Want to get fit and build muscle but don’t have time or membership to a gym? Try calisthenics!
Calisthenics allows you to work out using your body weight and can produce impeccable results.
There are many bodyweight-centered workouts that you can perform that do not require much equipment. It is as simple as pushing, standing, running, or grasping.
Read below to learn what calisthenics workouts are and how they can benefit you!
What Are Calisthenics?
The term “calisthenics” is coined from two Greek words – kallos (beauty) and sthenos (strength) – which emphasize great mental strength, courage, determination, and grit.
Calisthenics is a category of workouts that rely on natural body movement to enhance fitness by using the body’s weight. These exercises are performed with minimal equipment and typically increase strength, flexibility, and fitness using movements like jumping, pushing, bending, pulling, and swinging, while using bodyweight for resistance.
7 Amazing Benefits Of Calisthenics
1. Calisthenics can burn calories
Studies show that bodyweight workouts burn calories fast. Unlike gym workouts which primarily isolate muscles, calisthenics promotes fat burning because more muscles are required in compound movements.
However, the amount of calories burnt depends on age, current shape, and exercise intensity.
For example, 30 minutes of novice-level calisthenics can burn between 135 to 200 calories. Increasing intensity can steeply raise the calories burnt to 240-355.
2. It can be done anywhere!
Many of us are used to working out in the gym. To do calisthenic workouts you don’t have to leave your home’s comfort. You can train outdoors, for example, in the park, on nature trails, or on the beach. Wherever you are, you can get a workout in!
3. They increase flexibility
One aspect of fitness that is often overlooked is flexibility. Specific body weight workouts improve joint structure and integrity and may improve the range of motion. These workouts stretch muscles and joints and take flexibility to the next level.
4. You can increase your endurance and strength
Most calisthenic routines feature compound-movement exercises. This means several muscles engage to correctly complete the execution allowing you to work multiple muscles in one motion. A perfect example is pull-ups which engage the upper back, arm, shoulder, and core muscles.
You will realize an increase in core and total body strength when you regularly do calisthenics. Weight lifting is excellent for increasing muscle strength even though fewer muscle compartments are activated. Therefore, if you want full-body power, spend more time doing push-ups, dips, pullups, and burpees.
5. You do not need expensive equipment
Calisthenics needs little to no investment. Conventional gym workouts occasionally require costly props and weights, but not with calisthenics.
Your body is the source of resistance; therefore, you do not need a rowing machine, dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells. But if you choose to invest, here are some recommended add-ons: resistance bands, pullup bars, and gymnastic rings (a workout mat is optional).
However, you can get a thorough workout with nothing but your body.
6. Mirror natural body movement improves the joint structure
Many calisthenic workouts are functional – they are closed kinetic activities linked to better joint strength and robustness. Closed kinetic exercises involve pushing, pulling, squatting, and lunging while having an extremity in constant contact with a fixed object.
Calisthenics is suitable for your joint because they coordinate the movement and activation of muscles across many joints. For example, when doing a push-up, you must constantly stabilize your core in the lifting and lowering phase and support your weight with your hands and feet.
For this reason, you are using your weight to strengthen muscles and joints—a perfect example of functional strength.
7. Calisthenics boost core strength
It’s nearly impossible to mention calisthenics without talking about core strength. Almost all calisthenics involve the engagement of core muscles.
So, while calisthenics requires activation of your core, there are specific categories of workouts you can use to improve core and abs definition. Some examples include planks, knee raises, and hollow holds.
Core muscles are the groups of muscles that maintain stability along your spine. Therefore, they include abs, back, and pelvic floor muscles.
The Ultimate Calisthenics Routine
Here are some moderate-intensity workouts you can try with little to no equipment needed.
Pullups are a great functional exercise for building muscle and upper body strength. When doing pull-ups, focus on getting the basic movement right and avoid shrugging shoulders.
Start by standing below a pull-up bar. Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip (palms facing away from the body). Engage your arm muscles – specifically the biceps – to pull your weight up. Brace your core and keep a neutral posture while lifting. Pause at the movement’s top and slowly lower to the starting position.
Instruction: 3 sets of 12 reps
Push-ups build both core and upper body strength. There’re countless variations, but beginners may start with simpler executions while progressing to challenging variations.
