calisthenics Exercise

Best Calisthenics Exercises for Basic fitness

Calisthenics is a form of fitness training that involves bodyweight exercises. It has gained popularity because it requires minimal equipment and can be done anywhere. Think of it as a “workout playground” where your body is the main equipment for pushing yourself and improving your fitness.

In this article, we have compiled a list of the best calisthenics exercises for beginners. These exercises are designed to work out your entire body, giving you a complete workout experience.

1. Push-ups

calisthenics Exercise Push-ups
calisthenics Exercise Push-ups

Push-ups are a fundamental calisthenics exercise that effectively targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. To perform a push-up correctly:

  1. Start in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the ground.
  3. Push back up to the starting position.

For beginners, modified or knee push-ups can be a great starting point to gradually build strength and technique.

Variations of push-ups such as wide grip or diamond push-ups can add diversity to your workout routine and target the muscles from different angles:

  • Wide grip push-ups emphasize the chest muscles.
  • Diamond push-ups place more emphasis on the triceps.


To ensure proper form during push-ups, keep your body in a straight line from head to heels throughout the movement. Engage your core for stability and control.

Including a picture demonstrating the correct push-up form can provide visual guidance for beginners to understand the proper technique and body alignment required for this exercise.

By incorporating different variations of push-ups into your calisthenics routine, you can challenge your muscles in new ways while working towards a comprehensive full-body workout experience.

2. Squats

Squats are a fundamental exercise in calisthenics that target the lower body muscles, including the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Performing squats with proper form is crucial to maximize the benefits and minimize the risk of injury.

To do squats correctly:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out.
  2. Engage your core muscles by pulling your belly button in towards your spine.
  3. Lower your body by bending at the hips and knees, as if you were sitting back into a chair.
  4. Keep your chest lifted and your back straight throughout the movement.
  5. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground or as low as you can comfortably go.
  6. Push through your heels to return to the starting position.

Maintaining a neutral spine is essential during squats. Avoid rounding or arching your back, as this can put excessive strain on your spine. It is helpful to imagine that there is a string attached to the top of your head, gently pulling you up.

For beginners, it is recommended to start with bodyweight squats before progressing to more challenging variations. As you become more comfortable with the movement, you can challenge yourself by attempting pistol squats.

Pistol squats are performed by balancing on one leg while extending the other leg straight out in front of you. This exercise requires greater balance and strength control. If needed, you can use a support or hold onto a wall for assistance in the beginning stages.

Including a picture showcasing the proper squatting technique can be helpful for visual understanding and ensuring correct form during this exercise.

Remember to start slowly and listen to your body. Gradually increase difficulty and intensity as you gain strength and confidence in your squatting technique.

3. Plank

calisthenics Exercise Plank
calisthenics Exercise Plank

The plank is a highly effective exercise for developing core strength and stability. It targets the muscles in your abdomen, lower back, and hips, helping to improve your posture and enhance overall functional strength.

To perform a plank:

  1. Start by getting into a push-up position, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your toes on the ground.
  2. Engage your core muscles by pulling your belly button towards your spine.
  3. Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe, avoiding any sagging or lifting of the hips.
  4. Hold this position for as long as you can while maintaining proper form.

Planks can be challenging, especially for beginners. It’s important to start with short durations and gradually increase the time as your core muscles get stronger. Aim for 10-20 seconds initially and work your way up to a minute or longer.

For added variety and to further challenge your core muscles, you can incorporate side planks or mountain climbers into your routine. Side planks are performed by supporting your body weight on one forearm and the side of one foot, while mountain climbers involve bringing alternating knees towards your chest in a plank position.

Including a picture demonstrating the correct plank form can be helpful for visual reference and ensuring that you’re performing the exercise accurately.

Remember to breathe evenly throughout the exercise and listen to your body. If you feel any pain or discomfort, it’s important to stop and consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider.

The plank is an excellent exercise for building core strength and stability. By incorporating it into your calisthenics routine along with variations such as side planks and mountain climbers, you’ll be well on your way to developing a strong and stable midsection.

