Calisthenics Workout Routine For Beginners – Get Started!

I’m going to be sharing with you a calisthenics workout routine for beginners that is both simple and effective.

This is the type of stuff I wish I would’ve found when I started my bodyweight training journey.

It would’ve simplified and put things into perspective for me but instead, I ended up jumping from program to program without even noticing that what I should’ve been focusing all along was on the basic movement patterns that build that foundational strength for you to build on.

I don’t want you making the same mistakes as me…

That’s why I want to share with you this absolute beginner friendly training routine that will help you get started on the right foot and help you progress onto harder stuff like Muscle Ups, One Arm Pull Ups, Handstand Push Ups and so on.

calisthenics workout routine for beginners

 

You’ll be training 3x per week and these are going to be full body sessions which is the optimal way for beginners to organize their strength training.

By training just 3x times per week, we maximize recovery which will let you progress faster than you would if you were training more often. This leads to you being able to get stronger and progress faster, which maximizes muscle growth as well.

This routine is great for building muscle, getting stronger and losing fat.

You know, all the good stuff. Let’s get into it!

Calisthenics Workout Routine For Beginners

So, without any further ado, let’s get right into the full body workout routine:

Gear Specifications
1. Pull Ups / Negative Pull Ups | 5-15 reps x 3-4 sets, 1:30-2 minute rest

2. Dips / Negative Dips | 5-15 reps x 3-4 sets, 1:30-2 minute rest

3. Push Ups / Incline Push Ups | 5-15 reps x 3-4 sets, 1:30-2 minute rest

4. Box Squat / Squats| 5-20 reps x 3-4, 1-1:30 minute rest

5. Hanging Leg Lifts / Hanging Tucked Knee Raises | 5-15 reps x 3-4 1-1: 30-minute rest

OK, so the 1st exercise is going to be Pull Ups – If you can’t do Pull Ups yet, don’t worry! Just do Negative, or eccentric, Pull-Ups.

This is the only exercise you need to get your first Pull Up in no time.

Negatives repetitions are great at building strength because you’re working through the same movement pattern you want to get stronger at – only in reverse; we are also much stronger in the eccentric part of any exercise so they allow you to get the practice in that you need to get strong for Pull-Ups.

To perform Negative Exercises, you simply start at the beginning of the movement and then lower yourself very slowly.

In this case, to perform a Negative Pull Up, we simply jump into the top position and lower ourselves slowly and controlled.

Aim for at 5-10 secs on each repetition.

The 2nd exercise is Dips. Again, if you can’t do Dips, just do Negative Dips. As a beginner, the strength will build up fairly quickly and you’ll be doing Dips in no time at all.

The 3rd exercise in the routine is Push Ups. If you can’t do Push Ups yet, you want to manipulate the leverage of the exercise and do Incline Push Ups. These are easier because it takes some weight off your upper body by placing you in a more vertical position than before. Work with these until you’re able to do proper Push Ups on the floor.

The 4th exercise is going to be Assisted Pistol Squats. As this is a full body routine we are going to also be training Legs and Abs. This Squat progression is great for building some strong legs and also requires a lot of balance. If you don’t feel comfortable doing Assisted Pistol Squats yet, just work with regular Bodyweight Squats for now and then progress to the Assisted Pistol Squats and the ultimate goal being the full Pistol Squat which is just a very impressive bodyweight movement and a combination of both lower body strength, body control, balance, and athleticism.

The 5th exercise is Hanging Leg Lifts (as high as you can) or Hanging Tucked Knee Raises. Use the progression that is adequate to your current level of strength.

Key Principles to Apply

There are some key principles that you need to understand to get the most out of your training and keep progressing over time.

One of the most important ones is progressive overload. This basically means that you’re always trying to do more volume of work or working at a higher intensity than before thus increasing the amount of stress put on your body over time.

Example of applying progressive overload to this routine:

Week 1: 6 reps on 1st set; 5 reps on 2nd set & 5 reps on the 3rd set

Week 2: 7 reps on 1st set; 6 reps on 2nd set & 6 reps on the 3rd set

Week 3: 9 reps on 1st set; 6 reps on 2nd & 6 reps on the 3rd.

