The name itself is a bit of a tongue twister, and the exercises are too. Becoming familiar with calisthenics, as a core style of training, will benefit your all-round physique.
The beauty of this type of training is that you don’t need a gym or weights to do it. This is the no-excuse, no-nonsense type of training. Calisthenics is a form of exercise where you use the weight of your own body to build muscle.
A common misconception with calisthenics is that if you don’t use weights for your training you will not gain any strength, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Ask your nearest body builder if he can do a human flag and he will probably look at you like you are crazy. Proper calisthenics training will promote the growth of lean muscle mass, and increase your strength, mobility, flexibility, agility, and endurance. Proper strength training via weight lifting routine will promote the growth of muscle mass and strength.
When you train your legs using only bodyweight, they get strong. And it’s not from external resistance, but rather from manipulating gravity and doing complete movement patterns.
Squats: Go all the way to the ground! Your foot placement is key here, and depending on which part of your thigh you want to target, you will move your feet into that position.
Glute/Ham Raise: This one needs proper explaining. Get someone to hold onto your heels while you lie face down on a mat. Lift yourself up using your glutes and hamstrings only—all while maintaining a plank position.
Push Ups: Using different hand placements will target different muscle groups. Use a wide placement—just beyond your shoulders – to target your chest.
Chest Dips: Using the dip machine (or just two fixed poles that are parallel to the ground) lower yourself between the poles and lean forward to target your pecs.
Chin Ups: This is one of the best mass builders for the back. It develops the lats well, more so than most exercises, and can really build a nice back. Find a place that is sturdy where you can do these safely.
Underhand Chin Ups: This is the same exercise just with a different grip. Most feel more comfortable doing the underhand grip. You will be able to lift more when you do these, so use resistance if needed.
Upside-down Shoulder Press Stand: up against a wall and do a handstand, but have someone spot you when you do this. Then bend your arms to a 90 degree angle or until your head touches the ground.
Pull Ups: These will not only hit the lats, but also the biceps. If your aim here is to isolate the biceps, really feel the biceps doing all the work, and imagine you are curling your body up, instead of pulling. Use a shoulder width grip.
Bench Dips: Place your palms flat on a bench while you are seated on it. Lift your hips off while leaving your palms on the bench and shift forward. Dip your body weight down until your forearms reach a 90-degree angle to your upper arms.
Frank Medrano is a calisthenics genius. Some of his YouTube videos will have you speechless. He is a coach for this style of training—check out his website.
“I first got into calisthenics when I jumped onto a pull up one day and decided to try out a few bodyweight exercises. I loved the feeling
I got from pulling myself up. I felt an amazing rush of inner strength and that got me hooked onto building my physique through calisthenics ever since. I fell in love with the feeling of true strength and agility through core and functional body weight exercises because it carried over into my everyday life. It gave me control of my mind and body and ultimately gave me the strength to master and dominate anything I wished to accomplish. With strength, confidence and perseverance I figured out ways of training that pushed me towards superhuman abilities.”