Calisthenics Workout

We are so incredibly fortunate, in this day and age, to have so much wonderful training equipment at our disposal. Step inside the most average of gyms these days, and the world is your fitness oyster, with a whole range of amazing-looking contraptions designed to increase your potential for gains and speed up the process while doing it.

From the leg press to the cable bicep bar -and everything in between – it seems like there is a modern gym on every corner right now, each one bursting at the seams with fancy equipment.

Obviously, we applaud this and love to see communities with easy access to amazing fitness gear. But when all is said and done, there is one piece of equipment available to all of us in our very own homes, that trumps every modern contraption ever designed.

A piece of equipment so rich in potential that it trains every square inch of your body and takes up no room whatsoever while doing it. You never have to wait for this equipment to become available, and after reading this short article we have prepared today, you will be an expert on how to use it. You have actually used it hundreds of thousands of times already, without even realizing it. Oh, and it’s free.

We are talking, of course, about your body. This ingenious invention, created over 200,000 years ago and fine-tuned over the millennia, is the perfect training machine and does so in a natural, earthly way that no man-made contraption could ever compete with. The human body is the finest piece of engineering the world has ever seen and has been designed in a way that it improves, increases in size, and enhances its own performance abilities when it is used against itself, using its own body weight in place of steel equipment.

Mother Knows Best!

Mother nature, that is. A calisthenics workout is simply the art of using your own body weight to improve itself through a varied routine of general calisthenics exercises, using your own natural shape, size, and capabilities to pull, push, bend, jump, or swing your way into a very naturally spawned fitness.

And if you think a calisthenics workout is a cakewalk compared to brutal heavy weights and equipment, you would be wrong. Calisthenics training can be the most brutal workout routine you have ever done, if you want it to be, that is.

Calisthenics exercises are great for both muscle mass development and cardio alike, depending on the intensity levels. All muscle groups are addressed, with the upper body, in particular, benefiting with noticeable gains after a month or two of dedication.

We have been doing a little research, here at Lucas James HQ, checking out the various methods suggested online for a thorough calisthenics workout, and in doing so, we have noticed something; there is a lot of misinformation out there, with many pointless exercises seemingly thrown together.

We aim to change that through this post today and would like to present the Lucas James Personal Training no-nonsense guide to a great calisthenics workout. This is the no-frills version, without any dramatic, over-complicated routines. Our advice is that you simply need to nail the basics, relying on your own body weight, and nothing more. That, dear readers, is all that is required for a solid calisthenics workout.

Basics Done Right

We are going to focus on the basics today. You wouldn’t expect to join a gym for the first time ever and start crushing 200 lbs bench press – calisthenics exercises are no different. We need to grasp the core basics first, so that is our prime focus today.

But first, you should warm up. Nothing too crazy, just a light 15-minute warm-up ensuring your entire body is adequately stretched and ready for a thorough calisthenics training session. As soon as you have done that, take a minute or two to get the breathing right.

Think about blasting out two or three rounds of each stage, taking a well-earned two-minute break between each round. Let’s get to it, starting with something everyone knows; good old-fashioned push-ups. This will be the first exercise as part of a full, all-encompassing calisthenics workout routine.


  • Between five and twenty repetitions, depending on your fitness levels.

Depending on your general fitness and skill level, 5 to 20 repetitions would be ideal here. Start off by positioning yourself straight-legged with your hands under your shoulders and your weight supported by your toes. A straight line should appear between your head, glutes, and heels if your core is kept nice and tight. When your chest is just an inch off the ground, squat down and thrust up quickly while fully extending your arms. Simple.

The Plank

  • 45 to 60 seconds, depending on your fitness, core strength, and gritty determination!

Put yourself in the press-up posture, but instead of using your hands, rest on your forearms. Ensure that your back is straight and contract your glutes and abs. Don’t let your hips droop when holding. This can be quite a brutal exercise, and it takes both mental and physical strength to stick it out to the end. Well worth it though, for the combination of core and upper body gains.



