We often get asked for warm-up and cool down advice from our readers, so today, we’re dedicating a whole article to this topic.
It’s an important topic: Not only can it result in less injuries, but it can also be pretty fun and improve your calisthenics form.
We’ll be borrowing some ideas out of our favourite athletes and sports outside of calisthenics, such as Ido Portal, gymnastics, and many others.
It’s important to note that we recommend warming up before workouts and stretching after. The debate on wether you should stretch before exercising is extensive and heated, though we tend to side with the no-stretching before exercising camp.
So without further ado, let’s look at the ideal calisthenics warm-up.
Calisthenics Warm Up and Dynamic Stretching
Starting a workout without warming up is a terrible idea.
Much like an engine, your body needs some time to adjust to a different state. This is done by increasing body temperature and increase blood flow, which will loosen the joints and thus reduce the risk of injury.
Exercise 1- Rope Jump (At least 3 minutes)
This is by far our favourite warm up exercise.
Firstly, because it is one of the most effective ways to get your heart rate up.
Secondly, it involves a whole lot of muscles including the wrists which are hard to warm up without doing awkward looking exercises.
Thirdly, it’s a great way to burn calories, and let’s face it, as calisthenics athletes, we’re usually looking to loose weight.
If you don’t have a rope, try doing jumping jacks. They are similar, though they won’t focus so much on the all-important wrist muscles.
Exercise 2- Mixed Movement Exercises
We decided to lump all movement exercises into one section as there are too many to list individually.
We’re a sucker for this type of exercise, pioneered by Ido Portal, as it flows really naturally and is really pleasing to do.
It also is based on a lot of the same principles as calisthenics, though it tends to be a bit less explosive and demanding, thus making it perfect for warmups.
This section of the workout can be done before or after you being. We recommend doing it after, as it focuses mostly on stretching, though the dynamic component makes it so that it is also relevant to the warm up section.
Here are a few examples of movement warm-up exercises:
Kneeling Rotation Reach
Exercise 3- Bar Hangs (2-3 Sets of Max Hang)
Since your average calisthenics program will involve quite a few exercises involving the pull-up bar, it is important to activate these muscles.
The easiest way to do so is simply hanging from the bar.
If you’re a beginner, keep it simple. Simply hang from the bar and activate the muscles as if you were to do a pull-up, without actually doing it.
Once you’re comfortable in the bar, try doing one arm hangs, alternating the arms, lifting the legs slightly, rotating the body, etc.
The video below shows some of the above mentioned progressions:
Calisthenics Static Stretching
Now that the “hard” part is done, it’s time to focus on one of our favourite parts of the workout- the stretching.
The objective of this section of the workout is to reduce soreness and improve flexibility and calisthenics performance.
Exercise 1- Forward Fold
This is the classic stretching pose, but it never fails to yield results.
Simply keep your legs straight and try to grab your toes.
Exercise 2- Upward + Downward Dog
This exercise could have easily been included in the section below, though we like it so much that we decided to give it it’s own section.
Get yourself in push up position, then try to straighten your arms, lifting the shoulders ups whilst the legs are in contact with the floor, as show below:
Exercise 3- Mixed Yoga Stretches
To wrap it all of, we enjoy doing some yoga as it works on flexibility and helps you relax. After a solid workout and the stretches shown below, you’ll be in heaven:
We hope that by now, we’ve convinced you of the importance of stretching and warming up.
Many exercises in calisthenics, such as l-sits, v-sits, planches, etc, rely on flexibility, and consistent stretching is the best way to get it.
Warming up and stretching will also reduce recovery time, thus accelerating your progress.
As always, we welcome any comments and feedback in the comment section below.
Chris is an experienced Calisthenics practitioner focused on isometric exercises and street workout. He founded thehybridathlete.com in 2017, which was subsequently acquired by theyhybridathlete.com
He is based in Portland and has been working out using solely his own body weight and bars for the past 6 years.