What is a Typical Calisthenics Workout?
As a beginner, you should prioritize mastering the fundamentals with good form. The great thing about this is, you can practice different progressions or regressions for all calisthenics exercises to suit your current fitness level and goals.
In general, the fundamental calisthenics exercises are:
- Pull exercises
- Push exercises
- Core exercises
- Leg exercises
Below is a calisthenics workout plan that is based on an upper body/lower body training split. As a beginner, it is good to train 4 times a week for around an hour long. A 2016 study suggests that training a muscle group twice a week promotes greater hypertrophic outcomes than once a week. Hence why the bodyweight workout below is based on the goal of increasing muscle size. See the table below on the workout schedule:
Beginners workout schedule for beginners (weekly routine)
Beginner’s Calisthenics Workout
The workout below will require minimal equipment and all you need is:
- Your body
- Small space
- A pull-up bar
- A set of parallel bars
These are the basics that will cover the push, pull, core, and legs fundamentals. These items can be found at your local park, or you can even make your own set in your backyard. Before you begin your sessions make sure to prime your muscles by following a warm-up routine.
A 2015 study suggests that doing both dynamic and static stretches reduce the risk of injuries and enable you to attain optimal performance.
There is a science behind the reps ranges below:
- 1-5 reps develop dense muscle strength and power.
- 6-12 reps are ideal for hypertrophy which develops your muscular power, size, and strength.
- 12+ reps primarily increase your muscular endurance, size, and cardiovascular health.
|Triset: Australian pull-ups, parallel dips, and push-ups||4||8-12 reps||120 seconds|
|Triset: Negative pull-ups, bench dips, inclined push-ups and||4||8-12 reps||120 seconds|
|Superset: Lying knee raises and Russian twists||4||10-12 reps||90 seconds|
|Superset: Reverse crunches and flutter kicks||4||10-12 reps||90 seconds|
|Bodyweight squats||4||10-20 reps||90seconds|
|Forward lunges||4||10-20 reps||90 seconds|
|Bulgarian split squats||4||8-12 reps||90 seconds|
|Calf raises||4||10-20 reps||90 seconds|
|Triset: Chin ups, parallel dips, and push ups||4||8-12 reps||120 seconds|
|Triset: Australian pull ups, bench dips, inclined push ups and||4||8-12 reps||120 seconds|
|Superset: Mountain climbers and Russian twists||4||10-12 reps||90 seconds|
|Superset: Plank and flutter kicks||4||10-20 seconds||90 seconds|
|Superset: Bodyweight squats and forward lunges||4||10-12 reps||120 seconds|
|Goblet squats||4||10-20 reps||90 seconds|
|Superset: Bulgarian split squats and reverse lunges||4||8-12 reps||120 seconds|
|Calf raises||4||10-20 reps||90 seconds|
As you can see, the majority of these exercises are compound movements which mean multiple muscle groups are being worked with each rep performed. This will especially recruit your core muscles and train your proprioceptors which increases your body awareness.
Calisthenics Equipment Needed
Calisthenics equipment can be great tools for your home workouts, even so, to take it with you to the local gym, calisthenics park, or while traveling. This equipment will increase the range of exercises that you can practice, and therefore help you to progress towards your fitness goals much faster. Here are 6 pieces of equipment that will elevate your calisthenics training.
Pull up bar
A pull up bar is a vital piece of equipment for developing your pulling strength, you can practice pulling work, hanging abs exercises, and levers. The most basic form is the door frame bar which you can mount in your door frame.
This equipment comes in all shapes and sizes and is used for different purposes. A small wooden parallettes is great for training push exercises, such as push-up variations, and core workouts such as L-sits. Advanced users would practice handstands on them. This is ideal if you have poor wrist flexibility and get wrist pains when doing push-ups on your hands. They are small, portable, and you can squeeze them into your backpack and bring it with you anywhere.
Dip bars are an extended family of parallettes. The difference is that dip bars are bigger and taller which is suitable for developing your pushing strength. These are used for parallel dips, straight bar dips, L-sits, and even practice your pull-ups and levers on a single side of the dip bar.
Resistance bands are a must-have! They are great for beginners to use as they can take the load away from your body and decrease resistance for movements that you are not strong enough to do yet, such as pull-ups, and dips. For more advanced users, bands are utilized in levers and planche training to reduce body weight and allow them to work on harder progressions.
These bands come in different thicknesses. Larger bands provide more resistance and are harder to pull apart and they make exercises much more difficult. For example, while doing banded squats.
However, resistance bands can also allow band-assisted exercises. These make movements easier as they can offer support and take away some of the weight load of your body. In this sense, resistance bands are extremely versatile in that they can make movements easier or more difficult depending on your needs.
Some people can’t work out without chalk because they get sweaty hands and would lose grip when hanging from a pull-up bar or doing dips. The solution to this is to use either chalk blocks or liquid chalk. Some people prefer liquid chalk because it is less messy and you won’t get chalk dusting everywhere when you put them on, but they can be a pain to wash off and give your hand a sticky feeling.
