What Is Calisthenics Workouts?

a body weight workout with truck tire for push ups.
Inclined push ups with truck tire

If you’re looking for a workout that requires no equipment, is also a full body workout that builds strength and a great source of cardio. Then a calisthenics workout is exactly what you’re looking for.

A type of exercise that only uses your own body to help build muscles and range of motion, this style of exercise can easily be done at home or even at a local park.

Calisthenics is a form of strength and mobility training that primarily uses bodyweight as the main form of resistance. Basic examples of Calisthenics would be push ups, pull ups and sit ups and into more advanced movements using gymnast rings and parallettes. This type of exercise focuses on large muscle groups and incorporates everyday body movement to strengthen body joints and range of motion.

What Is A Calisthenics Workout

A Calisthenics workout is an exercise that uses your own body weight as the main form of resistance. In order to build and tone muscle, the muscle itself needs to meet some form of resistance at a high enough intensity.

A common way for this is using barbells for biceps and bench press for chests etc. The same muscle building concepts apply to calisthenics, the only difference being that each workout is performed in different ways to allow your body to be the main weight and resistance that works out the particular muscle group.

Whether if it’s a squat, jumping jacks or burpees. They all fall in the same category.

A Calisthenic exercise or also know as a bodyweight exercise helps build muscle and physique. Through exercises that practice your range of motion.

a calisthenics hanging exercise with bike rack
Bike rack used for a bodyweight workout

A bonus from calisthenics is that it helps with your balance, joints and stamina. By doing this you improve your functional movements that are performed daily.

You can also look for items around your home or neighbourhood to enjoy a calisthenics workout. For example, using a sturdy coffee table to rest your feet when doing push ups, puts your body in a inclined position working out other areas of your arm other then the biceps.

Similarly, going to a local park and using the monkey bars for pull ups and dips is also a good way to get a workout in.

In fact, it’s becoming very common too, even for beginners. Many cities have started to include calisthenic type equipment at parks or even build brand new large scale calisthenic parks in order to promote fitness in their neighbourhoods.

A more modern name for calisthenics has been coined “street workout“. Due to the popularity of physical activity being performed in outdoor parks and public facilities. Many organizations and clubs have also been formed to bring together like minded people and for the love of calisthenic workouts.

What are the Benefits Of Calisthenics

Being a type of workout that focuses on using your own body weight. Calisthenics exercises are quite easily done in any room or outdoor space.

Not many gym workouts can boast the same claims as a bodyweight workout. Although both will get the job done through commitment and consistency.

More articles on the benefits of calisthenics:

Gym workouts primarily focus on specific muscle groups per session. Whereas a calisthenic workout would be a more natural way of getting fitting while working multiple areas at once.

We can look at a couple of more benefits here:

  • Balance. Many exercises involving your bodyweight as the resistance will require some level of balance on your part. In order to work on a particular area of muscles, you will find that using other parts of your body is required in order to not fall or slip.
  • Range of Motion. Bodyweight exercises also focus on practical movements that you will likely do on a daily basis. Calisthenics falls into a closed kinetic chain exercise category. Which is considered a more natural form of exercise and known to promotes strength and stability within your joints.
  • Building Muscle. Gym workouts typical focus on a certain muscle group per workout. Leg day one day, chest the next and so on. With bodyweight workouts although you may be work on your legs, or arm. You can be certain that with each type of exercise, you will also be inadvertently working out some other parts as well.
  • Burn Calories. Setting up various a couple of bodyweight exercises back to back with 30 secs to 1 minute of rest in between each one, will give your typical workout an anaerobic element to it.
  • Convenience. No equipment needed. Only your body and what it can do. Not many workout routines can be this flexible.
woman doing calisthenics inclined runners

Do you need Equipment

Although you don’t need to have or buy any type of specific equipment. There will likely be a time where you require something extra in your calisthenics routine. Eventually having the exact same workout done in the exact same way will no longer challenge your body.

Extra resistance or switching up the way you do the exercise would be a change that will come further down the road.

For example, after a certain time of exercise consisting of basic push ups, squats and sit ups. Your muscles would be adapted and built to be able to go through these steps easily.

To change or make a variation, most people elevate the challenge by doing incline push ups, or using pull up bars to make it more challenging on the body.

As a beginner, using items around your house or at a park should be enough. A couch or coffee table to make an incline for a push up. Monkey bars to do dips and pull ups are all great cost free options.

But as mentioned, eventually you would likely need a little bit mor to get a satisfying workout. Or maybe you would want to do your complete workout in one place like a home gym.

For starters, Workout Rings and Parallettes will help elevate your workouts. They can also be used for multiple types of exercises.

What Exercises Are Calisthenics

As previously mentioned, calisthenic exercises are exercises that use your own bodyweight as the main form of resistance. Many type of exercises are based around pushing and pulling motions with the basics of it all being push ups and pull ups.

Some examples include:

  • push ups
  • pull ups
  • sit ups
  • planks
  • burpees
  • dips

Bodyweight exercises can seem a bit basic in the beginning. Push ups and pull ups are what many have done early in their exercise journey. But what makes calisthenics effective and fun to do, is the progression exercises that come when you build your strength and skillsets.

What are progressions in calisthenics? Progressions are variations of certain calisthenic that come with multiple benefits. For one, they help workout a wider range of your focussed muscle groups and overall create a more challenging workout for when your body becomes more accustomed to what you’re starting with.

Along with creating more resistance, progressions also teach the necessary skill and strength towards the main calisthenics progression. When weightlifters begin to get stronger from their workouts. They will likely be adding extra weight to the barbell. For Calisthenic athletes, the usual process would be to increase reps or progress to variation of the exercise.

For some examples of progressions. You can find a standard progression list from our article for push ups and pull ups. They give some context on how to progress from some basic exercises.


Body weight workouts or calisthenics could be as big of a workout or as simple as you would like it to be. It is much more then just the normal push up and sit up here and there. Through proper planning and personal elevation. You can expect to get to your fitness goals very naturally and with no equipment.

It’s exciting to think that the world is your gym in the calisthenics world. Monkey bars can become pull up bars and coffee tables are now incline boxes. There really shouldn’t be any excuse to get in your workouts when you have that type of artilary at your disposal.

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