  • 20 to 25 repetitions, depending on your fitness levels and quad strength.

Place your feet shoulder-width apart as you stand with knees slightly bent. Kneel down and sit back with your hips in place to begin the exercise. As far as you can, descend, then swiftly return to the starting position by reversing the process. Throughout the movement, keep your back straight and your head high.

Walking Lunge

  • 15 to 20 lunges on each leg, depending on fitness levels

Stand nice and straight with your feet shoulder-width apart from each other. Your hands can stay by your hips or loosely hang by your hips. Next, step forward with your right leg first, putting all of the weight directly into your heel. Then try to bend the right knee, steadily lowering down so that the thigh is level with the floor in a lunge position. Pause for a moment, holding the position.

Next, keep the right leg in the same position, then step forward with your left leg, repeating the exact same procedure. Again, pause for a moment as your left leg is level with the floor in a solid lunge pose.

Simply repeat this movement as you lunge, almost in a walking forward motion, working both legs.

Overhand Close-grip Inverted Row

  • Aim for 10 to 20 repetitions, depending on your upper body strength

Obviously, you will need access to a bar for this one.

With your hands shoulder-width apart, set up a bar in the squat rack and take an underhand hold of it. Keep your body straight from your neck to your ankles as you raise your body until your chest almost hits the bar. After pausing, return to the starting position by lowering yourself.

You might describe this exercise as reverse pull-ups, in some way. The goal is to work the upper body muscle groups, with the lats, traps, and biceps benefiting the most.

Side Plank

  • 30 to 45 seconds on each side, depending on fitness levels

The idea here is simple; your upper body should be supported so that it bears all of the weight directly on your forearm, as you lay on your left side with your knees straight. With a rigid, firm core, raise your hips upwards until your body creates a parallel line. Hold this posture and inhale deeply. After the left side is complete, turn over and repeat on the opposite side.

Pull-Ups, Followed By Chin Ups.

  • 15 to 20 repetitions, depending on fitness levels

You’re obviously going to need access to a bar again – although you can improvise.

Starting with pull-ups. With your arms fully extended and your hands facing away from you, grasp the bar. Spread your hands as wide as you can without too much discomfort. Simply raise your chin above the bar, squeeze your shoulder blades together, exhale, and press your elbows toward your hips. Return to the initial position while lowering under control.

Many people confuse standard pull-ups with standard chin-ups, but they are essentially two slightly different exercises. The standard chin-up has your palms facing inwards, towards you, while pull-ups have your palms facing outwards. Both work slightly different muscle groups in the upper body.

After you have completed one round of pull-ups, simply reverse your palms and do the same amount of repetitions with chin-ups.

Do You Need Equipment?

The wonderful thing about calisthenics is that it doesn’t require a ton of equipment to get started, and you obviously don’t have to pay a monthly membership fee. The majority of the equipment you require is generally available for free at a park or inside your own home, but you can purchase some items to perform calisthenics at home if you want to take things to the next level.

There are four pieces of equipment you can purchase if you want to enhance your calisthenics workout. These include a home pull-up bar, a set of gymnastics rings, push-up bars for practicing dips, and possibly a set of good-quality resistance bands. These four accessories apply to war beginners or fitness experts well-versed in calisthenics exercises.


Remember, we have addressed the basics here, and while we could have taken this to the extreme, with lots of different variations on calisthenics workouts, we prefer not to. The routine described above covers every muscle group and is beneficial to beginners, intermediaries, and experts alike. That’s the beauty of a good calisthenics workout – it applies to everyone of all levels. You can incorporate additional exercises if you wish, but you really don’t need to.

If this is your first time, you might be surprised at the intensity of this workout. Many people assume that calisthenics will be ‘lighter’ than a machine-based workout, but anyone who has that opinion has most certainly not tried to blast out 25 squats followed by 20 lunges!

Be safe, remember to stretch properly, and above everything else, enjoy!

About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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