Say Bye to the Gym With This Beginner Calisthenics Workout Plan

Exercises, Fitness

Ready to get toned and gain control over your body? Nothing is standing in your way if you have calisthenics on your side. You don’t need a fancy gym, special equipment, or tons of time to reach your goals because a calisthenics workout only uses your own bodyweight and body movement for most exercises. The best part? You’ve probably already done many of the moves before, just without putting them together to gain maximum results. We’re here to help you map out the best calisthenics workout plan for you.

If you’re still unfamiliar with the idea of a calisthenics workout, you might only relate it to ripped men doing pull-ups at your neighborhood CrossFit gym. While there’s nothing wrong with that image, it’s not an accurate representation of the workout. Here at WellMe, we are quite frankly tired of some workouts being deemed only “for men” or “already fit people”. No way! You can start calisthenics today no matter where you are in your fitness journey.

We’ll walk you through all you need to know about calisthenics and share our beginner’s calisthenics workout. Once you familiarize yourself with the background and benefits of this easy workout regime, you’ll be on track to set your fitness goals and hop to it!

What is Calisthenics?

Woman planking in her home as part of a beginner calisthenics workout plan.
Calisthenics is a method of training that tones your muscles and raises your heart rate.

Other than a simple and effective bodyweight exercise, what exactly is calisthenics? Basically, it’s a method of training that tones your muscles and raises your heart rate. This is accomplished through body movements on the ground, against a wall, or using gymnastic bars (if available). These movements are all gross motor movements. Some examples of gross motor movements are running, pulling, jumping, and pushing.

You learned the basics of gross motor skills as a kid when you learned to walk, hop, and do a cartwheel. All these workouts actively stabilize your core, so you’re getting a full body workout in addition to targeting certain muscle groups in each exercise. But one thing to remember is that calisthenics is not the same as gymnastics. Even though a more advanced calisthenics workout might utilize standing bars, that doesn’t mean you have to be super flexible or do crazy tricks.

Fun Fact: You can use both isolated and combination moves in calisthenics. Meaning you can target a muscle group at a time, or do full-body moves too. It’s a versatile training method that can suit a variety of workout goals.

If you are interested in getting to a level where you can do some cool body control tricks, such as the human flag move (when you grasp a pole or a stop sign and raise your body parallel to the ground), that’s also possible with calisthenics training. The sky is truly your limit if you put in the work to train in your home, at the gym, or at the park.

Here are a few examples of calisthenics moves and variations you might already know how to do:

  • Push-ups, diamond hand push-ups, Incline push-ups
  • Squats, pistol squats, wide-leg squats
  • Plank, one-arm planks
  • Reverse crunch, v-ups
  • Pull-ups, chin-ups
  • Mountain climbers, bear crawl

4 Benefits of This Workout

A calisthenics workout is beneficial for you in more ways than you think. You will tone your muscles, gain better motor control, and work out your heart too. Did we mention you can train from the comfort of your home? Throw out all your regular excuses to skip the gym because this workout regime makes sure you’ll get it done, even with a busy schedule. Let’s check out a few more benefits of a calisthenics workout.

1. Strengthens your respiratory system

Young woman doing sit ups on a yoga mat in her living room.

Most of the time, people think that cardio is the only way to work out your lungs and get your heart rate up, improving oxygen flow. However, this isn’t true anymore. Calisthenics is one way you can give your lungs a pick-me-up. One study tracked patients with COPD, a lung disease that impairs air flow, during their calisthenics therapy. The results showed that over time the patients completed the exercises with less effort, and their lungs actually strengthened in the process.[1]

2. Improves your coordination

Women doing chair dips using her couch as part of a calisthenics workout.

Because a calisthenics workout trains your core in most moves, you’ll improve your movement and balance control. Activating all your limbs helps you practice balance. In one trial, women were compared before and after doing either calisthenics or pilates. The women who did calisthenics training improved their coordination in their lower limbs on both sides, while the pilates group did not.[2] This goes to show that calisthenics has some specific benefits if you’re interested in improving your coordination and overall controlled movement.

3. Helps you in daily life

Woman doing squats in a well-lit living room for a calisthenics workout

Calisthenics is a form of functional training, meaning it can help you move in your daily life. To get more specific, it helps you improve muscle memory and thus prevents injury. Additionally, it helps out your posture, flexibility, and can even help with joint pain. Strengthening the areas you use most will help you be able to use them for a long time coming.

