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Calisthenics For Beginners: A Few Exercises To Get You Started

Calisthenics is an ancient yet relatively unexplored form of exercise which helps us achieve our body strength goals while having fun. Read on to get started.

Written by Editorial Team |Published : July 24, 2021 10:57 AM IST

Exploring our own physical potential by trying out new workouts can help us achieve amazing and incredible things with our body. We can develop greater strength by following the right advice and learning to move in new ways. Calisthenics is one such ancient yet unexplored form of exercise which directs us in achieving one's body strength goals while having fun. By definition, Calisthenics is a form of resistance training which uses bodyweight as the resistance primarily. In the beginning, itmight come across as difficult, however, the advice is to understand its nuances and its effects on your body.


Calisthenics as an exercise tool could help an individual achieve strength, hypertrophy (increase in muscle mass), muscular endurance, skill work, flexibility, mobility, balance and grip strength. As a training technique, Calisthenics is versatile and could be divided into six parts:

Push Exercises

Workout which involves pushing the body away from the surface or an object like push-ups targeting chest, shoulders, triceps are some push exercises. If someone is unable to do a push-up, they can try the wall push-up or incline push up which are easier for beginners. However, these variations would over time build strength and lead a person to be able to do full push ups or clap push ups

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Pull Exercises

All the exercises which involve pulling the body towards an object and target back and biceps primarily can be clubbed under this category. Even in these movements, one could use regression techniques to do easier movements first to build strength and progress to tougher exercises

Lower Body Training

Training lower body is extremely important and should be a part of Calisthenics routine. Workout routine including squats, lunges, lateral lungs etc are helpful and with time one can move to harder exercises like pistol squats and explosive jumps


Also known as Chakrasana in Yoga, this workout helps strengthen glutes and hamstring which builds posterior chain strength, stability, and mobility

Working the Core

A crucial part of Calisthenics which is involved in all movements to provide stabilization and control to the body and exercises like leg raises, crunches, twists are part of it


Static holds are one of the famous parts of Calisthenics wherein an individual holds the body in a position which requires isometric strength and body control. Exercises like the human flag, handstand, and planks are a part of it.


We have listed a few foundational beginner exercises and instructions which can help you in understanding Calisthenics.

Knee Push Up

  • Get on your knees and place your arms on the floor below the shoulders while keeping the head, spine, hips, and upper leg in a straight line. This is the starting position
  • Now lower your body until the chest is close to the floor and then push back up to the starting position
  • This is one repetition. Perform a defined number of repetitions to complete the set
  • Note: As you grow stronger, move to full push ups

Inverted row

  • Grab the gymnastic rings or TRX suspension trainer or a straight bar and hang from the bar making the desired inclination with the ground while keeping your arms straight. This is the starting position
  • Pull the rings or TRX suspension trainer towards your body keeping your elbows close to the body
  • Once the rings or TRX suspension trainer is close to the body, go back to the starting position in a reverse manner
  • Make sure your head, chest, hips, and legs are almost along a straight line throughout the movement
  • This is one repetition. Perform the same for the defined number of repetitions
  • Note: The more vertical your body, the easier is the movement. To increase difficulty, reduce the inclination and try getting close to parallel to the floor


  • Take a shoulder-width stance and stand straight. This is the starting position
  • Lower your upper body by bending at knees and hips at the same time
  • Keep your chest out to maintain a neutral spine
  • Go down fully until the knees and hips are fully flexed and then come back up to the starting position
  • This is one repetition. Perform a defined number of repetitions to complete the set


  • Get on a push up position with elbows on the floor
  • Keep the head, hip and heel of feet in a straight line
  • Maintain the position without letting the hip come up or fall down
  • Breathe with control
  • Hold the position for as long as possible

It is important to learn the form and technique well before progressing to the next part. Use of regression and progression techniques in Calisthenics can help individuals of all skill levels, be it beginner, intermediate, advanced, get better in movements.

(This article is authored by Sheikh Nadir Siddiquee, Head of Placements, Corporate Relationships, Faculty, Calisthenics Trainer Course Co-creator at Institute of Nutrition and Fitness Science)

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