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The 9 Basic Exercises to start your Calisthenics training

Calisthenics is one of the most effective programs of body and health improvement. It is not only a set of exercises, but it is also a real philosophy and a lifestyle aimed to make you look and feel better. The essence of calisthenics lies in the unique approach to training, developing body and mind, transferring the experience to others and motivating as many people as possible for self-improvement.

Getting into Calisthenics may be a bit overwhelming because you will need to master a variety of techniques – this is why we’ve prepared a hands-on guide for you with 5 basic exercises that will help you begin your workout routines. Let’s take a closer look.

You will find here:

  • Key principles of calisthenics
  • Calisthenics’ advantages
  • TOP 5 most effective bodyweight exercises
  • Final Thought

 

Key Principles of Calisthenics

Calisthenics is based on training sets with bodyweight only. Athletes engaged in calisthenics do not use additional weight and training equipment except different bars, which can be easily found in the street or at home. Following this program regularly you will quickly get a harmonious body, increase strength and aerobic endurance.

Bodyweight exercises cannot be performed in isolation. When you perform the workout routine, all the muscle groups of your body are involved, especially if we are talking about such complex exercises like pull-ups on one hand or “horizon” exercises. These are called compound exercises.

In calisthenics, as well as in all the other body improvement programs, there is no universal technique. Ready-made solutions usually have very low effectiveness. A good training program is always individual and takes into account all the personal peculiarities. The Movement Athlete is a unique application designed to develop your personal training plan to make your workouts most productive and completely safe for your body.

Some athletes consider the bodyweight method too simple and insufficient. But if you get deeper into calisthenics philosophy, you will understand that your body can give you everything you need. The load on a certain muscle group can be regulated by choosing the appropriate exercises.

The same is true with loads increase – the question can be solved by selecting exercises as well as increasing the intensity of the performance, using negative repetitions or more complex variations.

 

Calisthenics’  Advantages

The main advantage of these routines is that they are accessible to almost everyone. They are free and require a bar, your body, and desire. You can use so many alternatives in your environment for the bars and dip stations. There are no expensive gyms and food additives. Only you and time. Moreover, when practicing calisthenics you will never damage your health as you do not lift any extra weights and do not perform any breakneck tricks. 

All the exercises in calisthenics are natural for our bodies since ancient times. The first workouts are simple, but you can and will make them complicated as soon as you feel ready for the next level. Your body is your main tool. It will tell you everything if you let it to.

 

TOP 9 most effective bodyweight exercises for beginners

The routines that we are scrutinizing cover all the areas of body development: flexibility, balance, strength and body control. It is required to make 10 repetitions of each exercise or 30-second retention for isometric workouts. So, let’s dive in.

Squats

Pistol squats are a golden standard of legs and buttocks training. Although this is a very complex exercise, it can be facilitated both for beginners and for advanced athletes. You should proceed gradually with pistol squats after you have mastered the ordinary squats

We’re going to start with your regular bodyweight squats first. Don’t worry about the pistol squats when you’re first starting out. You’ll get an excellent amount of leg muscle stimulation with this basic exercise. 

Wall Push-ups

Push-up is a fundamental movement in calisthenics (also in fitness in general), but still, not everyone can do it properly. As a beginner in calisthenics, pushing against your bodyweight could still feel like a ton of bricks laid on top of you. You can make the regular push-up easier by elevating yourself. Start with the wall push-up. It’s similar to the motion of a regular push-up with much less weight on you. Finally, you’ll get to do proper form and bust a number of sets!

To make the exercise harder, you can move to a lower plane. You can move to a table, then a bench, to a stool, until you can do it on the floor.

Back Bridge

The back bridge or the “wheel pose” in yoga is an excellent exercise for the development of the gluteus muscles, hamstrings, spine extensors, and trapezoids. Moreover, such workouts provide stretching of all front muscles, including the breast, abdominals, and quadriceps of the thigh. If you can’t cope with a standard version, you can start with a simplified one – where your head and upper back touches the floor but you gradually increase the height. 

You can also start with another easy variation by standing 2-3 feet against the wall. Raise your arms then try to reach the wall backward. Gradually bend lower until you can finally reach the floor.

