Calisthenics are body-weight exercises that are known for being freeform. However, some people do not know where to start. As such, we have compiled our own best calisthenics exercises list as a guide.
Our list is not exactly a master list, as there are more variations coming out everyday. However, this is a good place to start.
Calisthenics Exercises by Muscle Group
A proper calisthenics exercises list relies on knowing which specific muscle groups are being engaged for a particular skill. That being said, we will look at the best calisthenics’ exercises for each muscle group.
More specifically, our calisthenics exercises list is divided into the 5 major muscle groups:
- Chest & Triceps
- Back & Biceps
Each muscle group has skills that are ideal for beginners and other skills that you can do once you develop more strength and mobility. Most of these exercises can be done without equipment, but other exercises require a pull up bar.
Chest & Triceps
1. Regular Push-Ups:
Believe it or not, a basic push-up is one of the fundamental exercises of calisthenics, especially for beginners. To do them, get on the floor with your back straight and your weight placed on your hands and feet. When you do the push-up, your elbows should be tucked in and not winging out.
There are also variations of push ups that you can do, like a diamond push-up and clap push-ups. For more complex movement, try widening your push-up position or adding an incline or decline.
Regular dips are also a great fundamental exercise for your chest and triceps. To do dips, you need to find some parallel bars around waist high. Pick your legs up off the floor, bending them. Then, lower yourself until they are close to a right angle and then push back up.
For beginners, you can do bench dips instead. You can make this more difficult by using one bar or by adding a weighted jacket.
3. Skin the Cat:
This exercise is more of a way to loosen up your shoulders and increase your range of motion. Simply start in a hanging position on a bar and rotate yourself backwards, bringing your feet through your arms as far as you can go.
4. Pike Push-Ups:
Pike push-ups are a basic shoulder exercise. You get on your hands and knees but with your butt in the air. Keeping your arms in line with your back and your weight placed on your shoulders, lower yourself until your head touches the floor.
Some complicated variations include a Hindu push-up and T-bar push-up. If you want to engage your core too, you can try handstand push-ups since they require balance and upper body strength.
5. Korean Dips:
One of the most complicated shoulder exercises is a Korean Dip. The Korean dip stretches your shoulders to their maximum and can also train your biceps. For this exercise, you need to perform a dip while holding a straight bar behind you. The underhand grip puts more of the intensity on your shoulders. If you get really good at it, you will find yourself engaging your hamstrings, glutes and lower back.
Back & Biceps
6. Regular Pull-Ups:
A pull-up is another fundamental calisthenics exercise. You can do this at home or at a jungle gym. Simply grip the bar and lift, pulling your shoulder towards the opposite hip until your chin clears the bar.
Pull-Ups can be jazzed up in different ways. You can do wide grip pull-ups or chin-ups just by changing your hand grip. Some other variations include Archer Pull-ups and Australian Pull-Ups.
7. Back Lever:
This is another basic calisthenic exercise. In this exercise, you hold your body static and horizontally facing the ground.
8. Front Lever Tuck Pull-Ups:
A front lever is great for working out the mobility of your shoulders. However, this particular variation also works for your biceps. You just simply grip the bar and pull your knees into your body. From here, you rotate your body until it is parallel to the ground.
You can never go wrong with a basic plank. Ensure that your back is perfectly straight and not bowing or curving. Ideal holding times are a minimum of 1 minute and a side plank for 45 minutes.
10. Mountain Climbers:
Mountain climbers are done by getting into push-up position. With your arms straight and wide, rapidly bring your knees up into your chest, one by one. This is a great way to work your core and build some endurance.
11. Flutter Kicks:
Flutter Kicks are one of the more flexible ab workouts in terms of method. You can do these with no equipment on the floor or you can do them whilst hanging on the bar. In either setting, the important thing is to not let your feet touch the floor. Smaller kicks bring more intensity to the workout.
Lunges are simple. Put on foot forward and bend your knee until it is at a right angle, then push back up. You can make these more complicated by adding a weighted vest or performing the lunges as one constant movement.
Squats are a great way to work your thighs, but they can easily get boring. To spice things up, add a weighted vest or try jump squats or pistol squats. Pistol squats are one-legged squats that test your balance and flexibility.
If there is anything people hate, it’s burpees. However, burpees are a great way build up your endurance. The more you do them, the easier they get. If you are looking to make it more intense, add a push-up at the end.
Our comprehensive list combines a beginner calisthenics exercises list with more advanced skills. Ideally, any variation of these exercises can define your daily calisthenics workout plan.
Calisthenics is all about finding the right mix of exercises that work for you. So, feel free to explore! If you have a questions or comments, please share them with us!