Looking for the top 10 Calisthenic Exercises to start with? These are the foundation of my calisthenics workouts and I want YOU to have them. These exercises will condition the body, build muscle and strength. You can also burn fat by doing these exercises.
Btw, this list will grow exponentially over time. I will make it easy for you to build your own routines using these posts. First, I will start with the basics, then I will get into the more advanced exercises later on.
Let’s get to it…
…Here’s The Top 10 Calisthenic Exercises For Beginners & Beyond
Calisthenic are primarily compound exercises utilizing your bodyweight only, however you can add weight to your calisthenics to make your bodyweight exercises harder. You can also do assisted calisthenics to make your exercises easier if you struggle with your full body weight.
Description: Push-ups have a ton of variations and strengthen the anterior chain (which are all the muscles on the front of the body). The standard push-up is the most common push-up you will see, but even then, most people do push-ups with bad form.
Push-Ups Proper form
Proper form is super important. With the proper form, you will get better muscle activation, prevent injury, and build the habits necessary to progress into more advanced push-ups.
To perform push-ups properly place your hands shoulder-width apart. Your elbow should be about 45-degrees from touching your side. DO NOT flare your elbows out too wide. This puts too much stress on the shoulders.
Then tighten your abs, and round your back slightly, do not allow your stomach to sag towards the ground. Then tighten your glutes to bring your hips forward, and maintain a straight body. Make sure your place your feet close together.
A wider foot stance is only necessary for one-arm push-ups, for stabilization.
Chest, Front delts, Triceps, Core
Push-Up Exercise Variations
- Spiderman Push-ups
- Decline Push-ups
- Incline Push-ups
- Typewriter Push-ups
- Staggard Push-ups
- Pause Push-ups
- Slow Push-ups
- Clap Push-ups
- Double Clap Push-ups
- Handstand Push-ups
- Plange Push-ups
- Diamond Push-ups
- Sphinx Push-ups
- Tricep Push-ups
- Close Grip Push-ups
- Wide Grip Push-ups
- Military Push-ups
- Push-up To Shoulder Touch
- Plyo Push-ups
- Suspension Push-us
Description: Pull-ups build the entire back at every level. between the upper back, middle back, core, lats, biceps, and forearms. It’s one of the best back exercises you can do. Here’s how you do it.
Like push-ups pull-ups have a lot of variations. Some are harder and some are easier. If you struggle to do regular pull-ups try assisted pull-ups with pull-up bands.
Pull-Ups Proper Form
With an overhand grip, grab the bar about shoulder-width apart. No roll your shoulders back and down. Then tighten your core. Maintain an engaged back and core then pull your chin up to the bar. Control your body weight on the way back down.
Upper and middle back, rear delts, lats, biceps, and forearms.
Pull-up Exercise Variations
- Towel Chin-ups
- Typewriter Pull-ups
Inverted Body Rows
I have a wall-mounted pull-up bar that I attach my Jungle Gym XT to (which is my suspension trainer of choice). A TRX or Olympic Rings would work too.
Inverted body rows are a horizontal pulling movement that trains parts of the upper back, between the shoulder blades, and rear delts.
Hang your TRX Suspension Trainer or your Jungle Gym Xt to your pull-up bar for inverted body rows. Lean back at different angles, the closer your back is to the floor the harder the exercise gets.
When you lean back keep your glutes and lower back engaged. Your body should be as straight as you can make it pull your shoulders into a neutral position.
Pull with your elbows out for a wider grip row. Keep your elbows to your side for a close grip row. Squeeze your back when you reach the top of the pull.
Description: Lean back with your back facing the floor, and utilize your body weight to add resistance to your row. Pull your body weight up using your back muscles. Stabilize the resistance with your core, glutes and lower back engaged the entire time. your arms should also be engaged throughout the entire exercise.
Rings particularly target the upper middle back and trapezius, and rear deltoid.
Rowing Exercise Variations
- Single-arm rows
- Towel Rows
- Cose grip rows
- Wide grip rows
- face pulls
- Rear delt flys
Description: Dips are another essential calisthenics exercise you should include in your routine. All you need is a dip station or two parallel bars about waist height.
While you do dips you want to shrug your shoulders down pressing your hands into the bar. do not let your body sag. Egage your core and bend your knees to help you lean into the press. You should lean forward some to engage the chest.
lower chest triceps obliques, and lats, and core.
