Calisthenics and Exercises -Get Started

Are you looking for more information about calisthenics and exercises to get started, read on!

The ancient Greeks were already practicing calisthenics thousands of years ago. Before the second half of the twentieth century, all the world’s strongest athletes earned the bulk of their power through performing calisthenics progressively.

The correct practice of bodyweight exercise both perfects the physique and develops great strength. Most people have trained with their bodyweight as resistance in one way or another, but the concept of progressive calisthenics are unfamiliar. Progressive calisthenics is the art of using the human body to maximize its own potential.

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Today calisthenics exercises are becoming more and more popular. In fact bodyweight training, also known as calisthenics, has been ranked as one of the highest fitness trends recently.

You can work out at home or outside on a sunny day whenever you want, so it is a great option for people with a tight schedule. You don’t need a gym membership and hardly no equipment at all. If you are ready for a challenging and rewarding experience, try some exercises below.


Upper Body Push Exercises

Pushups – Place your body horizontally and face the ground with your arms fully extended. Your hands and toes should be the only points of contact. Maintain a straight line from your shoulder to your heel.

Now bend at the elbows and shoulders, lowering your body until your chest is almost touching the ground. Press into the ground and imagine that you press the Earth down rather than your body up.

Return to the starting position with your elbows fully locked out at the top. That is one rep.

Wide Pushups – Perform this as a pushup with wider placement of your hands. This exercise will put more emphasis on your chest.

Narrow Pushups – Now do it with a narrow placement. This will place your hands under your chest as you execute the exercise. Narrow pushups will emphasize your triceps and arms.

Uneven Pushups – Place one of your hands on an elevated surface and the other on the ground. This can be done with a couple of books, pushup bars or parallettes. Execute a classic pushup.

Archer Pushups – Start in a pushup position with your hands placed slightly wider than on a regular pushup. Lower your body over your left arm. Your right arm should be straight out to your right side as your chest almost touches the ground.

Return to the starting position with your elbows fully looked at the top and your body right between your hands again. Alternate on the other side on the next rep. Remember to keep your body straight and aligned with the ground during the exercise.

Pike Pushups – The starting position of a Pike Push-Up looks like the letter V upside down. Keep your hips up high and your hands and feet closer together to than you would with a classic Push-Up.

With your palms down and hips up, lower the top of your head to the ground and then press yourself back up. This is a great place to start when you are building strength towards the handstand pushup.

Handstand Pushups – Handstand pushups shifts the emphasis from the chest to the shoulders. Begin by kicking up into a handstand against a wall. Now lower yourself down until the top of your head comes in contact with the ground. Push yourself back up.

Upper Body Pull Exercises

Aussie Pullups – Start with your hands on a bar of waist height or greater. Place your feet out in front of you with your heels down and a straight line from shoulder to your heel. Use your arms and lats to pull your body to the bar with your body straight.

Pullups – Begin by gripping an overhead bar with your arms fully extended. You can do this with an overhand or underhand grip, variety is good. Start with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart, but find what works best for you. With a straight and tense body, pull yourself up so that your chin clears the bar. Pause briefly. Now lower yourself back down.

Wide Pullups – Perform this as a classic pullup, but with a wider grip. This exercise emphasize the lats and your back.

Narrow Pullups – This time you do it with a narrow grip. Narrow pullups emphasize the biceps and your arms.

Uneven Pullups – Start with one hand on the bar and the other hand grabbed to something lower. This can be done by grabbing a vertical bar, using gymnastic rings or with a towel wrapped around the bar for your lower hand. Imagine and experiment..

Pull yourself up so that your chin clears the bar as you would perform a pullup. Alternate between left and right hand.

Archer Pullups – Start with your hands placed slightly wider than the regular pullup. In the archer pullup, you will pull with your active arm as your archer arm brushes across the top of the pullup bar.

Pull towards one of your arms with a straight and tense body. Brush your other arm across the top of the pullup bar as you move up.

When you are in the top position your active arm should be in front of your chest and your archer arm straight out to the side on top of the pullup bar. Alternate to the other side on your next rep.

Lower Body Exercises

Squats – Begin by standing with your feet tilted slightly outwards about shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself down until your calf comes in contact with the back of your thigh, pause briefly and come back up again.

Narrow Squats – Perform this exercise in the same way as a regular squat, but narrow the position on your feet until they touch each other.

Hover Lunges – Stand on one foot with your opposite leg bent at the knee and hovering behind you.

Reach your arms out, lean forward and bend at the knee, hip and ankle of your standing leg, lowering your opposite knee toward the ground.

Pause briefly with your knee approximately one inch from the ground, then return to the top position, maintaining tension in your abs the whole time. Complete your set and then repeat on the opposite leg.

Shrimp Squats – The shrimp squat is another version of the Hover Lunge, except it places one of your hands behind you, clasping your rear elevated foot, rather than reaching both your arms in front of you.

