Calisthenics Exercise Guide: Recommended Workouts & Health Benefits

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Calisthenics is a type of exercise that’s done without weights or equipment. It’s sort of like Yoga in that instance where you only need enough room to stretch and workout.  A calisthenics workout helps you to burn fat and increase flexibility, along with build strength.

Benefits of Calisthenics

There are many benefits associated with calisthenics.


Flexibility helps your muscles and joints move much easier. It strengthens the joints and muscles and allows for better and smoother movements.

Weight Loss

Some think this type of workout is not as effective as aerobics or jogging because you’re not sweating heavily and your heart rate doesn’t seem to be increasing. But that’s simply not the case. Calisthenics improves weight loss because it works on your muscles and burns fat. It strengthens and builds muscle which reduces fat and this increases your heart rate allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day. This is really one of the most effective ways to lose weight.

Low Risk of Injury

Since you’re only stretching and using a mat or just the floor, injuries are not as frequent as they are with aerobics or when using equipment. Oftentimes using equipment causes more injuries to the knees, joints and tendons.

No Need for Equipment

Although some calisthenics use equipment, most don’t. That’s what makes this exercise popular. You don’t’ need to spend a ton of money getting fit.

Recommended Workouts

Here is a list of workouts for beginners.

  • Pull-ups – This helps build and strengthen the muscles in your arms, backs, abs, shoulders and even stomach.
  • Push Ups –  Similar to pull-ups, this one will build and strengthen your chest, triceps, arms, shoulders, abs and back.
  • Squats and Squat Jumps –  Great exercise to strengthen your leg muscles and buttocks.
  • Sit-ups – Often dreaded but a great way to strengthen stomach and ab muscles.
  • Lunges – This works your buttocks, thighs, legs and produces stamina and balance.
  • Jumping jacks – Will definitely increase your heart rate and boost your metabolism to burn fat.
  • Crunches – Similar to sit-ups. Works the stomach and ab muscles.
  • Dips – Perfect for strengthening the chest muscles, triceps and shoulders.
  • Burpees – Helps stamina and balance and overall body coordination.
  • Shuttle runs – Helps overall body coordination.
  • Planks – This one is similar to push-ups and pull-ups. It helps strengthen core, abs, arms, shoulder and back.

More Advanced Exercises

Handstand Push-up

More commonly known as the vertical push-up, this exercise is done with the body in a handstand position, usually without any support such as a wall or another person. It helps strengthen the core and promotes balance and stability.

Of course, starting out it will be tough to keep your balance but after doing it for a while it does get easier. You may want to use the wall in the beginning to help you maintain your balance. Hold the position against the wall for 10-15 seconds to help you get used to the vertical push-up.

Tucked Planche

This is for the more advanced. When performing the Tucked Planche, it may be easier to start with a bar or some exercise equipment or even leaning up against the wall. It’s important to keep your hands as straight as possible and your knees in between your arms. Try holding yourself in that position for at least 15-20 seconds. Do this at least 3 times a week. It’s a great workout for stamina, coordination, and arm and shoulder strength.

Superman Pushup

Once you’ve trained your body well and have great stamina and balance it’s time to try this super exercise. The Superman Pushup involves placing yourself in the regular push-up position with your hands straight, steady, and shoulder length apart. Press down hard and rise up strong with your body rising upward allowing your body to be completely airborne. Keep your body straight while rising up. You can also do this with one arm in the push-up position. Start in the regular push-up position, with your hands at shoulder width. Your body should be parallel to the ground at all times.

When starting your Calisthenics exercise, remember you’re at the beginning. Don’t overdo it. Take one step and exercise at a time. Doing these wrong can cause injury. It will also take some time before your body gets to the point that you can do the advanced workouts. But it will happen. Stick with it. It can take 3-6 months before you are ready to do the more advanced exercises. Building muscle strength and flexibility happens over a period of time, not overnight. So be patient. Work hard. And enjoy yourself.


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