Build upper body and core strength with this beginner callisthenics workout

You don't need any equipment, just grab yourself an exercise mat and put on some comfy clothes

Man doing push-ups
(Image credit: Getty)

If you’re looking to build up your strength, especially in your upper body and core, as well as gain some muscle using nothing but your bodyweight, then this beginner callisthenics workout is what you need. In just 15 minutes you’ll work the chest, triceps and your abs, and all you need to go and grab is an exercise mat.

For those who don’t know, callisthenics is basically a fancy word for ‘bodyweight workouts’ – so your push-ups, crunches, planks, air squats etc. It’s ideal for those who don’t own any home gym equipment, because it requires none to very little, and is a type of strength training. Those advanced at callisthenics can do crazy things, like muscle ups and holds on dip bars – don’t worry, this workout won’t have you doing that, it’s a great starting point to start working on your strength if that is your end goal.

This workout is made up of five exercises that will target your upper body, but particularly the chest and triceps. Some of the movements may seem pretty easy, but you want to master your form and do them controlled so that you’re really engaging those muscles. You’re aiming for three reps of each exercise but, instead of having a set number of reps to reach, just try and do as many as possible until you reach failure (although a good minimum number to aim for is 10). Make sure you give yourself a 20 to 30 second rest in between each set, then a minute rest before moving onto the next exercise. Here’s what you’ve got to do:

  • Wide, knee push-ups
  • Pike hold (aim to hold for 10 seconds)
  • Tricep extensions on knees
  • Diamond push-ups on knees
  • Protractions

As we mentioned before, some of the moves may seem pretty basics, but if you're planning to work your way up to doing more advanced calisthenics, then you need to start with the basics first. If you enjoyed this though and want more bodyweight exercises, then check out this other calisthenics home workout. Also, if you're feeling a little uneasy about the push-ups, we've got a great push-up guide to walk you through exactly how to do them, even on your knees. 

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.