Time under tension is also a crucial principle when it comes to building muscle and getting strong. This is one of the key factors of hypertrophy – your muscles need to be put under stress for some time in order for them to grow.

That’s why I want you to always try controlling the movement you’re doing even if that means fewer repetitions – quality over quantity!

Example of being mindful of TUT on Dips, for example, is that you lower yourself to 90 degrees with control and try exploding up vs trying to do the Dips as fast as you can.

Maximizing Gains

OK, so in order for you to get the best results you possibly can and stay injury free, it’s very important to always warm up thoroughly before each and every training session and do some stretches as well to help with the recovery and muscle soreness.

Remember to ALWAYS use good form and a full range of motion with every exercise! Again, quality over quantity!

Although we are just training 3x per week, I don’t want you to think that it’s a pass to just stay on the couch the rest of your rest days – this is not the case. I want you to think of your rest days as active rest days and engage in some low impact activity that you enjoy such as some walking, jogging, swimming or the like.

Mindset & Expectations

As a beginner, it’s important to start your bodyweight fitness journey with the right mindset – a growth mindset. This means that you are eager to learn and apply what you’ve learned to practice without comparing yourself to others. Focus on yourself, progress and train hard and you will make amazing gains.

Expectations also play a big part in your overall training success. All too often I see people giving themselves 30,60 or 90 days to get ‘fit’ but when they don’t see that superhuman progress they get discouraged, demotivated and often give up training altogether. I know because I was one of those people a couple of years ago.

Don’t think you’re going to get ripped or big overnight. You won’t. It takes time, dedication, effort, consistency and hard work to build muscle, lose fat and build the physique you want.

It’s also not about going absolutely balls to the wall for a couple of weeks and then getting demotivated and giving up.

The truth of the matter is, as naturals, it takes a long time to build muscle. Period. According to Lyle McDonald, who is a respected fitness researcher and writer, you could expect to build 20-25 pounds of muscle (9-11kg) in your first year of proper strength training. In your second year, this gets down to 10-12 pounds of muscle (4.5-5kg) in your second year and it keeps getting lower after that.

calisthenics workout routine for beginners
Maximum rate of potential muscle growth

For this reason, I want you to approach your training more like a lifestyle and make training a priority in your life if you want to achieve your goals. Because that’s the truth, it needs to be a priority for you and part of your lifestyle. Maintaining a great, lean physique is hard work. But with that being said, it need not consume your whole life. And with this approach, it really won’t. Focus on smashing your training sessions and keeping a good, healthy diet and you’ll be making really AWESOME progress over time.

Taking Action!

I know starting anything new and outside of our comfort can be scary at first but that’s why it’s important to just take action! Just do it!

Seriously though, decide to take action because this will lead to personal growth. Every time you step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, you grow and you start doing things you didn’t think possible previous.

If I had any last piece of advice for beginners just starting on their bodyweight fitness journey it would be this: stay consistent, be patient, focus on progressing and train hard and you will achieve great results.

If you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comment section down below and I’ll be sure to get back to you in no time.

And as always, happy training everyone!

 

 

12 thoughts on “Calisthenics Workout Routine For Beginners – Get Started!”

  1. A really interesting training setup you have here – I always like discovering new ways to get fit. I’m a runner, 6 miles a day, and I’m wondering how a full body session would fit into my fitness regime?

    Would you recommend I stay away from this sort of thing (overdoing it!) or would you suggest just attempting it now and again with the running regime?

    Reply
    • Hi Chris,

      I think Strength Training could definitely benefit your running as getting stronger and more athletic could help with injury prevention and be a great complementary training to your main running fitness regime.

      I’d recommend keeping it to just 2x per week, say Mondays and Fridays, to give you ample time to recover. But you’ll want to listen to your body here and see if it works for you!

      Hope this helps! 