Gymnastic rings are the most versatile piece of calisthenic equipment there is, they can be utilized for a variety of different bodyweight exercises, from pulling, pushing and core movements which allows you to have a well-rounded calisthenics workout.
You can practice the following exercises on a pair of gymnastics rings:
- Front levers and back levers
Rings come in two types – wooden and plastic. The wooden ones generally give you a more natural feel and a better grip, especially when you’re using chalk, but, if they’re left outside they will rot. Whereas, plastic rings are more durable. In general, if you’re traveling, this would be a good piece to take with you because they’re small and portable.
How To Progress In Calisthenics as a Beginner
To progress as a beginner in calisthenics, you would add more stimulus and resistance to your training over a slow and gradual period of time. This can be done in many ways, such as:
- Increase repetition and sets
- Decrease rest time
- Add weight
- Practice harder exercise progressions
- Change your body position and angel
- Increase range of motion
Hybrid Calisthenics Beginner’s Routine
What if you still like weight lifting and you don’t want to completely switch to doing purely calisthenics? Well, you can practice hybrid calisthenics which is a workout regimen that combines both bodyweight and weight lifting. This is a good option if your goal is to gain mass and build strength. Below are the benefits of doing hybrid calisthenics:
- Maximize strength and hypertrophy
- Higher exercise variety
- More potential for lower body training
- Increase flexibility and strength
Here’s what a beginner’s hybrid calisthenics session would look like based on an upper body/lower body split with a goal of building muscle:
|Triset: Pull-ups, parallel dips, and push-ups||4||8-12 reps||120 seconds|
|Cable rows (65lbs)||4||8-12 reps||120 seconds|
|Bench press (65lbs)||4||10-12 reps||120 seconds|
|Superset: Hanging knee raises and sit-ups||4||10-12 reps||90 seconds|
Can you Build Muscle With Only Calisthenics?
Yes, you definitely can. Building muscle requires three things: stimulus, recovery, and adaptation. To grow, you must apply your muscles with enough resistance to stimulate hypertrophy.
In weight lifting, you’d simply increase weight. Whereas, for calisthenics, you’d do more reps, do new and harder variations to change your body angle. This would be more than enough to get you ripped.
How Many Times a Week Should I Train?
A good place to start for beginners is a minimum of 3 times a week of training for at least 45 minutes per session. Gradually, you can work your way up to training 6-7 days a week once your body is adapted to the training intensity. Rest days are also important – You grow when you rest!
Which Burn More Calories: Calisthenics or Weight Lifting?
Both types of training are great for burning calories, no doubt, but generally, calisthenics would burn more calories because most of the exercises are compound movements, which means that multiple muscle groups are working together. This requires more calories in comparison to doing isolated movements in weight lifting.
Will Calisthenics Help Improve Performance in Other Sports?
Yes! It will give you a special kind of functional strength because of the compound movements, which are used in everyday life. Calisthenics will improve your athletic ability, strength, endurance, and better your body control.
Is Calisthenics Better Than Weight Lifting?
It depends. Both disciplines have their respective benefits and disadvantages, but you could combine the two to form a hybrid training, this way you can have the best of both worlds.
When building raw strength and muscle mass, weight lifting may be better for you. Whereas, if you want to increase your functional strength, body awareness, and be free to work out wherever you are, then calisthenics could be the one for you. Ask yourself what your long-term goals are and this will help you to decide.
Is it OK to Do Calisthenics Every Day?
Yes, it is okay to do calisthenics every day, just make sure to split up your training to work different regions of the body or muscle groups to allow time for your muscles to recover. You could try an upper body/lower body split or a push/pull/legs split.
Of course, you should listen to your body and take a rest when you need it, especially as a beginner or novice athlete. Overtraining can lead to injuries and set you back from making consistent progress.
How Long Does it Take To See Results From Calisthenics?
To any kind of resistance training, if you are a beginner, it is possible to see results within the first two weeks of training. This is because newbies are more hyper-responsive to resistance training. You will gain strength and endurance much faster as a beginner than you would in the later phase of your journey. Also, an optimal calisthenics diet combined with a consistent workout routine will yield the most results.
What Equipment Do I Need For My Calisthenics Training?
If you don’t have access to an outdoor calisthenics park or a gym and you’ll train at home, then you will need a pull-up bar (stick in between your door frame) and dip bars.
How Do I Start Calisthenics?
You can start by reading the free content that Gymless Fitness has created and practice the 4 fundamentals which are pulling exercises, pushing exercises, core exercises, and lower body exercises.
What Is The Ideal Age To Start Calisthenics?
There is really no age limit for calisthenics. As it is a bodyweight workout, it does not require any special equipment. A 3-4-year-old child could very well practice calisthenics under proper provision and guidance. Calisthenics is also great for those who are over 65 years old because of the flexibility in the way you can program your workouts.
You could start with easy exercises such as wall pull-ups, wall push-ups, jackknife squats, and dead hang. Of course, consult your physician before you start.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.