This change in hand position puts more weight on your heel and shifts the balance against your favor, making the exercise more difficult.

Pistol Squats – Begin by standing on your left foot, with your right leg extended straight out on front of you.

Place your hands out straight in front of you, this will help your balance. In a controlled manner, bend at the left knee, hip and ankle and lower yourself down.

Lower yourself until the calf coming into full contact with the back of the thigh at the bottom of the movement.

Abs, Core and Back Exercises

The plank – Start out by placing your toes on the floor with your forearms on the ground. The body should be straight from the shoulders to your toes. Keep every muscle in the body actively tensed. The plank is similar to the pushup position, but on your forearms.

This is an isometric exercise that you should work up to more than a minute.

Leg raises – Start out by hanging down straight from a pullup bar. Raise your straight legs to 90 degrees while keeping a tense body. After a brief stop, lower your legs back to the starting position.
Focus on your abs while performing this exercise, that is were you should feel it burn. If you feel anything in your back, it usually means that your abs are not strong enough for this movement yet.

You can also do this by raising your knee to 90 degrees with your legs bent, this will make the exercise easier.

Tabletop bridge – Start by sitting on the ground with your hands at your sides just behind your hips. Bend at the knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Now raise your hips high so that a straight line is formed from your knees to your shoulders. Drop your head back to further extend the body. The position of your body should resemble a table, hence the name.

Straight bridge – Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight in front of you and your hands just behind your hips. Lift yourself up and straighten out your body by pressing into the ground with your hands and heels. Drop your head back, press your chest out and look behind you. Pause briefly in the top position, then lower back to the bottom with control.

The bridge – Lie on your back. Bend your knees and draw your feet in towards your glutes. The feet should be shoulder width apart or a little closer. Place the hands alongside the head, with the palms flat on the floor and your fingers pointing towards your toes. Your elbows should be angled towards the ceiling. This is the start position.

Push your hips as high as you can, lifting the body from the floor. Continue pushing through your arms and legs until your back is well arched, and your hips are high. In a perfect bridge, your arms will be straight. Tilt your head backwards between the arms, so that you can look behind you. This is the finish position.

The bridge can be performed as an isometric hold or reps from the ground and up again.


Get started with a complete Calisthenics Program

You can find a lot of resources, exercises and workout programs online. This site contains some of them, and I will keep adding more in the future. As you know, a complete program will help you progress and get results faster.

You will find it all.. Great programs and not so great programs. I have seen many of them, and the absolute best and most complete calisthenics workout program are The BTX Program. Check it out Here >>

If you got any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below in the comment section! I would be happy to answer them.



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8 thoughts on “Calisthenics and Exercises -Get Started”

  1. Hey!

    Great site! Glad I stumbled upon this article and indeed your site. I was looking for some body weight workouts that I can do at home and be equipment free as I travel a lot and sometimes the gyms, particularly in Vietnam, have no airconditioning making indoor workout is warm weather uncomfortable. Nice to have learned equipment free exercises that I can do outdoors where it is a lot fresher.


  2. I didn’t knew about the term calisthenics before, but reading your article, I realize I have done this for years, as I immediately recognized all the exercise examples you’re giving. Been doing some well-know programs; the ones from Shaun T (probably heard of him). But I was searching for something new. So I’m gonna check that BTX program out!

    Thanks for the info!

    1. Hey Jurgen, it was a new term for me too before I read a book about bodyweight training. That sounds like a great idea, some variety is always good.

  3. This looks a great site, I will be showing my wife as she is into all sort of Pilates, Yoga, and other similar exercises, she would find this really interesting as it is showing a great variety of different things you can do. The fact you can do most of these in your own home is also a great benefit too. Its good to see that there are other alternatives out there. 


    1. Thank you Rob!

      There are certainly many good alternatives for working out in your home, on all fitness levels. I hope she benefits from some of the information on the site.


  4. Calisthenics. Now there’s a word we don’t hear much of, any more. Your article is very educational; for example, I had no idea that there were as many ways to do push-ups as you had mentioned in your post. The same goes for pull-ups and squats. One thing you’ve gotten me curious about is the length of a routine, in time. I wonder how much time should someone invest in a routine, in a day, for it to be effective? Or, how many days a week should one be in such a routine? I’ve heard 3, 5, and 6. Other than that, great article; thanks for posting. 

    1. Hey Kevin, and thank you for the feedback.

      There are many answers when talking about the length of a routine, this will depend on your goal. It will also depend on the way you spilt and structure the routine(s).

      If your goal is strength and muscles, I would start with a total body program that will take you about 45 minutes to an hour to finish. Repeat the program three times a week with enough rest/recovery between sessions.

      When you get stronger in the basics, you can create a spilt program and increase it to four sessions a week. If you are looking for a detailed calisthenics training program, I recommend this book >> Get Strong By Al Kavadlo and Danny Kavadlo – Program Review

      I hope that answered your question!


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