This beginner calisthenics workout is the perfect introduction to the no-equipment method


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Let go of the idea that you need every new gadget or that sparkling set of weights to tone you up, because that’s not the case. With calisthenics – actually, a technical word for bodyweight training – you don’t have to buy anything to get a serious sweat. It’s a no-equipment mod that dates back to the ancient Greeks (really) that you can do anywhere. And, you may already be doing calisthenics without even knowing it.

Calisthenics workouts have stood the test of time thanks to the way you can create beginner-friendly circuits with simple movements (think: push-ups, squats, and lunges). And they come with some serious benefits. “Calisthenics is a movement performed using only your own body weight,” explains Angelica Seguro, CPT, co-founder and trainer for MELT Prjct, a fitness program inspired by boxing. “Thus, calisthenic training relies on a person’s body weight for resistance and can always be progressed or intensified through the use of rings, bars, or wands.”

Additionally, you can do a calisthenics routine several times a week. Start with just 20 minutes, which is enough to get your heart rate up, your muscles working from head to toe, and breaking a sweat, says Seguro. “Calisthenics has great benefits, especially for beginners with little access to equipment,” she adds. “You can engage some major muscle groups with just body-weighted exercises and definitely see some calorie burn.”

Read on for everything you need to know about calisthenics, including why you should start doing calisthenics workouts (hello, strong muscles!) and a beginner-friendly circuit from a trainer.

The benefits of calisthenics workouts

Bodyweight training with calisthenics doesn’t have to be a daunting feat with crazy moves you’ve never heard of to reap the rewards. Simple bodyweight exercises like squats and pushups will benefit your body, core, and even your posture.

  • They can help you build muscle. In calisthenics workouts (like the ones below), you work with your “muscles to overcome the strength, and the muscle will then adapt to the stress,” Seguro says. Often she finds that her clients think you can only build muscle by exercising with weights, but as long as you apply the right amount of force and tension (even using your body) you will. certainly can.

  • They are ideal for all levels, and especially for beginners. With no equipment needed, calisthenics and popular calisthenics moves are beginner-friendly. Another benefit: without additional weights or equipment, all fitness levels can hone body awareness.

  • You can lose weight and lower your cholesterol. Calisthenics was more effective at lowering total cholesterol and weight than yoga and Pilates, a study by the International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education.

  • They are good for your heart. Resistance training, both with extra weights or just your body, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in women. (Science says so.) The more you sweat, the better your heart and your whole being will feel.

  • The movements help improve your posture. We could all use a good back stretch to relax while we work hours at a desk. Luckily, full-body aerobic resistance training is here to help. This type of gymnastics and resistance training increases your skeletal muscle endurance (the muscles that attach to your bones, as opposed to cardiac or smooth muscle groups) and, in turn, contribute to the structural support and overall posture of your body.

  • You can do them anywhere. Bodyweight movements mean the method is super flexible. You don’t need anything but your body to sweat it out during a calisthenics workout.

6 Calisthenics Exercises For Beginners To Try

If you’re new to strength training with just your body, try these six beginner-friendly moves for a complete Seguro routine.

Instructions: Perform each movement for 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds, then move on to the next one. Once you have completed all six movements, rest for 1 minute, then repeat the circuit. Work up to completing 8 laps of the entire circuit. (FYI, 2 circuits will take around 14 minutes and 8 will fill 55 minutes.)

1. Squats

How: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands at your sides. Engage your core and keep your chest high as you sit with your hips back. Lower until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Engage the glutes to return to a standing position.

2. Incline bench press-ups

How: Start in a high plank position with your hands on a bench (or other raised surface) and shoulders over wrists, chest wide, core engaged, and toes tucked in. Next, bend the elbows to lower the chest towards the bench and stop when the elbows reach 90 degrees. (Check out these workout tips for perfecting your push-up form and getting the most out of the move.) Try pointing your elbows at 4:30 and 7:30 on the clock, per Seguro.

3. Inchworms

How: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Then slowly bend over and touch the floor in front of the feet with both hands. While keeping your legs as straight as possible, walk your hands forward until you reach a high plank position. Pause, but don’t let the hips dip, before slowly bringing the hands back to the feet to stand up.

4. Alternate Reverse Lunges

How: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step back with the right leg and bend both knees as you lower yourself until the left knee is bent at 90 degrees and floats close to the floor. Push off on the left foot to stand, then repeat on the other side. Keep a tight core for stability throughout.

5. Plank Knee Tucks

How: Start in a plank position on your hands or forearms. Then, slowly bring the right knee towards the midline of the body near the chest. Step back with control and repeat with the left leg. Continuing with alternate legs. (Think: mountaineers in super slow motion.)

6. Walk at a steady pace

How: Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly raise the left leg until the knee is at hip level. Then, with control, lower the leg toward the floor. Repeat, alternating pumping legs and arms.

Misconceptions About Calisthenics Training

Here are some of the most common myths about calisthenics workouts and what is actually legit, according to Seguro.

  • You can’t build muscle with calisthenics alone. It is simply not true. In fact, athletes have been using bodyweight training and calisthenics for years and years. With the right routine, you can build strength and muscle. According to a 2016 study from the University of Mississippi published in Physiology and behavior.

  • Calisthenics is only for beginners. Although the movements are beneficial and accessible to beginners, calisthenics is not just for beginners. “A lot of calisthenics flicks are functional exercises,” Seguro says. This means you are mimicking everyday moments and building that functional strength, which contributes to your strength and stability.

  • You don’t need rest days. Like any fitness routine, it’s important to work on rest days to give your muscles time to recover. If you don’t feel very sore after a calisthenics workout and are motivated for more movement, opt for active recovery like yoga, hiking or an easy walk, according to Seguro.

At the end of the line : Calisthenics workouts are a great way to build strength and work your whole body without equipment or experience.

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