Your Calisthenics Workout Program
Welcome to the Body weight tribe guide and calisthenics training program.
Here you will a detailed if not the Best calisthenics workout plan blueprint, complete with all the necessary information on all things you should be doing to progress optimally, including how to start from the basics if you are new, how to get stronger using bodyweight progressions, effective de-loading, warming up, cooling down, as well as how to properly measure your progress, and how much of what you should be eating to put on some serious muscle mass, with time.
This workout is designed to be highly actionable, carefully detailed guide. Read through it, take notes, read again if needed, and let’s get to work.
Why use this calisthenics workout plan blueprint?
In this guide, you’ll have the calisthenics workout plan blueprint, built upon the foundation movements, which you will then work on improving.
If you have struggled for some time now with previous routines not giving you the results your looking for, having to pay for an expensive gym membership or maybe you’ve jumped around from one program top another.
We know the feeling or never really being able to stick to a training program and that is why we designed the following bodyweight program. It offers you the freedom to workout anywhere, at pretty much any time, and with very little training equipment needed.
However, if you really want to succeed and progress optimally, you will have to stick to this one, respect the program, follow it and have patience, for the results will come.
What will you get from this guide?
This calisthenics training routine has been designed to work like a typical bodybuilder’s routine, but with bodyweight progressions instead of weights.
This means you will follow a sets and reps principle, and will put on some considerable muscle, should you keep your diet in check on the side. This doesn’t mean restricting yourself in terms of what you eat, but eating enough to put on muscle mass.
Who is this calisthenics workout plan for?
If you are looking to build muscle, build strength, and learn how to control your own bodyweight, this calisthenics workout plan is likely to be a good fit you.
The freedom and results it will give you alone should be enough to convince you, but let’s be honest here, like I said above, you will only get results if you stick to it, and you work your ass off, CONSISTENTLY.
How often will you need to train?
Every week, 3 to 6 times a week (depending on the workout split you choose-we’ll get more into this further down in the guide), anywhere from 30 minutes to a full 1h30, you should be putting in 100% effort.
We do not recommend pushing yourself in unhealthy ways as this may lead to you getting injured from just trying to progress too fast.
What Should My Workout Goal Be?
It means that you will workout smartly but hard, and we’ll say it again; consistently.
This is what will give you results, working out 20 minutes one day, and 3 hours another to make up for the sessions you couldn’t/didn’t want to do, won’t get you there.
In fact working out like this will lead to failure and no one wants that!
A Calisthenics Exercise Routine Designed Just For You!
Now keep in mind that this is a calisthenics workout program blueprint, as in you will find all the necessary information laid out, for you to create the ultimate calisthenics workout plan that suits YOU.
It’s impossible to create a single routine that fits and works for everyone as we are all different, and progress at our own paces. This gives you the possibility to tailor the routine to your needs and objectives.
What Are The Physical Requirements Needed To Start This Bodyweight workout Program?
Even though the routine is fully customizable to suit your goals and current level, it’s good to have a certain base to start from.
This is to insure that you can perform the foundations with proper form, and start getting stronger right away.
- 5 dips
- 5 pull ups
- 10 squats
- 10 seconds tucked L-sit hold or 5 leg raises
Do you already meet all or most of these requirements?
If Yes, Great!
But what if you don’t?
What Should I Do If I Don’t If I Can’t Do The Above Calisthenics Exercises In My Bag?
If you can’t yet do the calisthenics exercises mentioned above, don’t worry.
The progressions for these bodyweight exercises are found below can be adapted to any level, whether you are a complete beginner to callisthenics exercises and cannot do a single pull up or dip yet, or if you have already mastered the freestanding handstand pushup.
It will take you a little longer to acquire the basics, but progress is progress.
Calisthenics Exercises That Never Grow Old
The cool thing about these calisthenics exercises and this program is that you can continually adapt it meaning that it never grows old.
As long as you are improving from month to month, you are doing it right, and you should not ever be concerned about your current capabilities as they will improve greatly over time, nor should you compare yourself to others who are already stronger than you, or perhaps progress faster.
You will get there.
