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Best Callisthenics Workouts

In the ever-changing world of fitness, not everyone has the luxury of using weights. That’s where callisthenics steps in – a practical and effective way to keep fit using just your body weight. 

This guide is your comprehensive journey into the realm of callisthenics.

Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned in fitness, you’ll find valuable insights and exercises to enhance your routine, all without the need for traditional gym equipment.

Read our Medical Disclaimer before starting any exercises.

What Is Callisthenics?

Calisthenics, at its core, is about simplicity and effectiveness. It’s a form of exercise where you use your own body weight as resistance.

This might sound straightforward, but trust me, it’s incredibly versatile and can be quite challenging.

We’re talking about exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and leg raises – movements that engage multiple muscle groups and require minimal equipment.

What really stands out to me about callisthenics is its accessibility. You don’t need a fancy gym membership or expensive gear.

A park bench, a pull-up bar, or just a clear space on your living room floor can be your workout station. This makes it perfect for people of all fitness levels and backgrounds.

Another aspect I love about callisthenics is its focus on natural movements. These exercises promote strength, flexibility, and coordination in ways that mimic everyday activities. 

It’s not just about building muscle; it’s about enhancing overall physical capability and body control. 

As someone who has incorporated callisthenics into my routine for years, I can vouch for its benefits in building a strong, agile, and well-coordinated body.

Whether you’re looking to improve your overall fitness, gain strength, or just stay active, callisthenics is a fantastic and adaptable tool in your fitness arsenal.

Best Callisthenics Exercises

Here are some of the best Callisthenics exercises that you can perform to gain muscle and increase your overall fitness

In my opinion, if you master these basic Callisthenics exercises, you’ll build a strong foundation for more technical Callisthenics exercises.

1. Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are a quintessential upper body exercise, primarily working the back, biceps, and shoulders.

They’re fantastic for developing strength and muscle definition. The key is to perform them with proper form to engage the right muscle groups effectively.

How To Do It:

  • Stand under a pull-up bar and grip it with your hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing away from you.
  • Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended, keeping your legs slightly bent if necessary to avoid touching the ground.
  • Pull yourself up by squeezing your shoulder blades together and down, keeping your core engaged.
  • Continue pulling until your chin is above the bar, then hold briefly at the top.
  • Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position with controlled movement.

2. Push Ups

Illustration of a lady doing a push up

Push-ups are a staple exercise for targeting the chest, triceps, and shoulders. They also engage the core, making them an effective full-body exercise.

How To Do It:

  • Begin in a high plank position with your hands placed directly under your shoulders.
  • Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels, engaging your core and glutes.
  • Lower your body towards the floor by bending your elbows, keeping them close to your body.
  • Descend until your chest is just above the ground.
  • Push through your hands, extending your arms to return to the starting position.

3. Squats

Illustration of a lady doing a squat

Squats are crucial for building strength in the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and core. They also improve lower body mobility and stability.

How To Do It:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing slightly outward.
  • Extend your arms straight out in front of you for balance.
  • Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back and bending your knees.
  • Squat down as low as you can while keeping your chest up and back straight.
  • Push through your heels to return to the starting position.

4. Lunges

Illustration of lady doing a lunge

Lunges are effective for strengthening and toning the legs and glutes while also engaging the core for stability.

How To Do It:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take a large step forward with one leg and shift your weight forward so your heel hits the floor first.
  • Lower your body until the front thigh is parallel to the floor and the back knee is close to the ground, making sure your front knee doesn’t go beyond your toes.
  • Push back up to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.

5. Plank

Illustration of man doing a plank

The plank is an excellent exercise for core stabilization, working the abs, back, and shoulders. In my opinion, it’s one of the most basic callisthenics exercises that you can master.

How To Do It:

  • Start on the floor on your hands and knees.
  • Lower your forearms to the ground, with elbows aligned below your shoulders and arms parallel to your body at about shoulder-width distance.
  • Step your feet back, one at a time, to form a straight line from your heels to your head.
  • Tighten your abs, glutes, and thighs, and hold this position, making sure your back doesn’t sag or your hips don’t rise.

6. Dips

Illustration of man doing dips

Dips primarily target the triceps but also work the chest and shoulders. They are excellent for upper body strength.

