Calisthenics Workout Plan – A Complete Guide

Complete Guide on Calisthenics workout plans |

Calisthenics is an excellent workout routine that can be done from the comfort of your own home and requires no equipment. One of the best forms of exercise to help build muscle, burn fat and increase strength. This guide will teach you all about Calisthenics, as well as includes workout plans.

Have you ever watched the guys on Ninja Warrior and looked in awe at their ability, I have, and it is one of the reasons why I got into calisthenics in the first place. At the time I was going to the gym and enjoyed the workout, but after awhile it began to feel like a chore, after all, I was going four days a week.

Another thing that peaked my interest in Calisthenics was the fact that I could do it anywhere, whether at the gym or home. This was good for days that I had a busy schedule or those days that I just couldn’t get motivated to go to the gym.

This guide aims to try and teach you as much as possible about Calisthenics, helping you get started as quickly as possible and seeing some incredible results yourself. In this guide you will learn;

  • Exactly what Calisthenics is and why you should do it
  • What equipment is needed
  • Calisthenics Vs. Weight Training
  • The different movement types & a full calisthenics exercise list
  • A range of different workout plans focusing on different muscle groups

So are you ready to get started in the incredible world of calisthenics?… Let’s get to it!

What is Calisthenics?

What is Calisthenics - BulkingTime.comA Simple Calisthenics Definition is that it’s a series of exercises that are done without any equipment. It focuses on the core muscle exercises to help strengthen the entire body and develop muscle growth.

Interestingly Calisthenics is also known as body weight exercises, Parkour and freestyle workout. They all fall under the same bracket as they are in essence working out, without the use of equipment. Therefore when anyone talks about body weight exercising, they are also talking about Calisthenics. It is said to have originated from Greece, as it was originally called Kalos and sthenos. These translate to Beauty and Strength.

This workout routine has become more and more popular over the years. It can be done anywhere whether at home or in the park, you can save a lot of money. You don’t need to purchase any expensive equipment or pay for any gym membership.

What are the benefits of Calisthenics?

Hardcore gym goers do believe that simply using the body to build muscle and burn fat is not effective, and this is far from the truth! In Fact, it can be just as effective, if not more so. One of the reasons why it is now a recognized workout within the US military camps.

A big advocate of Calisthenics is Stephen Amell who stars as the lead in the well-known series Arrow. A lot of his workout routine consists of Parkour, and he is more impressed with someone that can do 30 pull up than someone who can lift 30kg.

The benefits of doing Bodyweight exercises include;

  • Build Muscle
  • Burn Fat
  • Increased Stamina
  • Boost To Strength Levels
  • Improved Flexibility

Pros and Cons To A Calisthenics Workout Plan

Like with anything their are positives and negatives to training with bodyweight exercises. Understanding what they are can help you decide if its a kind of workout that is suitable for you, your lifestyle and your goals.

  • Enjoy working out at home or in the open
  • Cheap/Free Workout
  • Ideal for all levels & experience
  • Safer than using heavy weights
  • Real-world usage of workout
  • Slower muscle growth
  • Limit to weight that can lift
  • Potentially takes longer to build mass

How Does Calisthenics Workout Help You Build Muscle?

As already mentioned Calisthenics is a series of exercises that use the body and the core, to help shed the fat and also increase muscle growth.

How can it work though?

Wouldn’t the body get used to these exercises?

If you were to continue doing the same exercises then yes your body would plateau, just like it would if you were to use the same weight workouts. Once you have mastered the basic exercises such as the push-up, you would adapt it to make it harder and thus work the muscle more.

As an example you would start with a push-up and then progress onto a diamond push up, move onto a raised push up and then finally onto more challenging ones such as the spiderman push up.

All of the different exercises have different variations, making them harder and thus give you progressively better results.

The Main Three Movement Types

There are three main movement types when it comes to Calisthenics, by doing a workout plan that combines these three you will get the results you are looking for. The three movements are;

Push Movements

Push movements are exactly as it sounds; it consists of movements pushing something away from yours. An example of push movements would be press ups as you are pushing the body away from the ground.

Pull Movements

The opposite of push movements, pull movements are when you pull the body towards something. An example of this would be pull-ups, as you are pulling the body up towards the bar.

Isometric Movements

This movement is essential if you want to build strength, something many people don’t focus on. Isometric is a hold movement, and this would happen when you hold your body during a certain exercise. An example of this would be a bar hang or handstand.

Calisthenics Workout Plan Image - Movement Types |

What Calisthenics Equipment is needed?

One of the great things about Calisthenics is that you don’t need any equipment.

I know that might be hard to believe, you don’t even need any dumbbells. Something that many people seem not to be able to get their head around. How can you possibly increase muscle growth and strength, without lifting any weights?

What DON’T You Need?