As many great people have said we overestimate what we can achieve in a day and underestimate what we can achieve in a year!
Bodyweight Exercise Equipment requirements
Seeing as this is bodyweight training, you really don’t need much to achieve your results (unlike weight training).
Everything you can get to facilitate or optimize your bodyweight workouts should fit in a backpack.
You could do everything with absolutely no tools, but getting one or two things will improve the quality of your training, your experience and enjoyment.
The Pull Up Bar
For instance, you will need something to do dips and pull ups on, if you don’t have access to either, you could get something like a doorway pull up bar to start, and perhaps hang some gymnastic rings from that for your dips.
An even better option would be to get rid of the doorway pull up bar and just go for the gymnastic rings.
Is This The Single Most Valuable Piece of Calisthenics Equipment You Can Own!
They are an incredibly versatile piece of equipment that you can hang pretty much anywhere that will support your weight, allow you to do every single exercise noted in this blueprint, and you can use them to scale your workouts’ difficulty for years on end.
You will never get bored of ring training as it has many advantages and benefits.
One disadvantage however is that for someone who has just gotten into bodyweight training and can already barely do dips, it may be too much of a challenge at first.
That said there are plenty of progression exercises that you can do with rings.
Rings are a fantastic tool to move on to once you have acquired the requirements above and more.
Get Yourself Some Parallettes
The third and final highly recommended tool is parallettes.
These are great for people of all levels for many different reasons.
Some are high enough to do dips on, so that solves the issue of where you can do them when you are not strong enough for rings yet, and they will also allow you to do other calisthenics exercises like rows, incline and decline push ups, L-sits, Handstand push ups, without mentioning that it will help alleviate any wrist pain some people may have during push ups.
Setting Your Body Weight Training Goals
Yes we are serious, I know what you are saying, I just want the abs and the guns! Now you guys are talking about setting goals!
We are and for good reason!
Before jumping into your new routine, it’s important for you to think about why you are doing it, and what you want to achieve.
Doing this helps you to set realistic objectives so you can start working towards them. When you are working out with no particular clear goal in sight, it’s easy to start plateauing and lacking in progress.
Here is what “smart” goal setting entails, according to the awesome bodyweight fitness subreddit.
- Specific: Be precise about what it is that you want to achieve. Setting yourself an objective like “being fit” is a very broad goal that can mean a lot of things. Set yourself more specific goals like “5 strict handstand push ups”. Once you have achieved that number, you can literally tick it off from your list and move on to another goal.
- Measurable: It’s helpful to know how close you are to achieving your goal. For example, if you can already do 15 or more pike push ups, you know you’re close to the wall handstand push up.
- Attainable: If you can’t attain the objective you’ve set for yourself, you’ll get discouraged and will probably end up giving up on the goal anyway. You can still aim high, sure, but be realistic in terms of what you can achieve in a given period of time. Or break your goal down into smaller steps (just like the guy in Touching The Void)!
- Relevant: your goal has to be worth it (for you). It has to offer you something beyond the satisfaction of just completing the goal, like a stepping stone for another, further away goal, for example.
- Time-constrained: we all have experienced procrastination. Setting deadlines avoid this, as it sets a sort of healthy urgency, pushing you to work efficiently.
Goals you will achieve with this routine:
- Muscle gain (if you are eating right)
- Strength gain
- Weight loss (if you are eating right)
Setting Small Goals Creates Small Steps That Lead To Big Outcomes!
Learn to differentiate between the long term, and short term goals.
For instance, if your goal is to attain a one arm chin up, this may take anywhere from 4 months to 2 years, depending on where you are at right now.
It’s important to split that long term goal, into smaller, short term goals, like a 1.5 bodyweight chin up, or a 15 second eccentric one arm chin up.
Working on several, smaller goals is much smarter in the long run as it offers you constant progress, and a certain level of satisfaction for when you achieve these smaller goals, instead of getting overwhelmed by taking ages to work up to that one long term goal, and giving up.
A good period for a smaller, short-term goal is around 4-6 weeks.
This is and adequate amount of time to achieve significant progress, while also being a relatively short period so you don’t get burned out or bored of working on a single goal.