How To Do It:

  • Sit on the edge of a bench or chair with your hands next to your thighs.
  • Move your feet out and slide your buttocks off the bench, with your arms straight.
  • Lower your body by bending your elbows to a 90-degree angle, keeping your back close to the bench.
  • Push back up to the starting position, fully extending your arms.

7. Leg Raises

Illustration of a man doing leg raises

Leg raises are great for targeting the lower abdominals and hip flexors. They also aid in improving lower back strength.

How To Do It:

  • Lie flat on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides.
  • Press your lower back into the floor and engage your core muscles.
  • Slowly raise your legs to a 90-degree angle, keeping them straight and together.
  • Lower them back down just above the floor without touching it, and then raise them again.

8. Burpees

Illustration of a man doing a burpee

Burpees are a high-intensity, full-body exercise that improves cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength.

How To Do It:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Jump your feet back to land in a plank position and perform a push-up.
  • Jump your feet back towards your hands, then explosively jump into the air, raising your arms overhead.

9. Mountain Climbers

Illustration of man doing mountain climbers

Mountain climbers are an excellent exercise for building cardiovascular endurance, core strength, and agility.

How To Do It:

  • Start in a plank position with your arms straight and your body in a straight line.
  • Bring your right knee towards your chest without lifting your hips.
  • Quickly switch, extending your right leg back while bringing your left knee to your chest.
  • Continue alternating your legs as if you’re running in place.

10. Handstand Push-Ups

Illustration of lady doing handstand push-ups

Handstand push-ups are an advanced exercise targeting the shoulders, triceps, and core, requiring significant strength and balance.

These are one of my favourite exercises to perform; you can really develop some muscle mass using this exercise.

How To Do It:

  • Kick up into a handstand against a wall for support, with your arms straight and hands about shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows, keeping your body straight.
  • Push through your hands to raise your body back up to the starting position.

Each of these exercises can be modified to accommodate different fitness levels, making them ideal for everyone, from beginners to more advanced gym-goers. 

While performing these movements, always focus on proper form to maximise benefits and prevent injury.

Callisthenics Equipment

When people hear “callisthenics”, they often picture purely bodyweight exercises with no equipment in sight. And sure, the beauty of callisthenics does lie in its simplicity and the focus on using your own body weight. 

But here’s a little secret from someone who’s been deeply immersed in this world: a bit of equipment can genuinely elevate your callisthenics experience.

Take pull-ups and dips, for example – they’re staple exercises in callisthenics, yet they do require some basic gear. This is where Gravity Fitness comes into the picture, a brand I’ve personally come to trust and rely on.

Gravity Fitness Portable Pull-Up Bar

Let’s talk about the Gravity Fitness portable pull-up bar first. As someone who’s integrated callisthenics deeply into my fitness regime, I can’t emphasise enough how this pull-up bar has been a staple in my workouts.

Its portability is a standout feature – easy to set up and dismantle, making it perfect for those with limited space or who like to train outdoors. 

The stability and sturdiness of this bar are impressive; it doesn’t shake or feel flimsy, which is crucial for those challenging pull-up variations.

Check out our Gravity Fitness Pull-up Rack review where we’ve put it through its paces.

Gravity Fitness Gymnastics Rings

Moving on to the Gravity Fitness gymnastics rings – and let me tell you, these are not just any rings. Incorporating ring exercises into your routine brings a whole new level of difficulty and muscle engagement. 

The rings from Gravity Fitness have been particularly impressive in terms of their durability and grip comfort. They strike the right balance between being challenging yet manageable, especially for those just starting with ring exercises. 

Plus, the way they force your muscles to engage more for stabilization is perfect for advancing your callisthenics skills.

Gravity Fitness XL Adjustable Parallettes/Dips Bars

Finally, we have the Gravity Fitness XL Adjustable Parallettes/Dip Bars.

Dips are a core component of any callisthenics workout, and these parallettes have been a game-changer for me. The adjustability feature is particularly useful as it caters to a range of exercises and skill levels.

They are incredibly stable – a non-negotiable for me when it comes to workout equipment. You really feel the difference in your chest, triceps, and shoulder workouts with these bars.

While the foundation of callisthenics is bodyweight exercises, the right equipment can profoundly enhance your training experience.

Gravity Fitness understands this balance, providing equipment that complements rather than overshadows the essence of callisthenics. 

Their combination of product quality, customer service, and delivery efficiency makes them a brand I wholeheartedly trust and recommend in the callisthenics community.

