A Beginner's How-To Guide to Starting Calisthenics
Done in 30 minutes! Imagine that feeling of accomplishment after your workout session. You've done something good for your body and mind, and you know you're going to get stronger as you practice regularly. Even better is that you only spend a couple of minutes doing it and need not go anywhere. Best of all, you own the exercises as you are not relying on a gym or instructor to finish your workout program!
In this post, I will take you through an easy-to-follow structure of a whole-body workout that mainly uses bodyweight exercises. It's a simple yet comprehensive guide for you to follow from start to finish. It will include warm-up, main exercises, and a simple cool-down routine, all of which will take you about 30 minutes to complete. I designed this program for you to do at home conveniently, and you won't be needing any fancy equipment to accomplish it.
Why Do Calisthenics?
In case you have not read my previous post on the "7 Undeniable Benefits of Calisthenics training," I will give you a summary here.
Calisthenics is our chosen method in building up the foundation for developing our movement practice. It is the one we also highly recommend to our serious students.
The benefits of Calisthenics training exercises are too good for us not to share with you. Through this training method:
- You will develop a good sense of body awareness.
- You will become strong, really strong if you stick with it.
- You will build muscles but not be too bulky.
- You will develop good flexibility.
- You won't need fancy equipment (except for the handmade p-bars I made) so you can do your sessions anywhere.
- You will achieve your fitness goals faster.
- You will be able to do cool stuff!
How cool is that? I don't have to elaborate on these items to convince you that Calisthenics is right for you and that you should continue reading to know more.
How Do You Do a Calisthenics Session?
Each session consists of 3 parts, each of which I will elaborate on before going to the fun part. It is essential to know why you are doing each part to perform the drills correctly and with a clear goal.
The warm-up boosts your blood circulation as it gets your heart pumping. It also helps soften your joints, increasing flexibility. The warm-up thus prepares your body well for the main exercises.
I use the warm-up in my sessions to help you better understand the movements that we're going to cover in the main exercises.
Doing this also prepares you for the new exercises you might find challenging and ensure you use the right techniques. This preparation will also make your main exercises safer and more effective.
2. Main Exercises
In this main routine, your goal is to build overall strength to get started on your Calisthenics journey. If you do this session consistently, you will develop a good foundation of strength, awareness with your body, and overall endurance to progress on to the next level.
3. Cool Down
This is the best part of the session. You know you've done a fantastic job for yourself. Now, this is an excellent time to relax your mind and body with deep breathing exercises and release the tension in your muscles.
Get a free e-book- "Beginner's programme for Calisthenics - A complete 6 weeks step-by-step guide to get you started" as a gift from us!
The Workout Session
Here comes the fun part! I suggest getting familiar with the exercises in your first session. Do them correctly and take notes in your exercise notebook, which I highly recommend. It is a tool that you can refer to quickly in future sessions.
I have put together an easy-to-follow routine featuring common exercises familiar to you. I will briefly describe the movements, as I don't have enough space in this post to discuss them in-depth. We will reserve that for another post, or you can always attend the session in the studio. We will be happy to teach you the exercises.
You'll need these items for your session:
- A timer (on your phone or a stopwatch)
- An exercise mat (optional)
- Towel (sweat management)
- Water for hydration
- Exercise notebook (a simple notebook will do)
Doing the Warm-Up
Do one round of all the exercises from steps 1 to 6. Take it easy; it's just a warm-up. All exercises are done standing, so get up and let's get started!
- Do jumping jacks for 30 seconds. Bend your knees a bit and jump while raising your arms overhead and spreading your legs as you do so. Then jump back to the starting position, bringing both arms back to the side and legs close together. Do this rhythmically for half a minute.
- Do arm circles with both arms. Lift both arms until they are overhead and bring them forward and back in a circular motion 10 times. Bring both arms back to your sides. Then, reverse the sequence for the backward circles (10 times).
- Do push-pull arm motions 10 times. Start with your arms extended in front of your body at chest level. Pretend that you're pulling something from the front until your hands reach your chest. Then, pretend to push someone forward.
- Do 10 hip circles in each direction. Do a circular movement with your hips. Make sure that you start the motion from your hip joint.
- Do hip hinges 10 times. From a standing position, bend your body forward all the way until your torso is in a horizontal position. Then, bring yourself back up to the standing position. Make sure to bend from the hips and keep your spine rigid and aligned from start to finish.
