How To Start In Calisthenics: 5 Essential Beginner Exercises

A couple of years ago, my fitness journey came to a sudden halt.

The pandemic hit us all like a ton of bricks, preventing us from going to the gym and looking for new methods that kept our bodies healthy and in shape.

Even though I still had access to a gym, my clients didn’t.

I was forced to discover methods that would increase strength, muscle volume, and endurance all from the comfort of our own homes. 

Then, one evening, while on my 1 hour of outdoor exercise, I noticed a park.

This was obviously out of bounds, but I remembered a time when all types of different people would lift themselves onto the jungle gym. 

They would pull themselves above it, turn themselves upside down, or even hang off the sides keeping their body horizontal on the ground.

I instantly thought to myself, “This is incredible!”.

The best part was, that these people were shredded.

They were big, lean, and in the perfect shape desired by so many others.

I couldn’t even see a bit of weight in site, other than one important tool.

Their bodyweight.

This special branch of resistance training, known as calisthenics, is effective but tough.

And getting started is daunting, especially if we feel like we aren’t strong enough to do it.

Hey, I felt the same.

I avoided it.

Felt it was too tough to get into. 

But then I found these 5 gateway exercises.

This full-body calisthenic workout is perfect for beginners.

It builds your strength and agility, so you can get into those complicated moves you used to only imagine being able to do. 

Soon, it will be you.

Let’s get into it.

What Exactly Is Calisthenics?

I don’t know about you, but I always thought calisthenics had some complicated definition that only certain exercises qualified as. 

However, I was completely wrong.

Pretty much all bodyweight exercises are calisthenics.

If you are using your body weight as resistance to training your balance, mobility, and strength, then you are doing calisthenics.

This type of exercise can be fairly simple, such as lunges or jumping jacks, or fairly complicated, such as burpees or even handstand pushups. 

Notice that all these exercises lack one thing.


This means you can perform them anywhere you like, at home or in the park, without needing to invest loads of money.

Saving money isn’t the only, or even remotely close to being the best, reason to do calisthenics, though…

Why Should I Do Calisthenics?

  1. Mobility: Calisthenic movements improve your muscle agility, and training them often can help us move easier, and reduce the risk of injury.
  2. Balance and Coordination: Bodyweight exercises are compound movements, with almost all of them requiring multiple muscle groups, or more specifically your core muscles, to work harder and increase in strength. This can result in your balance and coordination improving, meaning keeping yourself upright when squatting will get easier.
  3. Build Muscle: To build muscle, you have got to perform progressive overload. While this can be difficult with your body weight, it is still possible. By simply increasing the volume of your calisthenic workout, you can overload the muscle.
  4. Easy and Enjoyable: What’s the point of working out if you don’t find it fun? I love the challenge of calisthenics and how awesome it looks when I’m doing it. It’s also extremely convenient meaning we can do it wherever and whenever.
  5. Lose Weight: At first, calisthenics looks like it’s purely for strength. However, bodyweight exercises are intense. It requires controlled breathing and multiple muscle groups to work at once, resulting in a lot of calories being burnt. I have also read fairly recently that calisthenics can reduce your risk of heart disease, which is always another positive.

Full-Body Calisthenics Workout For A Beginner


calisthenics full-body workout - low angle of man doing a pull up

Okay, I get it. Pullups are hard.

While the concept of pulling down on a bar to lift yourself upwards seems simple, it requires a lot of upper body strength to do so.

The thing is, they are the perfect gateway into those more complicated calisthenic exercises.

As a beginner, you need to be building up your pull-up strength to help obtain the explosivity required for a muscle up or to keep your body in those incredibly advanced positions for longer.

Not only that, but a pull-up has been the most vital tool to tone my back, arms, and core strength.

My balance has improved drastically, with my core needing to be engaged to keep my torso upright and straight.

I used to suffer from shoulder pain, but the pullup, along with other exercises, has seemingly reduced this massively.  

Performing even just a couple of pull-ups was a challenge at first.

This might be the same for you.

If required, I recommend using a pull-up machine to support your weight.

This means you can slowly build up being strong enough to pull your own weight upwards.

How To Do It

  1. Find a sturdy, elevated bar you can grip comfortably. Avoid using the top of doors, as this can result in a nasty accident.
  2. Have your hands in an overhand grip, shoulder-width apart.
  3. Engage your core and tense your whole body. 
  4. Driving through your hands, imagine you are pulling the bar towards you, bending your arms at the elbow.
  5. Your body will raise towards the bar. As your chest aligns with the bar, hold the position for a second.
  6. Slowly control your body back to the original position.
  7. Repeat this exercise until failure, trying to beat your personal best each day.


calisthenics full-body workout - man using resistance band to do a push up

When you first opened this article, I bet you weren’t expecting a calisthenic workout to be this simple.

Well, pushups are the perfect beginner exercise to build your upper body strength and shift you from doing 2 handed pushups to more complicated moves like the handstand pushups or the human flag hold.

