The Best Calisthenics Exercises to Increase Strength (Updated July 2019)

What is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a training exercise that involves any exercise which is performed using no added weights and is commonly known as body weight training. It can be done as a standalone routine or a program which involves any weight loss, bodybuilding or fitness workout.

They are intended to increase body strength, fitness, and flexibility through movements that include swinging, jumping, pulling or pushing yourself up and bending. When this exercise is performed with variety and vigorously they can provide benefits such as muscular and aerobic conditioning, improves your psychomotor skills such as coordination, agility, and balance.

This is a movement through space because you are able to move freely as an athlete without any hindrance blocking your full strength and potential.

The word calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek word kallos which means good and that highlights the beauty derived from the perfection of the human anatomy and sthenos means strength.

This exercise is usually done by the sports team, military units and law enforcement personnel not only for physical conditioning but to build morale and discipline.


  • Calisthenics  is a form of resistance training that using your own body weight plus gravity to prove you with the needed resistance
  • Calisthenics  originated from ancient Greek meaning beauty and strength
  • They provide the same benefits as other forms of aerobic exercises
  • They help in maintaining a healthy weight, prevent diabetes and increase cardiovascular fitness
  • They help in promoting positive moods because when in training it releases endorphins
  • Calisthenics  helps you to prevent osteoporosis by helping you build bone density


  • It costs nothing to perform and requires no equipment
  • Calisthenics  helps to increase endurance throughout each and every part of the body including the cardiovascular system
  • Calisthenics  helps you to improve multiple aspects of the physical area and also it is an excellent exercise for overall fitness and health
  • When athletes practice this training their heart rate rises and that enables them to burn excess calories as well as help you strength train in order to build muscle mass and tone all over your whole body

It is an ideal way to increase flexibility and that is achieved through bodyweight training and Calisthenics makes you stronger and that makes you more flexible and if your muscles are stronger they do not strain when contracting

This training helps you to build muscle mass and strength without the use of weights. It is a good choice for a beginner looking for a reasonable amount of mass and maintains it because it is safer to avoid muscle tear and trauma associated with some weight training exercises.

The Beginner Guide to Calisthenics

First ensure that you have access to the necessary equipment whether it is at the park, the gym or in your backyard especially a pull-up bar allows you to have more practice and that leads to progress.

They are compound exercises and you have to ensure that your training days are split into specific movement groups or areas of the body.

You have to choose a quality program that introduces you to the basics so that you are able to work your way up at a slow pace till you master your rhythm.

Ensure that you master basic level exercises such as the dip, pull up, assisted pistol squat, push up and push up to handstand.

Disadvantages of Calisthenics 

  • The progress in this training is nonlinear because when you move from one exercise to another it might be bigger than what your current strength levels can allow
  • In advanced bodyweight progression, it might put a strain on the joints and muscles in a disadvantageous position because the body dimensions might work against you
  • Calisthenics  limits your lower body strength potential
  • If you are on the heavier side some movements tend to be a little hard to perform or grasp

Calisthenics Workout Routines

Planche– This is a workout that demonstrates a higher level of body strength and control. It is not ideal for people whose goals are more into building strength, have more pressing issues to work on, are relatively new to hand balancing and have issues with your wrists which are weak or stiff. This workout helps you to do other movements such as back levers, press to handstand. First you start in a very basic plank position then lean your body forward until your shoulders are in front of your wrists and ensure that your toes are curled under then widen your legs so that you are in a straddle position on the floor then lean forward keeping your toes on the ground raise your feet onto a chair then move your raised surface closer to your arms so that you can bend your legs from the raised surface as you lean your body forward then place your feet on a raised surface and tuck your knees into your arms so that you are in a supported crane position now go into a full crane position with your knees supported by your arms and your feet up in the air. From the crane position practices taking one knee off your arms at a time when you are comfortable with pulling one knee of your arm at a time start to work on pulling both of your knees off coming into a floating crane pose.

Pushups – This exercise helps to strengthen the Senatus anterior muscle in the shoulder as well as help in promoting proper bench form and also in developing core muscles. First you start by suspending yourself over the ground and supporting yourself with your palms and tiptoes with your elbows locked. Your hands should be slightly apart and slightly wider than the shoulder width and they should be turned out forty five degrees and your chin should be tucked in. Bend your elbows to lower your body in a controlled motion until your chest almost touches the floor then raise your body back up by pushing your palms down into the floor.

Abdominal crunches– It works on the abdominal muscles and you first begin by lying on your back with your lower back flat on the ground and your feet should be over a bench or on the floor. Ensure that you do not clasp your hands behind your head and also do not tuck in your chin but you should place your fingertips just at the back of your ears then look into the ceiling while performing this exercise. Exhale while you contract your abdominal muscles then raise your shoulders off the ground rising up as high as you can without your lower back coming off the ground then lower your shoulders back down while inhaling.

Jumping jacks – They are also known as star jumps and it is one of the most cardiovascular training technique first you have to ensure that your feet are apart at the width of your shoulders your arms should be by your sides then jump up off the ground spreading your legs while you lift your arms over your head from the sides make sure you allow your open palms to almost touch each other, then jump again but this time bring your  feet back to their original position and also bring your arms back down to your sides

Pull-ups – This is one of the most toughest weight exercises and it requires you to lift your whole body up and lower it back down using your back and other muscles. The muscles on your back, shoulder and arm get a total workout. First you have to leap up and grip the bar using your hands shoulder-width apart and your palms facing away from you ,hang with your arms fully extended then you can bend your legs at the knee if they are dragging on the ground . Ensure that your shoulders are kept back and your core is engaged throughout then pull up. Move slowly upward until your chin is above the bar then proceed slowly downwards until your arms are extended again. Do at least 10 pull-ups.

Single leg squat – It is also referred to as pistol squats and they help to build mobility and improve the balance and stability. First you start this exercise in a sitting position whether on a bench, chair and ensure that the place you are working out has a clear space around it to avoid getting injured. The surface you have chosen should be a bit taller than your knee height then extend your arms straight out in front of your body and make sure that when doing the squat your arms should stay straight out and also they should be running parallel to each other and are at a shoulder height . Place your foot flat on the ground with your knee bent and it should be planted on the ground with your toes pointing forward, then extend your other leg out straight in front of you making  sure you do not bend your knee. The toes on your extended foot should point up at an angle towards the ceiling. Press down with your heel and try to stand up off the chair keeping your back straight and that tightens your abs while you try to stand up using your bent leg hold it for one second before coming back down. Slowly sit back down on the chair and keep your weight on your heel and keep your chest lifted.

Conclusion on Calisthenics 

Calisthenics is one of those training exercises that help you improve on multiple aspects of your physical and it is recommended  especially for people who want to build on muscle mass and strength with no added weights.

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