The Beginner’s Guide to Calisthenics – Part 1

Master these bodyweight moves and build a stronger, leaner physique today!

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BY ANIS TAUFIK



The Beginner’s Guide to Calisthenics – Part 1
ISTOCK

Pull-ups. Chin-ups. Muscle-ups. The human flag.
 

Hands up if you’ve seen (and even attempted to execute) some form of calisthenics in your fitness journey. When it comes to bearing testament to true fitness, you’ve got to say that calisthenics raise the bar pretty high (pun intended). But how do you go from an A-okay pull-up to an awe-inspiring muscle-up?
 

Mike Marchese, World Calisthenics Organisation Master Trainer, was recently in town for a series of workshops with FIT Malaysia at CrossFit Pahlawan, and we asked him to create unique workout programme – part 1 of calisthenics for beginners.
 

So what are you waiting for? Consider this your initiation into calisthenics.
 

The Moves

A. Push-Up

1. Standard Push-Up

2. Incline Box Push-Up

3. Knee Deep Push-Up

 

B. Squat

1. Bench Squat

2. Ring Assisted Squat

3. Jumping Jack Squat


Directions

Do 10 to 12 reps for each exercise. Do at three to four sets for each exercise.
 

A. Push-Up

1. Standard Push-Up

Get into a plank, with your arms straight and hands slightly beyond shoulder-width.

Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the ground.
 

2. Incline Box Push-Up

Rest your palms on a box, and get into an incline plank.

Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the box.

Mix it up by moving between a higher and lower box.
 

3. Knee Deep Push-Up

Get into a plank, with your arms straight and hands slightly beyond shoulder-width.

Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the ground.

Drop your right knee to the floor, and return to the starting position.

Alternate the movement by dropping your left knee. That’s one rep.
 

B. Squat

1. Bench Squat

Stand in front of a bench, with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Swing your arms forward as you lower your body until your butt touches the bench.

 

2. Ring Assisted Squat

Hold a ring (or suspension trainer) with both hands, and stand tall.

Lower your body into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
 

3. Jumping Jack Squat

Stand tall with your feet close together.

Lean forward slightly as you get into a half-squat, and bend your elbows at the sides.

Jump your feet outwards, and twist your arms up so that they’re parallel to the ground.
 

Pro Tips to Up Your Game

Take note of the following if you’re a calisthenics newbie: avoid any calisthenics movement that you can’t perform for more than four reps. According to Marchese, all progressions should be followed sequentially to offset injury prevalence. However, “if you can perform more than 12 consecutive reps of an exercise, you should attempt a more challenging progression,” Marchese recommends.
 

Focus on executing each move with proper form. “You should maintain consistent form throughout training – but if you experience technical failure through unintentional variations in form or sharp pain, scale the exercise to meet your personal needs,” Marchese says.
 

Finding the exercises above too easy or complex? Marchese shares a couple of exercise variables you can tweak to get the most out of each move:
 

1. Leverage: “By intentionally modifying the alignment of our body during an exercise, we can easily adjust our mechanical advantage – the ability to produce force during exercise.”
 

2. Movement Tempo: “Time under tension is a great way to modify bodyweight exercises. Eccentrics [negatives] and dynamics [explosive movements] can make any movement challenging or accessible.”
 

3. Movement Complexity: “Exercises that are highly coordinated will have a greater demand on the nervous and muscular system.”
 

4. External Force: “Resistance bands and suspension trainers are an extremely useful way to modify almost any bodyweight exercises.”

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