I was recently asked how much progress can be expected by just doing calisthenics (bodyweight only workouts). Many of my online clients have been wondering the same thing so I thought I would share my response in a more detailed way
After one month of doing just pushups you should notice a more defined and larger chest, shoulders and even upper back, your core will even be stronger and more stable. There have been some great before and after pictures of "100 push ups a day for 30 days” challenges all over the internet. And that is just one exercise.
The go to workouts of wrestlers for hundreds of years have been calisthenics based and they are arguably the most athletic all round athletes in the world, with great bodies to boot. The most famous workout in wrestling circles is the Gotch bible, which involves choosing 4 bodyweight exercises and attributing them to a suit from a deck of cards. When you turn over the top card from the deck you do the corresponding exercise for however many reps specified by the value of the card. eg. 10 of diamonds is 10 push ups.
If you want a cardio workout you choose slightly easier exercises and double the value of the card or if you are going for strength half the value of the card with difficult exercises.
For a beginner after a month of running the Gotch bible or similar calisthenics workouts you should expect to pack on a lot of muscle in the shoulders/pecs and if including chin ups bigger biceps/forarms and lats. Running it for a longer term you the growth from the workout is pretty much endless as you can include handstand push ups for the shoulders and add jumping to hindu squats to increase difficulty and keep growing.
One of the advantages of using calisthenics instead of a gym based programme is you can do it anywhere, anytime and there is no equipment your environment can’t provide, like branches for chin ups/dips and soft ground to do core work. Plus its free, unless you need a $1 deck of cards or a rope for climbing.