There are so many different ways to exercise, strength training at cardio workouts at yoga class to everything else. But what if there was another type of exercise that could help you achieve your fitness goals? One that was suitable for beginners and could be done anywhere? Well, that’s where calisthenics workouts come in handy.
Calisthenics workout plans are vast, thanks to so many great moves falling into the category. In fact, they’re a great addition to any fitness routine, no matter your level of athleticism. It’s a style of training that helps “achieve a variety of fitness goals, including strength, cardiovascular conditioning, balance, and flexibility,” says Melody David, both instructor. Calisthenics is an important part of any workout routine, and you can already perform some moves.
Ahead, we explain what calisthenics is, its benefits, when to incorporate the moves into your fitness routine, and an example of a great beginner calisthenics workout plan to get you started, straight from the experts themselves.
What is Calisthenics?
Simply put, calisthenics is “exercises that rely on your body weight and nothing else,” explains Johnny Garcia, CMHA certified personal trainer The NYC Training Lab. Calisthenics workouts are extremely effective for building strength and cardiovascular health, as well as improving mobility and flexibility, Garcia notes.
“These types of exercises are important because they lay the foundation for functional training or movements seen in daily life,” adds Davi. “Without a basic knowledge of the basics of calisthenics, it is difficult to progress to more complex exercise variations.”
And given that calisthenics exercises are pretty straightforward (“think: little-to-no-equipment resistance exercises,” according to Davi), you’re probably already familiar with a whole bunch of strength-based and aerobic moves that correspond to the bill.
Examples of calisthenics are:
- star jumps
- High knees
Beginner calisthenic training
Those new to calisthenics should start slowly, like any other type of exercise. Start with basic movements, then as you improve your strength, flexibility, cardiovascular capacity and mobility, you can progress to more varied and more challenging exercises, says Garcia.
Below, find a calisthenic practice plan for beginners, courtesy of Davi.
You will want to perform each exercise for 40 seconds, with a 20 second rest and transition period between each move. After one round, take a minute of rest and repeat four to five times.
1. Jumping Jacks
2. Bodyweight Squats
3. Alternate Reverse Lunges
Benefits of Calisthenics Workouts
1. Ideal for beginners.
There are all sorts of degrees of calisthenics exercises, says Garcia, which makes it a great starting point for those new to fitness because there are so many simple variations of movements. Calisthenics exercises “also set the foundation for other forms of movement progressions,” says Davi, as lifting weights, high-intensity cardio (like HIIT training), and other advanced physical skills.
2. Can be done anywhere.
Calisthenics exercises are important and valuable because we don’t always have time to go to the gym. “As a personal trainer, one of the first lessons I learned was that if you stretch your arms out to the side and then out in front and back, if you have that much space, you should be able to exercise,” says Garcia.
Since calisthenics can be done anywhere, it’s one of the most affordable ways to exercise. So if you’re not looking to spend money each month on a gym membership, you can still train effectively at home with calisthenics, says Garcia.
4. Does not require equipment.
All you need for calisthenics is your body weight. That’s right, you don’t have to worry about buying home gym equipment like dumbbells because these moves are all about body weight.
5. Complete workout.
“Calisthenics trains strength, cardio, and mobility,” says Davi. “So you really get a full workout every time you do those types of moves.” Additionally, calisthenics movements are particularly well suited for full-body workouts, adds Garcia.
6. Ideal for those recovering from injury.
If you’re just getting back to training and working out after an injury or a lot of time off, calisthenics is a great way to rebuild your strength, says Davi.
7. Helps improve posture and strength.
Calisthenics exercise dramatically improves posture, body composition and strength, a study found.
Freelance editorial assistant
Shannen Zitz is a freelance editorial assistant at Prevention who recently graduated with a degree in English from the State University of New York at Cortland. She loves everything related to fashion, beauty and well-being. If she’s not reading or writing, you can probably find her frequenting the skincare and makeup forums on Reddit.