If you are just beginning your fitness journey or have been exercising for some time, you might have read about Maltese calisthenics.

Many athletes and people who work out using this type of exercise to build strength and become more fit. 

What Is Maltese Calisthenics?

Maltese is a static skill in Calisthenics.

It began in gymnastics and is now used by athletes and body trainers to gain muscle and fitness levels. You should approach all movements cautiously and progress up to larger movements. 

Maltese calisthenics involves doing a move slowly and holding the weight by your side or near your body.

For this reason, it can be difficult for beginners. However, starting with small weights and repetitions can make it easier no matter what level you are in your fitness journey. 

Maltese calisthenics also stimulates the Central Nervous System.

Part of this reason is that the Maltese calisthenics target all kinds of motor patterns. It can cause hypertension if you don’t hold the proper positions. 

Always hold the stance shoulder-width and make sure your arms are bent. It’s better to do a few movements and do them correctly than to do many movements and have the wrong form.

This skill can be advanced, but it doesn’t have to be too difficult if you follow the right protocols. 

What Muscles Does the Maltese Target?

Maltese calisthenics target a wide range of muscles and can be considered a full-body workout.

However, it mainly focuses on the upper part of the back. It also targets the front deltoids, trapezius, and scapula. If you hold the static movement properly it will cause tension in all these body parts. 

If you have heard of or done an iron cross, you may have already tried Maltese calisthenics without even realising it.

This is one of the most common Maltese calisthenics exercises and many people throw it into their routine to help get them started with the movement. 

If you notice any pain in the muscles that Maltese calisthenics targets, you can stop for a few moments and then retry getting into the stance.

Changing the position of your arms and wrists may also make a huge difference when trying to find the right form. 

The bicep tendons and the shoulders will feel the most tension, so if you are trying to work out these muscles, Maltese calisthenics will be great for you.

If you don’t have much strength in your biceps and shoulders, then it’s even more important to start with low weight. Don’t force yourself into too many repetitions. 

Maltese Progression Exercises

You might want to take some precautions when first beginning calisthenics to make sure you can accurately do the movements.

As with most workout moves, the form is important. You should do it in front of a mirror or partner so they can see if you are holding the positions correctly. 

Try the following Maltese exercises to get started:

Maltese shoulder blades exercise

This is one of the best exercises to start with and to avoid muscle strain.

It will help strengthen your muscles and let you become fit as you progress through the exercises.

You should start by lying supine on the floor already in Maltese stance which is arms wide open to the sides. 

Do a posterior pelvic tilt and keep hands placed correctly for the activation. Activate your shoulder blades by protracting them.

Elevate for repetitions for the whole body and keep chins and feet on the floor.

The goal is to elevate most of your body and provide sufficient support on the floor. 

Maltese lean hold 

The lean is also a good starting Maltese position. You should try not to get into the full Maltese positions when you are trying this for the first time.

You need to establish proper tendon conditioning.

Try to make the distance of your hands progressively while increasing the seconds of hold. 

Keep at least a 10” to 15” hold for 4-5 sets to make the stance solid. 

Ring Flies 

Start in a push-up position to start. Place the rings at the same height as your feet.

Start with your arms straight until you progressively reach the closest point of your face to the ground with every repetition. 

You can also perform his exercise with bent arms.

Eventually, you can work up to straight arms. In both cases, you should do 4 sets of 10 repetitions. 

Maltese Dumbbell or Barbell Presses 

You should do this exercise on a bench so you can have a stable surface when you are practicing.

The goal is to get into a hollow body position and then you should simulate the Maltese stance. Keep your arms straight and opened up on the sides. 

Elevate the dumbbells or the barbell for repetitions so you can apply an even load on both levers. Make sure to not use too much weight so you can save your tendons.

It’s recommended you don’t use more than 5-10kg on each dumbbell or a 10-15kg barbell. 10-15 repetitions would be solid work. 

Maltese dumbbell presses 

This can work for both planche and Maltese. It provides more conditioning of your tendons.

You should also use a bench for this one to keep your entire body elevated as much as possible.

You should keep a wide range of motion for your arms while maintaining the hollow body position. 

Try to open your arms by opening your arms straight enough with an angle of at least 45 degrees. Keep them in line with your hips and get as close to a wide stance as possible while holding the dumbbells. 

Always start small and try not to overload the weight. A 2.5 kg or 5 kg in each dumbbell. Practice with small loads and increase your weight. 

Maintain the hollow body position while moving up until you reach the height level with your head. Move back down until you reach the line of your hips or lower if you want to increase the resistance. 

