Creating a Calisthenics Strength Training Routine

Some perceive calisthenics as being limited to cardio-intensive exercises such as jumping jacks and jogging in place. However, by utilizing your own body weight, you can get just as much of a strength-based workout as you’d get using all the fancy machines that you’d find at a gym.

Calisthenics provide an often-overlooked and inexpensive option for those who want to get in peak physical condition without all the elaborate machines and devices. Though you won’t be able to build as much muscle as you would through a heavy lifting routine, you’ll still be able to tone and build lean muscle that will raise your overall energy level and metabolism. Below you’ll find some tips on how to build a straightforward calisthenics routine that will focus mainly on strength building exercises for all major muscle groups.

Warming Up

It’s very important, whether you’re in the gym or not, to warm up before undertaking any routine. It helps get blood circulating and your muscles primed for the workout you’re about to put them through. Start out with a couple of sets of jumping jacks and an easy jog in place. Warm-up should last between 10 and 20 minutes.

Muscle Focus

One of the more difficult parts of using calisthenics to build and tone muscles is that, since it utilizes your own bodyweight, it’s hard to channel that weight in order to work specific muscles. Therefore, you must develop specific techniques that will place more strain on specific areas in order to push them to the point where they’ll grow. In order to do this, you must incorporate exercises that not only work specific muscle groups, but specific muscles within that group.

Using Leverage to Add Weight

With calisthenics, you don’t have the option of just throwing more weight on the bar in order to push yourself further. Ten repetitions of any exercise pushes the limit for strength gain. In other words, if you can do more than ten repetitions, then you’re not effectively gaining muscle mass. In order to get around this, you must use leverage techniques in order to focus more weight on the muscles being worked. For example, when you’re doing push-ups, you can raise your feet onto a platform in order to more weight into the motion.

There are a number of different ways to use leverage to your advantage. Sometimes it’s as easy as putting your hands in a different position or maybe even just wearing a backpack filled with junk from around the house. You should aim to keep repetitions at around five in order to maximize muscle gain.

Push Yourself

The only limit you have with calisthenics is your own weight. In order to put on muscle, you must make sure that your diet will allow for it. So, make sure that you’re eating enough so that the new muscle will have the nutrients needed to allow it to grow. Also, if you feel like there’s more you could be doing, then just do it. You need to be creative, but there’s always a way to utilize more bodyweight and push yourself to the next level.


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  • mikey

    hi, i just started a cals routine, and you say that the lower the reps more muscle gain? i noticed in the push up areas i can do 20-30 reps, but in close grip pull ups and wide grip i can only get 5-6 reps, and dips around 10, so when i get to 12-15 reps on those, will i not gain muscle!?