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Bodyweight Calisthenics Exercises

A lot of people have a fixed idea of what a calisthenics workout should be. Sadly, for many people, it’s probably something like high school gym class or an aerobics routine. However, a true bodyweight calisthenics routine can help a person gain immense functional strength. A key feature of a calisthenics workout is that it should be a progressive training routine. When you train progressively, you build your strength over time instead of putting all your efforts in on endurance.

If you look at the history of physical fitness, calisthenics exercises have been used for a really long time. Before today’s modern fitness routines and workout equipment, the calisthenics workout was the top form of training used around the world. In the old days, warriors would endure a progressive training program that involved using their own bodyweight to increase strength. For example, strength training that focuses on the ability to push stationary objects or pull yourself up a mountain eclipses a workout that focuses on a basic standard bench press.

Pushups, pullups and squats are perhaps the most commonly thought of calisthenics that people will think of first. You can create an excellent strength building foundation through the use of these simple bodyweight exercises. Unfortunately, these commonly used exercises focus less on strength and more on endurance. Would you rather be able to do 100 pushups to exhaustion, or be able to do 10 perfect pushups with one arm? In order to really maximize your muscular development, you need to do low repetitions to get the most out of strength training. Make sure you increase the difficulty of bodyweight exercises with low rep sets. Did you know that you can create a very challenging, muscle building calisthenics workout just by using your own bodyweight?


You can quickly develop a lean and functionally strong body through the use of well-planned bodyweight calisthenics. In fact, I’d argue that using your bodyweight alone can sometimes be preferred in getting really defined muscles. There are quite a few gymnasts that do no amount of weight training. Yet we’ve all seen the muscular arms of a gymnast who flips and jumps on the rings and bars in competition. There are stories of gymnasts who can deadlift and bench press ridiculous amounts, despite never having lifted weights before. Pull ups are almost an afterthought unless they are held down by more than half their body weight. The arms of gymnasts are typically large and have lots of definition.

Therefore, you should find it evident that you should train with the help of bodyweight exercises. However, ensuring that you keep progressing to harder and harder exercises, rather than more and more reps, is of the utmost importance. That’s why I recommend the progressive training routine outlined in Convict Conditioning. This routine sets you up to perform a variety of 6 different exercises designed to work all of the major muscle groups in your body. Regardless of your level of experience or strength, you can work through the various 10-step progressions and challenge your current training routine.

There are specific set and rep goals for each exercise prior to advancing to the next progression. Therefore, you can guarantee to increase your strength and not just boost your endurance. Once you get through the 10-step progressions, there are additional variations available to keep you on track. Given that only about 3% of people accomplish the final step for all 6 exercises, it’s unlikely you’ll need to do anything beyond, but it’s nice for variety.

I’d like to offer a challenge. For the next 2 or 3 months, give up your regular weight training routine. Try out a bodyweight calisthenics workout and see how it fares. I guarantee your muscles will be challenged. You can even give it up after the two months and return to weight lifting, seeing noticeable changes and improvements. You can see the results for yourself just by committing to a progressive training routine that focuses on using challenging calisthenics exercises to gain strength.


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