These are the things you don’t need to see some incredible results. Over time as you develop you may, however, want to invest in some of them to help further your results…

Gym Membership

The first thing you don’t need is a gym membership. You can get incredible results from bodyweight workouts, without stepping foot in a gym. This is ideal for those that don’t have the money for a gym membership, feel intimidated with gyms or would prefer to workout from home.

Set of Weights

Many people when looking to develop muscle, will go out and buy some weights. More often than not these can cost over $100, and then ultimately don’t get used much. As mentioned with Calisthenics, you don’t need to lift a single weight.

Workout Machines

Looked at those treadmills or exercise bikes and thought it would be good to have one? Why? You don’t need to spend hundreds of $ on these machines. Calisthenics will help you get the results you are looking for.

What Equipment Could You Use?

Even though you can do most of the workouts without any equipment, some items might make it easier for you as well as allow you to do some additional exercises. The one thing I would recommend getting would be some form of pull up bar, and these would typically cost around $20 and connects to your door.

As you are getting more and more into the workouts, you might want to invest in a couple of additional items to boost your results.

A complete workout set would include;

Push Up Bars

Push up bars are as the name describes, bars that help with pushups. They are perfect for Calisthenics as they help you get more out d each rep and therefore see much better results. It is, however, possible to do more advanced workouts with them such as The L Sit, Tricep Dips, and handstand push-ups.

Pull Up Bar

The most common home pull up bars are those that go in between the door frames. These allow you to perform pull ups and chin ups. As you progress, you might want to get a more advanced pull-up station so you can perform advanced bodyweight workouts such as pull up, pullovers.

Gymnastic Rings

Gymnastic rings are something you might want to try when you get a little more experienced with Calisthenics. They require a lot of balance which helps to strengthen your core muscles as well as give you additional upper body strength. Common exercises are Top Position Hold and Ring Dip.

Wrist Support Gloves

This may seem like a strange one, but I would recommend getting a pair of gloves. You can get a decent workout pair for $10 or less. They help to protect the wrists and also helps to offer additional grip on any other equipment you might be using.

Everything above will probably cost less than $100. If you were thinking about getting a home gym, this could end up costing $1000+ by the end of it.

Where Can You Train?

As already mentioned one of the great things about Calisthenics and Bodyweight workouts is the ability to do them anywhere. You can do them from the comfort of your own home, out at a local park or in the gym, the choice is yours.

Doing Calisthenics At The Gym

One of the advantages of doing bodyweight is that you don’t need any expensive equipment and therefore you don’t have to go to a gym to workout. Some people, however, do still prefer to go to a gym, even if they have no intention of lifting any weights or using any resistance machines.

Calisthenics workout at gym |

There are two reasons why doing Calisthenics at a gym might be of benefit;

  • Most gyms have a range of equipment that is perfect for those wanting to do bodyweight. These often look like indoor jungle gyms but allow you to do all kinds of exercises such as pull-ups, dips, etc.
  • Most gyms have a range of equipment that is perfect for those wanting to do bodyweight. These often look like indoor jungle gyms but allow you to do all kinds of exercises such as pull-ups, dips, etc.

Working out in the great outdoors

Over the past few years more Calisthenic Parks are opening up, they are giant jungle gyms for adults to climb up and workout in a variety of ways. One of the good things about these parks is that they are free.

calisthenics outdoors | bulking

If you don’t have one near you, it’s still more than possible to do bodyweight outdoors. Why not get yourself down to the local woods, trees branches are excellent for doing chin ups or pull ups. Perhaps there are some bike racks or waist high fences, and these are great for doing workouts such as dips.

Don’t forget being able to do these exercises outdoors also means you are exposed to the fresh air, and the sun, which is excellent for helping to increase vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for improving our overall health, as well as increased testosterone production which is vital for building muscle.

Calisthenics at home

One of the reasons why this kind of workout is so popular is because it can be done in the comfort of your own home. If you do have a busy lifestyle, work strange shifts or have a young family, you can still take advantage of bodyweight. You can fit it into your daily routine, without having to worry about getting yourself to a gym.

Another advantage of doing them at home is if you are a beginner to calisthenics or want to experiment, you are free to do so without potentially feeling embarrassed. (Which you shouldn’t as everyone was new to it all at some point!)

Calisthenics Vs. Weights

If you are trying to work out what is better Calisthenics vs. weights, you first need to decide on what your goals are. I do both weight training and bodyweight training, I do have my preference, and both do have their parts to play in all round body fitness.

What I am trying to get at is both of them are great, your end goal might, however, determine which is most suitable for you.

Bodyweight workouts can be just as effective as training with weights, as mentioned before look at the military or those that enter Ninja Warriors! If you want to get the mass and size of a bodybuilder, then you are right Calisthenics will not do that for you.