Pushups incorporate many muscle groups, from your chest to your back and arms, but one of the more significant muscles, which will help you move from novice to advanced moves, is the core muscles.

To keep yourself in the pushup position, without keeling over, your abdominal muscles need to get involved, resulting in you becoming a lot more balanced.

The thing I like about pushups is the ability to target any muscle by just changing my hand position.

If I feel like my triceps lack strength; close grip. My back feels weak; wide grip. It is just so versatile and enjoyable.

How To Do It

  1. Find a flat and comfortable surface.
  2. Place your palms on the ground facing forward. Kick your legs out behind you.
  3. Engage your core and keep your torso straight.
  4. Bending at the elbows, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the ground.
  5. Hold this position for a second.
  6. Drive through your hands to push your body back to the original position.
  7. Repeat for as many reps as possible. Try to improve on this each day.

Jump Squats

calisthenics full-body workout - Man doing bodyweight squat at home

Calisthenics is known for requiring strength and balance.

But one part is always forgotten. 

Your explosivity.

With advanced calisthenics, you’ve got to be straight out of the blocks.

Each move must be done with power and meaning, and a jump squat does just that. Not only does it help with your explosivity and agility, but the jump squat also ensures you are improving your lower body strength.

After all, this is a full-body workout.

The intensity of a jump squat is second to none.

Not only will you feel it burning your muscles, but you will feel it burning calories.

After a few sessions of jump squats, I can tell my fitness has increased.

How To Do It

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Stand up tall with your core engaged.
  3. Bending at the knees and keeping your back straight, lower your backside down to the ground.
  4. When your thighs are parallel to the ground, drive through your planted heels to extend your legs.
  5. As your legs extend, jump as high as you can.
  6. Land softly, as soon as your feet touch the ground, repeat to keep the intensity high.


calisthenics full-body workout - woman-with-strong-body-making-plank-exercise

Core strength and stability are arguably the most important part of advanced calisthenics.

That’s how all the pros do it.

They build their abdominals so strong that they can literally hold themselves in positions that should be impossible.

Simple exercises like the plank will build these muscles efficiently and effectively.

Just a couple of minutes a day, and you will reap the rewards.

You will notice your balance improves, your posture improves, and even things that may seem irrelevant, like your mental hardiness or your fitness, drastically increase.

How To Do It

  1. Find a flat, comfortable floor.
  2. Get in the pushup position, with your legs kicked out behind you.
  3. Then, shift your weight from the palms of your hands to your forearms.
  4. Engage your core and hold this position for as long as possible.
  5. Each day repeat this exercise, and try to improve how long you stay in the position.

Tricep Dips

calisthenics full-body workout - fit man doing dips at home

While an exercise that targets such a small and seemingly insignificant may seem pointless in calisthenics, it is actually the opposite.

We aren’t exactly trying to increase the strength and size of our triceps, in particular, we are attempting to improve our strength and agility from this particular push movement.

This will help advance our pullup into the muscle-up, where we need the final push from our triceps and shoulders to get us up there.

The tricep dip does seem like it only targets the triceps. 

I mean, why wouldn’t it, the clue is in the name.

However, it has much more meaning than that.

This exercise arguably requires balance much more than other exercises, as we are trying to keep ourselves upright with just the palms of our hands behind us.

This exercise can drastically improve your posture and agility, due to the position your body is in, and the movements your arms must make.

The shoulders come into play here as well.

They are one of the main parts of the body working to keep your hands planted and your body still, which can help make these stronger and reduce shoulder joint pain.

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How To Do It

  1. Find an elevated surface, such as a bench or a chair.
  2. Sit in front of it, with your legs stretched out in front of you.
  3. Place the palms of your hands on the bench, keeping them facing forwards.
  4. Extend your elbows, so your arms are fully straight and your body is off the ground.
  5. To start the rep, lower your body until it is an inch off the ground, bending at the elbow. Keep your torso upright and core engaged.
  6. Hold this position for a second, then explode upwards, driving through the palms of your hands.
  7. Repeat for as many reps as possible.

Final Words

Starting calisthenics may have seemed impossible.

You may have looked at it as something that was way too complicated for you to do.

However, now you have realized that calisthenics can be as simple as bodyweight resistance training, and you now have this ultimate full-body calisthenic workout plan, you can finally get into it.

With calisthenics, you no longer need to go to the gym.

This aspect really interests me, and I believe you can make a gym wherever, without the need for equipment. 

And when you join the Grizzly Online Gym you get access to all my workouts that you can do wherever you want!

With or without equipment, you even get access to all my programs when you join.

What are you waiting for? Sign up now!

If this intrigues you, go check out my free ebook “Train Wherever The F*ck You Want”, right here. This is a truly in-depth guide on the exercises you can do from home, or at work.

From calisthenics to resistance bands, I believe it has got it all.

So, have you started calisthenic training?

Are there any beginner exercises you would add to help improve your strength, balance, and mobility?

Let me know in the comments below.