What Exactly Is Maltese Callisthenics?

Maltese callisthenics is a bodyweight training workout focusing on building strength, endurance, and flexibility. 

This category of callisthenics requires you to do a series of gymnastic-style exercises to achieve your fitness goals. In this article, we will be checking out what exactly Maltese callisthenics is and its various benefits. We will also take a look at some of the most popular Maltese calisthenic exercises. Let us begin! 

What Is Maltese Callisthenics?

Maltese callisthenics was developed in Malta. This gymnastic-based static skill training requires you to move slowly and carry the weights by your side (or close to your body). 

Today, even athletes and body trainers actively opt for Maltese callisthenics to gain muscles and achieve their fitness goals. Since Maltese callisthenics targets several motor patterns, it also stimulates the central nervous system of your entire body. 

An important thing to note about Maltese callisthenics exercises like iron cross is that they can be pretty challenging for beginners since they require one to control every movement of their body. Hence, you must take baby steps while training with this form of callisthenics. For instance, starting with small weights and repeating the exercises until you reach perfection are good ways to get started on your fitness journey.

Perfect form is everything when it comes to Maltese callisthenics. Hence, you must maintain the necessary posture while carrying out any Maltese callisthenics exercise. Doing so can help you avoid injuries and medical accidents like increased hypertension as much as possible while doing exercises like Maltese board presses. 

Benefits Of Maltese Callisthenics

1. Target Multiple Muscle Groups At Once

The exercises involved in Maltese callisthenics allow you to target multiple muscle groups at once. As a result, this form of full-body workout lets you work on building your endurance. This is because the form of callisthenics requires you to use your whole body weight to perform various gymnastic movements, which engage multiple muscles at once. 

For instance, while doing the L-sit pose – which is a popular Maltese callisthenics exercise – your core muscles are targeted primarily. However, this form also targets your arm, shoulder, and leg muscles at the same time. 

This is because all these muscle groups are involved in holding your whole body weight as you do the L-sit. Similarly, even exercises like straddle planche and maltese tuck hold target several muscle groups at a time.  

2. Improve Your Balance And Coordination

The callisthenics exercises require you to stay and hold a particular hollow body position for a decent duration of time. This requires you to have a great sense of balance and coordination, without which you won’t be able to hold your Maltese stance. Improving your balance and coordination can help you excel in other fields as well, such as sports like baseball and skiing. 

3. Better Flexibility

Most of the exercises involved in this form of callisthenics, such as the handstand pushup, require you to move through a full range of motion. This can help you work on your joint flexibility. 

4. Improve Your Mental Health

Regular physical activities like Maltese callisthenics can help in improving your mood. It stimulates the production of “happy hormones” called endorphins, which can help reduce stress. This can further help you stay positive and motivated, and hence, battle mental health issues like depression and anxiety in a much more efficient manner. 

What Are The Most Popular Maltese Callisthenics Exercises?

1. Shoulder Blade Exercises

The shoulder blade exercise is one of the best ways to start with Maltese callisthenics. The maltese position required in this exercise strengthens your muscles and does not apply excessive muscle strain. You can follow these steps to perform this exercise:

  • Lie down on your back with your hands extended on either side, palms facing downward (Maltese stance).
  • Perform a posterior pelvic tilt to activate your core muscles while keeping your hands in the same position (palms facing downwards). 
  • Protract your shoulder blades to activate them.
  • Lift your entire body off the floor, keeping your feet and chin on the ground.
  • Hold this hollow body position for a few seconds, release it, and then repeat. 

2. Ring Flies

You can perform ring flies to primarily target your chest muscles, along with working on your shoulder, triceps, and core muscles. Follow these steps to do this exercise using gymnastic rings:

  • Get in a pushup position on the rings and keep your body at a 45 degree angle.
  • Tighten your core and bend your elbows slightly. 
  • Lower your face towards the ground and bend your hands progressively to your sides. 
  • Gradually, draw your hands back together when your elbow is parallel to the shoulder.

3. Maltese Dumbbell Presses

Maltese dumbbell presses work for a full planche too and are great for proper tendon conditioning. Follow these steps to do this exercise:

  • Lie on a bench facing up. 
  • Hold dumbbells in each hand, and extend your arms while keeping them in line with your hips for a wide stance. 
  • Lower your arms towards your chest gradually, and then return to straight arms at the same speed. 
  • Keep your core tight and stay in a hollow body position for proper tendon conditioning.
  • Do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.   

4. Maltese Lean Hold

The lean hold exercise in Maltese callisthenics is quite helpful in proper conditioning and strengthening your shoulder blades, upper back, and core muscles. Here is how you can do a Maltese lean hold:

  • Get in a planche position with your arms straight and hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Shift your body weight slightly forward and lean your torso in the same direction.
  • Hold the hollow body position for about 10 to 15  seconds, then relax.
  • Perform 4 to 5 sets. 


While the Maltese callisthenics exercises may seem challenging for beginners, it is possible to master them with enough dedication and ample practice. This form of callisthenics targets multiple muscle groups at once and is an effective bodyweight workout. 

The most popular calisthenic exercises include shoulder blade exercises, ring flies, Maltese dumbbell press, and lean hold. Other exercises under this section of callisthenics include the iron cross, straddle planche, Maltese board presses, and Maltese tuck hold.

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