What Is Calisthenics? What to Know About Calisthenics Workouts

There are so many different ways to get in some exercise, from strength training to cardio workouts to yoga classes to everything in between. But what if there was another type of exercise that could help you reach your fitness goals? One that was suitable for beginners, and could be done anywhere? Well, that’s where calisthenics workouts come in handy.

Calisthenics workout plans are extensive, thanks to so many great moves falling into the category. In fact, they are a great addition to any fitness routine, no matter your level of athleticism. It’s a style of training that helps “achieve a variety of fitness goals, including strength, cardiovascular conditioning, balance, and flexibility,” explains Melody Davi, obé Fitness instructor. Calisthenics is an important part of any workout routine, and you may actually be performing some moves already.

Ahead, we’re explaining what calisthenics is, its benefits, when to incorporate the moves into your fitness routine, and an example of a great beginner calisthenics workout plan to get you started, straight from the experts themselves.

What is calisthenics?

Simply put, calisthenics consists of “exercises that rely on your body weight and nothing else,” explains Johnny Garcia, A.C.S.M. certified personal trainer at The Training Lab NYC. Calisthenics workouts are extremely effective in terms of building strength and cardiovascular health, as well as improving mobility and flexibility, Garcia notes.

“These types of exercises are important as they build the foundations for functional training, or movements seen in everyday life,” adds Davi. “Without a basic knowledge of calisthenics essentials, it is difficult to progress to more complex exercise variations.”

And considering that calisthenic exercises are rather simple (“think: little-to-no resistance exercises that are equipment free,” per Davi) you are likely already familiar with a whole bunch of strength-based and aerobic movements that fit the bill.

Examples of calisthenics are:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Pushups
  • Sit-ups
  • jumping jacks
  • Burpees
  • High knees

Beginner calisthenic workout

Those who are new to calisthenics should start slowly, as with any other type of exercise. Begin with basic movements, and then as you make improvements in strength, flexibility, cardiovascular ability, and mobility, you can move into exercises that are more varied and more difficult, Garcia explains.

Below, find a calisthenic workout plan for beginners, courtesy of Davi.

You’ll want to perform each exercise for 40 seconds, with a 20-second rest and transition period in between each movement. After one round, take a one-minute rest and repeat four to five times.

1. Jumping jacks

2. Bodyweight squats

3. Alternating reverse lunges

4. Plank

5. Sit-ups

Benefits of calisthenics workouts

1. Great for beginners.

        There are all kinds of degrees of calisthenic exercises, Garcia explains, making it a great place to start for those new to fitness, as there are so many simple variations of movements. Calisthenics exercises also “sets the baseline for additional forms of movement progressions,” Davi explains, like lifting weights, high-intensity cardio (like HIIT training), and other advanced physical skills.

        2. Can be done anywhere.

          Calisthenics exercises are important and valuable because we don’t always have time to go to the gym. “As a personal trainer, one of the first lessons I learned is if you put your arms out to your side, and then front and back—if you have that much room, you should be able to do a workout,” explains Garcia.

          3. Affordable.

          Since calisthenics can be done anywhere, it’s one of the most affordable ways to exercise. So, if you’re not looking to dish out money every month on a gym membership, you can still get an effective workout at home with calisthenics, Garcia explains.

          4. Doesn’t require equipment.

          All you need for calisthenics is your body weight. That’s right—you don’t need to worry about purchasing home gym equipment like dumbbells since these movements rely only on body weight.

          5. Well-rounded workout.

          “Calisthenics trains strength, cardio, and mobility,” Davi explains. “So, you are truly getting a well-rounded workout whenever you perform these types of movements.” Additionally, calisthenics movements are especially well-suited for total-body workouts, adds Garcia.

          6. Great for those recovering from injury.

          If you’re just getting back into training and working out after an injury or lots of time off, calisthenics is a great way to rebuild your strength, explains Davi.

          7. Helps improve posture and strength.

          Calisthenics exercise significantly improves posture, body composition, and strength, a study found.



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