For those kinds of results, you need to be lifting some heavyweights. If you do however want to develop a nice toned and lean physique, Bodyweight training is perfect. Instead of using a dumbbell to train the muscles, you are in fact using the weight of your body.

The point of Calisthenics is to help develop lean muscle and give you an athletic physique, and it won’t make you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although from my experience 95%+ of people that I have worked with want that defined muscle look and not the bodybuilders look. If that’s the case, Calisthenics is perfect for you.

Here we can make a direct comparison;

Weight Training is perfect for those looking for mass and size
Bodyweight or Calisthenics is ideal for a lean muscular physique

Calisthenics Workout Plans

Below you will find four workout plans; there are two for beginners and two for those that are a little more advanced.

Check out our beginners calisthenic workout if you are completely new and want a more detailed routine.

Workout #1 – Beginner – No Equipment Needed

If you are completely new, I would recommend giving this routine a go. This is ideal for those that are not able to do pull-ups and also requires no equipment. This routine consists of 3 cycles, with a 1-minute break between each exercise and a 3-minute rest between cycles.

PlankTo Fail
Leg Raises10
Chair Dips10
Glute Bridge10

Workout #2 – Beginner

This bodyweight workout is perfect for beginners; however, it is a little more advanced with the addition of pull ups and chin ups. You should do three cycles of all of the exercises for the required amount of reps. Between each exercise, you should rest for 1 minute and then rest 4 minutes between each cycle.

Wall Sit40 Seconds
Chair Dips10
Decline Push-Ups8

Workout #3 – Intermediate

Feel like you are ready to progress to more challenging calisthenics exercises? This one is a perfect step up and can be done with very little equipment. You want to increase the cycles to 4 but decrease the rest between each cycle to only 2 minutes; this will help with burning more calories.

Pull Ups – 10 reps
Sit-ups – 25 reps
Dips – 20 Reps
Leg Raises – 25 Reps
Diamond Push-ups – 15 reps
Chin ups – 10 Reps
Plank – To Fail
Jumping Squats – 10 Reps
Decline Push Ups – 10 Reps

Workout #4 – Intermediate

Looking for an excellent calisthenic workout plan that helps give a full body workout but is a little harder than the beginner one? This one is perfect and again only requires a couple of items of equipment (pull up bar, box). You should do four cycles, with a 3 min rest between each cycle and a 1-minute break between exercises.

Pull Ups – 10 Reps
Jumping Squats – 15 Reps
Knee Raises – 15 Reps
Dips – 20 Reps
Push Ups – 25 Reps
Calf Raises – 15 Reps
Close Grip Chin Ups – 10 Reps
Plank – To Fail

Common Calisthenics Questions

I have received many questions, below are the most common. If you do have any questions, please do let me know via comments below and ill be more than happy to answer them.

Should I have rest days?

Yes like any workout, rest days are very important. They are there to help your muscles recover and repair themselves. I would suggest having a rest day in between each day of workout.

Can I combine weight workouts with Calisthenics?

If you want to, you can combine a Calisthenics workout with some form of weights. These can help build your muscle growth, going higher reps but lower weight can help with toning and sculpting of the body.

I cannot manage pull-ups, is there an alternative?

Pull-ups are not easy when you have just started like I said before I struggled with them. They are a great workout though so I would recommend including a form of them until you can do pull-ups.

Australian pull-ups are a great option as they can help to strengthen your chest and shoulder muscles.

Is it important to stretch before doing bodyweight training?

Like with any workout, stretching is incredibly important. If you do not stretch properly and warm up, you will potentially cause yourself an injury. As well as a warm-up, you also want to do a warm down. I often go for a little run, as it helps with additional calorie burning.

What are your thoughts on using supplements with Calisthenics?

The supplements market is massive when it comes to fitness, if you have been following any other workouts then you will no doubt be used to taking some form of supplements.

Some great supplements will help enhance your bodyweight routines, remember none of them are miracle pills (you need to put the work in). In the past, I have used a range of supplements from fat burners, protein to testosterone boosters.

If you are looking for recommendations, check out this guide

Conclusion On Calisthenics Workouts

There we have it; a complete guide on Calisthenics. Hopefully, this guide has helped teach you what Calisthenics is and how it can help you become lean and boost your muscle.

The exercises above are a good solid routine for any beginner to try their hand at. By doing these, you should be able to get a good understanding if it’s suitable for you. I would recommend giving these a good four weeks, and I KNOW you will see some impressive results.

Results Such as;

  • Build Muscle
  • Burn Fat
  • Increased Stamina
  • Boost to strength levels
  • Improved flexibility

There are over 200+ different Calisthenic workouts, and each varies in difficulty.

Other Useful Calisthenic Articles

Calisthenics Diet
Calisthenics Beginners Workout


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