After years of working out at the gym, it’s common to be stuck in an equipment rut and feel like you’re just using the same machines over and over again.
Using gym equipment also makes it difficult to travel or be on the road and still get all the time you need to shred those muscles.
Calisthenics makes for the perfect solution for anyone looking to get shredded but steers clear of the gym.
With gyms still under lockdown as well, calisthenics and bodyweight workouts offer a solution for anyone and everyone who wants to keep their body fit and trim!
There are a few calisthenics pieces of equipment but when you’re creating your new workout plan, you can easily work around them and still target every muscle group. No equipment? No problem!
Can you do Calisthenics without a Bar?
The most common piece of calisthenics equipment is the pull-up bar.
The entire bodyweight program is designed to be done without any equipment so you can easily get a great workout without investing in a new piece of equipment.
For many, their vision of calisthenics is the simple exercises that can be seen in military or training movies. All of those moves form the building blocks of calisthenics and the progressions that you’ll be working toward!
All you need to do calisthenics without a bar is plenty of room to spread out and your body. Each move in this workout is depending on your body weight for resistance.
You won’t need extra belts or weights to make these work for you. Continue focusing on your form throughout the move so you can target each muscle group throughout your workout.
Doing Calisthenics without a Bar
Pull-ups are a quintessential calisthenics move and you just can’t do them without a bar!
So within this routine, there aren’t any pull-ups or progressions of pull-ups but you’ll still be able to work your arms, shoulders, and chests with several different moves.
The main thing you need during this type of routine is a dedicated area where you can spread out in the room. You’ll be doing plenty of moving so make sure you’ve got space whether that’s indoors or out!
Using a gym or yoga mat is another great idea if you need a little extra cushion but not necessary if you’re trying to do away with any equipment!
You’re going to feel the burn with this calisthenics workout! Each of these moves will target a different area in your body and focus on the muscle groups there.
Keep your form in line and you’ll save yourself some injuries and keep the intensity high.
This is a full-body move that’s going to leave your muscles screaming at the end of the day!
The move is simple but it targets several areas within your body to give you a whole-body workout that keeps you fit and trim.
You’ll start in a plank position then alternate bringing one knee to your chest then back out again.
Start slower and then build up speed as you go so it seems like you’re running against the floor without leaving the same plank position. Engage your core and shoulders during this motion so you’ll start to feel the pull in your abdominal muscles.
In addition to being a calisthenics and bodyweight move, mountain climbers get your heart pumping faster and function as cardio. The simplicity of the move makes it easy to do if all you have is space and your workout shoes!
No equipment needed!
There are also several different progressions available for mountain climbers so if you’re more experienced you can start adding in these variations to make it more of a challenge.
Give yourself plenty of time to get the form down first so you don’t end up injured in the process.
Mountain climbers are simple and work for cardio, core strength, and agility. You end up working your entire body when you go through a set.
The upper part of your body including your shoulders, arms, and chest stabilizes you while your core works hard to move your legs and keep you stable. Your quads get a workout as you run in place and you’ll end up burning some serious calories during the cardio portion!
As with every type of exercise, there are some things you should watch for when doing the move. These can trip you up and keep you from getting the full benefit of the exercise. Be sure not to bounce on your toes when you’re running in place or keep your toes from touching the floor.
Your center of gravity should be at your upper body but newbies tend to tip the center back into their lower body which throws off the rhythm of the move.
The form is the most important thing when it comes to calisthenics. Your timing, rhythm, and overall speed will improve with time but your form needs to be correct every time.
Focus on keeping your arms and hands positioned in a straight line down from your shoulders to the floor. Your back should remain flat and straight without any curve or arch and your hips need to stay low so your body forms a straight line from one end to the other.
Triceps Box Dip
When it comes to working your arms, most machines and workout plans focus on your biceps.
Targeting your triceps can be a bit of a challenge and is often overlooked in workout routines. This move gets right to the heart of the problem and focuses on your triceps to build stronger shoulders and chest muscles.
This move does require a little bit of out-of-the-box thinking! If you’re working this move at the gym, you’ll likely have access to some sturdy boxes that can form the backbone of the move.
If you’re working this at home, at the park, or in a hotel, you may need to think of something else that you can lean on.
