So you want to start calisthenics training, but you just don’t know where to begin? Maybe you haven’t done any training in a while and want to get back into shape without the gym? It can be kind of overwhelming to look at people doing advanced exercises. Let’s face it, you just don’t know how to get going, right?
You need to think about training you whole body, to get everything into shape together, so sadly that means a lot of squats. Your legs have some of the most powerful muscles on your body, so you have to train them, not neglect your legs.
Thats not to say you need to have a leg specific day, just something to bear in mind.
A Simple Starting Point
If you want to get into calisthenics, you can easily get going with press ups and some planking at home. You can build up to do crow stands and L-sits over a few weeks, and you can start doing some wall walks too.
Squatting and bridge progressions should be high on the agenda to get your legs and back working. The mistake a lot of new gym goers make is not working their back and legs properly, and they risk doing damage further down the line, or just struggling to get very far at all.
People have bad posture these days, I do, you do, we all do. Its something we really should work on but people don’t tend to think about it too much. I certainly have bad posture, and I now do a lot of bridging and other back exercises to try and correct that.
When you start calisthenics training, make sure you are working your whole body, and not leaving parts out. You will progress a lot quicker and get much better results.
An Example Workout For An Absolute Beginner
Here are 5 exercises to do if you are completely new to training:
Like I said, you gotta train your legs. Get those squats on, do them around the house while you’re cooking or doing the ironing, be careful around hot, sharp or otherwise hazardous materials though.
Press ups are great, there are so many different variations to do you will never run out of ways to make these things harder, start doing them, keep doing them. Make sure you keep yourself straight, and as you get better move on to progressively harder ones. Like squats, you can do press ups anywhere so get in the habit of doing them.
Planking is an easy starting point for core and back work, but once you can plank you can plank right? You will want to move on to more advanced core exercises pretty quickly because pretending to lie on the floor for a minute is extremely boring. Having said that it is a great starting point that doesn’t exactly require a lot of instruction.
Bridging will fix your back up quick sharp and they are surprisingly knackering! If you can’t do a full bridge do half bridges or shoulder bridges but start doing them because no doubt your back is all over the place. Bridging will bring massive benefits and doing them properly can set the foundation for the lever exercises further down the line.
Australian Pull Ups
The thing about Australian Pull Ups is that it may be difficult to find somewhere you can do them, but it may be difficult to do a full pull up. You may have to take a trip to the park or find somewhere near by to improvise, but it is important to start doing pull ups as soon as possible. People struggle with pull ups, but is is one of the fundamental movements you need to be making a part of your training. If you don’t you will be all push and no pull. You may still get good at the isometrics, but that still leaves a third of your muscular training out.
You should either find somewhere to practice them, or get one for your home. If you buy one, I would recommend the hanging on the door frame types, not the bolt in at the side ones. You can get more grip variations from the frame ones, and from what I’ve found they just tend to work better. Did I mention that they double up as push up grips – perfect for practicing parallette type work as you develop.
This is the best starting point for your training, in my opinion, it works your whole body right from the start, and will get you well on your way to learning some new tricks!
As you start to develop, you will start getting on the pull ups more, and the leg raises too. This means you want to find yourself a good pull up bar, or a good improvised one. The bad news is that a door pull up bar will leave you limited with leg motion for the raises, but if you can use a frame at the gym or maybe you can find a goal post or something else to improvise, at least get one good session a week. But you can still get your L-sits and tuck planches on the go for extra core work on the other days you train.
So ideally you will have access to pull up bar in which case your 4 big exercises will be as follows:
Dammit you still gotta do them mate, but hopefully you will be able to start moving onto pistols soon which will look awesome!
Getting on pull ups is rewarding, and just like the push ups, there is a whole host of variations you can do to progress so get them down and keep pushing yourself to get better at them.
Keep progressing with your push ups all of the time. I will often do 100 in sets of 20, leaving a minute or so between sets and making each one a different variation. As you progress you will be able to smash this out in 10 minutes no problem. But if you want to turn it up a notch, get on some bars and do full body weight dips.
Single bar or parallel bar dips are great. The way to target Triceps over Chest is to keep your elbows in, if you want to work the chest more keep your elbows out. Ideally you want to get on the single bar as soon as possible because it requires better balance and stability, working your wrists too, and getting you well on the way to mastering those Muscle Ups.
Hanging Leg Raises
These are a killer but you will get great benefits from doing them. Try and keep your legs straight and your upper body as still as possible. You will find that you inevitably swing so don’t worry too much about it but still try and focus on the most minimal movement possible to avoid bad form.
Those 4 exercises make a great workout by themselves, but don’t forget to do some bridging, and learn to do the floor exercises to to keep progressing and you will never get bored of doing the same exercises again.
The more you focus on variations of the exercises the better you will develop. Racing through all the progressions to get to the top will not do you any favours. Take the time to develop the strength and you will be much better off and you will develop much better control in the long run.
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