Once the 6 weeks are up, you re-evaluate and decide on your goals for the next cycle, possibly altering your routine to suit those goals.
The foundations of a strong physique
Most calisthenics exercises in this blueprint are based upon the foundation bodyweight exercises such as pushups, pull ups, dips, squats, and more.
You will gradually move on to increasingly harder variations, but always with a strong focus on it’s base.
The foundations are what set the strength level for the following bodyweight exercises, they condition your body for the harder variations and are a crucial part of training.
They must constantly be worked on either directly through the movement itself, or indirectly by doing a variation of that movement that corresponds to your level of training.
Overall structure of the workout:
- warm up with bodyline drills and dynamic stretching
- strength work – 11 exercises that can be done as a superset
- cool down and stretches
Progressions are similar to using weight in weightlifting, but only you are using your own bodyweight to leverage the amount of difficulty.
For instance, if you can already confidently do a certain amount of reps with strict L-sit pull-ups, you will move on to the next harder progressions, such as archer pull ups.
Another example is if you can’t do a pull up at all, yet. Instead, you will work on a lower progression, which would be pull up eccentrics (slowly lowering yourself from the bottom to bottom position of the pull up).
When to change to the next progression?
In this workout blueprint, the progressions will all be laid out for you, but you must choose on which you can do 5 to 8 strict reps with. Once you have reacher 8 to 10 perfect form reps, you may move on to the next progression of a given exercise.
Some progressions include static exercises like support holds, which involve holding a position with a static contraction for a given amount of time. This is ideal to build up the strength for a more advanced movements, as well as condition the joints.
The progressions for each exercise are listed below:
Callisthenics Exercises For Pull up progressions
3. Pull ups
Callisthenics Exercises For Rowing progressions
2. Full row
3. Full row, feet elevated
4. Archer row
5. One arm row
6. Tuck row
9. Straddle row
Callisthenics Exercises For Push up progressions
10. Rings wall pseudo planche push ups
11. Wall maltese push ups
12. Rings wall maltese push ups
Callisthenics Exercises For Dip progressions
4. Ring dips
Callisthenics Exercises For Squat progressions
2. Full squat
4. Parallel pistol squat
6. Shrimp squat
Callisthenics Exercises For Hip hinge progressions
2. Decreased° Nordic hamstring curl (all the way to a minimal hip hinge)
3. One legged Nordic hamstring curl negatives
4. Full one legged Nordic hamstring curl
Callisthenics Exercises For Shoulder push up progression
1. Pike push up
2. Feet elevated pike push up
4. Wall headstand push up
6. Freestanding headstand push up
Weekly Bodyweight Training Schedule and Splits
Calisthenics workout For beginners
You will perform the routine as a full body workout, 3 times times per week. You can place a rest day between each workout day. The reason you are not using other splits like the typical “bodybuilder body part split”, or push and pull split, is because it is sub-optimal for beginners – a full body routine will be more efficient when you are starting out. You can find the source and more information here.
Calisthenics workout For intermediate to advanced
You will separate your workout days into a push-pull-legs split. This is a slightly more advanced, and far more intense split than the one featured above. The rest day can be put anywhere in between either the push, pull, leg, and after legs, too.
Here’s an example:
You will be working each muscle group twice per week.
Calisthenics workout program blueprint
The progressions for each exercise are listed above under “using progression”.
