Want to be in the best shape of your life? I’m talking high testosterone, low body fat, amazing energy and the body of a Greek god.
This only happened once you cut out all the fake, overhyped calisthenics exercises and instead focus on the true core bodyweight movements.
So, drop the barbell, leave the one-rep sets at home and say goodbye to the gymnastic calisthenics you’ve seen on YouTube.
In order to help you make these gains, get shredded and lose that fat that’s covering your epic body I’m going to share the real bodyweight exercises you need to focus on.
Table of contents
- The Best Calisthenics Exercises:
- The Best Types Pull-Ups You Can Do
- The Best Types Of Chin-Ups
- The Push-ups That You’ve Gotta Try
- You’ve Gotta Include Dips
- Killer Cardio Exercises
- Calisthenics Workout Plan (using calisthenics exercise list)
- Calisthenics Full Body Warm Up
- How To Maximise These Calisthenic Exercises
What Equipment You’ll Need:
Now before we get started you’ll need access to the following:
- Pull Up Bar (The Pull-up bar I Use)
- Dip Station (The dip station I use)
I also recommend trying the Bar Brothers 12-week calisthenics course, it gives you structure and is like having a personal trainer for 12-weeks.
It gave me routinely at the start and is still used to structure 80% of my workouts.
The Best Calisthenics Exercises:
Enough small talk let me show you how the real men and woman use their body to get jacked.
The Best Types Pull-Ups You Can Do
The words ‘I hate pull-ups’ are spoken in every gym, but if you plan to get a body worth looking at then you’re going to need to quiet that inner voice and pull yourself high up on that bar.
‘Why?’ you may say.
Well Pull-ups grow your:
- Upper/Lower Back
Name another exercise that has this ability?
It may be hard, but you need to suck it up to make them serious gains.
Where should you start?
Normal Pull-ups: Hands a little over shoulder width apart, pull yourself up till your chin is over the bar, then slowly release back down.
This will be the start, practice your form and then you can move onto:
Wide grip: This will use less of your arms and more of your back, creating that chizzled back look.
Close grip: This will focus on shoulders, lats, but mainly hit the forearms and biceps
You’ll likely focus on these three types of pull-ups for the next few months, practicing form, breathing and then adding tension with slow decent like this stickman animation I made:
The Must-Learn Advanced Pull Ups
Most of us never make it this far, it’s the part where you make or break calisthenics training.
Typewriter pull-ups: Start in a wide grip, then just like a typewriter go side to side.
This is your go-to for a chizzeled back and shoulders and I created this little animation to explain it better:
Arch pull-ups: Similar to the typewriter, but more circler, as you can see from this animation:
Muscle ups: Are the hardest pull-ups on this list and involve you doing a normal grip pull up with a twist of pulling yourself over the bar, as shown here in this animation:
You only need to focus on these six exercises.
Master them and you’ll be in the top 5% of calisthenics trainers.
If you want to know some of the other pull-ups available then check out this video:
The Best Types Of Chin-Ups
Looking for shredded arm muscles, chin-ups are your main man.
Now they’re extremely similar to pull-ups, just with a reverse grip (inside of your hand facing you).
Most people find chin-ups easier than normal pull-ups, making them a good place for beginners to start.
There are three main types of chin-ups:
- Close Grip
- Wide Grip
- Commando chin ups: Imagine yourself underneath your bar, then place both your hands around the bar and pull up, alternate which side of the bar your head goes to.
These three will see you making some serious arm strength.
The Push-ups That You’ve Gotta Try
The most common exercise in any calisthenic workout is the push-up and for the longest time I mixed a variety of push-ups with shadow boxing and had amazing upper body results.
A push up will strengthen:
- Lower/Upper Back
Making it an easy, effective exercise.
