August 23, 2021
You’re a busy person in need of an efficient full-body workout that isn’t going to require a ton of equipment.
Thankfully, calisthenics exercises can be done with little to no equipment and are therefore generally free to do. Calisthenics is an effective gym alternative.
If you’re looking for the ultimate beginner calisthenics workout plan, you’ve come to the right place.
The best calisthenics workouts are the ones you do consistently.
3 rounds per week, at least.
Therefore it’s not only important that you do calisthenics exercises that are effective at building muscle mass and improving your full body fitness level.
It’s also important that your calisthenics workout program be a simple, reliable routine circuit that you can do enough times per week without fail in order to achieve real results.
For beginners, this means doing bodyweight training workout plans for which you know the right position and proper form for the movements involved.
As such, today we’ll be focusing on a complete body workout that uses simple movements that are easy to perform without injuring yourself.
Regardless of the different exercises, you choose to do in your calisthenics training workout, it’s always important to start your routine with some warm-ups. 5 to 30 seconds per movement, though you’ll want to be closer to the 30-second mark when you can.
Warm-ups can be any of a number of things, pretty much any low-impact motion that limbers up the muscles that will be used in your training exercises so that you can get through your calisthenics routine with a reduced risk of injury.
The more times a week that you do your training exercises, the more important it is to warm up.
Don’t forget it, and don’t forget to rest either.
One classic warm-up, especially when doing a calisthenics program, is jumping jacks.
They will get the blood pumping throughout your body and limber up a variety of joints.
This will as a result make it much easier to do your fitness program safely.
It’s rare these days to find a person who has never done a jumping jack before.
That said, it’s not impossible.
If you’re one of the few, or if you’re just not sure you’re doing them right, don’t worry.
You’ll find it’s quite simple.
Just stand as you normally would, then throw your arms out to the side before raising them over your head and bringing them together.
At the same time, jump your legs out to each side.
Then bring your arms down and jump your legs back into your normal standing pose.
Repeat as many times as it takes to get your blood pumping, then rest a few moments before moving on.
Your upper body is the part of the body that is usually easiest to build through strength training via bodyweight workouts.
Your upper body consists of everything from your core and up your abs, chest, back, shoulder, arms. Check out our full list of bodyweight back exercises at home here.
The ideal fitness program will work all of the muscles of your upper and lower body.
But because the upper half of your body is easier to start with, that’s where we will begin.
The plank is the ultimate beginner motion for calisthenics workout beginners.
You’ll definitely want to be sure you incorporate the plank into your initial workout plan.
The plank is primarily a core exercise, but will also exercise the muscle of your upper arms and shoulders a fair bit as well.
Start by laying forward and rest on your arms and knees.
Then raise your lower body so that you are standing on your arms and your toes.
Make a straight line with your back, and then hold that pose.
That’s really all there is to it, it’s a very simple calisthenics exercise.
Of course when you’re first starting out your body won’t be in top fitness and you’ll struggle to hold the pose longer than 30 seconds, if you get to 30 seconds at all.
But as your core grows stronger from doing your workouts enough times per week, you’ll find that before long your level of fitness is sufficient that you can move planking from a major component of your calisthenics workout plan to instead being a part of your warm up routine.
In the meantime, once you’ve held the pose for as long as you can, consider that a complete set and rest before moving on to the next part of your training program.
Push-ups are one of the classic calisthenics exercises that just about every person will do at some point in their life.
This is for good reason, as the humble pushup is among the most reliable training exercises for building your chest muscles and it can be done in a variety of variations.
The different variant pushups can cause the same fundamental motion to provide exercise to different parts of your body, improving the fitness of your arms, shoulders, and chest all with the same motion.
No matter how far along you get, chances are you’ll be doing some form of a pushup as a part of your calisthenics routine.
The chest is a major set of muscles for many people, as it is a significant component in the look of your physique.
If you want to look good on the beach, you’ll definitely want to get well acquainted with pushups.
Chances are if you’re a living person then you’ve already done push-ups at some point in your life, but whether you have or not there’s a chance you may not be entirely familiar with how to do them right in order to get the most fitness benefit out of the motion without hurting yourself.
So, to do a push-up, you’ll want to get into a plank pose to start.
Then when you would rest on your lower arms, instead raise yourself up on your palms.
Make sure to make a straight line with your back, as if your back is not straight throughout the whole motion you can easily injure yourself while doing push-ups.
This is important to remember as an injured person cannot exercise safely, calisthenics or otherwise.
Once you’re in the starting pose, simply lower yourself by bending your arms until your chest barely touches the ground.
Once your chest touches the ground, push yourself back up into the starting pose and unbend your arms.
