Updated: Apr 22
You have probably seen groups or individuals training in an outdoor gym performing a street workout. This is the most common form of bodyweight calisthenics. You still can do your calisthenics training at home or in a gym setting but then you might need some calisthenics equipment. This article will look at what is calisthenics, what's the best way to start doing calisthenics and also list down the basic calisthenics equipment you'll need. Let's dive in!
What is Calisthenics Training?
Calisthenics is bodyweight training that uses minimal equipment because it mainly focuses on an individual’s own strength.
With calisthenics training, you can increase your strength and flexibility. It also improves your balance and coordination. You can do it following a specific calisthenics workout routine or just do a freestyle version – either way it will be good for conditioning.
Calisthenics training allows you to work with each of the body parts and have more control over your body. Because it’s weight-free, you focus on working the entire body with a correct form rather than train one specific muscle group.
To make it harder, you can still add weights to your calisthenics workout routines, however, it should happen naturally. It means that before you can actually pull yourself up, you should not add weights. It will take away the whole point of calisthenics training and increase the risk of injury.
How to Start Calisthenics?
The best way how to start calisthenics is by mastering the basics first. If you cannot do the fundamental exercises like push-ups and pull-ups with a clean form using your bodyweight only then you shouldn't add any artificial weights.
Do effective HIIT routines first if you're overweight. It will help you burn off some of those calories before going into calisthenics mobility training.
If you’re a person with a gym background then most likely your muscles are even stiffer than beginner’s muscles because the chances are you don’t stretch after training. You’ve probably have worked out a particular muscle group in isolation to other groups so your main goal should be to master your form. Don’t push it to the next level if you cannot do at least 10 clean pull-ups. There are plenty of pull-up bands to support your form and help you polish it.
Also, focus on getting your core as strong as possible because in bodyweight calisthenics your core is always engaged. In order to do so, you can do exercises like leg raises and supermen hold to strengthen it (or get a core set like this).
You should also be able to hold a clean plank for at least one minute before moving up to the next level. Your 6-pack will come either way, but the mobility and flexibility should be your primary aim. You must understand that you're asking your body to be in positions in which he’s not familiar with. It’s the best way to prevent injuries and get all the benefits out of calisthenics training.
Don’t push it to the next level if you cannot do at least 10 clean pull-ups. There are plenty of pull-up bands to support your form and help you polish it.
I would recommend doing a minimum of 3 days resistance training per week (preferably one-day training, the next day recovery, one-day training, the next day recovery and so on). That should be enough for your body and your central nervous system to get used to the new physical activity especially if you're a beginner.
On your training days focus on resistance and upper body workouts doing exercises like pull-ups. On your recovery days focus on flexibility and mobility. This means go out for a run or do some stretching. Make sure to have at least one day a week for rest when you do nothing.
What’s the Best Calisthenics Equipment to Start With?
The good thing about calisthenics is that you don’t really need an extensive collection of calisthenics equipment but it’s definitely worth investing in 3 tools:
1. Home pull-up bars for training your arms, shoulders, back, lats, chest and more. There are 3 kinds of calisthenics pull-up bars available:
2. Calisthenics dip bars are usually the most common calisthenics equipment. These are divided into:
3. Resistance bands are for making any exercise either tougher or easier. You can find anything from:
The above calisthenics equipment will be good enough to get you started. After a while, you’ll start seeing a tremendous effect on your posture, strengths, and body composition. In fact, various studies have shown that calisthenics workout routines are far more effective than traditional training routines so I definitely recommend trying it out.
Bodyweight Calisthenics is a Functional Training for Both Men and Women
The chances are, you have already done calisthenics training at least once in your life without even knowing it. You can see that calisthenics is getting more and more popular amongst both women and men as it outbeats strength training in every way.
In calisthenics, you're training your whole body not a particular muscle group only. Don't forget to get your form as clean as possible before adding weights. At the same time, your bodyweight will only bring you so far.
To actually build a lean muscle mass you will have to gradually cultivate the complexity of your exercises and play with the gravity. Legs are one of the toughest areas to target in calisthenics so you can look up some leg calisthenics workouts more in detail when you'll come to that.
For now, stick to push-ups, pull-ups, squats, crunches, lunges, mountain climbers, flutter kicks, and planks. Parallel dip bars and diamond push-ups are best for triceps, while chin-ups in a dead hang position will be best for biceps.
A friend of mine used to put on his backpack filled with water bottles to add some resistance. So there are ways of doing it cost-consciously. Still, you must progressively overload the muscles and add an additional diet to see actual changes in your body's structure.
Lastly, I wanted to also note that calisthenics training is extremely beneficial for both males and females. In fact, I used to own calisthenics equipment at home so every second day I would work out my entire body putting emphasis on my core. Calisthenics training gives faster results and long-term health benefits so definitely try it out!
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