Trying something new for the first time can be riddled with fear and uncertainty. His tends to be the case with most new things we experience. However, this does not have to be the case all the time. Informing yourself on what to do can certainly make the difference. When it comes to exercising, calisthenics can be a fun way to get started with physical training. But how should you get started? In this article we will be looking at several calisthenics exercises and how to perform them. These are all recommended for those just starting out so feel free to continue reading and include them in your workouts!
Calisthenics Exercises #1: Pull-ups
One of the most basic calisthenics exercises is doing pull-ups. Due to the simplicity of this exercise it can be done almost anywhere. To do a set of pull-ups, simply find a pull-up bar or support structure where you are able to lift your body from the ground using your arms. First, hang from a bar with both arms, then lift your body up to the point that your head reaches the bar and the lower yourself. Repeat for 15 times to complete a single set. Doing pull-ups helps you to build biceps, lats and back muscles (see also our article about pull-up muscles), which makes it an ideal calisthenics exercise to start out with.
Calisthenics Exercises #2: Pull-ups (with bands)
A variation of the pull-up exercise is including the usage of pull-up bands. Doing pull-ups does a lot for improving your upper-body strength but for some it may be too challenging at first glance. That’s why it’s suggested to do assisted pull-ups by making use of bands. So how do you do it? Start by making a loop with the band over the bar and make sure it is tight. Then, place your foot in the band and start with a regular set of pull-ups. Once you are done make sure you step out of the band safely – we don’t want you to get hurt!
Calisthenics Exercises #3: Dips
Doing dips is another calisthenics exercise that helps build your upper-body strength. Dips in particular stimulate your triceps a lot, which makes it an ideal candidate for those wanting to make some improvements in that area. To do dips, it is key to find a location with two dip bars of similar height. Alternatively if you don't have a calisthenics park with dip bars close to you, our mobile pull-up and dip bar is the right fit for you. To start, simply grab the bars, lift both feet up and dip your body down and lift yourself back up to complete a rep.
Calisthenics Exercises #4: Straight Bar Dips
A straight bar dip is a variation of the regular dip and involves the usage of a single straight pull-up bar instead of two to support yourself while doing the exercise. As the name suggest, it requires a straight bar from which you will be doing dips. Start by getting on the bar by lifting your body on top of it. Then, lean a bit forward in order to have the proper balance and angle for doing dips in the third step. Using a shoulder-wide grip, raise your legs a bit forward and dip your upper-body down and lift yourself back up to the starting position on the bar for a full rep. Getting the right balance and posture is essential for doing this exercise so we suggest that you put proper effort into getting this right before increasing the number of reps.
Calisthenics Exercises #5: Leg Raises
A leg raise is one of those calisthenics exercises that will really make you sweat, so be ready! To do a leg raise, find a pull-up bar from which you can hang from. Once you are ready to start, keep both legs together and raise them at a 45 degree angle, i.e. make an L. Lower them back down and repeat. Completing a full set of leg raises improves your leg muscles, lower-back muscles, glutes as well as abs. Those who really want to do a full-blown workout can try to raise their legs even higher but this requires flexibility and even greater (grip) strength.
Calisthenics Exercises #6: Muscle-ups (with bands)
Muscle-ups tend to be challenging for most people starting out. As we suggested before, making use of pull-up bands can be very helpful in getting you used to these types of exercises. To do a band-assisted muscle-up, make sure that you have a solid bar you can use and a band of proper quality. To start, make a loop on the bar with the band and get on the bar by hanging from it. Then proceed to place one foot into the band and start lifting your upper-body to place it on top of the bar. To achieve this it is essential to lean a bit forward in order to be able to swing yourself up properly. This calisthenics exercise requires much training to perfect, thus it can be a great candidate to include in your regular workouts.
Calisthenics Exercises #7: Push-ups
Nothing tells you that you are really exercising than doing a couple of sets of good ol’ push-ups! If you have not done any physical training in a while then you might need to include full sets of push-ups in your workouts. When doing push-ups, make sure you don’t cheat and that you fully extend your arms to get the maximum results out of the exercise.
Calisthenics Exercises #8: Pistol Squats
A pistol squat is an exercise which does not use any support structures. It only requires yourself. To do a pistol squat, simply stand up a with arms to your sides, then lift both arms in front of you (zombie-like), and slightly lift one leg up. Then, squat using the other leg by making sure that your arms remain straight and that the leg you lifted is now fully stretched. You don’t have to make a pistol hand sign as you’re squatting. It is more important to get the position right and to be able to do a full set without any losing balance or falling down. As with most exercises, practice makes perfect!
If you can't balance the exercise in the beginning, you can lean on a subject with one arm to keep your balance.
Starting out with calisthenics can be a great experience and does not require the need to go a gym or any other location. Due to its flexibility you can choose to do calisthenics anywhere you want to. Trying out the basic (must-do) exercises we have outlined in this article will give you a good foundation for doing more advanced calisthenics exercises later on.
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