Calisthenics, is a form of exercise that uses your own body weight for resistance. It has exploded in popularity in the last decade due to having no barriers to entry and exercises can be as easy or as difficult as you need. Calisthenics offers a holistic approach to fitness, combining strength, flexibility, and control.

Whether you’re looking to build muscle, lose weight, or improve overall fitness, calisthenics provides an excellent foundation to achieve your fitness goals. This beginner’s guide will walk you through the essential steps to get started on your calisthenics journey.

What Is Calisthenics?

what is calisthenics
The word “calisthenics” originates from the Greek words “kallos” (meaning beauty) and “sthenos” (meaning strength), emphasizing the aesthetic and functional aspects of this type of training. You can often see advanced calisthenics athletes performing very impressive feats in public. By using your own body weight as resistance instead of dumbbells, kettlebells, or other equipment seen in traditional gyms calisthenics becomes more accessible.

SEE ALSO: What Is Reverse Pyramid Training

Calisthenics exercises involve a wide range of movements that target different muscle groups and can be performed anywhere, making calisthenics a versatile and accessible form of exercise. Push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and dips are popular calisthenics exercises.

What Are The Benefits Of Training Calisthenics?

benefits of calisthenics
The benefits of calisthenics extend far beyond physical fitness and the ability to save money on equipment and memberships. It promotes body awareness, balance, coordination, and control over one’s movements. Additionally, calisthenics can be customized to suit individual fitness levels and goals, making it suitable for beginners as well as advanced athletes.

Through consistent calisthenics training, you can expect to see results in your strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, mobility, reduced pain, improved balance, improved spatial awareness, and newfound confidence in yourself.

There are also many mental benefits to calisthenics as well. Exercise, in general, releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce stress levels. Additionally, the challenge and satisfaction of progressing in calisthenics can boost self-confidence, discipline, and mental resilience. Moving through calisthenic progressions provides a huge boost to your confidence, self-esteem, and sense of achievement.

You will often find that calisthenics athletes become pound-for-pound stronger than even most bodybuilders.

One major benefit to training calisthenics is the ability to train anywhere. If you want to train at home you can. If you want to train at a park you can. If you want to train in nature, you absolutely can! By changing your environment you can experience life in new ways and find new appreciation for the little things.

How To Start Calisthenics?

how to start calisthenics
Starting calisthenics can be an exciting and rewarding path on your fitness journey. No matter where you are starting from, all that matters is that you do start. It is important to know that everyone starts at a different place and you should never feel discouraged for not being able to perform a more difficult movement.

Learning The Movements and Proper Form

calisthenics form and movement
Before starting your calisthenics journey we recommend taking a look at the different types of calisthenics exercises and learning which muscles they work. This will help you understand what muscles you can expect to see results in and ways to avoid over training.

Doing your research will also teach you how to perform each movement with the proper form.

Form is crucial when training calisthenics. Good form is important to avoid injury and to properly train your muscles. Bad form can lead to muscle imbalances, sharp pains, chronic pain over time, and more serious injury.

Assess Your Current Fitness Level

Before embarking on your calisthenics journey, it’s important to assess your current fitness level. Conduct a basic fitness assessment to determine your strength, flexibility, and endurance. This evaluation will serve as a benchmark to track your progress and set realistic goals.

We recommend moving your way through our calisthenics training progressions and seeing the hardest exercise you can do for 8 reps with good form. For example, if you can’t do push-ups, try doing knee push-ups. If those are too hard try doing incline push ups. The same applies to pulling exercises, squats, and flexibility movements.

Once you understand where you are starting from you can track your own progress and set goals that work for you. Starting out if you can only do 5 push ups, you can train to eventually raise that number to 6, 7 and so on. Progress will take time but your consistency will be rewarded.

Create a Training Plan

creating a calisthenics training plan
Developing a well-structured training plan will help ensure consistency and progression in calisthenics. Aim for three to four workout sessions per week, allowing for adequate rest and recovery. We also recommend that you avoid training the same muscle groups for multiple days in a row.

Pull-ups are fun, but give your muscles some time to rest.

When creating your training plan, start with foundational exercises that match your current fitness level and gradually progress to more advanced variations. Incorporate a mix of strength training, flexibility work, and skill development to maintain a balanced approach.

An example calisthenics training week might look like

  • Sunday: Flexibility mobility training through stretches
  • Monday: Push movements
  • Tuesday: Rest Day
  • Wednesday: Pulling movements
  • Thursday: Rest Day
  • Friday: Squats and leg movements
  • Saturday: Rest Day

As long as the exercises you choose to perform align with your current fitness level you will see growth and safely train calisthenics.

Over time your program may change based on the calisthenics skills you want to learn. It is not uncommon to have multiple pulling days when learning advanced calisthenics skills like the front lever.

If you are just looking to maintain your current fitness level and aren’t worried about doing difficult movements you should stay at a progression that challenges you but doesn’t force you to push too far past your limits. Once you are able to comfortably do 25 reps of an exercise consider moving to the next progression. This will produce muscular endurance results instead of strength. Your program will vary from another person’s calisthenics training program based on your own fitness goals.