Getting the best results is simple, focus on mastering these types of push-ups in the following order:
- Normal/Wide/Close Grip
- Diamond Grip
- Hindu push-up
- Typewriter push-up
- Arrow push-up
- Forearm push-up
Your body will adapt to these push-up exercises quickly, you just need to start, continually add reps and push yourself.
I recommend you check out this video for more push-up ideas and to get an idea of what good form looks like on the above exercises:
You’ve Gotta Include Dips
You can’t forget dips, these tricep growers are a must and when mixed with pull-ups and push-ups you really do hit the upper body hard.
Dip variation isn’t too popular as you only need to know the basic dip to gain awesome results:
Dip till your shoulders pass your elbow, don’t dip too deep as this could lead to injury and remember slow controlled movement is the key.
Id you’re not satisfied with the normal dip, then you can check out this video with 21 different dip techniques:
I personally feel like these dips are too advanced, but there is a few golden nuggets inside this video.
Squats (Because Strong Legs Are Awesome)
No one gives a damn about the size of your legs.
What if I told you that training legs aren’t just about size and looks?
Having strong legs allows you to actually use your upper body muscle.
Imagine trying to pick something up with your massive muscles only to find out your legs buckle under the weight.
It’s not just that, your legs are the biggest muscle group on your body, training them releases all kinds of good chemicals, while also making your core strong as F.
Plus, who doesn’t like a nice pair of legs and bum on both men and women?
Squats You Need To Try:
Master the following in this order:
- Normal Squats
- Jump Squats (don’t add weight)
- Sumo Squats
- Deep Squats
- Goblet Squats (using kettlebell)
You can do all of the above with or without weight unless stated otherwise.
What About Lunges?
If you want to nail your legs, core and butt gains then you need to add some lunges into your leg workouts.
Harnessing the power of lunges is simple, start with the following and work your way up:
- Forward Lunges
- Reverse Lunges
- Jump Lunges
- Chair Lunge
If you have problems with your knee’s it’s best to avoid chair and jump lunges.
Killer Cardio Exercises
You will most likely fail if you don’t follow this rule.
Cardio is king.
This doesn’t mean you need to do cardio 7-days per week, but including a 5 – 10-minute cardio session before a workout is the quickest way to get strong, lean muscle.
Some of the cardio I recommend:
- Running (not on a treadmill)
- Shadowboxing (amazing for back and biceps and overall cardio)
- Swimming (best full body)
- Rowing machine
- Cycling (spinning or real bike)
- Rebounding (using a mini trampoline)
Doing any of the above a few times per week will help you lose that stubborn fat and more importantly it’ll help you in your calisthenics workouts because cardio is a key factor in all the above exercises.
Important ABS Exercises
Abs… Does anyone enjoy training them?
What if I told you that you only need to train your abs once per week.
Seriously, you’ll build stronger abs from squats, lunges, pull-ups and cardio than you ever will from most abs workouts.
Infact at the start I’d recommend dropping abs workouts till you can start seeing the definition.
Trust me, you can try it yourself.
Do abs three times per week for a month, then do abs once a week for a month, you’ll have mirror results, you’re better of spending that extra time in cardio or food prep.
However, this doesn’t mean all ABS workouts are bad, as you should still hit them once per week and in that time I usually do this workout:
Again it’s from OFFICIALTHENX, he’s one of the best fitness YouTubers around and this is one of the best ABS routines I’ve ever done.
I also mix and match different abs exercises using this video and just do 6 different types of exercises with 10 – 15 reps each:
I’ve also listed some of my favorite ABS exercises here:
- Normal Crunches
- Cycle Crunches
- On-Bar Knee Raises
- On-Bar Leg Raises
- 90 Degree Core Hold (On-Bar)
- Flutter Kicks
- Mountain Climbers
You can mix and match any of the above into an awesome routine.
Just pick 6 exercises, then do 10 – 15 reps of each without stopping, have 1 minute break and then repeat three times.
Calisthenics Workout Plan (using calisthenics exercise list)
You may be lost, you have the core calisthenics exercises but have no way of knowing which to use on any given training day.