First, get down on all fours and place your palms below your shoulders. Extend your legs and engage your core and back. Drop down until elbows form right angles, ensuring adequate scapula retraction. Pause and push back up.
Apart from the conventional execution, you may attempt diamond push-ups or wide-arm push-ups.
Instruction: 3 sets of 12 reps
Dips are recommended for ironing out upper arm weakness and building big triceps. However, they may also target the chest, shoulders, and back. You may use a chair or bench where there are no parallel bars. For advanced athletes, ring dips are recommended.
Using parallel bars, lean forward slightly and flare elbows out to hit both chest and arms. Slowly lower by bending your elbows until the upper arm is almost parallel. Pause at the top of the movement and return to the starting posture.
Instruction: 4 sets of 8 reps
Jump squats build the muscles in your legs, such as quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. In addition, it develops explosive strength and may improve your athletic performance in sports that require lower body strength.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hinge at your hips and knees, dropping into a squat, ensuring adequate depth. Pause when your thighs are parallel to the floor and explosively jump, lifting both feet off the floor. Gently land and smoothly transition into another squat jump.
Instruction: 3 sets of 12 reps
Chin-ups are similar to pull-ups. Both are great for activating upper body muscles and have identical executions. The grip is the only difference.
First, chin-ups are based on an underhand grip, and second, they are ideal for activating the biceps, upper back, and chest muscles.
Instruction: 3 sets of 12 reps
The crunch is an exercise that works the core and enables the building of a strong ‘six pack’ by accelerating belly fat loss. When done correctly, crunches should also activate lower back muscles.
Lie on your back on a mat, and flex your hips and knees, so your feet rest flat on the floor. For extra comfort, you may place your fingertips behind your neck or ears. Alternatively, cross arms on your chest, shoulder to shoulder. Engage your core and back muscles while lifting your shoulders off the floor. However, keep your lower back and tail bone on the mat. Hold this position for two seconds and lower to the starting position.
Instruction: 3-4 sets of 12 reps
Essentially, burpees are a two-part workout – a push-up followed by a jump. Several burpees done in a row are tiring and will fire up your heart rate. Burpees are among the highest rated workouts for fat burning.
Start by standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Dip into a squat, lower your hands to the floor and kick your feet back to take the push-up position. With your core and back activated, do a push-up. At the top of the lifting phase, move into a frog kick, stretch your arms over your head, jump into the air, and land back at your starting position.
If the conventional execution is too tricky, you may try burpees without the jump.
Instruction: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Jumping rope can be a great cardio workout if you can jump adequately. Not only does it stimulate fat burning, but it also increases cardiovascular endurance and athletic performance in other exercises.
Make sure not to jump too high or swing your arms and shoulders too much. Get in rhythm, use the correct rope length, and jump 60 seconds straight. If possible, jump to failure.
Instruction: Do 5-10 sets.
Mountain climbers work multiple muscles and joints at the same time. They can cause severe muscle soreness in your core, back, hips, and leg muscles.
Typically, mountain climbers target your abs. To do them right, start by getting into the push-up position. Engage your core and back muscles. Inhale and draw one leg toward your chest as if you are running. Pause and change sides.
Instruction: 20-30 seconds, repeat 3-4 sets
Planks are isometric workouts that build strong abs. Isometric exercises involve static contraction of muscles with little to no movement in joints.
The forearm plank is the most popular form where the body’s weight rests on the forearms, elbows, and feet.
Instruction: You may do 3-5 sets of 30-60 seconds.
Like planks, the hollow hold is an isometric exercise requiring lifting your shoulders and feet off the floor while using your abs to stabilize the spine.
Lie on your back and extend your arms behind your head. Straighten your legs and contract your core. Afterward, lift your legs and shoulders off the floor and hold the position for 20-30 seconds. Take a breather and repeat.
Instruction: Do 3-5 30-second sets
You can become more robust, muscular, and lean with calisthenics. Calisthenics is a safe bet if you are a fitness enthusiast who wants to improve your muscle endurance and skip all the complex things. Follow this routine at least twice weekly for the best result.
Here are some more calisthenic and HIIT workouts to rev your cardio.
Enjoy your workout!