Calisthenics is a very effective and fun way to strength train. It uses a person’s bodyweight to build muscle and strength but the benefits do not stop there. Unlike weight lifting, calisthenics also helps gain better control of the body while increasing mobility, flexibility, agility, and endurance. It is best that beginners take a structured approach to calisthenics to build a strong foundational base. To do that, you want to focus on pull-ups, dips, push-ups, leg raises and squats along with continually setting goals to encourage consistent progress.
The Top 5
Let’s go over the five basic calisthenics exercises in more detail as well as how they benefit training to get you off to a good start.
Pull-ups are tough but they yield excellent results and all you need is a pull-up bar. To do proper pull-ups, hang from a bar with your palms facing away from you with feet off the ground. From the starting position, pull with your arms as you engage the shoulder blades until the bar reaches chin level, lower, and repeat. Pull-ups cover range of motion and primarily work the latissimus dorsi. Other muscles engaged include those located in the middle back, forearms and biceps.
Dips are one of the most useful calisthenics exercises. They mainly engage the triceps, shoulders, and chest. You can use a dip stand or a power tower for your dips, and here is a good resource for the best power towers on the market. For dips, grab hold of the bar and enter a hanging position. From there, use your arms to lower the body, bring it back up, and complete as many reps as you can.
Push-ups are one of the easiest calisthenics moves and require no equipment, although power towers do have a push up station at the bottom. They build the pecs, activate the abdominals, shoulders, triceps, and more.
Leg raises, often performed on a power tower or pull up bar, develop muscles in the back, forearms, and of course, the core. Many beginners find themselves unable to do a proper leg raise at first so knee raises can be done to develop strength in the abdomen and lower back.
The squat is one of the best calisthenics exercises. They primarily target the glutes, quads and calves but the abdominal muscles are engaged as well. When performing a standard squat, maintain a neutral spine while looking straight ahead, use your abs to stabilize, and never allow your knees to extend past your toes.
Every beginner must master the basic moves above. Once you have these down pat, take your training to the next level. It will be tough at first but give your body time to adjust. You don’t get strong overnight.