So, I’ve created a quick workout guide to show you both an upper body training day and a lower body training day:
- 5-Minute warm up
- 10x Push-ups (normal grip)
- 40x Jump jacks
- 5x Pull-ups (normal grip)
- 6x Diamond push-ups
- Rest 2 minutes and repeat.
You can replace any exercise with any upper body exercise from the list.
- 40-Seconds of squats
- 40-Seconds of calf raises
- 40-Seconds of reverse lunge
- 40-Seconds of High Knees (running on spot)
- Repeat without break 5 times
These are just two basic exercises plans as an example of how to add the exercises above into something actable.
Calisthenics Full Body Warm Up
If you plan on having an amazing body in the years to come you MUST warm up.
Most injuries can be prevented by simply doing a 5 minute warm-up before you workout.
This doesn’t mean doing 1-minute of stretching before your workout, this means moving you body, getting your heart pumping and stretching out the muscles you’ll be focusing on before you workout.
Just because calisthenics is easier on the body than weights, doesn’t mean you don’t need to take care and warm up, so here’s the warmup I follow before every workout:
Basically, you want to mix stretching, cardio and body movement all together for around 5-minutes before all of your workouts.
How To Maximise These Calisthenic Exercises
Alot of you may still want to know the more advanced calisthenic exercises, but honestly, unless you’re trained in gymnastics I’d AVOID them.
They increase the chances of injury and although they look cool, they are not worth the risk, at least to me.
So, instead of doing more advanced exercises here’s a way to get more results from the easy exercises.
Resistance Bands (make it easy and hard):
All calisthenic users should grab a pair of resistance bands (the resistance bands I use), they are perfect for beginners as they make pull-ups, dips and even push-ups easier by taking a lot of your weight, allowing you to focus on your form.
You can also switch this and use the bands to create tension making exercises harder.
Just a simple resistance band can completely change a calisthenic workout, making each exercise give more results in a shorter time.
If you want a shredded body these bands are a must.
Lower Rest Time In Your Workout:
Resting 30 seconds between sets? Lower that to 10 seconds.
Taking a minute break between rounds? Lower that to 30 seconds.
This alone will lower down the time you workout and make your workout more intense.
It’s great for improving cardio, getting ride of stubborn fat and strengthening the mind.
Adding A Weighted Vest:
I’d always start with the resistance bands, but if you really want to pack on the strength then adding a weighted vest to your workout will be a massive result driven discussion.
The weighted vest I use is military grade, comes with a lifetime warranty and is one size fits all.
It has improved my pull up game and has given me amazing results over the past month.
You can check out this review I did on the best-weighted vests.
Add Weights To Your Routine:
People who lift weights hate calisthenics and people who do calisthenics hate weights.
It’s always calisthenics vs weightlifting.
70% of my workouts are calisthenics, but that 30% weights. It’s a new hybrid and if you end goal is to be as healthy, strong and physically attractive as you can be then it’s a must for you to do the same.
Now, I don’t use weight machines that isolate muscles! Yuk, that’s the quickest way to injury and disproportionate muscle.
Instead, I do free weights, anything that uses a barbell, dumbbells or kettlebells I’m down to try.
I do bench press, kettlebell raises, squats with weights.
The trick is I only go to failure once per month and for the rest of the month I train with lightweight, good form and high rep count.
It’s a complete game changer and uses the exercises above mixed with a few weighted ones is a sure fire way to get the body of your dreams.
Reversing Your Workouts:
It’s simple if you do pull-ups, dips, pushups and then chin-ups, instead do chin-ups, pushups, dips and pull-ups, it’ll shack your body up, mess with your muscle memory and do your body the world of good.
There you have it a complete guide to calisthenic exercises. If I missed anything let me know in the comments below. This whole blog is run by me and my girlfriend and I really appreciate any feedback.