Calisthenics Full Body Workout | What Is It & How To Do It

What Is Calisthenics?

If you’re new to the game, calisthenics is an exercise that focuses on improved movement, fitness and strength. Some hail it as the lifestyle and fitness choice that doesn’t require a gym membership. You can do it anywhere, anytime and it doesn’t require equipment, benches or a weights rack.
Whereas there is much debate over bodyweight workouts burning more calories than others, it is fair to say that it can be more suited to functional strength than the likes of weights machines.

Benefits of Calisthenics

Calisthenics means both a cardio and resistance training session. Its advantages include:

  •  More flexibility than weight training in both convenience and movement;
  •  Time efficiency; you won’t need to travel or wait to workout in a packed gym;
  •  Greater affordability; handy if you’re on a budget;
  •  Good practice for beginners. If you’re trying to get into weightlifting, being able to lift your own bodyweight is an excellent place to start.

Calisthenics is great for building strength, but not to the same extent as weightlifting. It is more progressive than weightlifting and revolves around increasing the level of tension on your muscle fibres. When trying to build mass muscle, this is most effectively done by gradually increasing the amount of weight you are lifting. With calisthenics there is a plateau when it comes to building. But before you go assuming this makes it a lesser way of working out, you may want to try our full body workout plan first.

Calisthenics Exercises

This is where, compared to weight lifting and machines, the sky’s the limit. Some of the classics you may already know include:

  • Pushups in their many forms, including pike and handstand variations
  • Bench Dips
  • Chin up/ pull up
  • Squats, including body weight, jump, shrimp and pistol squats
  • Lunges
  • Russian Leg Curl
  • Burpees
  • Hanging Leg Raise
  • Bicycle Crunch
  • Plank

Calisthenics Workout Plans

Workout sessions are a matter of evolution, so whereas you wouldn’t expect to do the same number of reps as someone who’s a pro, you can do the same number of sets and work at your own speed.

Workout 1

Upper Body and Abs Focus
3 x pushups (vary the type of pushup as your progress to hit different muscles)
3 x dips
3 x chin ups
3 x abs exercises (hanging leg raises, planks, crunches

Workout 2

Lower Body and Cardio Focus
3 x bodyweight squat
3 x other types of squat
3 x lunge walks
3 x burpee

For workouts 3 and 4, repeat 1 or 2, but use a different version of each. For example, jump squats instead of bodyweight squats.
If this was a weights workout, the bigger picture would see you increase the amount of weight that you lift. Your focus here should be increasing your number of reps and reducing the amount of time you rest between sets. Don’t overdo it to begin, but aim to do reps until you begin to feel like your muscles are failing.
The technique is paramount, so don’t rush these at the expense of doing them properly. Emphasising a full range rep will ensure you hit the most muscle fibres, leaving nothing to chance.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Chris Appleton

Chris Appleton

Writer and expert

Chris is an editor and a level 3 qualified Personal Trainer, with a BA honours degree in Sports Coaching and Development, and a level 3 qualification in Sports Nutrition. He has experience providing fitness classes and programs for beginners and advanced levels of clients and sports athletes. Chris is also a qualified football coach, delivering high-level goalkeeping and fitness training at a semi-professional level, with nutritional advice to help maintain optimal performance. His experience in the sports and fitness industry spans 15 years and is continuously looking to improve. In his spare time, Chris likes to dedicate it to his family while training in the gym.

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