He can't do pull ups because of his body fat/over weight. I think weights progress is easier, since all you do is just add more kg, where as calisthenics requires the basics at least 3-4 months to master them before doing something like a muscle up (regular, not chicken wing).
Yeah that's why you see a lot (not all though) powerlifters don't have defined muscles but they lift like 300kg on squat or benchpress or dead lift. They just keep bulking and getting fat because I think they don't want to lose strength, they just want to gain it.
I think your pal is doing some dirty bulking lol. That would be my opinion, I actually have no clue if any of this is true lol