Calisthenics 101: All About This Muscle-Building Bodyweight Exercise

By Rebecca Smith

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Calisthenics 101: All About This Muscle-Building Bodyweight Exercise


It is quite normal to feel intimidated or uneasy when introduced to a new fitness routine, especially if you encounter terms that you do not understand. However, while some terms may be unfamiliar, you’ll be surprised at how efficient and straightforward these exercises are. One perfect example is the practice of calisthenics.


If you are unfamiliar with the term, you might think that calisthenics is a complicated type of workout. Many people also have the misconception that calisthenics is only for elite gymnasts or street workout athletes. However, what you might not realize is how adaptable and flexible this exercise is. So what exactly does calisthenics mean?

What is Calisthenics?

The word “calisthenics” originated from the ancient Greek words kálos meaning “beauty” and sthénos, meaning “strength”. It is the art of only utilizing your bodyweight as resistance when training and developing your physique. This means that you do not require an expensive gym membership or any specialized piece of equipment to practice calisthenics. By using only the weight of your body and things around you, it is possible to practice this workout.


Some of the more popular calisthenics exercises are actually movements that even you have done at least once in your lifetime. Classic examples are push-ups, jumping jacks, squats, lunges, and sit-ups. In recent years, exercises such as burpees, mountain climbers, and planks have become increasingly popular. More advanced calisthenics exercises include muscle-ups, chin-ups, hand-stands, and back lever. While these exercises all have a different degree of difficulty, they all are similar that they are all bodyweight exercises.

Why Practice Calisthenics?

With all the workouts available in the world, why is calisthenics a preferable form of exercise? There are many reasons why this is a recommended exercise for everyone. Here are the top three reasons why you should practice calisthenics.


Unlike other workouts where you need to complete to complete an entire session, calisthenics allows you to modify the length of your workout depending on your needs. You can make it a quick 20-minute session or a full-blown 90-minute workout- it’s totally up to you!


Most calisthenics exercises also target multiple large muscle groups in your body simultaneously so you’re getting the most of your workout. For example, if you do a squat jump, mountain climbers, and burpees routine, you can get a cardio workout plus muscle-building strength training at the same time.

Convenient and Practical

Signing up for a fitness club membership or attending group class sessions do not come cheap. Even if you decide to exercise at home, buying equipment and weights can also put a dent in your budget. These will not be a problem with a calisthenics practice.


Because you are only using your bodyweight, you don’t need to spend extra on machine or apparatus. You don’t even have to go outside of your house, spend gas or taxi money, and deal with traffic to work out. You can do these exercises anywhere and anytime you want. Even if you are traveling, you can take your workout with you.

Accessible to Everyone

One amazing fact about calisthenics exercises is that they can be modified depending on your personal capabilities. If you are a beginner, you can perform easier variations until you are able to build strength. Then, you can progress to more advanced exercises as you master the basics.


The variations of exercises are endless. Just by changing the position of your body, you can make calisthenics exercises easier or more challenging to suit your fitness goals. This makes calisthenics useful for everyone, whether you’re a novice or a pro, you will surely benefit from a calisthenics routine.

The Benefits of Calisthenics To Your Body

After learning why it makes sense to consider practicing calisthenics, it’s time to look at the various benefits of calisthenics to the body. Here are the top benefits of practicing calisthenics exercises.

Stronger and fitter body

A lot of people think that the only way to build stronger muscles is by pumping iron. While this may be a more popular way to do so, strength-training through calisthenics is just as effective. You can definitely get stronger with calisthenics and the benefit is that you are not only developing your strength, you are also improving your stamina, mobility, flexibility, endurance, bone health, and balance.

A more balanced-looking physique

Have you ever seen gym buffs who have massive upper body muscles, but very thin, weak-looking legs? These are usually people who practice isolation muscle exercises, meaning they train one muscle group at a time. After spending so much time at the bench press, they most probably skipped their leg days which resulted in a disproportionate looking physique.


This is rarely the case when it comes to a calisthenics practice. As mentioned, calisthenics target multiple muscle groups in the body. For example, compared to isolation exercises like a bicep curl, a compound exercise like a push-up will work out your arms, chest, core abdominal muscles, and shoulders. This gives you a more balanced-looking form 360- degrees!


Lowers Risk of Pain and Injuries

A regular practice of calisthenics can help you have a lower risk of injury. This is because aside from just developing your strength, calisthenics also improves your mobility and flexibility. This will help you perform exercises more effectively and also prevent sports injuries when you’re taking part in other physical activities.



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Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith started calisthenics at age 26 as a means to lose weight and tone her body. After completing her first successful muscle up, the amazing feeling inspired her to train further and become a full-time calisthenics instructor. Rebecca also holds a Management Degree and a Diploma in Nutrition.