Briefly rest at the top of the pose, then repeat for 5 reps.
Rest further between sets.
Then do 3 sets of 5 reps.
Once you have done your 3 sets of 5 reps, move on to the next of the training exercises in your calisthenics routine.
Dips are among the easier beginner motions for calisthenics workout beginners.
Dips will work the muscle of your arms and shoulders, primarily.
There are a variety of ways to do a dip, but we’ll be focusing on a type that’s easy for most people to access.
A chair dip is a simple form of dip that almost anyone can do, as it requires nothing but a stable chair to hang from while doing the pose.
Simply begin by sitting on the chair, then put your hands on the edge of the chair while shuffling your body forward off the edge.
Once most of your body is out in the air supported by your hands on the chair behind you and your feet on the ground in front of you, lower yourself while supporting the bulk of your mass on your arms.
Reverse the motion to return to the original pose to complete one repetition.
Once you find that the chair dip becomes too easy, you can do a variant that is more challenging if you find two parallel surfaces strong enough to hold the weight that is on either side of you.
Sometimes in small enough kitchens, you’ll find opposing countertops close enough for this, or otherwise, you might be able to do it on a corner edge of the countertop.
The idea is that the surfaces are high enough off the ground that you can put all of your weight on your arms, without supporting yourself with your legs.
The motion is then otherwise the same.
Whichever variation of dip you choose to do, repeat it five times per set or thereabouts and for three sets per workout day.
Pull-ups are a classic bodyweight compound workout that is perfect to build muscle in multiple muscle groups at once.
That said, pull-ups are among the few bodyweight workouts that pretty much require equipment of some kind to do them.
Thankfully, a pull-up bar is a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment that will pay for itself in very short order in building your muscle groups.
If you really can’t afford a pull-up bar or don’t have the space in your living area to put up the equipment, pull-ups make for a great street workout.
You can perform a pull-up anywhere you can find a horizontal bar strong enough to hang from, whether that’s a monkey bar at the local park or the branch of a nearby tree.
That said, if you’re a complete beginner then doing them outside may be impractical.
This is because you may need to train your shoulder and back muscles in other ways before you can perform a complete pull-up with stable form.
Find a horizontal bar that you can hang from, whether it be a pullup bar that you installed for that explicit purpose or a branch or bar you can find outdoors.
The starting position begins with your hands on the bar, shoulder-width apart, and hang straight down from it with your palms facing away, bending your legs if necessary to keep your feet off the floor.
Raise yourself up by pulling with your arms until your chin clears the bar, then lower yourself by reversing the movement.
Briefly rest and repeat, targeting 5 reps per set initially or more as you grow stronger.
A variant version of pullups, chin-ups are an alternative that takes the focus off the shoulder and back muscles and places more of the weight on the arms, making them usually easier for a beginner to perform.
The idea for the movement is the same, but the starting position has your hands on the bar with the palms facing you instead of facing away.
Raise yourself straight up by bending your arms until your chin clears the bar, then reverse direction and lower yourself to the starting position.
Briefly rest and repeat, aiming for 5 reps per set initially or more as you grow stronger.
Muscle-ups are another variant of pullups, though this time a more challenging variation.
They are generally reserved for calisthenics workout experts and those who are similarly obsessed with bodyweight exercises.
The starting position is the standard pullup grip, hanging straight down from a horizontal bar.
The beginning of the motion is the same as a standard pullup, only it doesn’t end when your chin clears the handhold.
Once you get to the part where you would normally lower yourself straight down again, instead you continue to raise yourself.
The idea is to get your whole core up above the bar, which can be quite a challenging feat.
If you do manage to muscle yourself up into the pose with the upper half of your body above the bar, you’ll then reverse the motion and return to the dead hang that begins the pullup pose.
All of that is the process for one muscle-up.
If you choose to do these, be sure to start off with just one or two and be careful about increasing the number of them that you do in future sessions.
If you’re too cavalier with them, they will wear you out very quickly and make it very challenging to complete the rest of your workout.
If you’re a reasonable person who isn’t familiar with calisthenics workouts, you might imagine that something called a leg raise belongs in the lower body section.
It turns out, however, that the leg raise is primarily a core exercise.
Lay on your back, cross your feet, keep your knees unbent, and raise your feet up until they’re pointing straight at the ceiling.
Once your feet are pointing all the way up, lower them until they almost touch the ground you’re laying on, then reverse direction and go back up.
Repeat five to ten times per set, three sets per workout day.
Your lower body will often be more difficult to train in your workout plan, as you already walk around on your leg muscle group every day.
Of course, this baseline level of leg muscle fitness will mean that movements intended for beginners to calisthenics training will often be easier than motions targeting the upper muscle sets.
