So you one of the many people that want to get fit, leaner and build muscle, but at the same time cannot join a gym due to time restrictions, and you decide to start calisthenics, and workout with your bodyweight as resistance. You’re all set, but there is one problem; how do you start? Here, I’ll give you your complete guide to calisthenics.
What is calisthenics and why is it good for you?
Calisthenics, or body weight training is a great and convenient way to get fit. It requires little to no equipment and can be performed anytime and anywhere. Calisthenics will not only help you get a better physique, build more strength and improve your reflexes, but will also make you more confident. Since it requires no equipment, you will have lesser excuses; Can’t make it to the gym? The floor is your gym! Get working.
Types of exercises
Before we go deeper into the world of bodyweight training, you first need to know the basics. Every movement, in the gym or in calisthenics, has a purpose behind them. Overlooking this can lead to imbalances and injuries. Exercises are mainly of two types; namely, push exercises and pull exercises.
As the name suggests, they work the pushing muscles; mainly the chest, triceps and the anterior deltoids (the front part of the shoulder). Basic pushing exercises mainly include variations of pushups and squats.
Pull exercises work the pulling muscles; mainly the back, biceps and the posterior deltoid, he back part of the shoulder. Basic pulling exercises include variations of chin ups and pull ups.
It is important to give equal importance to both types of exercises to prevent imbalances. There is another type, known as isometric exercises, which includes planks and wall sits. It involves keeping certain muscles under tension for a certain amount of time.
Calisthenics movements are mostly compound movements, meaning they engage more than one muscle group. In the push-up, for example, your front deltoids along with your triceps work with your chest to push your body from the ground, while your core works to stabilize the movement. Compound exercises have a huge advantage over isolation exercises (a dumbbell curl for example, which works only the biceps, and the forearms to some extent). Compound exercises not only burn more calories but since they recruit more muscle groups, they allow you to complete a full body workout in a lesser amount of time. Not only this but since they mimic real-world movements, they offer a decreased risk of injury
A Typical Full-Body Calisthenic Workout
Now that you know the purpose behind the movements, the next thing you need to consider is your workout split or the “body part days”. For beginners, a full body workout thrice a week is enough for results, provided you are intense in your workouts and are consistent.
A full body workout should include 4-6 exercises, with adequate sets and reps, performed with ideal form. Let me clear these terms for you-
- Reps- Short for repetitions; they are the number of times you do a particular movement. Like 10 pushups, 12 squats and so on.
- Sets- A number of repetitions when performed consecutively makes one set. The rep range can vary anywhere from 1 to your max, depending on your goals and fitness level.
- Rest- The amount of time between two sets.
A good full body workout gets the job done in a short period of time, without ignoring any muscles. Full body workouts don’t let certain muscles get more dominant than others and cause imbalances. Once you successfully continue this routine every alternate day for 60-90 days, you can switch to other splits. Before that, it is important you get comfortable with the form, remember to stretch and do your warm-ups.
What is a warm-up?
Many people overlook warm-ups. They are one of the most important parts of your workout. Warm-ups get the blood flowing in the body and prepare it for the workout. Working out without a proper warm-up leads to injury, no matter what your fitness level is. Seriously, do not start your workout without a proper warm up.
Importance of sleep and nutrition
Another thing people overlook is the proper sleep and nutrition. You need to know, your body doesn’t grow when you workout, it grows when you sleep. When you train, the fibers that make up your muscles tear due to the workout. When you go to sleep, the brain senses the damage and sends satellite cells to the damaged muscles. The muscles recover, get strong, and as well as an increase in size.
Nutrition plays an important role as well; for food is your fuel, and if you give your car fuel of poor quality, it won’t be ideal, will it? Your diet should be balanced, consisting of all food groups. Protein, as you might know, is the most important nutrient for building muscles. Many people think that you get fat by consuming too many carbohydrates or fats. No. you get fat by consuming excessive calories.
Remember, consistency is the key. Fitness is not a hobby, but a lifestyle. You can’t excel in it if you don’t give it a hundred percent of your effort. Sure, you can throw in the occasional cheat meal, but make sure you keep it ‘occasional’.
Best Calisthenics Exercises list
I’ll list down some bodyweight exercises below, which will help you design a custom workout based on your split:
Target area- Chest, triceps, and front deltoids.
Target area- Quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings
Target area- Abdominals and core
Target area- Chest, triceps
Target area- Hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps.
Sit ups \ crunches
Target area- Abdominals, core
Target area- Calves
Target area- Back (and biceps to some extent)
Target area- Back and biceps.
Example of a full body routine (beginner)
- Warm up, stretching
- Plain pushups, 4 sets x 12 reps
- Bench dips, 4 sets x 12 reps
- Pull-ups, 4 sets x 6 reps
- Chin-ups, 4 sets x 6 reps
- Squats, 4 sets x 20 reps
- Wall sits, 3 sets x 45 seconds
- Planks, 4 sets x 30 seconds
- Sit-ups, 4 sets x 12 reps
Now that you know the types of movements, and the purpose behind each of them, you can design your own workout. The number of sets you do should depend on the number of reps in each. More reps per set = less amount of sets. Rests between sets can be up to 45 seconds each.
Calisthenics offers an infinite amount of exercises. Each exercise has multiple variations. Your pushups can be explosive, like clap pushups and even superman pushups. The same goes with your pull-ups, like the archer pull ups or explosive pull-ups. Even with squats, there are multiple variations like pistol squats and jump squats. Stick to your regime, and your efforts will pay off!