I’m sure that you have a tonne of questions that you would like answered regarding calisthenics or bodyweight training in general.
Based on questions asked on our blog and social media I have done my best to answer them all honestly.
How Do I Start?
You’ve already started by reading this post and showing an interest in bodyweight training, if you are a complete beginner then it’s important to practise all the basic bodyweight exercises:
- Pull Ups
- Chin Ups
- Push Ups
By making sure that you have good strength in all these exercises will help you progress faster through your skills training while building some incredible strength.
Another option is to follow a calisthenics programme designed for beginners like Barstarzz BTX which we have a detailed review on if this is the route that would best suit you.
I personally find following a set programme beneficial and helps keep me motivated, once you have completed the programme you can then create your own workouts and routines.
What Equipment Do I Need?
None, you can do an effective workout with calisthenics without any equipment although you will want to get some basic equipment like parallette bars when you are looking to start skills training.
Parallette bars help take some pressure off the wrists making certain skills less taxing on your wrists, parallettes raise you off the ground slightly allowing you a wider range of motion which helps increase strength.
If you are looking at buying equipment then I would recommend the following pieces of equipment.
- Gymnasts Rings
- Parallette Bars
- Resistance bands
You can check out our recent post explaining what exercises you can do on each piece of equipment.
What Exercises Do You Do In A Typical Calisthenics Workout?
This question is quite difficult to answer because the beauty of calisthenics training is that you can do whatever you feel like that day rather than it being “chest day” for example.
Another factor will be your skill level, the more advanced you are, the more diverse your workout will be, this doesn’t mean a beginners workout would be boring though.
Typical exercises that most people include in their everyday workouts are, pull ups, dips, push ups, squats and any skills or progression that are currently working on.
For me, a typical workout always starts with a warm up then onto some light skills work for example a few handstand holds, once fully warmed up I work on the hardest progressions that I’m currently working on.
For example the planche, I would start with band assisted straddle planche and work down to the easiest allowing me to tackle the hardest part first.
Once I have worked on which ever skill or skills for that day I then add in some reps and sets of the basics like pull ups, chin ups etc to keep a good level of strength.
How Long Does It Take Before You See Results?
Like any form of exercise, there are many conditions that affect how long something will take, we are all different and take to certain things faster than others.
A healthy diet, good work rate and general commitment to any programme will always end with positive results, this is the same with calisthenics.
A good example here is my brother, he had been doing weight training for years and recently started training with me, he thought everything was impossible and would never achieve some of the skills.
Eight weeks later he’s put the hard work in and is able to transition from a frog stand to handstand, hold a handstand and is well on his way to a muscle up.
Depending on your goals the time scales will change, for example, learning to handstand could take as little as 6 weeks or up to one year.
Regardless of how long things take, work hard and you will achieve what you’re aiming for.
Are There Any Risk?
There will always be some element of risk in anything you do but there are many things you can do to limit this.
Warming up properly and stretching after your workouts will help you avoid injuries, sticking to a progression until your ready will also limit the chances of an unnecessary injury.
As long as you follow the simple rules above and don’t take unnecessary risks you should be able to stay injury free.
Is Calisthenics Hard?
Yes, It’s as hard as you make it, the level of difficulty will raise once you gain more experience with skills training, when you first start you may only be able to do a couple of pull ups and doing a set of 10 will seem impossible.
What’s great about calisthenics is that 1-2 months down the line you will be doing 3 sets of 10 and wondering how you got so strong!
Can Anyone Do Calisthenics?
Definitely, the calisthenics community is like nothing else and people are extremely helpful regardless of your current level.
Calisthenics is for everyone from beginner to an experienced gym goer.
Are Progressions Important?
If you are new to calisthenics you will hear the word “progressions” in a lot of tutorials, all that’s meant by this term is basically a step.
A good way to explain this is to break down a skill, we will use the planche for an example.
Step 1. Frog stand
Step 2. Advanced Frog
Step 3. Tuck planche hold
Step 4. Advanced Tuck
Step 5. Resistance band assisted straddle planche
Step 6. Full straddle planche
Normally there will be a hold time like 20-30 seconds as a target before moving on or a set number of reps.
The hold times and reps will be different for everyone so have a play around and see if you feel strong enough to move onto the next step.
I would suggest at least 15 seconds as the minimum hold time before moving on.
Is It Ok To Skip Progressions?
Not really, if you want to make good, injury free progress then sticking to the progressions is key.
It’s easy to start skipping progression as I’ve done this myself and ended up having to drop back to the previous step a few weeks later as the strength wasn’t there.
Social media plays a big part in all this as daily you see calisthenics skills with perfect form but never the countless fails and hard work that has been put into the seemingly effortless skill.
If you’re thinking about giving calisthenics a go you won’t regret it as every workout is fun and you will build an impressive physique and strength.
Try not to be influenced by social media and other people’s progress as this will only hinder yours.
Don’t skip progressions as it will only come back to bite you with an injury or lack of ability to perform a skill meaning you will lose motivation.
Most importantly have FUN!
If you have any more questions let me know in the comments and I will answer them for you.