't care how much I weigh. I love my bulk and have no interest in abs (although they're still visible, even right after gobbling down 3000 calories worth of food in one sitting).

So yeah, I eat. I don't do keto, I don't do veganism, I don't count calories, I don't go nuts on protein, I EAT! I have a balance with everything, as long as I'm avoiding processed junk foods and eat within the hour (I fast anywhere between 20-30 hours, by following the OMAD lifestyle). I have my meat, fish, dairy, fruits, veggies (including lots of white potatoes), nuts and seeds and I enjoy my life.

Maybe you're just a genetic freak bruh

Yeah, no. Check out the About Me page for a full list of what I was "gifted" with and had to cure all by myself naturally (now you may understand why I'm not willing to go on any kind of "boost" just to build muscle, even if it's just a supposedly "harmless" protein powder. All natty this girl, until the end. Not worth risking your health for extra gains). 

To top that off, not only I'm a 35-year old special needs mom (autistic daughter), I started calisthenics late (9 months after my hysterectomy, so around 2,5 years ago), and most importantly, that hysterectomy has effectively put me on surgical menopause with not one, not two, but 29 menopause symptoms which again, I had to figure out how to treat myself. Some of those menopause symptoms included fatigue, insomnia, zero libido (testosterone plummeting, not just estrogen) and joint pains all over.

I'm also currently dealing with my 2nd severe organ prolapse (which one this time, I don't know, and don't care), so I don't want to lift weights, that would put a whole lot of pressure on the prolapse. Max lift I do once a month is put my 35kg daughter on my back, while I'm wearing a 10kg vest and crank 5 sets of 7 weighted pushups each set just for the fun of it. That's about it. 

Oh, and newsflash (based on lots of research): Surgical menopause starting under the age of 35 (I may be 35 now, but hysterectomy was done at 32 years of age), puts me at huge risk for insulin resistance and diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and sarcopenia (muscle loss).

So, I'm gifted with nothing but problems. So get off your sorry-ass excuses mindset and read on WHY I was successful in building muscle with nothing but my bodyweight. 

Work Ethic

Discipline, consistency and pain. My workouts don't look much on paper, but they are brutal. I go until failure and beyond. My form, range of motion and tempo is done in a way that it doesn't take many reps to feel the burn. My air squats have me in pain for a week. I rep out 10 sets of pull ups WITH back DOMS from the last session. 

The workouts I create and plan scare the crap out of me. At 3 or 4 am, I'm too intimidated to get out of bed and get it done. But I've been in chronic pain all my life. I've lived with it for so long, that now that I'm healthy, I SEEK for pain. 

When we advise women to start strength training, a lot of them are like "weight lifting? I don't want to turn into a monster!" And just how many natural women do you know, lifting weights are looking like monsters? Even men are struggling to gain for heaven's sake. 

I watch people's videos on how they train. Keeping a straight face, smiling, like it's a bloody walk in the park. Lift 5 times, put the weights down, rest for 5 minutes, repeat 3 times. What is that? 1 hour session is practically 15 minutes of lifting and 45 minutes of sitting, waiting for the timer. If my sessions are 1 hour, then I keep moving for that 1 hour! I take 10-30s walking rests per set tops, maybe a minute if I'm out of breath from reaching the pyramid peak of squats, or my forearms are burning from pull ups.  

By the end of the session my face is deformed, there's no way I can keep a straight face with the way I do my training. It's ugly!

And I don't rest my muscles for 2 whole days. Even in PPL routines, I would take frequent breaks from work throughout the day for some GtG sets of pull ups, pushups and squats. 

Now gym bros will ask (and HAVE asked) "why would I do that to myself? Why don't I take the easy "optimal" way to make gains?" Hey, you do you. But I want hypertrophy, muscle endurance, cardio, strength, and mental toughness all at once... anytime, anywhere, every single day, for as long as I live, without the risk of injuries. Calisthenics provide me with all of that, and THAT's what I call optimal.

You want to look good only on the outside? Or do you want to build some good functional muscle with a mindset of a warrior? Your choice.

Here's some awesome calisthenics channels (some of them lift too):

That's Good Money


Mikonic Fit

The Bar Club

Goku Pump



Bruce Gunz

Power Over Vanity Josh

I am NOT a doctor, personal trainer, registered dietician, nutritionist, athlete, influencer, nor at the end of my fitness journey. The content of this blog is based on what worked for me and is for informational purposes only, not a replacement for medical advice from a professional. Furthermore, we and our bodies are unique, so everybody is different. My results may not reflect your own. Any action you take upon the information provided by ZenGainz is strictly at your own risk.