How to Start Calisthenics Training – A Beginner Workout Routine

beginner-calisthenics

In today’s post I’m going to show you a beginner calisthenics training routine you could use to get your feet wet with calisthenics. If you’re new to this type of training, or even if you’re new to training in general, this workout is ideal for you.

Don’t be fooled by the title though, this is indeed a beginner workout, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. With these exercises, if you push yourself, the intensity is pretty high. You will get stronger, you will build muscle, and you’ll develop very quickly by doing so.

So let’s cut straight to the chase and I’ll explain to you all the exercises in detail and let you know how many sets and reps you should do to get the most out of your training.

Eccentric Pull-Ups

negative-pull-ups
Negative pull-ups

We’re going to start the routine with an eccentric (negative) pull-up.

The reason why we’re doing eccentrics pull-ups and not full pull-ups is because this is a beginner routine and I’m assuming, for most of you, pull-ups are quite a difficult exercise to do.

Doing pull-ups eccentrically or, in other words, from the top-down is going to build strength very rapidly because you’re doing the exact movement pattern that you’re trying to get stronger at, just in reverse.

Here’s how you do it.

Start by positioning yourself below the bar and grab it with your hands roughly shoulder-width apart. Once you have a good comfortable grip and you’re ready to begin, jump to the top of the bar and then slowly slide yourself down in a controlled manner until your arms are fully extended.

Try to make the motion very smooth from the top, where your chin is above the bar, all the way down until your arms are fully straight.

Video demo:

Next, we’re going to move on to an anterior core exercise, a basic plank.

Plank

When you’re doing the plank exercise, you want to make sure that your back is straight and that you’re squeezing your abs as well as your glutes and you’re resisting your lower back from arching.

It sounds simple to do but, if you’re new to this type of exercise, you’re most likely going to be shaking. Don’t be too concerned though, with a little bit of practice, like everything, you’ll get better at it quickly.

plank-exercise
Maintain a straight line!

Also, don’t forget to breathe.

It’s very easy for beginners to focus really hard on squeezing the right areas, that they forget to breathe. Don’t do that!

Push-Ups

When it comes to push-ups, I’m a really big fan of doing the elevated push-up version instead of doing it on the knees. I find that when you do the kneeling variation, the mechanics of the push-up don’t translate very well to the full push-up.

elevated-pushup
Elevated push-up

By doing the push-up on an elevated surface such as a stair or a bench, you can at least take some of your body weight off the movement, making the intensity a bit more manageable.

I recommend that you choose a height where you can bust out sets of five to eight reps.

If you find that you can’t get five to eight reps at a given height, then that height is too challenging for you, and you need to increase it even further.

If you find that you’re doing eight reps and it almost feels like a breeze, make sure that your hands are placed on an object that is closer to the ground.

Eccentric Chin-Ups

chin-upWith the eccentric chin-ups (palms facing backward), we’re going to perform them in the same manner as we did with the pull-ups. By that I mean, you’re going to control the entire range of motion, nice and smooth, from the top all the way down to a dead hang.

There’s absolutely no point in rushing through the range of motion because you’re not going to build strength throughout the entire range and it’s generally going to be when you’re going to have the most difficulty controlling it where the most important gains are to be made.

Kneeling Walk Outs

Next up we’ve got the kneeling walk-out. This is comparable to ab wheel roll-outs (if some of you guys have ever heard of those).

This version is a really good way of doing that similar exercise without the need for any equipment. The only equipment you need here is a soft material like a mattress or blanket under your knees to help to cushion things up and protect your knees.

With this exercise you want to keep your spine in a straight position and, when you walk out, the tendency for most people is they’re going to arch their lower back. If you arch your back even a little bit, it’s going to take away the emphasis of the exercise, which is to train our core on the front of our body primarily.

So when you’re walking out, make sure you brace your stomach before you begin to start walking further ahead with your hands.

kneeling-walkout
Walk as far as you can without arching your back

The distance that you can walk out is dictated by your level of strength. So, the stronger you are, the further you’ll be able to walk out with your hands before you need to return back to the starting position.

You’ll know what intensity or what distance is right for you when you feel like you get to a point where you can’t maintain good spinal position and you feel like your lower back is going to arch.

Dips (Eccentric)

Lastly, we’re going to conclude with a dip exercise. The dip is a very important pushing movement to get you stronger in your upper body.

As before, we’re doing eccentrics with this movement to try and build some volume in this movement pattern, so that in the future you can churn out this exercise in a normal fashion, going up and down. That is what the end goal is.

Video demo:

How The Workout Is Structured

We’re going to perform the exercises in a continuous fashion. So, you’ll start with the pull-ups, immediately go onto the plank and then finish off with the push-ups. No rest between exercises.

Once you’ve completed all three, have a rest for, say, 2-3 minutes and then repeat that sequence once again for one to two more times.

How To Make Progress With This Routine?

This routine is very beginner friendly, and it fits almost anyone who’s just getting started with calisthenics. It is designed to build a basic foundation of strength before moving on to other, more complex training.

The key to making progress with this routine is to make sure that as you do it, you try to make small increments over time by gradually adding-in the concentric motion as well, rather than just the eccentric portion of the exercise.

Adding More Reps

add-more-repetitionsAfter you’ve done this routine for a while and you’ve reached the point where you can already do the exercise in a regular fashion, you want to start increasing the number of reps that you do on each set.

Start with a certain amount of reps and raise it over time.

Your goal is to reach a point where you can do about 8-12 reps x 3 sets for each exercise as this is the optimal range where muscle growth and strength building occurs. It will also open up a lot of room for you to play around and start experimenting with other calisthenics movements.

If you’ve reached this stage successfully and you’re looking for more advanced calisthenics training routines, I recommend that you checkout Bar Brothers – The System, it’s a very effective workout plan I’ve been following lately and it has given me excellent results so far.

Thanks for reading.

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