Calisthenics Exercises for Beginners

UK Fitness Pro
UK Fitness Pro
· 3 min read
A personal trainer completing calisthenics exercises for beginners.

Calisthenics Exercises for Beginners

Calisthenics is a type of bodyweight training that has exploded in recent years. As more people move away from bodybuilding and towards functional training, calisthenics has become the perfect way to get super strong and learn body mastery. It combines elements of gymnastics with its own unique flavour to produce a discipline that’s both fun and technical. 

As a beginner, you should focus on the foundation of calisthenics: technique, control, and strength. Calisthenics is predicated on the idea of full body mastery, and as such exercises are completed slowly, purposefully and with perfect form. 

Starting from square one

Calisthenics is upper body dominant. It’s important to build upper body strength through basic movement patterns. Calisthenics exercises for beginners include push ups, dips, and pull ups. Make sure to start with progressions that are challenging but not too difficult. You should be able to do 8–12 reps of each progression. Once the progression becomes too easy feel free to make it more challenging. 

A man in a garden completing calisthenics exercises for beginners

Push up progression order:

1. Wall push ups: Lean on to a wall and push off. 

2. Incline push ups: Use a ledge or bench to raise the hands while keeping the feet on the ground. 

3. Knee push ups: While keeping your knees on the floor, lean forward while lowering yourself to the ground. 

4. Band assisted push ups: Tie a resistance band to a bar above you. Thread yourself through such that the band sits on your waist. Complete standard push ups. They will be easier, as the elastic nature of the band will provide a vertical upward force.

5. Standard push ups: Complete push ups on the floor, making sure that the lower back does not arch.

A man in a gym completing calisthenics exercises for beginners

Dip progression order:

1. Bench dips with bent legs: Place your hands on a bench and lower yourself down. Push back up to your original height. In this variant you want to keep the legs bent and the body close to the bench. 

2. Bench dips with straight legs: This variant is similar to the one before, except your legs should be straight. By straightening the legs, you force the arms to do more work. 

3. Parallel bar dips (with legs): In this variation you will need to start on top of a pair of parallel bars. Hook your feet over the bars and lower yourself down to achieve a 90-degree angle at the elbows. Push back up to the original position.

4. Band assisted dips: Place a resistance band across a set of parallel bars. Anchor it in place using your hands. Bring yourself on top of the bars and allow your knees to rest on the resistance band. Lower yourself down to achieve a 90-degree angle at the elbows. The band will assist you on the way up.

5. Standard dips: Start above a set of parallel bars and lower yourself such that you create a 90-degree angle at the elbows. Push back up to the original position. 

A man in a dark gym completing calisthenics exercises for beginners

Pull ups

1. Australian Pull ups: Use a low bar or set of parallel bars that allow your feet to stay grounded. Bring yourself underneath the bar at a 45-degree angle. Pull yourself towards the bar, making sure not to allow the hips to sink. 

2. Band assisted pull ups: Tie a resistance band to a bar. Grab the bar and thread your feet into the band. Pull up such that your chin rises above the bar. The thicker the band that you use, the easier the exercise will be. Feel free to use some liquid chalk to prevent slippage. 

3. Standard pull ups: When band assisted pull ups become too easy, feel free to get rid of the band. Standard pull ups are difficult and it’s important not to tense the wrong muscles, namely the neck, as this will lead to unwanted muscle tension. 

Summary

Once you master these 3 calisthenics exercises for beginners you will have the strength required to learn more advanced calisthenics exercises and skills. You should aim to do at least 20 push ups, 15 dips and 10 pull ups – this will provide you with a strong foundation to move forward.

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