|Self directed||Wrist warm up|
|5-10||Scapula push ups|
|Self directed||Yuri shoulder band warm up|
|30-60s||Hollow body hold|
|30-60s||Reverse hollow hold|
|Self directed||Exercise of your choice to raise body temperature|
– Main strength work (beginners)
|Pull up progression||3-5||5-10||2-3 mins|
|Push up progression||3-5||5-10||2-3 mins|
|Row progression||3-5||5-10||1 min 30|
|Dip progression||3-5||5-10||1 min 30|
|Squat progression||3-5||5-10||2-3 mins|
|Hip hinge progression||3-5||5-10||2-3 mins|
– Main strength work (Intermediate/advanced)
|Pull||Pull up progression (focus on strength)||3-5||5-10||2-3 mins|
|Secondary Pull up or row progression (focus on hypertrophy)||3-5||5-10||1 min 30|
|Row progression||3-5||5-10||1 min 30|
|Bodyweight bicep curls/pelican curls||3||10||1 min|
|Push||Push up progression (focus on strength)||3-5||5-10||2-3 mins|
|Secondary push up or dip progression (focus on hypertrophy)||3-5||5-10||1 min 30|
|Dip progression||3-5||5-10||1 min 30|
|Bodyweight tricep extensions/tricep dips||3||10||1 min|
|Legs||Squat progression||3-5||5-10||2-3 mins|
|Hip hinge progression||3-5||5-10||2-3 mins|
|Step ups or lunges||3-5||5-10||1 min 30|
|Calve raises||6||10-15||1 min|
After your warmup and before your main workout
These two moves are also fundamental ones, that help you greatly towards handstand push ups, and more.
The positions of the scapula (elevated and depressed) in both of these movements will develop structural balance in your shoulders, allowing you to maintain healthy, strong shoulders. You can work them as a superset, aiming to work up to a total of 60s of holding.
Another way of progressing as you gain strength would be to add more weight with the use of a dip belt, or a weighted vest. The dip belt is ideal for bodyweight exercises like pull ups, and dips, but will require some tweaking to use on pushups squats, and shoulder pushups.
A weighted vest is a comfortable, convenient way of adding difficulty, but it’s restricted to the maximum amount of weight you can add to the weight vest, which usually isn’t much.
Rethink Your Calisthenics Progression Expectations
So many people get in the habit of wanting everything in the smallest time period possible.
We want our upper body strength to improve quickly, reducing our own body weight, we want the muscle mass to increase and we really just want our entire body to change just like that!
As much as it’s great to not have to wait an eternity for most things in life, we have become far too accustomed to instant gratification.
This is not one of those workout routines that promises instant results and a 40 lbs increase in muscle mass increase within 6 months, this is just a great blueprint to use as a tool, to reach your objectives.
This blueprint offers you all of the basic knowledge you will need, but cannot do the work for you. How much you gain from it, is entirely up to you.
Even with hard work however, not everything is a diagonal, upwards line in a graph.
You will have those inevitable workouts that suck, where you feel like you’re not making any progress, but you must remain consistent.
Those workouts are probably the ones that will give you the most results, too.
Body Change Takes Time And So Should You
Don’t rush your workouts, and don’t try to rush into the progressions either. Work with whichever progression is the right one for you at the time, and only when you have completely acquired it, reaped all the benefits that were to gain from it, should you move to the next progression.
Too many times have I tried to work with a progression that my body wasn’t ready for, and ended up sustaining injuries that put me out of my workouts for months. The progress I could have made was hindered by my eagerness to get there faster than I really could.
Sometimes, even when you feel like you have the strength to move on to the next step, your joints and tissues, aren’t, putting you at an increased risk of injury. That’s why it’s important to take your time, and really solidify the bases, which act as the building blocks for the harder progressions. Just follow the instructions in this blueprint, word hard, and work smart.
It takes around 6 weeks for you to start noticing the changes happening to your body, and double that for everyone else around you.
Recovering From Your Calisthenics Exercises
Along with keeping your diet in check, proper recovery is probably one of the most important things to take account of.
You see, you don’t build muscle whilst working out; you build it when you are sleeping, when your body is away from the breakdown of muscle fibers phase, and well into its recovery phase.
Deloading Why It’s Important If You Want Gains!
An important part of recovery itself is having scheduled de-loads from time to time in order to leave the body a chance to fully recuperate from the stress that it has been put under for given periods of time.
A de-load can be planned in several manners.
You could simply take an entire week or more off from training, or you could structure your workouts to cut the intensity by 50% for a week.
What you choose to do entirely depends on you, what your prefer, and how your body responds.
Resting for an entire week is really great for regenerating both the body and the mind, as you can take a complete break and perhaps do something else for a week, like swimming, going on hikes, and more.
It doesn’t mean that you have to lie in bed for an entire week and not do anything, quite the contrary, get out there and try something different.