You’ll need a sturdy chair or bench to push on so choose something that won’t slide out from under you or slip around as you get to work.
The focus is going to be on your arms, shoulders, and chest but you may start to feel your quads and hamstrings start to work as you sit back and lean into this move.
Start by sitting on the edge of your chair or bench and grab the edge of your chosen seat with your hands down next to your hips. Your fingers should then be pointed at your feet with your legs extended out.
Your feet should be hip-width apart and your heels should be touching the ground. Keep looking straight ahead and keep your chin up.
Push your palms into the chair and lift your body up and off the seat. Slide forward until your bottom clears the chair or bench and you’re keeping yourself elevated with just your arms and hands.
Lower your body down, keeping it under control, until your arms are bent between 45 and 90 degrees. Push yourself back up, being sure to keep your body under control, until you reach the starting point. Repeat this motion for 3 sets of 10 reps!
Just like with every move whether weighted or bodyweight, form is crucial to your overall success. There are some things you’ll need to look out for when you’re doing this move to make sure you’re doing it correctly.
Make sure your shoulders stay low, away from your ears. Don’t dip too low when you’re going down as this can put a strain on your shoulders. Refrain from locking your elbows and keep them soft so they engage your triceps fully.
There are some progressions you can do with this move as well that will make it more challenging as you get more proficient at the move. Add in a second chair or bench to lift even more of your body weight than you do in the original move.
You can also move up in the intensity and introduce some more equipment by using parallel bars or rings to lift your entire body during the move.
Since this move focuses so much on shoulders and arms, if you have any shoulder or arm injuries, you might want to skip this one and opt for something less intense.
Much of the pressure you’ll see will be focused on these areas and there’s no way to work around it.
Squats are one of the most basic moves that you can do in both weighted workouts and calisthenics!
There are tons of different progressions and variations that allow you to challenge yourself thoroughly when you want to push yourself into something new.
There is no equipment or pseudo-equipment needed for this move so all you’ll need is a little bit of space and some determination!
Keep in mind a few things when it comes to your squat form so you can stay healthy and avoid any injuries.
Old wisdom used to be that when doing squats, you’ll need to make sure your knees don’t go past your toes. That’s since been disproven and has been shown to put more pressure on your hips which can cause other issues.
Just make sure your toes are in alignment with your knees throughout the range of motion.
Pushing your body to squat as far as you can is important in a squat form but oftentimes this leads to your heels coming off the ground.
Keep your heels firmly planted on the ground and focus on keeping your body low to the ground. If you need to stop pushing down to keep your heels planted, do it!
When you’re doing squats with weights on your shoulders, it’s important to keep your back straight. This isn’t as vital in calisthenics so you can do what feels natural to you.
The same goes for your arms! Whatever feels natural and puts you in a stable position, put your arms there.
Doing a squat means using your full range of motion and you should end up squatting down as far as your hamstrings will allow and your butt touches your ankles. Don’t overdo it though! This may take some serious time and dedication before you can achieve the full range of motion.
Throughout the motion, take a deep breath as you descend and then exhale as you come back up to the starting point.
Take two seconds on the way down, hold for one second, then take two seconds on the way back up for proper form while doing squats.
Squats work for several different muscle groups but primarily focus on your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. You’ll start to feel the burn and more flexibility in your hips and legs as you keep progressing through the move.
The progressions of the squat get more intense the longer you work the routine.
If you continue on track for the squat, the final form is typically a pistol squat which is one of the most difficult progressions to master in all of the calisthenics.
You’ve probably done a number of these during P.E. class throughout the years or during training for different programs.
Push-ups, when done correctly, remain one of the best calisthenics moves that will target your chest, shoulders, and arms in one of the most intense ways!
Not only will you end up targeting your upper body but your core is completely engaged when you do the push-up motion so you’ll end up working your core as well! Even your back and legs get in on the action and you end up with a well-rounded, whole-body exercise.
Push-ups do more than just building muscles. They’re a great workout for functional strength as well that helps you advance your ability to do ordinary tasks better and more efficiently.
The stabilizer muscles in your shoulder are profoundly impacted by this move and push-ups help protect you from rotator cuff injuries when done correctly.
