Calisthenics Transformation: 8 Inspiring Athletes’ Before & After

You went on Google and searched calisthenics transformation trying to find motivation to workout.

Well, you are in luck. In this article, I have compiled a list of the most impressive calisthenics before and after pictures and videos, to help you kickstart your fitness journey.

And the best part?

At the end of the article I will tell you exactly how to have a transformation exactly like the ones you are about to see here.

Let’s get started.

Calisthenics transformation: the eight most inspiring athletes

There are dozens of transformations online.

However, the most well-documented, consistent, and believable - and the ones we will have a look at in this article - are the transformations of:

  • Daniel Vadnal 
  • Bar Brothers
  • Chris Heria
  • Christian Nielsen
  • Darek Woś
  • Micha Schulz
  • Bendik Hovland
  • Enes Selimovic

So without further ado, let’s get started with the first on the list.

Daniel Vadnal

Picture of Daniel Vadnal's calisthenics transformation

Daniel is the founder and brand image of FitnessFAQs, a company dedicated to teaching people how to get started and thrive in their calisthenics journey.

His mission is to empower people with the knowledge to train anywhere.

Daniel has an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science and a master’s degree in Physiotherapy from the University of Sydney. However, his teachings stem not only from his schooling, but also his 10-year training experience with calisthenics.

In this video, Daniel presents his evolution from 17 to 27 years old.

This 10-year transformation started in 2010, when there were no calisthenics books, and good information that would help your progress was hard to come by. Daniel had to go through trial and error to find what works, which makes the transformation that much more impressive.

As Daniel put it, his teaching philosophy is:

“We want to be strong like a gymnast, look like a bodybuilder, and move freely.”

He wants the best of all worlds, and this is possible through his way of viewing fitness and calisthenics. To quote him:

“When you are ready, add weight and continue growing bigger and stronger. Forget all this dogma when it comes to calisthenics, drop the all or nothing thinking. Just because you are doing bodyweight training, a.k.a. calisthenics, doesn’t mean you can’t add weight or lift weights too. Use the best tools, use the best methods for the goals that you have.”

Daniel is one of the most inspirational figures in the industry.

He has been around the block for years now, before information was freely available.

And for that reason, his calisthenics transformation is one of the best out there.

Bar Brothers

Picture of Lazar and Dusan from Bar Brothers, flexing their muscles

For most people, Bar Brothers is where their bodyweight training began.

It started as Lazar Novovic and Dušan Djolević posting workout videos on YouTube. When people saw their transformation and the skills they were doing, everyone wanted to become a Bar Brother.

And so, it became a movement.

Their videos had a certain ring to them. They were motivational, exciting to watch, and made you feel like you could attain your dream physique if you worked hard enough.

After a while, Lazar and Dušan offered people the chance to represent Bar Brothers in their area.

All you had to do was to complete the requirements, which sounded something like:

  • 7 muscle-ups
  • 25 push-ups
  • 10 wide grip pull-ups
  • 25 parallel bar dips
  • 10 full leg lifts
  • 10 pistol squats each leg
  • 7 muscle ups

Completed in four minutes or less.

Just like Daniel Vadnal, Lazar and Dušan didn’t have access to much information. Their journey began around 2010, so they had to figure most of it themselves.

Bar Brothers’ calisthenics transformation inspired an entire generation of people to get a grip on their fitness. And, even today, after all these years, they are relevant and get millions of views on their videos on a monthly basis.

Chris Heria

Picture of Chris Heria shirtless.

In the beginning, Chris Heria focused on freestyle calisthenics, and even represented the United States in the Street Workout World Championship.

This would prove to be a stepping stone in his journey.

As he put it:

“(...) and in that time I continued to travel and teach from all the things I learned from all these competitions. And from being a part of all these international competitions, meeting all these extremely talented international athletes, I was able to pick all their brains and be able to use what I felt applied the best to me and towards my craft.”

As you can see in the video, Christ started as a skinny guy.

One key factor in his transformation was his view on calisthenics.

Similar to Daniel Vadnal, Chris uses and encourages people to incorporate weights into their calisthenics workouts. He believes that you can get something good out of any sport or physical activity and use it to be a better athlete overall.

For this reason, you will see Chris excel in more areas, including strength, endurance, and balance.

Christian Nielsen

Picture of Christian holding a pull-up bar while shirtless.

Christian Nielsen posted his first transformation as a young 16-year old.

He first appeared on the calisthenics scene as a representative of Bar Brothers in Denmark. After a disagreement with Lazar from Bar Brothers, Christian decided to start his own YouTube channel and (perhaps) movement, Calisthenics Unity.

In this video, Christian shows his body composition before and after calisthenics, the struggles he went through during training, and the skills he attained in just a year.

You may notice that he has not used weights at all.

Unlike Chris Heria and Daniel Vadnal, Christian did not mention the use of any form of weight training to attain his physique or any of the skills.

Therefore, Christian’s calisthenics transformation shows a calisthenics only physique.

Darek Woś

Darek Wos shirtless holding a couple of parallettes.

Darek is a calisthenics athlete from Poland, and the founder of Caliathletics.