4. Australian pull-ups

calisthenics Exercise Australian pull-ups
calisthenics Exercise Australian pull-ups

Australian pull-ups, also known as bodyweight rows, are an excellent exercise for targeting the back and biceps. By performing this exercise, you can effectively engage your upper body muscles and build strength in these areas. Here’s how to do Australian pull-ups correctly:

  1. Find a sturdy horizontal bar or set up a suspension trainer at chest height.
  2. Stand facing the bar or suspension trainer and grab it with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Walk your feet forward while keeping your arms extended until your body is at an angle to the ground. Your heels should be the only part of your feet touching the floor.
  4. Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels throughout the movement.
  5. Engage your core and retract your shoulder blades.
  6. Bend your elbows and pull your chest towards the bar or suspension trainer while maintaining proper form.
  7. Pause for a moment when your chest reaches the bar or suspension trainer.
  8. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position with controlled movement.

It’s important to note that Australian pull-ups can be challenging for beginners initially, but with consistent practice, you will gradually build strength in your back and biceps. Start with a variation that allows you to maintain proper form and gradually increase the difficulty as you progress.

To help you visualize the correct technique for performing Australian pull-ups, refer to the image below:

By incorporating Australian pull-ups into your calisthenics routine, you can effectively target and strengthen your back and biceps muscles. Remember to focus on maintaining proper form throughout the movement for optimal muscle engagement and growth.

5. Lunges

calisthenics Exercise Lunges
calisthenics Exercise Lunges

Lunges are a highly effective exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Performing lunges correctly can help strengthen and tone the lower body while improving balance and stability. Here’s how to perform lunges with proper form:

  1. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Take a big step forward with your right foot, ensuring that your knee stays aligned with your ankle.
  3. Lower your body by bending both knees until your right thigh is parallel to the ground and your left knee is hovering just above the floor.
  4. Keep your upper body upright, with your chest lifted and shoulders relaxed.
  5. Push through your right heel to return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat on the other side by stepping forward with your left foot.

To add variety to your lunge workouts and target the muscles in slightly different ways, you can incorporate walking lunges or reverse lunges. Here’s how to perform these variations:

  • Walking Lunges: Instead of returning to the starting position after each lunge, take another step forward with your opposite foot and continue alternating legs as you move forward.
  • Reverse Lunges: Instead of stepping forward, step backward with one foot and lower your body into a lunge position, making sure both knees are at 90-degree angles.

Remember to maintain proper form throughout the exercise by keeping the front knee aligned with the ankle and avoiding any excessive leaning. This will help ensure that you’re targeting the intended muscle groups effectively.

Including lunges in your calisthenics routine can be a great way to strengthen your lower body and improve overall fitness. By incorporating variations like walking lunges or reverse lunges, you can keep your workouts interesting while challenging different muscles in slightly different ways.

6. Dips

calisthenics Exercise Dips
calisthenics Exercise Dips

Dips are a fantastic exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the triceps, chest, and shoulders. Here’s how to do them correctly:

  1. Find parallel bars or sturdy furniture that can support your weight.
  2. Step 1: Place your hands on the bars/furniture with your palms facing downwards. Step 2: Lift your body off the ground by extending your arms fully. This is your starting position.
  3. Step 3: Lower your body by bending your elbows until your shoulders are below your elbows.
  4. Step 4: Push yourself back up to the starting position by straightening your arms.
  5. Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.

Pro Tip: Keep your elbows close to your body during the entire movement to maximize triceps activation.

If you’re new to dips or don’t have access to parallel bars, bench dips can be a great alternative:

  1. Sit on the edge of a bench or chair with your hands gripping the edge beside you and your legs extended forward.
  2. Step 1: Slide your butt off the bench/chair while supporting yourself with your hands. Step 2: Keep your feet flat on the floor and slowly lower yourself down by bending your elbows.
  3. Step 3: Push yourself back up to the starting position using primarily your triceps.
  4. Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.

Bench dips allow for a more controlled range of motion and are generally easier to perform than parallel bar dips. They still target the same muscle groups but with less overall intensity.

If you’re still not able to perform dips or bench dips, here’s an interesting discussion on Quora that explores alternative exercises for individuals who may not be strong enough to do a dip yet.

Give dips a try in your next upper body workout routine!


Embrace the simplicity and effectiveness of calisthenics as a beginner-friendly approach to fitness. Consistency and gradual progression are key when incorporating these exercises into your routine.

Combine multiple calisthenics movements from the list to create a well-rounded workout that targets different muscle groups. Experiment with other exercises and variations as you explore further on your calisthenics journey.

Calisthenics empowers individuals to take control of their own fitness, anytime and anywhere, by harnessing the potential of their own bodies as a versatile training tool.

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