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The Ultimate Guide to Calisthenics Exercises

Pistol Squats

Are you ready to defy gravity with some strength exercises? While most of us wouldn’t be able to define what calisthenics is, we’ve surely all seen it in action. That random YouTuber turning himself into a human flag or that avid gym-goer who can lift his upper-body just above a pull-up bar; both of them are practicing calisthenics. However smooth and effortless they make it look, these moves require a great deal of core strength, stability, and of course, lots of practice. Now, if you’ve always wanted to try it yourself, here’s your complete guide to calisthenics exercises.

What is Calisthenics?

The word’s Greek roots should provide a useful insight to start: kallos for beauty, and sthenos for strength. In essence, calisthenics is a type of training that involves performing bodyweight exercises to build muscles, strengthen the core, and improve aerobic capacity — think push-ups, pull-ups, planks, dips, squats, lunges, and such. As a discipline that requires little to no equipment and can be practiced virtually anywhere, calisthenics is experiencing surging popularity among fitness enthusiasts all over the globe. It’s a superb way to enjoy a full-body workout on the go, especially if indoor gyms aren’t your thing.

Before you Get Started

Conduct a health check-up and assess your fitness level before getting started with calisthenics. This kind of training is far from easy, which is why it’s important to be mindful and determine whether you’re actually suited for it. While you won’t need any special equipment to get started, as you advance, you can click here for more information on weight loading vests to aid your progress and maximize your strength gains; many calisthenics pros swear by them. Lastly, establish realistic goals and don’t forget to track your progress.

Calisthenics Exercises for Beginners

Calisthenics training mostly involves your own body weight, with some bar exceptions. While the following exercises may sound simple, performing them right and sustaining several reps takes focus, consistency, and practice. Here’s what a typical beginner calisthenics workout looks like:

  • Squats — Stand up with your feet parallel to your shoulder. Then, bend your knees and push your hips back, as if about to sit on a chair. Go as low as possible while keeping a straight back, then back up. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
  • Push-ups — Start in a floor-facing position with your body weight sustained between your palms and toes. Keep straight. Tighten your core muscles as you bend your elbows down, and come back up. Repeat 5 to 20 times depending on your stamina.
  • Planks — Assume the same push-up position but rest your forearms on the ground. Flex your core muscles (abs, glutes) to optimize stability. Hold the plank for as long as you can while supporting the hips.
  • Lunges — Standing up, place one foot forward. Bend your opposite knee until it almost touches the floor, and use the heel of your front leg to push yourself back up. Do this for each leg 10 times.
  • Dips — Using a dip bar, stand inside and grab both bars with your hands. Bend your elbows back as you push down and use your triceps to move up and down. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  • Pull-ups/Chin-ups — Using a pull-up bar, grab it with your palms facing outwards, wider than shoulder-width apart. Use your shoulders and arm muscles to pull yourself up. For chin-ups, have your palms face inside and use your biceps for traction. Do 10 to 15 for each exercise.

Intermediate and Advanced Exercises

Once you feel confident enough with your progress and have mastered basic moves, move on to these more challenging exercises:

  • Squat Jumps — Squat down and keep your back straight. Thighs parallel to the floor, your bum at knee-level. Propel yourself upward and continue with the next squat. Perform 10 to 15 reps.
  • Pistol Squats — Stand in a narrow stance, lifting your leg off the floor. Bend your standing knee and squat down while keeping a straight back. Return to the position using your heel, then switch legs. Repeat 5 to 10 times for each.
  • Handstand Push-ups — Place both hands on the floor facing a wall. Kick yourself up against it, and straighten your arms and legs. Bend your arms while keeping your body parallel to the wall. Exhale as you push down, then push up. Repeat 5 to 15 times.
  • Hanging Leg Raises — Grab a pull-up bar and let yourself hang loose. Straighten your legs while slightly pulling the pelvis back. Flex your core and raise your legs to form a straight angle. Hold, then return to the starting position slowly. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

All in all, calisthenics is an excellent way to get a good workout and burn calories with minimal equipment. As you continue to train regularly, you’re bound to notice improvements in your muscles, stamina, endurance, and flexibility. Keep at it, and you’ll soon become a skilled calisthenics master!

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