Squats are a classic compound lower body exercise that can be effective both in traditional training and in calisthenics training.
Squats will improve your flexibility in various important joints, while also working your leg muscles more than you would by just walking around.
Plus, if you ever do decide to invest in some more traditional workout equipment, you’ll find that being experienced in doing squats will prepare you for arguably one of the best compound exercises you can do that will work almost all the muscles in your body.
To perform a squat, you begin with the starting position.
The starting position will be to stand with your legs approximately shoulder width apart.
Then, you begin the squat movement by pushing your hips back and bending your legs at the knees to lower yourself until your upper leg is parallel with the floor.
This all gets easier to do as your flexibility improves, as if you are flexible enough to go all the way down then if you are very worn out you can choose to rest on your heels at the bottom of the pose before finishing up.
Pistol squats are a variant form of squat generally reserved for advanced calisthenics workout experts.
It is generally recommended not to begin doing this kind of squat until and unless you find that regular bodyweight squats are simply providing no challenge whatsoever anymore.
If you do find yourself an enthusiast for bodyweight exercises and in need of a greater challenge, this is one of the movements you’ll want to incorporate into your calisthenics workout plan.
The starting position is almost the same as standard squats, only you’ll have one leg out in front of you instead of both legs directly beneath you.
Because you have one leg out in front and one leg you’re standing on, you’ll want the raised leg and both arms directly out in front to assist you in your balance.
Even if you’re experienced in calisthenics training exercises, you may find that this is difficult to manage at first.
If that is the case, you’ll want to make sure to grab on to something with one or both arms to steady yourself and assist in the movements.
In any case once you’ve gotten into the proper position you’ll bend the leg you’re standing on at the knee until the top part of your leg is parallel with the floor.
Once your bent leg is parallel with the floor, you can raise yourself back up and reverse direction of the movements until you’re standing up again.
Briefly rest after each of the reps.
You’ll want to do one or two and then carefully decide what number of reps to go for on future sets, as bodyweight exercises as challenging as this one can be very tough on your body if you go for a number of reps that’s too high.
If you need a little more flexibility training and also want to expend more work on your lower body in general, lunging is a great choice of leg exercise.
Lunges will not only work your lower muscles, they’ll also work your ankles, knees, and hip flexibility.
This will, in turn, help you do squats more easily.
Start in a normal standing pose, then put one foot out in front and lower the other knee until it hits the ground.
At the bottom of the pose, you’ll have one knee bent out in front and one knee bent beneath you, with one foot planted in front and one foot out behind.
Unbend both knees and pull the rear foot forward, pulling your entire mass up and over the front foot.
Once you have done this you’ll be in a regular standing pose again, and you will have finished doing one lunge.
Repeat five times per leg per set or thereabouts, then move on to the next part of your training regime.
Wall sitting is a solid starter pose for inexperienced practitioners of bodyweight exercise.
It will strengthen both your lower body and your core at the same time.
Getting quite good at wall sitting also makes for a practical party trick, as it means that if you’re good enough at it you won’t need a chair and can give yours up to somebody else.
This pose is simplicity itself.
All you have to do is find a solid flat vertical surface to rest against, and press yourself against it.
Once you are pressing hard enough against the surface, you can lower yourself into a sitting pose without falling.
When you’re in a pose that looks like you’re sitting in a chair but there’s nothing beneath your lower body, you’re doing wall sits.
All you have to do from there is hold the pose for as long as you can.
Once you have enough experience wall sitting, you will find that it becomes easy enough that it can be moved from your suite of lower body exercises to something you do as a warmup.
Do that long enough, and you may well find that you get strong enough that wall sitting becomes something you do casually to rest in between sets of other moves.
There you have it, all the major components of a full body training program that you can do a few times a week in order to fulfill your goals, whether they be to lose weight or build muscles or whatever else.
That said, you might be thinking that this is all a bit much to remember.
After all, if you’re not already doing training exercises on a regular basis, digesting all this information at once might be a bit of a nightmare.
And you wouldn’t be wrong to think that.
So what are you to do about it?
Well, what if there was a person you could turn to who could handle the knowledge and information part of your training?
It turns out, there are plenty of people like that.
If you want help getting into shape via calisthenics, one great option is to get yourself a personal trainer via System2. This app beats the cost of a personal trainer by a long shot.
All you have to do is answer a few questions and the system will use experience along with advanced AI to match you up with the perfect personal trainer to help you along your journey.
Once you’re matched with the perfect personal trainer, they’ll be on hand for you at all times to provide knowledge and feedback on your training progress so that you are always getting closer to your goals.
If that sounds like something that would help you reach your goals sooner, then it’s time to get System2.
Written by: Nathan Dresser