The video of his 1-year journey amassed 25 million views, inspiring people all around the world to start working out - maybe with calisthenics.

The legitimacy of his transformation taking just a year is questionable, however.

In the video, you can see how at the beginning of his journey he can barely do a pull-up, and towards the end he does front levers, one arm pull-ups, and 90-degree push-ups.

This is highly unlikely, especially since he doesn’t mention the use of weights.

So why am I telling you this?

I am trying to set real expectations for newcomers.

Darek’s transformation is inspiring and I am sure it motivated a lot of people to start working out. The transformation is legit but I have my doubts with the timeframe.

Micha Schulz

Micha Schulz flexing his anterior chain and back muscles

Micha’s transformation is a bit different from the others in the article.

He started doing calisthenics in 2015 when he was already fairly muscular. At the end of that year, he took part in his first weighted calisthenics competition.

This was to be the moment that sparked his passion for weighted calisthenics.

You can clearly see how through maxing his strength, his skills got better.

Doing weighted calisthenics helped him get more muscular, become stronger, do better at skills, and win countless competitions, including the German National Competition.

Micha’s calisthenics transformation proves that adding weights to your training can have an outstanding impact on your training.

Bendik Hovland

Picture of Bendik Hovland doing a 360-degree pull-up in his calisthenics transformation video

Bendik started his calisthenics journey at just 13 years old.

When he started, he could barely do 20 push-ups. In just a year, Bendik was able to acquire some impressive skills, like the superman push-up, muscle-up, the human flag, and so on.

However, this happened back in 2014.

Since then, Bendik became the Men’s Physique Champion in Norway, got 2nd place in several street workout competitions, and started lifting big weights.

Enes Selimovic

Before and after pictures of Enes Selimovic's calisthenics transformation

Enes proved one of the most impressive feats of determination.

He and his friends built their own calisthenics playground, with just a pull-up bar and a set of parallel bars. This was enough to start their transformation.

Enes has done a great job in showing a realistic time frame for building a nice physique and attaining skills. He shows the real failures and frustrations associated with calisthenics.

And at the end, he shows why we all do it and what we strive to achieve.

Can you transform your body with calisthenics?

As you could see from the posts above, it is possible.

To transform your body with calisthenics you need to train in a progressive overload manner, eat in a caloric surplus with enough protein consumption, and rest properly. And here is how to do all of that:

Training with progressive overload means progressing with your exercise.

This can be done by:

  • Doing harder exercises over time
  • Increasing the number of repetitions from workout to workout
  • Adding weight to exercises once they become too easy

You only have to play with one of these variables, not necessarily all of them.

The second part of the equation is eating in a caloric surplus with enough protein consumption. As you will see, nutrition plays an integral role in building muscle.

To find your calories, use a TDEE calculator, like this, or this, or this.

Once you get the number of calories needed, add around 200-300kcal to be in a surplus.

Here are some easy guidelines to optimize your nutrition to build muscle:

  • Eat your calories; not over, not below (a 10-20kcal error is ok)
  • Eat your protein - at least 2.6gr/kilogram of bodyweight
  • Fill the rest with fats and carbs

Fats and carbs leave them as they come. Sometimes you will be eating high-fat, other times high-carb. If you don’t plan on getting on stage, don’t worry about it. Just make sure you eat both.

You can find a more in-depth look in our article about calisthenics diet.

And lastly, you should rest properly.

Whenever you are working out, your muscles suffer micro ruptures. When you eat enough protein and rest properly, your body repairs the muscles and also makes them slightly bigger.

This is building muscle in a nutshell.

But how much should you rest?

Anywhere between seven and nine hours of sleep per day is ideal. Less than that is too little, more than that is a bit too much.

How long does calisthenics transformation take?

We all want results as fast as possible. So how fast can you expect them?

You will start seeing the results of your calisthenics transformation within one month, while other people will notice your development within three months.

One thing to know is that our bodies have a “set” amount of muscle mass they can gain.

Here is the rate of muscle gain you should expect, according to research:

Years of training

Weekly muscle gain

Monthly muscle gain

Yearly muscle gain

1 year

0.25kg / 0.5lb

1kg / 2lb

12kg / 24lb

2 years

0.12kg / 0.25lb

0.5kg / 1lb

6kg / 12lb

3+ years

Not possible to track

0.25 kg / 0.5lb

3kg / 6lb

Bear in mind that this is muscle gain only, not weight gain.

Furthermore, bear in mind that these numbers are under ideal conditions, where your training, nutrition, and rest are very well optimized.

Knowing this, we can get a conclusion:

The fastest way to build muscle is by being consistent! Eating and training more than necessary will not make your muscles grow. The best way to make your muscles grow fast is to not stop once you start. Keep your training, nutrition, and rest in check.

Conclusion

Here are some of the athletes with the best calisthenics transformation.

As you could see, their approaches were different. Some used only calisthenics, while others incorporated weights. However, they all have amazing looking physiques and can do impressive skills. So regardless of the path you choose, just get started.

Transforming your body requires consistency, and the faster you get to it, the better.

Over to you.