Whether you’re starting up a new fitness regime for the first time, or are an old exercise veteran with a knack for mastering complex moves and stretches, it can be easy to find one move or sport you enjoy and simply stick with it.
The problem is, once your body gets used to the effects of that one activity, your results start to plateau.
Our solution? Calisthenics.
Calisthenics exercises and workouts can be performed from most places including outdoors, at home and the gym using minimal equipment
So let’s start at the beginning.
Beginners Calisthenics Workout
One of the primary ways that fans of Calisthenic workouts keep their exercises fresh, is by mixing up the intensity and rhythm of each of the moves. Where many gym-goers have “leg day”, “arm day” and “cardio day”, a Calisthenic athlete may instead focus on a steady session, followed by a high intensity session; with a focus one day on running, and the next on arm movements.
To get started with Calisthenics, we recommend performing each of the following exercise moves as part of a circuit, selecting a number of reps to be performed at each station before a 30 second break.
We typically recommend 30 seconds because it is long enough to catch your breath and grab a glass of water, but not so long that your heart rate starts to drop significantly.
By performing the following basics, you will be earning and training yourself in the areas of strength and movement that you will need to progress to the Intermediate and eventually to Advanced workout plans.
Beginners Workout Calisthenics Routine
Here is a beginners workout routine you can start with:
- Pull Ups – 4 Sets, 4-8 Reps
- Chin Ups – 4 sets , 4-8 Reps
- Dips – 4 sets, 4-8 Reps
- Jump Squats – 4 Sets, 10 – 15 Reps
- Push Ups – 4 Sets, 4-8 Reps
- Crunches – 4 Sets, 20-30 Reps
- Jump Rope – 4 Sets, Until Failure
Chin-Ups – grasp a bar above your head, with your palms facing towards you.
Tip – If you Struggle to do 10 reps, use a resistance band to help you get extra reps
Dips – stand inside of two bars and grip them, then use your arms to push yourself off the ground.
Tip – you can use a bench and place your feet on the ground to provide extra support if you struggle to life your full bodyweight
Jump Squats – a classic move, performing a standard squat followed by a jump with your legs outstretched.
Tip – try start with stationery squats if the jump squat is difficult to do
Push-Ups – get in a plank position and position your hand slightly wider than shoulder width. Bend your elbow and lower yourself to the ground, then slowly push yourself up.
Tip – we recommend starting on your knees if you need to, slowly progressing towards a full body press-up on your toes.
Crunches – start out slow with this one, raising your head to meet your chest and allowing your full upper body to follow
Tip – try perform these at a slow pace to get maximum benefit
Jump rope – not just made for the playground, skipping ropes are actually a great form of exercise for all ages!
Tip – try to not jump to high, and use a rope that fits your height
Intermediate Calisthenics Workout
Knowing when you’re ready to progress from the basics workout onto the intermediate workout is something that only you can really know.
It’s worth noting that the intermediate workouts can often start to hone in on particular muscle groups and areas of the body, so make sure that you’re aware of which routine you’re trying and which muscles it intends to work, steering clear of any which may cause issue to any existing problems.
To get started with the intermediate workout plan, we recommend ensuring a basic level of strength, although you don’t have to be super strong to perform these moves effectively.
Completing the basis workout plan should have left you in good stead to be able to work on your strength and movement even further.
Intermediate Calisthenics Routine
Here is an intermediate workout routine you can start doing:
- Headstand – 4 Sets, 30-45 Seconds
- Reverse Plank – 4 sets , 30- 60 Seconds
- Bridges – 4 sets, 30-60 Seconds
- Hanging leg raises – 4 Sets, 30-60 Seconds
The Headstand – using your hands, arms and head, you should be able to achieve equal distribution of your body weight between the three points, holding your balance through the beauty of mathematics.
Reverse Plank – designed to strengthen your back and core, as well as your arms, the Reverse plank is part of the goals that improve shoulder mobility.
Bridges – there’s a basic and a more advanced version of this, starting with your arms to the floor and gradually progressing until it is just your hands and feet that are touching the ground. The bridge benefits the whole body and enhances flexibility, preparing the body for more advanced moves to come later in the programme.
Hanging leg raises – this one is tricky, and requires a great deal more upper body strength than any of the previous exercises. Requiring a bar to be up higher than your head, grasp the bar with your palms facing in and hang there, before pulling your lower body up into a sitting position. Lower the body back down slowly to complete a full rep.
Advanced Calisthenics Workout
By the end of the advanced calisthenics plan, you’ll be reaping some serious benefits. From stronger muscles to a significant reduction in body fat, you’ll find that your cardio fitness is greatly improved as well as your overall wellbeing. And not only that, but you’ll be able to perform some seriously cool moves, with seemingly no effort at all!
So how do you know if you’re ready for the advanced workout plan? Firstly, by now you should understand that these moves don’t come immediately, and the training takes time – if nothing else, this is to avoid injury, so remember that rushing into any of these moves is dangerous and not advised. By now you will also have a foundation strength and mobility that will ensure you are ready to start progressing towards mastering the advanced moves.
Here are some of the moves that, eventually, you will be performing as an advanced calisthenics athlete:
Side plank and twist – requiring strength in your core and the ability to keep yourself balanced, this one involves keeping just one arm on the floor and holding yourself steady.
Wall facing handstand push-up – a progression on from both the push-up which we learnt earlier, and the handstand mastered as an Intermediate, the wall handstand push-up enables you to hold yourself up against a wall, and dip your shoulders and arms at the same time. Not so much about balance as it is about basic strength.
Muscle-Ups – this one works the upper body massively, pushing you to perform a pull-up which isn’t complete until your hands are down by your waist and most of your upper body is suspended above the bar.
Strict ring muscle up – an even more difficult version of the former move, take away the bar and replace it with suspended rings… you’ve got yourself the strict ring muscle up. This one requires stabilising balance as much as it does strength, so take it slow!
Planche – you may be asking what this one is, and that’s a good question. It’s also a very cool move that is difficult to master but amazing once you have. Using your arms for support, it allows you to hold your entire body in the air – engaging muscles in the arms, shoulders, core, legs, and pretty much everywhere you can think of. The ultimate calisthenic move, the planche is one of the trickiest and also one of the most impressive. ]
Wrapping It Up
Calisthenics exercises can be performed at a variety of levels depending on your fitness and ability. And the best thing? You don’t need masses of equipment or even a gym – you can simply rely on your own body weight.
Despite being a seemingly rather odd word, calisthenics is in fact a rigorous form of exercise that focuses on working the larger muscle groups, for example activities such as running, standing, pushing, pulling etc. Largely performed as bodyweight exercises, they are intended to increase strength and flexibility as well as overall fitness.
Calisthenic training is a fantastic tool for those who enjoy seeing the effects of obvious improvement and progression, focussing on bettering themselves through a series of exercises and workouts that focus on overall body strength and fitness.