4. Gets you fit anywhere

woman doing planks for a calisthenics workout at home

Weights are not the only way to build muscle. Say that three times in your head. Okay, got it? Great. You can modify a calisthenics workout to be easier or harder depending on your fitness goals. On top of that, you can complete this workout just about anywhere. If you’re someone who loves being outside, head to the park or your backyard to do some burpees. Or if you’d rather a quick 30-minute routine before making lunches for the kids, you can do some hip-dips on your kitchen chairs. Once you get to know what exercises hit what muscle groups, you can accomplish your gains quick and easy.

Can I Do Calisthenics Workouts At Home?

Woman doing crunches at home while watching TV.

If you still need some re-assurance that calisthenics is for you, remember that you can literally do it on your bedroom floor. For beginners especially, a calisthenics workout is ideal for a home routine. As you gain strength and mobility, you can increase the challenge of the moves with modifications.

However, if you’re interested in taking your workout to the next level, you can invest in some home equipment. It’s not totally necessary if you want to stay challenged, it’s just one option for increasing difficulty. Some at-home calisthenics equipment is a pull-up bar, ankle weights, and resistance bands. These will go along with your basic moves, just with an added dimension.

So, now that you know you can start your workout from home, let’s dive into a great beginner’s calisthenics workout plan.

Ready to Start? Try This Easy Beginner Calisthenics Workout Plan

This leg and chest/arm workout plan is designed for beginners but includes some modification options to increase the difficulty with time. You can also decrease or increase the number of reps to change the difficulty too. There is no shame in starting off as a newbie, just always remember to push yourself forward. You won’t need any special equipment, just some workout shoes and comfortable clothes.

Important: As with any workout, you should always begin with a warm-up activity. An example of a calisthenics warm-up is a 10-minute jog, 15 jumping jacks, and 3 minutes jumping rope.

Calisthenics Leg Workout

Woman doing lunges in her living room for a calisthenics workout

1. Lunges | 10 reps each side

How to do it

  1. Step one leg forward into a lunge position.
  2. Bend your front knee so that it’s at a 90-degree angle. Remember to keep your hips parallel and facing forward.
  3. Go lower and pause as your back knee nearly touches the floor. You can keep your arms on your hips for balance, or hanging at your side.
  4. Rise up, extending the front knee. Step your feet back together. Repeat on the other leg.

Modification

Instead of stepping your feet back together as noted in step 4, try jumping up, and switching your legs in the air. This way, you’ll land in with the opposite leg forward than you started and can go straight into the next lunge.

2. Calf Raises | 15 reps

How to do it

  1. Stand with your feet together. You can place your hands on your hip.
  2. Push into the ground with the balls of your feet, as if your trying to tip-toe. You should feel your calf tense up and activate. Also, you should have an active core and glute to maintain balance.
  3. Lower back down to standing normally.

Modification

Try one-legged calf raises once you feel strong enough. To do this, simply lift one leg up and do the same steps while balancing on one foot.

Calisthenics Chest Workout

Woman doing push-ups at home as part of a calisthenics workout.

1. Regular Push-ups | 10 reps

How to do it

  1. Start in plank position on the ground, with your hands shoulder-length apart.
  2. Unlock your elbows and lower your body down evenly (full-body activation!). Stop when your elbows reach 90 degrees with the ground.
  3. Then, push the ground away to rise back up to plank position. Throughout this exercise, remember to keep your back and butt level with one another. Avoid dropping your lower back or butt down.

Modification

To increase the difficulty and target different muscles, you can do diamond push-ups. So instead of having your hands shoulder-length apart on the ground, bring them together so that your index finger and thumb on each hand touch to make a diamond.

2. Wide push-ups | 5 reps

How to do it

  1. Start in plank position on the ground, with your hands about 6-inches more than shoulder-length apart.
  2. Unlock your elbows and lower your body down evenly (full-body activation!). Stop when your elbows reach 90 degrees with the ground.
  3. Then, push the ground away to rise back up to plank position. Throughout this exercise, remember to keep your back and butt level with one another. Avoid dropping your lower back or butt down.

Modification

After completing a wide-push up and ending up in plank position, shift your weight on either side and rotate your feet parallel to the ground. Raise one arm up towards the sky while balancing in plank on the other arm. Lower back down and rotate back to neutral plank. Do another wide push-up and rotate to the other side next.

Beginner Calisthenics Workout Place

Conclusion

You might be laughing at how simple and doable our calisthenics workout seems, but this training is no joke. Your legs will burn, and your core will shake with newly harnessed power. Because a calisthenics workout relies on your own bodyweight to perform each exercise, there’s nothing stopping you from starting right now in your living room (aka your new gym). With some time, you’ll see your body transform—no thanks to anyone or anything, but yourself.

calisthenics workout infographics

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References

  • [1] http://rc.rcjournal.com/content/61/1/50.short
  • [2] https://journals.humankinetics.com/doi/abs/10.1123/jsr.21.3.235

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