If you’re a beginner, the road to looking like someone who has been practicing calisthenics for years may feel intangible. It’s easy to get discourage just by thinking about it. Having that kind of mind set will not get you very far in any type of goal you may have.
We all have to start somewhere and learn to walk before we run. A foundation must be built with your body at every stage in your journey before you should do any one handed push ups or hang sideways on a pole.
As a beginner, working on some key principles such as movement control and range of motion should be the top priority. If you’re keeping things simple (which you should) and your goal right now is to just be able to make 10 push ups.
Then they should be 10 clean and complete ones, all the way down and all the way up, with proper form and keeping a stable range of motion. If you find yourself struggling or cheating in anyway, don’t count them as a rep.
If you can only do 3 or 5 complete and clean ones, thats good. Build on that. You will get stronger and the reps will come.
Building the proper foundation in calisthenics is the only way to ensure success and having that type of mindset will help you conquer the more advance techniques there is to come.
With that said, when starting your calisthenics journey. There are a couple of principles many follow. I’m sure there are more but as a beginner these are a good start.
Principles Of Calisthenics
To get the most out of a calisthenics workout, you need to be doing your routines with complete discipline. You will not be doing yourself any favours when completing a workout and knowing that a certain percentage was not the greatest version you could do.
Again, less of perfect exercises is better then more of mediocre ones. So when you’re starting your calisthenics journey. Here would be some principles to follow.
Controlling your movement
A full bodyweight workout is an opportunity to make the most of muscle building in your body. The goal in your calisthenic workout should always be form over rep (the amount you can do). This is especially true to a more advance workout where there is no base or foundation developed.
For example, with a climber pull up. If you’re able to roughly do 5, 10 even 20 reps of a climber, but your kicking with your legs for that extra leverage or your chin isn’t fully over the bar etc. You are not doing any favours for yourself.
For every workout, no matter how basic or advanced before moving on to the next level, be sure to be completely smooth and in control of the previous one. Your confidence in how you do a more basic workout will determine the success on the next one.
Develop A Strong Core
Using bodyweight as the main form of resistance in any calisthenic workout requires tremendous core strength. Control of your body while you exercise helps increase the quality of your workout as well as reduce the chance of injury.
Although you are focusing on specific area groups of muscle when doing an exercise. Because you are using your bodyweight you need to make sure the rest of your body is stable and in control.
Constantly working out your core would help you get there. Your core is the central part of your body that connects everything together. Without the strength from you mid area the rest of your body will not be as effective.
Build Your Range Of Motion
When doing your exercise, it is crucial that you maintain your form and stability. A good way to do this is by building your range of motion, or even partial range.
For any exercise there are different parts of the work out that you can focus on specifically. Using a pull up for example. There is a movement of going up over the bar, and a second movement of coming back down.
You will be using muscles for both parts of the movements not just when you are pulling up. So a way of building your range of motion is just working on one set of motion a little at a time.
For the pull ups, you can get a box or chair that can help you easily hang on the bar. And as the exercise, get to the height where you would normally finish a pull up.
And just work on and control the movement going down. Repeating this step until your are comfortable would help you to be able to make clean pull ups in repetition and allow you to advance to the next step.
Now that we have some principles in mind, lets see a few workouts that you can start today.
Beginner Calisthenic Workouts Fundamentals
Before we attempt any type of advanced workouts there are some exercises that would be in your best interest to master before going on to other forms.
As easy as these exercises may seem, there really is no point to progress to the next step if you can not perform the basics with perfect form. Remember, it is all about the building the foundation.
Going through the motions but not engaging your body properly can result to very little progress or none at all.
- Push Ups
Very basic and the very foundation for all types of workouts that involve any sort of pushing motion. To make a proper push up, get on all fours. Feet together and arms straight. Your toes and hands should be the only parts of your body touching floor. Slowly bend your arms and bring your body down to where your chest almost touches the floor. And all the way back up. Remember to keep your core tight and allow it to help stabilize your body.
- Pull Ups
Another part of basic foundations. Pull ups are the starting points for all exercises that involve pulling. Complete pull ups for beginner may seem a bit difficult if you’ve never made a pull up before. Luckily, there are progression exercises that are easier to do and will help strengthen your muscles to making an actual pull up.
- Sit Ups
There has been a lot of emphasis on building your core in this article. And sit ups one of the best and fundamental ways to do it. Being able to keep perfect form and stay comfortable will help you perform other exercises easier.
- Bench Dips
If you don’t have specific equipment like parallettes. Using a couch or a very stable chair, even a park bench would suffice. The purpose of the bench dips is to help build the triceps and shoulders to eventually progress to full body dips on gymnast bars.
The beginnings of leg exercises. Doing squats not only build leg strength, but you also will be working on over all balance and strengthening the joints in your knees. Working on these areas will help you better control your body when doing free body exercises.
- Bolt Hold
If one of your goals it to be able to easily do a L-sit. A step to help you get there is through a bolt hold. This is performed by sitting on a flat surface. Raise your arms and legs in front of you so that only your butt is touching the floor. Keep the balance and feel the core tighten. Hold this for 1 minute.
- Pike Push Ups
Building on the other upper body strength exercises, pike push ups is a stepping stone to help you gradually get to a workout that involves a handstand or similar. Pike push ups help work your shoulder and tricep areas as well as keeping balance when you’re almost up side down.
This is a good way to get your cardio up while working on your explosiveness. Burpees help get your joints loose and helps elevate the heart rate to help give your workout some balance.
- Hang Bars
This exercise is purely for grip strength. When doing pull ups or dips, most people think about their arms doing the exercise. However your hands holding the bar is pretty vital in determining the success or failure as well. To build your grip strength, you can find a chin up bar or monkey bars at the local park and simply hang off of it. Focus only on your hands holding on, and timing yourself to be better will help your progression.
Mastering the basic movements and following the principles will help ensure your success in calisthenics. The great thing about all of this is that you don’t need any special equipment to get started. Just a little bit of space and the right mindset.
Stay consistent, and show up every day to get just a small bit better. Small steps is better then none taken at all.