This is another quality calisthenics move that you won’t need any equipment for, just some space and determination!
Start by getting down on the floor on all fours with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Extend your legs back behind you so that your whole body is balanced on your hands and toes.
Your body should remain in a straight line from head to toe without arching or sagging your back in the middle. Engage your abs and tighten your core by pulling your belly button in toward your spine. Keep your core tight during the entire push-up.
Breathe in as you bend your elbows and lower yourself down until your arms are at a 90-degree angle.
Breathe out as you contract your chest muscles and push up through your hands back to the start position. Keep yourself from locking your elbows and keep them slightly bent at the top of the move.
Repeat this motion as many times as you need to complete the set. While you may not be ready to go all out and tackle the same form as the Army Rangers, there are lots of simple strategies that you can use to help you build up your strength and endurance so you can start pumping out 1000!
Watch out for a few simple things that can throw off your game when it comes to getting your push-ups done correctly. Don’t let your body sag in the middle.
This can cause some serious back pain and keep you from engaging in the correct form for your workout. Your neck should also be in a neutral alignment when you’re doing the move and keep yourself from locking your elbows at the top of the motion.
Just like every form of calisthenics, progressions abound for the push-up!
Once you master the traditional push-up you can progress through incline push-ups, bent-knee versions, and even stability ball push-ups that will all help you focus on your upper body without adding in a bar.
Don’t try to do push-ups if you’ve got shoulder, wrist, or elbow injuries as it can aggravate the problem and make it hard to recover.
Talking through your workout plan with your doctor or healthcare provider will help you make sure that you’re able to do the workout fully.
One of the key things to keep in mind when you start looking for results from your calisthenics workouts is the frequency of your workout and your diet plan that works in conjunction with your workout.
The more frequently you work out, the more rapidly you’ll see results!
Two weeks seems to be the general timeframe when you’ll start to notice results. Your posture will be better, you’ll feel more muscle tone, and you’ll start to feel more energized as you gain more muscle.
After about three or four months of working out, you’ll see growth in the muscle tone itself.
The key to seeing good growth when you’re building muscle is to stay consistent and keep working. Even if you need to take a step back and start slow, keep working and pushing yourself a little bit at a time.
Make sure you also get plenty of rest and allow your muscles to recover well when you’re creating those tiny micro-tears within your muscle.
A workout can’t help you build muscle solely on its own but working in tandem with a good diet and active lifestyle, you’ll see results start to blossom!
But there are a few things you want to keep in mind when you start thinking and planning for the correct nutrition for your body weight and calisthenics workouts.
Your muscles are fueled by protein! Make sure you get plenty of protein from healthy sources in your diet like lean meats, green veggies, and other healthy options.
You can also add in a protein powder to give your body an added boost between workouts and meals or right after your workout to aid in recovery.
If you’re looking to lose weight, increasing your protein intake will help you skip snacking and focus on healthy options!
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and veggies are a great way to feed your body well! This gives you plenty of healthy carbs and sugars that you can burn for your next workout.
In addition to being a great option for snacking, these also go a long way toward giving your body quality fuel for each workout.
The sugars and carbs within fruits and veggies are complex and take more time to burn to give you fuel for a longer workout.
Staying hydrated for your workout is one of the best ways you can help your body and your workout plan succeed.
Keep water or sports drinks on hand for all of your workouts, no matter how small or short so you can be sure your muscles well care for the entire time they’re working.
Calisthenics has a lot of appeals when it comes to building great muscle tone and getting fit for the season!
Bodyweight exercises can be done virtually anywhere and don’t require equipment for many of the moves. Getting through a calisthenics workout without a bar is simple and still allows you to get through many different moves that target a large area of your body.
With calisthenics, each muscle group is targeted and will end up feeling the burn when the routine is done. You can also progress in different ways through each of the moves to challenge yourself or mix up your normal routine.
Each one also has different strategies that allow you to start much slower and work your way up to a whole new level of calisthenics movement.
However you decide to structure your calisthenics routine, it’s important to pair that routine with a quality meal plan. Fueling your body is half the battle when it comes to a workout routine and building your body up.
The balance between workouts and diet is the best way to move forward in your new, healthier lifestyle!