I am getting mixed information on whether you can pack on a good amount of muscle mass with calisthenics. Here are a couple of the cases for and against then the question at the bottom "who is telling the truth?" :
Point out that gymnasts attain their amazing physiques through almost exclusively pure body weight training.
Claims that historically the Spartans, Romans and others gained very muscular physiques from purely calisthenic workouts.
Type in calisthenics and there are many videos of people who work out exclusively with calisthenics and look big and ripped.
"For thousands of years, warriors have built incredible strength and conditioning only using their own bodyweight." -MMA Bodyweight: Don't Underestimate Gravity - Joe Gregory
"Do they accomplish this feat by lifting a single barbell, or a dumbbell, or even running on a treadmill? Nope, they do it by using their own bodyweight."(referring to gymnasts) - MMA Bodyweight: Don't Underestimate Gravity- Joe Gregory
"If you do choose to do calisthenics, if you are an untrained beginner, when you first start out you can probably put a bit of muscle on – just as if you had a hard laborious job you’d develop a certain amount of extra muscle. But, it’s pretty limited. For instance, just because you worked as a removal man lifting refrigerators once or twice every day, doesn’t mean you’d get to the size of Jay Cutler." - Pete Owen
"Can you build a lot of muscle without weights? Well, not really." - Mark McManus
This is not really a negative article but it is rather dismissive. The article here on bodybuilding.com titled 'What Is The Best Calisthenics Workout?' starts with the line, "There are no weights, and no real machines around. Your only option for a workout is calisthenics." Makes it sound rather like a last resort.
Who is telling the truth?
I would love to workout just using bodyweight it seems like such pure and functional strength. However, who is telling the truth, can it build muscle mass at a reasonable pace?