Bent-knee Bench Dips

To train your triceps, bench dips are the entry point for the harder variations. With this exercise, you’ll train your pecs, lats, and deltoids, too. You can easily adjust the difficulty of the exercise by moving your legs more forward. You can also place your feet on a chair to really put stress on your triceps. Once you’ve mastered this move, you’ll be doing regular dips in no time.

Hanging Frog Raises

Hanging frog raises, AKA bent knee hanging leg raises is stable to develop a strong core while also building you a strong grip. The movement involves a hip flexion and core stabilization which means that you’ll have much transferability to other activities that require you a stable core (which is almost everything that you do). 

There are three things to keep in mind when doing the exercise. First is given: don’t rely on momentum to get your knees close to your chest. Second is resisting the urge to sway back at the downward motion of the movement. Everything should be nice and controlled. And last is that you have to tilt your pelvis forward when doing the exercise. This makes you use your core more. More core engagement, more gains!

Just remember that doing tons of ab exercise won’t build you a 6 pack. Remember that a 6 pack is made in the kitchen.

L-sit

Like the back bridge, L-sit demonstrates an ideal balance of strength and mobility of the body. This exercise involves pectorals, shoulders, quadriceps, hips, and triceps, providing back and thigh stretching.

Sit on the floor with your legs straight. Put your hands flat outside of your hips. Then concentrate your body weight on your palms, tear your legs off the floor and parallel to it. Your body should resemble the letter L. You should be pushing down to the floor hard to get your body up. Shoulders should be depressed and arms locked straight.

If you are a beginner, start with the position where the knees are pressed to the chest. Gradually increasing the stretch of your legs.

One common weakness of the movement is when quadriceps start to cramp hard. This is caused by a lack of strength in that area. You can resolve this with sitting leg lifts.

Leg lifts are done seated pike position. Hands-on the side. You can put your hands more forward to make the exercise more difficult. Concentrate on lifting your legs by contracting your quadriceps. Hold at the top then down. That’s one rep. This exercise will strengthen your weak point to get the L sit down.

If you are advanced and strong enough, you can elevate straight legs higher, so that your body resembles letter V.

Wall Handstand

Handstand provides intensive upper body training, mainly your shoulders. It also teaches to keep the balance. Unusual position causes your muscles to adapt more, providing a good effect on your shoulders mobility. The first try can seem frightening, so it is recommended to use the wall for finding balance at first. 

Here are a few tips to get your handstand training down

Bent-knee Lower Body Lifts

The lower back is an often neglected body part to train because the exercises are not that popular. This does not mean that they aren’t effective for developing your lower back. The bent-knee lower body lift will help you strengthen and build the neglected body part and it’s so simple to do. Since you’ve probably haven’t tried this exercise before, after a number of reps, you’ll surely feel the burn.

Assisted Pull-ups

Pull-up is a basic exercise that gave its origin to calisthenics. It is theoretically simple but surprisingly difficult exercise. All you need is a crossbar, high enough to perform pull-ups while hanging. You can even do it on a sturdy tree branch or support beams. 

For this exercise, you have to purchase resistance bands. The band will assist you to carry some of your weight as you do the pull-ups. Choose the band level that suits you. The bands can go hard (offers less assistance) to soft (more assistance).

If you are not still ready to full pull-up, you can start with Australian variation. It is a perfect way to strengthen the necessary muscles involved. If the standard pull-ups are too simple for you, try one arm pull-ups to feel the challenge.

Once you master these exercises, you can move on to static workouts, known as isometric. They are much more complicated as you’ll have to control the whole body. You’ll be fascinated by such positions as “flag”, or some variations of plank. You can watch a video of calisthenics athletes on Youtube or read this article to know what the human body is really capable of.

Final Thought

Calisthenics gains more and more popularity every year and it is rightfully considered to be the most effective and accessible kind of sport. It can burn fat, make your muscles define and your body healthy and trim. Calisthenics also involves healthy diet and positive world outlook, making your body and mind sound and ready to new challenges.

Seeing the pool of advanced calisthenics exercises could be very intimidating for beginners. Even the basic pull-up could deter you from training with calisthenics, but that shouldn’t be the case. Calisthenics can be very beginner-friendly and could also be very brutal for advanced athletes. 

It’s definitely worth to give it a try!

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