Dip Exercise Variations
- Close grip Dips
- Wide grip Dips
- Tricep Dips
- Weighted Dips
- Pause Dips
- Band Assisted DIps
- Bench Dips
- Dip to leg raise
Description: Relying purely on calisthenics to target shoulders limits our exercises to only a few. This is because to train shoulders using bodyweight only, you have to invert your entire body to apply the pressure strat down through the shoulders.
Exercises like the wall handstand push-ups target the shoulders, but this is a challenging exercise for beginners. Pike push-ups are easier and still target the shoulders, without the use of free weights or bands.
With your body create an inverted V. Bend at the hips keep your toes and had on the ground, and press through your shoulders. The top of your head should come close to the ground with each press.
Shoulders, triceps, trapezius, and core muscles.
Similar Exercise Variations
- Elevated Pike Push-ups
- Wall Handstand push-ups
- Handstand push-ups
- Pike push-ups (one leg elevated)
Description: There are two ways that I do leg raises. One way is from a pull-up bar, and the other way is from a dip station or any parallel bar. Leg raises are one of the best core exercises because it engages so many other muscles to hold and stabilize your body. Leg or Knee raises are great for strengthening the entire anterior chain.
From a dip bar, get into a dip position & tighten your core to stabilize your body. Shrug down pressing your hands into the dip bars. Do not allow your body to sag. With each rep raise your knees up to at least parallel.
I like to go a little higher and squeeze at the top of each rep for peak contraction. This variation gives me the best peak contraction, but no stretch at the bottom.
From a Pull-up bar, your form changes slightly with how we hold our body compared to the dip bar. However, the idea is to raise your knees up to about parallel just like you would from the dip bar.
The difference is that you are hanging from the pull-up bar instead. I think with this variation you get a better stretch at the bottom, but not as good of a peak contraction.
Upper middle and lower Abdominals, obliques, lats, and hip flexors, and forearms.
Knee Raise Variations
- Leg Raises
- Toes to bar
Planks are a static core exercise that you do on the floor. It strengthens the entire anterior chain (which is the front of the body)
Get into the push-up position, rest on your elbows on the ground and tighten your core. Keep your heels together an clench as many muscle as you can. but focus on the core and glutes. Keep your body straight and hold this position for time.
Chest, abdominals, hip flexors, obliques, and even some quads.
Plank Exercise Variations
- Side Plank
- Reverse plank
- Single leg plank
In order to perform back extensions, you will need the proper equipment. You can use a stability ball, or a back extension bench, or a machine that has the attachment.
Bent over a stability ball with the front of your lower abdominals pressing into the ball, lower the front of your body towards the ground, then extend back up using only your glutes and back muscles. Do this for each rep.
Bent over a back extension machine the top of the pad should be just below your hips so you can lower your body down to about 90 degrees. The same muscles are targeted as the stability ball variation.
Glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
Back Extention Variations
- Superman holds
- Reverse Back extensions
- Standing back extensions
A great exercise for the quads and glutes, lunges build lower body strength and balance. Lunges have a lot of different variations and can be super challenging.
For basic lunges, you want to stand straight up, then you lunge forward with one foot, while the other foot stays fixed to the ground behind you.
Your forward leg should bend to about 90 degrees, while your fixed leg is only for support. Keep that knee as straight as you can. Also, keep your toes on that foot touching the ground.
Quads, hamstrings, glutes, & core.
Lunge Exercise Variations
- Weighted lunge
- Lunge to one arm press
- Reverse Lunge
- Lateral lunge
- Jump Lunge
Single-Leg Calve Raises
The single-leg calve raise or calve raises, in general, will be your primary calve builder. With calves we are limited to a small selection of exercises, but we can create many variations, to make them fresh and different.
It’s simple you stand in one place while pivoting on one foot. You will need a wall or a pole to grab to stabilize your body. Then lift the opposite foot.
Keep the leg you are working with that foot pressing into the ground, raising your heel pressing your toes into the ground. Tighten your calve muscle at the top of each rep.
Rowing Exercise Variations
- Weighted Single Leg Calve Raises
- Elevated single-leg calve raises
- Calf Jumps
Thanks for making it this far! I just gave you my Top 10 Calisthenic Exercises For Beginners. Yes, it’s my opinion, but they are my foundation. I wanted to give you my core basics.
Now you have foundational calisthenics exercises, from which many other exercises stem. These 10 exercises can be made to be easier or harder depending on how advanced you are.
If there’s anything that I missed or could do better in this post, id like to know. Leave a comment below and share your expertise!