Many people look to calisthenics to help them maintain a healthy physique and are not interested in isometric or dynamic movements. For them, training higher volume exercises at a lower intensity will better suit their goals.

Starting Training

start training calisthenics
Now that you’ve planned out your training program it’s time to start training. You can pick the exercises you want to train on our training page to help you build your own personalized program. However, before every training session it is important to warm up.

A thorough warm-up to increase blood flow, raise core body temperature, and prepare your muscles and joints for exercise. Incorporate dynamic stretches, joint rotations, and mobility exercises specific to the muscle groups you’ll be targeting. This helps prevent injuries and improves performance during the workout.

Nutrition and Hydration

staying hydrated with calisthenics
To support your calisthenics training, maintain a well-balanced diet that includes lean protein sources, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Stay hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day, especially before, during, and after workouts. Proper nutrition and hydration are vital for optimal performance and recovery.

When Should You Look Into Buying Calisthenics Equipment

when to buy calisthenics equipment
While calisthenics is primarily centered around bodyweight exercises that require minimal equipment, there may come a point in your training journey when you might consider incorporating calisthenics equipment like gymnastics rings, a pull-up bar, a dip station, or resistance bands.

As you become more proficient in calisthenics and master the foundational bodyweight exercises, you may want to challenge yourself with more advanced movements. Equipment such as gymnastic rings, parallel bars, or a pull-up bar can provide additional stability and support for exercises like muscle-ups, front levers, or planche progressions.

If you prefer to work out in the comfort of your own home or don’t have easy access to outdoor workout spaces, investing in some basic calisthenics equipment can be beneficial. A pull-up bar, resistance bands, or gymnastic rings can expand your exercise options and provide a dedicated space for your workouts. However, you can also improvise using chairs, tables, doorframes, and other household items to replace these equipment.

If you find yourself reaching a plateau in your calisthenics progress, introducing equipment like weight vests or resistance bands can add an extra challenge to your workouts and push your strength and endurance to new levels.

Foam rollers, resistance bands, or yoga blocks, can be beneficial for rehabilitation purposes or for injury prevention.

Assess your goals, training environment, and individual needs to determine if and when incorporating calisthenics equipment would be beneficial for you.

How To Stay Motivated Training Calisthenics

staying motivated with calistehnics
Staying motivated is a crucial aspect of any training regimen, this includes calisthenics. Setting clear and meaningful goals can provide you with a sense of purpose and direction. Identify what you want to achieve in your calisthenics practice, whether it’s mastering a specific skill, improving strength and flexibility, or achieving a certain level of endurance. Write down your goals and regularly revisit them to stay focused and motivated.

It’s essential to celebrate your progress along the way. Recognize and acknowledge the small victories, whether it’s performing an extra rep, reaching a new milestone in a particular exercise, or even noticing improvements in your overall fitness and body composition. These achievements serve as powerful reminders of the progress you’ve made, boosting your confidence and motivation to keep pushing yourself and growing.

Another effective strategy for staying motivated is to vary your workouts and keep things interesting.  Explore different calisthenics exercises, progressions, and variations can keep things fresh and you may surprise yourself with how far you’ve come.

Having a training partner can also be a big motivator, especially on the days you don’t want to train. A partner can keep you consistent and be someone you can rely on for motivation and encouragement. Having someone to train with or simply share your journey with can make a significant difference in your motivation levels.

Lastly, remember to enjoy the process and have fun with your calisthenics training. It’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of goals and outcomes, but true motivation comes from a genuine love for the practice itself. Live in the moment and appreciate the mental and physical benefits of calisthenics and building life long fitness habits.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Calisthenics

common calisthenics mistakes
Calisthenics is a highly effective and rewarding form of exercise, but like any fitness discipline, you need to be aware of risks and common pitfalls. Awareness will reduce your risk of injury and help keep you motivated for the long term.

The biggest mistake in calisthenics is having poor form. Poor form can lead to inefficient workouts and place unnecessary strain on joints and muscles. Take the time to learn the correct form for each exercise, paying attention to body alignment, muscle engagement, and control throughout each and every movement.

Always prioritize quality over quantity and focus on maintaining proper form.

Overtraining is another common mistake that can hinder progress and increase the risk of overuse injuries. Especially as a beginner, calisthenics can be fun and you may want to train every day but your body needs time to rest and recover. You will see more improvement from consistent rest than overtraining your muscles.

Rushing into advanced exercises without the necessary strength and stability can lead to frustration, setbacks, and potential injuries. It is much better and safer to focus on mastering the basics, gradually progressing to more challenging variations as your strength and control improve. Even the most experienced calisthenics athletes still train the basics.

Lastly, failing to listen to your body is a critical mistake. Pushing through pain can exacerbate injuries and delay recovery. Learn to differentiate between the normal discomfort associated with muscle fatigue and the sharp, intense pain that indicates an injury. If you are ever unsure which sensation you are feeling, stop the exercise.

By being mindful of these common mistakes, you can optimize your calisthenics training and minimize the risk of setbacks and injuries. To learn more about how to can start your calisthenics journey check out the rest of our blog. If you are looking for premium calisthenics gear to take your fitness to the next level check out our store.