Can’t afford that expensive, fancy gym membership with all those shiny machines and expensive equipment? A challenging bodyweight calisthenics program can quickly improve your strength, conditioning and fitness.
And if you are new to physical fitness training, bodyweight calisthenics are the perfect place to begin, providing a base from which to safely add more advanced resistance training as your progress in your training.
Calisthenics, often called bodyweight training, involves exercises that use your own bodyweight as resistance.
Calisthenics promote progressive body strength and flexibility without (or with minimal) equipment allowing you to work out at home, in the office or the neighborhood park. Examples you are probably familiar with include Push-ups, Pull-ups, Bridges, Squats, Lunges and Leg Raises.
Through your bodyweight calisthenics program you can improve both your strength and your cardiorespiratory endurance in addition to burning stored body fat. Varying your exercises, and your intensity will promote gains in strength and conditioning and lean muscle mass. Additionally, varying your exercises, sets and reps and intensity will not only improve strength, but speed, agility and power as well.
Regardless of your current fitness level, body weight calisthenics are a great way to train.
Getting Started – Bodyweight Calisthenics For Beginners.
Start slowly, don’t overdo it in the beginning. Don’t underestimate these bodyweight calisthenics exercises, they may appear easy, but if done properly with correct form and intensity they will produce results.
Always warm up before training, and cool down afterwards. Prepare your body for the challenge of your workout before, and cool down to slowly allow the repair process to begin after physical training.
Always perform exercises correctly. Calisthenics workouts is easily the safest and often most effective form of exercise – if done properly! Take the time to learn the correct and proper technique for each exercise. Find books or guides with detailed descriptions and photos and seek out videos that demonstrate proper performance of the exercises. If possible, use a mirror or coach or partner to ensure you are performing each exercise properly, this will greatly increase the effectiveness of each exercise and reduce your risk of injury.
Here is a calisthenics routine for beginners:
The 5×5. Once you become familiar with these basic bodyweight exercises, your short term goal should be to correctly perform a minimum of 5 push ups, 5 pull ups/chin ups (if pull up bar available), 5 squats, 5 dips (use chairs, dip bars or your power tower if available) and 5 leg lifts or raises. These 5 simple exercises can provide the base for a full body workout that you will perform a minimum of 3 times each week. After your warmup, perform each exercise in sequence until you complete all 5 then rest for 30-60 seconds and repeat. Continue to repeat all 5 exercises until you run out of time or can no longer perform them with proper form.
Push-ups – Push-ups work the muscles in your upper body with great emphasis on your chest, shoulders, and triceps. You can vary your hand width – wide grip, close, grip, and also put your feet on a bench to change angles.
Pull-ups – Pull-ups train the large muscles of your upper body with most emphasis on back and biceps. You can add variety by changing hand grip and width – overhand, underhand, wide grip, close grip, etc.
Squats – Squats train the largest muscle group in your body and should not be neglected. Doing squats can also promote the production and release of hormones that help you build muscle and burn fat.
Dips – Dips help develop lower chest muscles and triceps. Leaning more forward will place emphasis on your chest and leaning back will place emphasis on your triceps.
Leg Lifts or Leg Raises – If you have a pull up bar available, hang from the bar and lift your knees to your chest or while keeping your legs straight, lift them until they are perpendicular to the floor. Or while on your back, place your hands under your buttocks and raise and lower your legs. Both leg lifts and leg raises train your lower abdominals, working many of the muscles in the abdominal area.
During your first month of training focus on these simple movements and getting your body used to calisthenics training. Once the 5×5 becomes easy, add more days of training and repeat the 5 exercises as many times as your training schedule allows.
Months 2 and 3
8×8. Now that you have built a base and become familiar with calisthenics, it’s time to add additional leg and abdominal exercises and ensure a full body workout that trains all the major muscle groups: Back, Chest, Legs, Abs and Arms.
Warmup with Side Straddle Hops (Jumping Jacks) followed by High-Knees – while jogging in place, lift your knees to waist-level and continue lifting your knees, while pumping your arms.
Perform your basic 5×5 but now perform 8 repetitions of each and add these 3 new movements making your 5×5 now an 8×8 (8 reps of 8 exercises):
Burpees – From the standing position squat down and place your hands on the floor and kick both feet back until you are in a push up position. Push off with your feet until they are back under you in the squat position and now EXPLODE upwards while swinging your arms forward and jump off the floor. As your feet return to the floor, control your descent, squat and place your palms on the floor and kick back into your push up position again and continue and repeat x 8.
Shoulder Touches – From the pushup position with your back straight and hands below your shoulders, while you maintain this plank position lift your right hand and touch your left shoulder. Place your hand back down and now touch your left hand to your right shoulder. And repeat alternately left, right, left until you complete your 8 repetitions.
Squat Jumps – Similar to your body weight squats, but this time once you reach the bottom of your squat you will JUMP straight up off the floor and when you land you will slowly lower yourself down to the bottom squat and jump again and continue until you complete your 8 reps.
Calisthenics workouts can provide an excellent foundation for any physical training program. Bodyweight training is perfect for beginners and should remain an important part of your fitness program as you advance in your training and add more training methods.
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