Calisthenics Basics – What You Should Know Before Starting

There is a large variety of bodyweight workouts as you progress in calisthenics. In order for you to continue you to grow in calisthenics. It is in your best interest to master the calisthenics basics. This means starting from the beginning and building the skills as well as strength, in order to proceed.

When just starting out with calisthenic workouts, it’s important to have the basics down. Push Ups, Pull Ups, Dips and Sit Ups are all early calisthenic workouts that help build the strength and skill set that will be required for the more advanced bodyweight workouts.

As novice as these workouts may sound, it is important to note that its not about if you can perform these exercises. But more about performing them in well controlled way and in perfect form.

Another way to look at it is, if you find yourself rushing through the exercise, or when you are nearing the end of your reps and you sacrifice a bit of your form in order to complete the workout. This is typically a good opportunity to identify what you could still need to work on before moving on to the next stages.

Bodyweight workouts, especially with the more advanced movements, require tremendous body control and well developed strength in all areas of the body. Calisthenic basic exercises is where you would want to start if you’re completely new. They will give you the fundamental movements and strength that bodyweight workouts build on.

What Are Some Calisthenics Basics

As you get further along in calisthenics, you would see that many of the progession workouts utilize the push and pull movements, as well as intense core control. Mastering these calisthenics basics means you built the strength necessary to not only perform these exercises with great control and ease. But it would also mean you are ready to take it one step further.

When you’re just starting out, mastering the basic workouts like push ups, pull ups, dips, planks and sit ups should be what you focus on from the beginning. Being able to do three sets of 10 for each without sacrificing form and if you’re not completing them with half effort. Will give you a better chance of success later on down the road.

Basic Calisthenic ExerciseSets and Reps
Push Ups3 Sets of 10 repetitions
Pull Ups3 Sets of 10 repetitions
Dips3 Sets of 10 repetitions
Sit Ups3 Sets of 10 repetitions
Planks30 seconds to 1 minute

Being comfortable and confident with the workouts in the above chart should allow you to begin next phases, or progressions of those exercises. It doesn’t mean to master all of them before moving on. It simply means you can start trying out the next progression of the exercise.

Here is our list of some progression exercises:
Pull Up Progressions:
Push Up Progressions:
Sit Up Progressions:

Each progression that evolves from calisthenics basics workouts are typically slight variations. For example, starting with a standard push up, you can progress into an elevated push up where your feet are slightly elevated from the floor. This allows more body resistance to your workout and continues to build strength and endurance that is needed.

The idea of progressing from the calisthenics basics is to gradually build on your skills and making sure your body would be able to handle the level of difficulty.

How Do You Master Calisthenics

It’s important to note that calisthenics is a long term journey. There really isn’t an end point in which you can say you have “mastered” calisthenics. You may be able to perform a wide range of workouts and routines. Staying at that level of fitness would require consistent training.

Being able to train in any form, and become really good at anything. Requires a certain level of discipline and constant effort. With calisthenics it is no different. And although the road may seem long, you can rest assured that starting and progressing through this journey would be fruitful and fulfilling.

Setting goals, creating a workout plan and showing up everyday to take the necessary steps would give you a good chance on becoming a calisthenics athlete.

Here is a quick checklist I personally use:

  1. Set your goals
  2. Research the different progressions
  3. Build a workout plan
  4. Stay consistent
planning calisthenics basics

The hardest and most important part of this is staying consistent. You won’t get to where you need to be by doing it when it is convenient for you. Make the time and put in the work. In doing so you are also able to track how far you are coming along and at what pace.

How To Progress From Calisthenics Basics

So you’ve workout for a few weeks now, you are confident and can feel noticeably stronger and better. You have shown up everyday and put in 100% effort with perfect form. You’re ready to continue on from the calisthenics basics.

After completing the previous progression of an exercise, you should now have the needed strength and skills to successful continue on with the next workout. Typically the next progression would be a slightly varied version of the same workout. Some common forms of this is incline or declining your body position or even positioning your body in way to not allow interference from certain body parts. Adding weights such as a weighted vest is also a viable option.

Following proper progession schedule is important in order to make sure you’re gaining the right skills and allowing your body to strengthen the different and necessary areas.

Going from push ups to a tucked planche would be ill advised. You simply haven’t built the necessary strength needed in order to perform certain exercises effectively.

There are done for you type progression workout steps that you can follow. These steps would help you build a good foundation in calisthenics. However, if there is a specific movement you want to get to, it’s best to follow a gradual progression that would eventually lead you to that exercise.

As an example, if your goal is to perform an one arm push up, or hand stand push up. Upper body strength and core control exercises should be used heavily in your workout routine. The different workouts would require various progressions that develop all areas of your upper body in order to finally pull off such an exercise.


Having the right mind set when starting calisthenics should be one of the top priorities when beginning your journey. Understanding that big goals would require a long journey and hard work can help you keep going when reaching that workout hump, or when goals feel intangible.

Listing out each step and setting a rough timeline can also be motivating through your journey. Being able to see how far you are getting can give a visual motivational boost for you. It is also a good way to track how you’re progressing and gives you an idea every time you get to your gym or workout space.

Another thing to remember and for your own safety, is to make sure you’re ready before progressing to the next step. Whichever workout you would be doing, perfect form with multiple repetitions should be done consistently before even considering moving on.

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