The downside to that is that you may feel some new level of soreness, going back to your workouts, and perhaps, a little weaker than before. This is normal.
Your body will quickly regain its strength, and also, increase upon it quicker. This is the whole point of taking that rest week anyway.
The second method, which involves reducing your overall workload and intensity, is good for those that absolutely can’t bear the idea of not working out for a few days.
You can still do the same exercises, but perhaps an easier progression, less weights, or only doing half of the reps that you usually do, for a given exercise.
How often should you deload?
Generally, every 6 to 8 weeks is a good time-frame. However, it depends on your goals and style of training; if you lift very heavy, often, you’ll want to take breaks or de-loads more often, perhaps more in the every 4 weeks range.
Another important factor that comes into play is age. For obvious reasons, some who is 50 years old will need to take more frequent breaks than someone who is 20 years old.
Why Is Sleep So Important For Calisthenics Training
Sleep plays a major role in your body’s recovery post a Calisthenics training session.
During your training, you break down your muscle fibers, which then regenerate themselves to adapt to the current load and intensity of your training, whilst you are sleeping.
This is the most prominent phase of muscle growth, hence why a good amount of sleep, every night, should be a part of your lifestyle for optimal growth.
You should try to get a minimum of 6 hours a sleep per night, and once again, exactly how much is optimal for you, changes from person to person, but anything from, and over 6 hours, is good for you.
Try to cut out as much use of computers, cell-phones, tablets, or anything with a light up screen really, a few hours before going to bed.
The blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle or circadian rhythm. Reducing melatonin makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.
Diet – Not Just To Build Muscle Mass But Recover
For your body to repair itself efficiently, you must give it the right nutrients.
Since carbohydrates are the main source of fuel during your workouts, the restoration of muscle and liver glycogen (the body’s storage form of carbohydrates) stores is important to allow optimal recovery.
An adequate intake of carbohydrates through your diet will optimize muscle glycogen storage during consecutive days of hard training, and delaying the intake of carbohydrates may reduce muscle glycogen storage and inhibit your recovery.
Below We are going to get into more detail!
Measuring Your Bodyweight Training Progress
It’s nice to be able to compare your progress from time to time, and see just how far you’ve come. It’s a good way of seeing what works and what doesn’t, as well as providing you with motivation to keep pushing harder.
To progress optimally, you may want to use a small notebook or Excel spreadsheet to keep track of reps, rest times, exercises done, and anything else you feel like you want to put down in writing. That way you are always aware of what was done the previous workout, and what you need to do to push harder on the next one, it’s a great technique to optimize your training.
There are also certain apps on both IOS and Android that you can use to log your workouts. Few things show how serious you are about your on training more than a little moleskine that you update your training information into.
Your Diet Supports Building Muscle Mass, Loosing Weight and Recovery!
Diet is probably the second most important thing next to a proper workout, if not more important still.
I personally learned this through many months of not eating enough, and not understanding why I wasn’t putting on any muscle.
It doesn’t matter if you are training with Arnold Schwarzenegger himself; if you are not eating enough calories, you simply will not put on an inch of muscle.
Your body uses the nutrients given to him through your diet to rebuild itself whilst you are not training, and mostly, whilst you are sleeping.
If you don’t give it the right nutrients, and in the right amount, it cannot repair and re-grow itself to adapt to your progressive overload.
You may still get stronger, but if building muscle mass is your objective, you need to be eating enough.
Your focus should be first and foremost placed upon your daily calorie intake.
Only after that should you worry about protein.
Depending on your objectives you may also want to take account of things like carbohydrates and fat, but you really should be paying attention to calories and protein, mainly.
How to determine your calorie intake:
To work out how many calories you should be consuming daily, you need to figure out what your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is.
The TDEE will give you a pretty accurate approximation of how the amount of calories you are burning daily.
TDEE is calculated from a combination of your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR), and whatever physical activity you are doing that day.
Use this or these calculators to determine your TDEE. As most calculators are using different methods and formulas to calculate your TDEE, whatever result you obtain may be slightly different one from the other, by a small margin.
Take that into account, and adjust according to the results you get.
