The 10 Best Exercises to build a calisthenics body

Published January 3rd, 2022 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Camille Freking
Medically Reviewed:
Dr. Angel Rivera

Calisthenics 101 | 10 Exercises | Before Starting

Calisthenics are a form of exercise that uses body weight and gravity for resistance.

It can be done anywhere and usually without any exercise equipment, making it an easy way to stay in shape or improve fitness.

This article outlines 10 calisthenic exercises you can do from home.

What are calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a term that encompasses any type of exercise involving bodyweight, including various strength training calisthenics such as push-ups and sit-ups.

These exercises are very popular because they can be done from home or anywhere you have enough space to work out.

Calisthenics were originally from ancient Greece and were meant to be a form of self-defense training. The origin of the two Greek words that it is based on mean "strength" and "beauty".

Calisthenics were first popularized in modern times by educators in North America in the 19th century into the 20th century until modern day.

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What are ten easy calisthenics I can do from home?

There are many calisthenics exercises that can be done from home that have numerous health benefits. Here are ten easy ones:

Jumping jacks

Jumping jacks are a great calisthenic exercise that can be done at any time and almost anywhere.

They are a fun way to get the blood circulating through your body, wake you up in the morning, or give you an energy boost during breaks throughout your day.

To do jumping jacks:

  • Stand with feet together and hands by sides
  • Jump and spread your feet out wide as you bring your hands above your head
  • Jump again and return to the original position with arms by sides
  • Repeat for 30 seconds or more

Wall sits

Wall sits are a great calisthenic exercise for your thighs and glutes.

They can be done almost anywhere, do not require any equipment, and last a relatively short amount of time. To do wall sits:

  • Stand with your back against a wall and slide down so that your knees bend at 90 degrees
  • Hold this position for as long as you can without leaning forward or backward
  • When it becomes too difficult, stand up and rest for a minute before trying again
  • Repeat as many times to complete the set or until you are too tired

Crunches

Crunches are a calisthenics exercise for your abdominals, or stomach muscles.

They can be done at home with no equipment and only take a few minutes to complete. To do crunches:

  • Lay on back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • Place hands behind your head but keep elbows out wide so that you are crunching your shoulder blades together
  • Tighten stomach muscles and lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor while keeping your lower back pressed against the ground
  • Hold for a second before slowly lowering yourself back down to the starting position
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps or more depending on your fitness level

Planks

Planks are a calisthenics exercise that work your entire body.

They are a great way to improve your core strength and can be done anywhere with no equipment. To do planks:

  • Start in a push-up position, but place your forearms on the ground instead of your hands
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds or more
  • If you can, try to increase your time each day until you can hold the plank for a full minute or more

Squats

Squats are a calisthenics exercise that work your thighs, glutes, and hamstrings. To do squats:

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed slightly outward
  • Bend your knees and lower yourself down as if you were going to sit in a chair
  • Make sure that your knees do not extend past your toes and keep your back straight throughout the entire movement
  • When standing again, push off with heels of feet rather than toes while tightening stomach muscles
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps or more depending on fitness level

Lunges

Lunges are a calisthenics exercise that works your thighs, glutes, and hamstrings. To do lunges:

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and take a large step forward with one foot
  • Bend the front knee until it is at a 90-degree angle and make sure the other leg stays straight
  • Make sure to keep your back straight and abdominal muscles tight as you lower yourself down
  • When standing again, push off with the heel of your front foot rather than your toes
  • Repeat and do as many as you can depending on fitness level

Pushups

Pushups are a calisthenics exercise that work your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core and only requires some floor space. To do pushups:

  • Start in a plank position with hands shoulder-width apart using your hands instead of forearms this time to support your weight
  • Lower yourself down until your chest is about an inch from the ground
  • Make sure to keep your back straight and abdominal muscles tight
  • Push yourself back up to the starting position
  • Repeat as many times as desired

Dips

Dips are a calisthenics exercise that work your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core.

They can be done without weights and only require a bench or sturdy chair. To do dips:

  • Sit on the edge of a bench or sturdy chair with your hands shoulder-width apart gripping the chair and legs bent so that your feet are flat on the ground
  • Straighten your arms and lift yourself off the bench/chair, then slowly lower yourself down until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle
  • Make sure to keep your back straight and abdominal muscles tight throughout the entire movement
  • Straighten your arms and lift yourself back up to the starting position
  • Repeat until you finish your set or until you are tired

Burpees

Burpees are a calisthenics exercise that work your entire body and are considered one of the most challenging exercises. To do burpees:

  • Start in a standing position
  • Drop down to the ground and put your hands on the floor in front of you
  • Jump your feet back so that you are now in plank position
  • Jump feet back up to hands and stand up
  • Repeat as many times desired or until you are too tired to continue

Pull-ups

Pull-ups are a calisthenics exercise that is great for your upper body by working your arms, upper back, and shoulders.

They can be done with or without weights and don't require any special equipment to do at home although a pull-up bar that fits in a standard door frame is recommended. To do pull-ups:

  • Grab hold of the bar using an overhand grip so palms face away from you
  • Hang from the bar with arms fully extended and back straight
  • Pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar
  • Lower yourself down to a full hang again without allowing your body to swing or sway in order to gain momentum for another pull-up
  • Repeat as many times desired or until you are too tired to continue and, if necessary, have someone hold your feet so you can practice without worrying about falling

Are there any adverse effects for calisthenics?

There is a risk of injury with calisthenics including pulled muscles, torn ligaments, and tendons, overexertion leading to fainting, or even heart failure.

To reduce this risk it is important to listen to your body while doing calisthenics; if you feel pain stop immediately and consult a doctor before continuing calisthenics.

If you are unsure if your body should try a calisthenics exercise routine, please talk to your doctor, medical professional, or personal trainer.

Is there anything you should know before trying calisthenics?

Before starting calisthenics, it is important to do some basic stretches and warm-ups.

It is also recommended that you start with easier exercises and progress slowly as your body becomes stronger.

Finally, drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after doing calisthenics to stay hydrated.

Summary

Calisthenics are an ancient way of keeping your body strong and healthy that are still very popular today.

There are many calisthenics exercises that can be done at home with little to no major training equipment so no expensive gym membership is required.

It is important to listen to your body and start slowly when beginning calisthenics in order to reduce the risk of injury.

Remember to stretch beforehand and drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after calisthenics to stay hydrated.

If you injure yourself, have chest pain, or have difficulty breathing please seek medical attention. 

References and Sources:

sciencedirect.com

journals.lww.com

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

beachbodyondemand.com

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