Callisthenics are exercises that rely solely on body weight for resistance and can be performed anywhere. These types of exercises can tone and build muscle, and improve your ability to burn fat. These movements also integrate the core into each movement so when done correctly they can improve your posture and whole body strength. Another advantage is the neuromuscular improvement calisthenic can provide and you will start to improve your coordination and body awareness.
Understanding the rep range
How many reps should I be doing? Ultimately this is down to what you want to achieve and possibly your starting level.
Strength 1 – 5 reps: If you want to increase strength you need to work to overload (where you can just squeeze out the last rep with good form) within 1 – 5 reps. If you repeat this consistently you will start to see increases in your strength. If you want maintain this rep range you will either need to make the exercise harder by upping the complexity level of the movement. When starting out you may find the easiest of callisthenics movements hard and will have no choice but to start in the strength rep range (1 – 5 reps) but with consistency you will increase strength to a higher rep range.
Hypertrophy 6 – 12 reps: Hypertrophy means increasing muscle mass and if you perform your movements to overload (where you can just squeeze out the last rep with good form) working this rep range consistently, you will see increases in your muscle mass. If you want to maintain this rep range you will need to make the exercise harder and up the complexity level of the movement. To get the true benefit of hypertrophy training I recommend pushing the rep range as close to the 12 mark as you can!
Muscular endurance 15+ reps: If you want to improve your muscular endurance and chase the burn you need to choose an exercise level appropriate to achieve 15 reps or more. Regular muscular endurance training will be good for toning muscle and improving endurance but may not be ideal if you are looking to increase muscle size.
Below is our beginners guide to callisthenics training. We have two separate workouts focusing on pulling and pushing muscle groups. Follow the detailed videos below to master each movement and then find the programmes at the bottom of this page.
Sample Pulling Routine
Active Hang 2 x 10 - 15 reps
Pull up 3 x 5 - 10 reps choose appropriate version (pull up, negative or band assisted)
Ring Body weight Row 2 x 6 - 12 reps (stand at the correct distance to obtain correct rep range)
Ring Reverse Fly 2 x 6 - 12 reps (stand at the correct distance to obtain correct rep range)
Ring Skin the cat 2 x 4 - 8 reps (monitor form & choose appropriate version)
Sample Pushing Routine
Frog stand 3 x 10 seconds on/10 seconds off (use block on head if needed)
Push up 3 x 6 - 12 reps (choose appropriate version to obtain correct rep range)
Pike Push up 2 x 6 - 12 reps (choose appropriate version to obtain correct rep range)
Tricep Dip 2 x 6 - 12 reps (choose appropriate version to obtain correct rep range)
Pike walk/wall walks 2 x 2 - 5 reps (choose appropriate version to obtain correct rep range)