Grind-Style Calisthenics — by Matt Schifferle

Title: Grind-Style Calisthenics
Author: Matt Schifferle
Year: 2019
Publisher: Independently Published


Maintaining Your Hard-Earned Muscle without Using Heavy Weight

Now that I’m closer to fifty than I am to forty, I look for ways to maintain my hard-earned muscle without battering my joints with heavy weights. Calisthenics have now become firmly embedded in my training regime. Constantly seeking to expand my knowledge, I spotted “Grind-Style Calisthenics” while searching the internet for new bodyweight exercises.

Matt Schifferle’s Red Delta Project Website

I’d already seen Matt Schifferle’s informative Red Delta Project website and YouTube videos, so I felt confident this book he has written would be well-worth the few pounds I spent purchasing it.

The introduction tells you more about him – he’s been involved in several physical disciplines, like martial arts and kettlebell training, for over two decades. His accumulation of training experience and knowledge is something he wants to share with you to help you make progress.

Matt’s Book Focuses on Muscle Tension

Matt’s book places a lot of its focus on muscle tension, and he states that it’s “the active ingredient in all of your workouts”. Producing muscle tension is the key to getting results.

Muscle Tension Hierarchy

This leads him into describing what he calls a “muscle tension hierarchy”, which is a pyramid constructed of four levels. Tension control is the wide base of this hierarchy, followed by stability then strength, and hypertrophy is positioned at the top. These four qualities (muscle tension, stability, strength, hypertrophy) are trained in every GSC workout you do.

The 6 Tension Chains

Before explaining and demonstrating exercises for each bodypart, Matt informs us that there are also six tension chains to be aware of to help you build muscle and improve physical performance. These are: the squat chain, push, pull, extension, flexion, and lateral chains.

Each of these chains include a range of muscle groups. Using the squat chain as an example, it includes the muscles of the quads, hips, hamstrings, glutes and calves.

Great Exercise List & Demonstrations

The theory and scientific information is all interesting stuff, but the best bit in any training book is the exercise list and demonstrations. This is a particularly strong section in Matt’s book, and it’s organised nicely in a way you might do your own training split (eg. back and biceps, chest and triceps).

There are no technically difficult exercises, they’re intentionally kept straightforward to place demands on your muscles, not your skills. Push ups, rows, dips and lunges are all typical bodyweight exercises featured in here, plus a few ways to progress them.

Russian Twists with Suspension Straps: a Good Oblique Blaster, My New Favourite!

There are also some interesting variations in these chapters that I’ve never seen before; the Russian twist with suspension straps is a good oblique blaster that’s quickly become a favourite of mine.

Ideas for sorting your GSC training splits are plentiful. Some will suit trainers who have limited time, and the six-days-a-week splits will please the fittest and most dedicated athletes. A question and answer chapter is well worth having in a training book, and Matt closes his own book with exactly that.


The Grind-Style Calisthenics system is a smart approach to training. There’s lots to learn from this methodology, particularly the importance of muscle tension and the value of exercise quality over quantity in bodyweight training. Matt Schifferle has put together an absorbing and informative book which should appeal to all levels of bodyweight athletes.

Favourite Chapter: Grind-Style Leg Training

Favourite Quote: “You have so much potential to make extraordinary things happen, and you’re always just one workout away from unleashing that potential.”

Book Rating: 8.5/10

We hope you found this review as stimulating as we did doing the workouts featured in it! What are your favourite calisthenics exercises? Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on FacebookTwitter Instagram and remember, after you’re done reading…KEEP Your own Fit ON too!

Alan Riseborough

Alan is a strength and physique enthusiast and has 28 years' of training experience behind him. He has competed in powerlifting, arm wrestling, bodybuilding and grip strength competitions. He also includes rigorous bodyweight, sprinting and kettlebell training regularly in his routines. He believes in the transformative power of the squat which is (believe it or not) his favourite exercise!

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