Best Callisthenics Workout Plan

As a fitness enthusiast who’s tried practically every workout style out there, I can confidently say that callisthenics holds a special place in my routine. I’m particularly fond of its simplicity and effectiveness. 

There’s something incredibly satisfying about using your body weight to sculpt and strengthen your physique. In my experience, calisthenics not only improves physical strength but also enhances mental resilience and body awareness.

This workout plan, crafted from the top callisthenics exercises we’ve discussed, is my go-to for a balanced, full-body workout. 

I’ve found that it targets all the major muscle groups effectively, helping me maintain a well-rounded fitness level.

I adjust the reps and sets based on my current goals – some days focusing on endurance, other days on strength.

The beauty of this plan is its flexibility; it’s perfectly suitable whether you’re in a spacious gym or a cramped living room.

Remember, the key to success with callisthenics, or any workout regimen, is consistency and proper form. 

I always start with a dynamic warm-up to prepare my muscles and end with a thorough cool-down to aid recovery. And I can’t stress enough the importance of listening to your body – if an exercise feels too challenging, it’s okay to modify. 

As you progress, you’ll find yourself able to tackle more reps, more sets, and shorter rest periods. Here’s the workout plan that has worked wonders for me:

ExerciseRepsSetsRest Period
Pull-Ups5-10360-90 seconds
Push-Ups10-20360 seconds
Squats15-20360 seconds
Lunges10 each leg360 seconds
Plank30-60 seconds330 seconds
Dips8-12360 seconds
Leg Raises10-15360 seconds
Burpees8-15390 seconds
Mountain Climbers30 seconds330 seconds
Handstand Push-Ups3-6390 seconds

If you really want to take things up a level, you could perform one set of each exercise back to back until you’ve completed one round, then have your rest period.

This is more of a circuit-based workout, but in my opinion, is suitable for you if you’re more advanced. 

Callisthenics Workout FAQ

How Often Should I Do a Calisthenics Workout?

For beginners, I recommend starting with three callisthenics sessions per week. This frequency allows your body ample time to adapt and recover, which is crucial for muscle growth and injury prevention.

As you progress and your body becomes more accustomed to the exercises, you might consider increasing the frequency to four or even five times a week.

Remember, recovery is as important as the workout itself. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

Can Calisthenics Help with Weight Loss?

Absolutely! Callisthenics can be an effective way to lose weight.

These exercises elevate your heart rate and burn calories, especially when performed in a circuit style with minimal rest between exercises.

Combine this with a balanced diet, and you’ll create a calorie deficit, which is key to weight loss. Moreover, as you build muscle, your body burns more calories at rest, further aiding weight loss efforts.

Do I Need Equipment for Calisthenics?

One of the best things about callisthenics is that it requires minimal equipment. Most exercises use your body weight as resistance.

However, having access to a pull-up bar and a dip station can be beneficial for upper-body exercises.

If you’re working out at home, simple adaptations like using a sturdy chair for dips or a towel for rows can be very effective. Creativity is your best asset here.

How Can I Track My Progress in Calisthenics?

Tracking progress in callisthenics can be done in several ways.

The most straightforward method is to monitor your ability to perform more reps and sets over time or to advance to more difficult variations of exercises.

Additionally, taking regular photos or measurements can help you see physical changes in your body.

Keeping a workout log is also a great way to track improvements in your strength and endurance. Remember, progress can be slow and steady, so patience and consistency are key.

Summary

In conclusion, callisthenics is a flexible and effective fitness approach ideal for various goals, from strength building to weight loss. 

This guide has highlighted key exercises and a balanced workout plan that’s accessible and adaptable for all fitness levels. Remember, success in callisthenics comes from consistency, proper technique, and gradual progression.

It’s also crucial to dial in your nutrition ensuring you’re getting plenty of protein, enough calories and good fats.

Looking to get more protein in? Check out Bulk Macro Munch Bars or Warrior Crunch Protein bars as a handy, easy to eat protein packed snack.

Whether you’re starting out or enhancing your routine, these workouts can significantly boost your fitness journey.

Embrace this simple yet powerful way of training for a stronger, healthier body, and enjoy the journey towards your fitness goals with callisthenics.

Medical Disclaimer

Medical Disclaimer: The content on this fitness website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting or changing any exercise, diet, or wellness program, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, have any pre-existing medical conditions, or are taking medications.

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