Hold both dumbbells together with straight arms and provide proper conditioning. Use 4 sets of 10 repetitions to gain muscle and conditioning. 

Maltese tuck hold and other progressions 

This is best for holding shoulder blade activation.

Try not to worry about the distance of your body from the floor due to the wide position of your arms.

This exercise is harder than some of the other ones because of the very short distance between the body and weight. 

You need at least a 10-15” of Maltese tuck hold. You will pass through the leg and straddle. Keep a full form to make sure your tendons stay conditioned. Perform 4-5 sets of 10-15” and hold them each per stance.  

Assisted Maltese holds with loop bands 

This is one skill you don’t want to rush because you end up injuring yourself.

You should already have good tendon conditioning, or you may suffer from tendonitis or elbow pain. You can perform 5-6 sets and then do a 10” hold. 

Maltese board presses 

The goal of this exercise is to perform a dynamic movement rather than an eccentric one. You will lower your whole body to the floor for repetitions.

You can start with a tuck Maltese and from there you will progress towards the full Maltese. You can do 4 sets of 6-8 for it to be a good work volume. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Maltese Calisthenics

Is Maltese harder than Planche?

Opinions regarding the comparison between a planche and Maltese seem to be mixed.

Some people find that a planche is easier to achieve compared to a Maltese. 

The real answer can differ from one person to the next. Overall, the initial health and physique of the individual play a role.

If a person has been exercising for a long time and is already strong, they may be able to perform a Maltese in only a few weeks. 

It should be noted that some people do find that finding that perfect level of balance with a planche is hard.

Thus, those finding it hard to gain the right balance may find that a Maltese is a bit easier to perform. 

Are 20 minutes of calisthenics enough?

No fixed amount of exercise time is enough for every single person.

It all comes down to the person’s goals, the current level of fitness, and other personal factors.

Some people can do well with just 20 minutes of calisthenics, but others will need more to see the results they desire. 

Some experts and fitness professionals do note that many people find 20 minutes too insufficient when they are looking to experience significant results.

It is generally advised to consider extending the session to 40 minutes instead, as this period would activate a more significant level of hypertrophy in muscle tissue.

Those who are only getting started, however, may find that 20 minutes of their training routine is enough. This is a good starting point that will help the person build up some initial strength.

Once the person is fitter and stronger, they can gradually start to increase the duration of the sessions. 

Who is the strongest calisthenics athlete?

Many people perform calisthenics and some of these have become known figures in the industry.

Overall, there isn’t someone crowned the best or strongest of all – but based on competitions and other factors, Hannibal Lanham is a name that often comes up. 

Is calisthenics dangerous?

No, in general, calisthenics is not considered a dangerous type of activity.

Some people find it to be safer compared to bench presses. There is no external weight that comes from a bar, which means the person exposes themselves to fewer risks.

The body is used to create resistance when participating in calisthenics.

This allows a person to customize their training program to be more fitting to their own needs, goals, and capabilities. 

There are, however, cases where injuries are reported. These are often cases where people who are new to calisthenics pushed themselves too hard.

When the body is not fit and strong, attempting to perform moves that are out of a person’s league can definitely cause a serious risk for tearing or spraining a muscle. 

Studies have shown that progressive calisthenic push-up training can increase muscle strength and thickness. 

It focused on determining the efficacy of progressive calisthenics.

The researchers determined how effective specific calisthenics moves are in terms of muscle thickness, as well as strength. 

The use of a classic push-up program, part of calisthenics, was used in this study. The effects of this program were compared to the efficacy and results among participants who performed bench presses. 

23 individuals enrolled in the study. The study only consisted of male participants, all of whom were considered moderately trained and healthy at the time of the study.

The study consisted of three training sessions per week and was done over a period of four weeks. 

By the four-week mark, researchers found that the participants who performed calisthenics had experienced an increase in overall physical strength. In addition to increasing strength, there was also a growth in muscle thickness.

Push-up progression improved more significantly among those who performed calisthenics, compared to the group who were part of the bench press training program. 

Final Thoughts 

As you can see the Maltese calisthenics are good for strength training and building up the muscles in your tendon.

The form can be a little difficult to master at the beginning but with practice and repetition, you can add a new exercise to your fitness journey.

Like with all new exercise patterns, make sure to start with a small weight and work your way up. 

If you notice yourself getting tired, take a break.

Pushing through the movements might give you the wrong form and cause you to have an injury.

The form is the most important part of Maltese calisthenics and should be done properly.

Use a mirror or fitness partner to check your form. 

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