Calisthenics has a big buzz around it in exercise circles, and with good reason. Let this calisthenics workout for beginners be your entry to the world of muscle ups and moves like the human flag… Calisthenics uses compound bodyweight exercises and focuses on increasing strength, fitness and flexibility. You can count on it being a legitimate type of workout since military organisations around the world use calisthenic exercises for baseline physical evaluations.
Using your bodyweight for resistance, performing calisthenics will have you pull, push, bend, jump and swing around to build functional – and aesthetic – muscles. So you feel fitter and look more pleasingly ripped.
One way to get disheartened quickly is to follow a plan from the buffest gals/blokes on Instagram. Sure, they work, but only if you have been working out for years. Otherwise, having to do three sets of eight pull ups will be challenging (or impossible) to perform as a beginner and you'll lose motivation pretty rapidly.
You're better off working up a base level of strength and losing some weight first, then head to the nearest street workout area in the park to do decline push ups with with big gals and guys. The below exercises use nothing more than your bodyweight and can be performed in a small, confined space like the living room.
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Protein is key to muscle growth
You probably know that protein is the macronutrient you would like to consume a bit more if you would like to build muscle fast. Humans haven't got protein reserves so you will have to continuously replenish yourself with protein in order to supply your muscles accordingly.
The most convenient way to take in protein is to to have a couple protein shakes a day, which is a combination of protein powder and water (or milk/milk substitute).
If you are actively working out, you'll need around 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodymass per day.
Take some creatine too, that'll help you feel more energetic during your workout. Creatine is one of the most scrutinised supplement in the world and has been proven to be 100% safe. It also works.
In case you need even more energy, you can consider taking some pre workout formulas too. Pre workout powders are a mix of active ingredients like caffeine and vitamins can help you focus even more in the gym. You can also get stimulant-free versions without any sugar or caffeine.
calisthenics workout for beginners – 5 bodyweight exercises to build strength at home
Before you start doing any exercises, make sure you're all warmed up. Do 5-10 minutes of cardio which can be stationary run or a light jog around the block, just to get your heart rate up a bit.
Listening to music can also help you feel motivated throughout your workout. Streaming services like Amazon Music can supply you with all the music you might need to feel pumped all the way through your workout.
Many people (in fact, most of the people) listen to music one way or another during cardio or resistance workouts. Music can help you get into the zone easier and it also filters out distracting noises.
The only other thing you might need is a smartwatch for workout. These wearable devices can track calories burned and how hard you're working your heart much more effectively than cheap fitness trackers – although Fitbit's Coach app could prove inspiring. The more advanced running and gym watches mean you can analyse your workouts in more detail afterwards, and learn more about recovery time and training load.
1. Mountain climbers
Muscles worked: abs, obliques, quads, hamstrings, deltoids, biceps, triceps and even the chest
Sets/Reps: Do 20 seconds three times
If you are doing one exercise only, make it mountain climbers. This exercise works pretty much your whole body, but especially your abs and obliques, your quads and hamstrings, and basically your whole upper body for stabilisation.
You start off in the standard push up position. To perform a mountain climber, pull your knees up to your chest, one at a time, in quick succession. You want to keep your body in a push up position all the way through the exercise, so don't bob your hips up and down as you're tucking your legs in.
Try to do mountain climbers as fast as you can without compromising on technique. It is a high-intensity exercise, after all. You'll see that even 20 seconds of mountain climbers can be very tiring.
Calisthenics move: once you mastered mountain climbers, try hanging leg raises in the park
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2. Walkout push up
Muscles worked: hamstrings, chest, triceps
Sets/reps: Do 3 sets of 10 reps
Starting position is you standing up, legs a little bit less then shoulder width apart. Bend over like you wanted to touch your toes, but instead, place your palms on the floor and walk forward with your arms until you reach the standard push up position.
Do a push up than walk back with your arms and straighten back up. That's one rep.
Walkout push ups work both your pecs (chest muscles) and your shoulders too. Another benefit is the added hamstring stretch at the beginning of the movement.
Calisthenics move: Decline pushups will provide you with even more resistance (and you will look cooler too doing them).
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3. Stationary lunges
Muscles worked: quads, glutes, calves, hamstring, core, inner thighs
Sets/Reps: Do 4 sets of 12 reps
Lunges work – not surprisingly – your legs the most, especially your quads and glutes, and what's even better, there are a few different variations so you can keep your exercise sessions fresh. One you familiarised yourself with forward lunges, try reverse lunges or even side lunges.
The actual exercise is pretty straight forward: as you are standing straight, take a big step forward and bend your knee so your rear knee almost touches the floor. Then kick yourself back up with your front leg and return to your original position. Do the same with the other leg. Once you did both legs, that's one rep.
Just as walkout push ups, lunges double up as a stretching exercise and it's especially beneficial to move the inner thighs, an area often neglected by other exercises.
Calisthenics move: Try doing bodyweight squat and holds going into tuck jumps. Once you're halfway down, hold the pose for 3-5 seconds, go deep and then push yourself up in the air. Guaranteed burn.
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4. Triceps box dip
Muscle areas activated: triceps, delts, pecs, upper back
Sets/Reps: Do 3 sets of 8 reps
Dips work your triceps and we all know that if you want bigger arms, you should concentrate on your triceps and not your biceps. Dips, and especially box dips, can be performed almost everywhere where there is an elevated surface, let it be a chair, a sofa, a low wall, anything.
Box dips are a dead-simple exercise and probably everyone knows how to do them. Rest your legs in front of you as you do your dips and concentrate on slow negative movement (as you go down) and explosive upward motion.
Calisthenics move: Bodyweight dips are one of the ultimate moves in calisthenics. They will work your arms like not many other exercise can but should you lean forward a bit, they can also work your pecs too. Killer move.
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5. Inverted rows
Muscle areas activated: all your back muscles, biceps, forearms, core
Sets/Reps: Do 3 sets of 8 reps
You don't need dumbbells to work your biceps (it doesn't hurt if you have a pair, though). All you need is a surface you can hang from with your legs extended in front of you. Ideally a bar of some sort, but any surface would do you can hang on to.
The starting position is you hanging onto the bar, heels on the floor, your back and legs straight – core engaged – arms a little further than shoulder width apart in a 90° angle to your body. Try underhand grip for maximum biceps activation.
To perform an inverted row, pull your body closer to the bar then straighten your arm again. As above, the negative movement (as straighten your arms) should be slow and the positive very energetic.
Calisthenics move: Muscle ups. It won't be tomorrow when you can perform muscle ups and probably you should start off transitioning into doing pull ups/chin ups before you attempt muscle ups. Muscle ups are the ultimate power moves and a true achievement indeed.