What is Calisthenics?
Calisthenics is the term used in the fitness industry to describe workouts and exercises which only rely on the use of your bodyweight.
This includes simple movements such as pull-ups, push-ups, squats and dips, but there are also many more advanced, gravity-defying, bodyweight exercises which make calisthenics appealing to anybody looking for something impressive and exciting!
Calisthenics 101 is an online resource which can provide you with everything you need to know to get started with your calisthenics journey.
Read on to find out why you should try calisthenics, what you need to get started, and where you can find out about different bodyweight exercises and workout plans.
Why Should You Train Calisthenics?
Calisthenics has many benefits over traditional gym workouts using weights and machines. Here are just 3 of those benefits:
#1 You can train anywhere. Because bodyweight exercises require very little equipment, calisthenics workouts can be completed at home, in the park, or at the gym. Not only does this make calisthenics more accessible, it means you don't need to pay monthly gym fees!
#2 Calisthenics skills are impressive and motivating. A good day at the gym for some is adding an extra 5kg to their usual bench press weight. With calisthenics, a good day means achieving your first muscle-up, mastering the human flag, or holding your first 10-second handstand. Learning skills is much more addictive and motivating than pushing weights!
#3 Bodyweight exercises are fantastic for building muscle and getting ripped. Just check out some of the top Calisthenics influencers.
Need more reasons? Check out Calisthenics vs Crossfit or Can I Build Muscle Using Only Bodyweight Exercises for further reading.
What Equipment Do You Need?
You can train bodyweight exercises without any equipment, but there are a few recommended items you should purchase to help you get started:
- A Pull-Up Bar - Most pulling bodyweight exercises require the use of a pull-up bar. Read our guide on the different pull-up bar types available to find a bar that matches your requirements.
- Resistance Bands - With regular gym exercises you can simply change the weight to find a resistance which works for you. Unfortunately, you can't simply 'drop body weight' to make an exercise easier, but you can make use of resistance bands to support your weight and make an exercise easier. Check out our guide on the best resistance bands here - you won't regret this purchase!
- Weighted Vest (advanced users only) - Whilst resistance bands can be used to help support your body weight, a weighted vest can instead be used to add extra weight. If you find common exercises like pull-ups, dips and push-ups too easy, then wear a weighted vest to increase the resistance and get more out of these exercises. Read our guide to the best weighted vests here.
If you don't fancy working out at home then your local park may have a fantastic bars setup that you can use to train calisthenics - simply use the Calisthenics Parks tool to find your nearest calisthenics park!
For more information on recommended equipment, we recommend reading How to Build Your Own Calisthenics Gym at Home.
Calisthenics Workouts and Techniques
So how do you get started??
There are two resources that everybody needs to get started with calisthenics:
- Guides on how to perform different calisthenics exercises and techniques
- Workout plans to help structure these exercises into an actual routine that will help you progress efficiently
You can find a list of the best resources online below, both from Calisthenics 101 and from other brands and websites.
Remember: The key to progressing with calisthenics is to find a workout that is both enjoyable and engaging, so don't be scared to try different things until you find something that works for you.
Bar Brothers "12 week system"
Created by the famous 'Bar Brothers' calisthenics duo Dusan Djolevic and Lazar Novovic, the "12 week system" is our recommended workout plan for beginners and intermediate users.
The 12 week system is an online learning platform which gives the user access to 140 explanatory videos and a supporting PDF for each weeks workout. Each day a video supports the day's workout and demonstrates any new exercises which you are introduced to that day.
Granted, the Thenx app is a usability nightmare and could do with a complete overhaul, but what it lacks in design it certainly makes up for in content.
The Daily workouts are a massively underrated resource and are hugely useful. Every day you can follow either a beginner, immediate or advanced version of the daily workout and each exercise has a short demonstration.
Reddit Recommended Routine
The Recommended Routine (known as RR) is a full routine which can be found on Reddit's r/bodyweightfitness sub-thread here. It combines warm-up and stretching drills with strength work to give you an hour-long routine that can be performed 3x a week.
The routine has gone through numerous versions and has had a large number of contributions and translations from the Reddit community. Antranik (antranik.org) has also contributed a video explanation of the routine to make it simpler to understand and follow.
The routine isn't as comprehensive as others, but for those looking for a quick and easy workout routine (which is free!) then this makes a great starting point.
Calisthenics 101 content
We've promoted everyone else first, so let's not forget to promote ourselves last!
There's a number of great exercise and workout resource on the website, simply check out the following: