So You Want To Learn The Calisthenics Air Walk

The calisthenics air walk is a staple in freestyle on the bar and on gymnastics rings. Learning how to air walk is a big personal milestone in calisthenics as this skill allows you to be more creative and experiment with different transitions.

Air Walk Prerequisites

Being able to perform the following exercises will make the calisthenics air walk much easier to learn and make the execution look smoother. However, these skills are not necessary to learn the air walk but they do help.

  • 10 Standard Pull Ups
  • 6 Wide Grip Pull Ups
  • 1 Minute Dead Hang
  • 30 Second Active Hang
  • 30 Second Flexed Arm Hang

You can find all these exercises in our beginner calisthenics training guides.

Level 1: Active Hang With Engaged Calves

The active hang is often the starting, ending, and resting position of all calisthenics air walking routines. What makes this hang slightly different from the usual active hang is you will also start incorporating your lower body by flexing your calves and raising your feet. When performed properly your feet should point straight ahead of you instead of at the ground.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 30 seconds

Level 2: Active hang rotations

Now that you’ve learned the active hang with your legs activated the next step is to engage your obliques and get used to moving your lower body and core while keeping your arms engaged. Start in the active hang with your calves preengaged then rotate from your hips while keeping your arms straight and inline with the bar above your head. Your hips should be inline with your feet and both should be facing at least 45 degrees away from the forward position. The more you train this motion the further you will be able to turn. Once you’ve rotated as far as you can, brace your abs and hold the position for a few seconds before repeating the motion on the other side. Remember to keep your legs straight and calves activated while rotating.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Level 3: The Pull & Step

The next step of learning the air walk is the step. Keeping your scapula engaged initiate a pull up but do it slowly. The goal with your arms is just to raise yourself up slightly to create the illusion of stepping on an invisible box. Keeping your calves engaged take a small step forward and lean backward while extending your leg straight. When you lean back you will feel your weight distribution shift towards your chest making it more important to keep your core engaged to keep 1 leg suspended higher than the other when creating the illusion of stepping forward. Many people find it helpful to visualize a box being stepped on when combining the motion of pulling and stepping at the same time. Make sure to practice both sides.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Level 4: Bicycles Walk

Once you are comfortable stepping with each leg it’s time to combine the motion. For this air walk progression think of bicycle pedals placed between your feet and you just need to pedal. Don’t worry about moving fast just think about how it feels to pedal a bike. Remember to keep your kneecaps pointed forward and calves engaged. Once you are comfortable pedaling an invisible bike forward practice pedaling backward. The backward motion is more difficult and requires a deeper activation of the muscles in your core. You can take this a step further by leaning backward during the cycling movement toward the front lever position and even the upside-down support position. By changing speed and how far backwards you lean you will inevitably master the forward and backward airwalk.

Level 5: Side To Side Air Walk

The side-to-side airwalk adds another degree of motion to your air walk routine. Instead of walking forward and backward you will now be moving to the left and right. We recommend using a wide pull up grip and being comfortable with archer pull ups before attempting the side to side air walk. To perform this skill, rotate your hips in the direction you want to step and step with your outside leg leaning backward towards your opposite shoulder. This means if you want to step to the right you should turn your hips to the right and first step with you right leg while leaning back onto your left shoulder. This movement will engage muscles throughout your entire body and will help build a better mind-muscle connection. Once you can comfortably step with 1 leg to the side, follow it up with the other leg. If you are having trouble keeping your body rotated during the side-to-side air walk pull yourself up into a flexed arm hang.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 8 repetitions

If you have learned the air walk you can combo into many other calisthenics skills. A fun skill to include in any calisthenics freestyle is the muscle up. You can learn the muscle up here.