- Bodyweight squat 10 times. Bend your hips as low as possible, ideally below knee level.
Performing the Main Exercises
I'm giving you 5 movements here, from A to E. Do these with minimal rest in between. Rest for 60 seconds after exercise E, then repeat the whole round from A to E.
Aim for 1 to 2 rounds first and work your way up to 5 rounds. Remember, quality sets are always better than quantity, so start easy.
Follow the version that allows you to push up around 8-10 times in good form. You can position your hands on a bench or table to make it easier. The higher your hands are, the easier it will be.
B. Split squats
Start with one leg in front and one leg behind. The front foot should be flat on the floor, and the back foot is on its toes. Lower yourself down in a squat position by bending the front leg while keeping the back leg relatively straight. Come back up to your starting position. Do this 5 times on each side. Finish the repetitions on one side before changing sides.
C. Plank knee to nose
Start in a plank position, keeping the whole body rigid. Bring one knee as close as possible to your nose, then bring it back to starting position. Repeat this with the other leg. Do this 5 times per leg.
D. Single-leg hip hinges
Stand with one foot in front and the other around 1 to 2 feet behind, with most of your weight on the front foot. Bend from the hips while keeping the spine rigid. Finish the 5 repetitions on one side before doing this again 5 times on the other side.
E. Log roll
There are 4 positions for this exercise, as listed below. Hold each position for 5 seconds before moving to the next.
- Lying down on your back
- On your right side
- On your belly
- On your left side
- Reverse and repeat for reps
Roll like a log starting from the first position and Hold for 5 seconds, pausing on every position till you reach the fourth position. Then repeat the process but in the other direction. Try to do this movement without letting your arms and legs touch the floor as far as possible. Do this exercise 2 times per direction.
Finishing with the Cool Down
- Shake it out. Imagine trying to shake your sweat off like a dog shaking its fur out to dry its body. Do this continuously for 60 seconds.
- Shoulder stretch. Bring one arm across the body at shoulder level, with the elbows straight. Hold it in place with the other arm. Pull it close to the body and hold for 30 seconds for each arm.
Wall chest stretch. Stand sideways close to the wall with one hand on the wall around your shoulder level. Keep your elbows bent for the rest of the movement. With your hand firmly planted onto the wall, make a small step forward with the same side leg. Slowly rotate your body away from the wall until you feel a stretch on your chest area. Hold for 30 seconds
- Final shake. This is the same step as #1. Do this for 60 seconds.
Are you ready now to get started with Calisthenics?
If you're still with me at this point, then you're really close to getting started! Here are some bonus tips for you to achieve your fitness goals without a hitch:
- Set your goals. A simple one will do for now, as long as you have one. Make sure you are clear with your targets and keep reminding yourself of those goals every session.
- Do your sessions regularly. I would recommend doing this routine 2 to 3 times per week. Aside from establishing a good habit, your body will need regular movements throughout the week to improve.
- Progress slowly but consistently. Start the program with 1 or 2 rounds of the main exercise and add 1 round every week. Once you can do it for 5 rounds without getting too tired, it is time to move on to a new program.
Start using an exercise notebook.
This is where you write your short and long-term goals. Refer to it regularly to check if you're still on track with your progress. Write down notes in every session and keep your entries simple. Even a date and a star on a single page will do for me sometimes if I am really running out of time. This notebook-writing practice will take you a long way if you make it a habit. It will be a wonderful source for remembering how you got started with your Calisthenics training.
- Seek guidance. Don't be afraid to ask for help. A simple correction on a movement can sometimes be the main key to achieving the results you want. If you have any questions about the exercises, feel free to contact us anytime! You can send us a video of you doing the exercise, and we will be happy to help you.
- The best day to start your program was yesterday. Today is the second, so get started now!
Reading is one thing, and doing it is another. You can read 20 books about swimming, but it will never replace your first experience in the pool where you ended up drinking lots of chlorinated water. So take action now! Even just familiarizing with the movements is good enough.
I hope you have learned something from my post. If you find it helpful, please share this with your family and friends who are keen to start with Calisthenics like you! Leave a comment, give feedback, or even a smiley on the comment section below – it will surely make my day.
See you in my next post!