If your objective is to put on weight, you will need to eat about 500 calories above your TDEE. If you want to lose weight, you should be eating about 500 calories under your TDEE. And if your goal is simply to maintain your current weight, then eat at your TDEE.
To keep track of your progress, weigh yourself consistently and adjust your calorie intake so that you are gaining approximately 1 lb per week.
Make sure the conditions are similar every time you weight yourself; amount of clothing, before/after food, before/after bowel movements. Weighing yourself first thing in the morning is usually a good option.
What should I be eating?
Different foods contain different Macros and Micros. Protein, fat, carbohydrates, and alcohol, count as Macronutrients. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that you consume in order to maintain physiological processes.
A healthy and balanced diet should be where you obtain your necessary micronutrients, but taking supplements like multi-vitamins every day can help you to cover anything you are struggling to get in your normal diet.
You will often hear about the need for a specific macro ratio in a lot of diets.
This isn’t however something that you should be overly concerned about, as you should aim to focus mainly on the amount of macro per bodyweight. For protein you’ll need to aim for 0.68-1g per 1lb bodyweight.
You can then fill your remaining amount of calories with carbohydrates and/or fat.
As far as the foods that you should be eating go, aim to consume mainly whole foods; vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, and meat. You can find a recommended list of foods here.
What about supplements?
One big mistake that I see quite often is how some are so quick to start researching and investing in supplements, without taking a sensible amount of time towards the most important part which is your diet itself.
Supplements should only come as an extra help to bridge whatever gaps you may have in your normal diet, hence their name. It can however sometimes be difficult to reach your daily macros, and certain supplements can go a long way in helping you to consistently reach them.
Supplements And How they affect Your Performance
- Protein powder — If you are having trouble reaching your required daily protein intake through regular food alone, protein powder can help you in bridging those gaps. There exists a lot of brands out there, but they all serve the same purpose, to supplement your protein intake.
- Weight gainer — Weight gainers can be quite attractive to many who struggle to eat high caloric amounts for their dense caloric value. They can also be quite tasty, too. However, they are simply a mixture of protein powder, and a large amount of carbohydrates or modified starches (e.g. waxy maize, maltodextrin, and more). This isn’t particularly healthy or cost efficient. You are better off mixing protein powder with high quality ingredients such as oatmeal, olive oil, fruit, etc. in order to make a more healthy, cost efficient protein shake.
- Creatine — There exists over 700 studies that have been done on human subjects, proving their positive impact on physical performance in non-endurance related sports (think sprints, explosive movements, and weightlifting). Creatine is great to provide you the strength to squeeze in those extra reps in every set, and push your workouts further.
- Bcaas – The role of Bcaas is to aid you in muscle mass maintenance via an anti-catabolic effect, as well as promoting muscle hypertrophy.
- Pre-workout – The goal of using pre-workout is to prepare you mentally and physically for the workout ahead. You will feel more energetic.
Calisthenics Routine – Conclusion
If you’ve read this far, hopefully, you were able to integrate this precious information, so that you can put it to good use in your next workout. Together, we went over the what, the who and the why of this workout blueprint, the physical, and the material requirements.
We determined how to set smart goals and why one should be patient and realistic as to the results he/she is aiming to obtain.
We spoke about the foundations of a great physique, and how the basics are your building blocks for a strong and powerful looking physique, as well as every single progression of the main workout blueprints exercises, so that you can apply gradual overload to the basics, and work up to their elites variations, if you wish to.
Don’t forget to pick the right split for you, according to your current level of training!
The routine blueprint contains the structure of your workouts, from beginner to advanced levels, as well as instructional videos to better understand how each movement is performed, with optimal form.
You should pay specific attention to the recovery section, as without a proper organising of the latter, you simply will not progress to the best of your ability. Deloading, sleep, and diet, are all important factors to take account of.
Lastly, we went over some basic nutritional advice. Here you will have learned, or at least gotten a good idea of how to determine your daily caloric intake by calculating your TDEE, what you should be eating everyday to reach that caloric number, as well as an overview of the most effective supplements and how they can sometimes help you to bridge any nutritional gaps, and push yourself harder during your workouts.