      Reply
  2. This is quite a new work out routine for me, I have heard of it, but haven’t really been instructed on how to go about it. This sounds like its coming from a professional so I will take your instructions and give it a try in my next gym sessions. I wouldn’t know what to expect yet, but as long as it will help my body and I will still attain my body goal In the end, why not. Thanks for sharing this article Miguel, I will keep you posted on my progress.Cheers

    Reply
    • Hi Samson,

      I’m glad you’ve decided to give it a go! Calisthenics is an excellent way to build muscle, get stronger and lose fat and I think you’ll enjoy the new challenge.

      Thanks for your feedback!

      Reply
  3. Hi Miguel 

    I have done a fair amount of strength training in my life and tried many different approaches. 

    I liked how you said that’s important to control “the movement you’re doing even if that means fewer repetitions – quality over quantity!” I have to say I see so many guys in the gym whose form is really poor because they are focused on quantity over quality and dare I say it, but I have also been guilty of the same in the past. 

    As I understand it, it’s the controlled execution together with progressive overload that characterizes Calisthenics. Is that correct?

    I am also thinking that since I am a bit older now that this is probably also a much safer routine for the likes of someone like myself since I am far more vulnerable to injuries. What do you think?

    Mark 

    Reply
    • Hi Mark,

      Yeah, it can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to do a lot of repetitions at the cost of quality – it’s a common beginner’s mistake and I’ve been there myself also lol.

      Controlled execution and progressive overload should be present in every form of strength training in my opinon. I’d say what characterises Calisthenics is simply the fact that we are manipulating our body in space through difficult movement patterns and that it requires minimal to no equipment, as opposed to the traditional weight lifting training approach.

      I think it’s definitely a safe routine for you to try, just make sure you warm up properly before each and every training session Mark!

      I hope this helps and thanks for your feedback!

      Reply
  4. Hi Miguel,

    Reading your article, which states it is for beginners, but it looks like it is for someone who is in pretty good shape to be able to do these exercises without risking injury to themselves. 

    What are you recommendations for people who are not in that good of shape and wanting to get started slowly? 

    Also for people who want to do these things at home, what is the best way to be able to do pull ups and dips at home? I have thought about setting up something in the backyard before but never have followed through with the idea.

    Good to see the routine written down, that makes it easier to plan what your next steps are going to be.

    Reply
    • Hi Chad,

      I see your point, but I’d have to say these exercises aren’t necessarily for people who are in good shape, it is a beginner’s workout routine after all. 

      Try out the easier exercise variations I list in the workout (I recommend looking up some tutorials on YouTube, will be putting my own tutorials up soon though) and if some exercises like the Negative Pull Ups are too hard, just skip those for now. Work instead with those you can do, like Incline Push Ups (you can really adjust the exercise difficulty of this one pretty easily by just placing yourself in a more vertical body position) and take it from there.

      To answer your second question, the best way to do Pull Ups and Dips at home is just to invest in a Pull Up Bar and a Dip Bar or something that allows you to safely perform Pull Ups and Dips. Many people also build their own Pull Up bar and Dip Bars for outdoors but I don’t have any experience with it. The important thing though is just to take action and get started!

      I tend to see people overthink things too much and this usually gets in the way of them doing anything to achieve their goals. Keep things simple: Pull Ups, Dips and Push Ups are all the exercises you need to get started and it will keep you busy for months! 

      I really hope this helps Chad!

      Reply
      • Thanks for the information it is helpful and I agree, sometimes we let our minds get in the way of just doing something.

        Will definitely get started doing the push ups and look at some videos on youtube.

        Hey thanks for the links to the pull up bar on Amazon, we use it all the time and it just slipped my mind to look for this there!

        I really like the Ikonfitness pull up bar which can be used for several exercises.

        Reply
  5. There is definitely some good information here.  I understand the idea of working out a few times a week and getting some rest in between.  I have been working out for a little over a year and I have definitely made a lot of advances that I like.  

    What do you think of an exercise routine that mixes partial body, full body and cardio on different days, usually 4 to 5 days a week for 30 to 40 minutes, usually 10 to 15 reps with light weights and then 10 to 15 reps with medium weights, adding heavy weights at times?

    Reply
    • Hi Josh,

      I think that you should set a goal first. If your goal is to simply build muscle and look good, doing strength training more than 3x per week is not really necessary. But if you enjoy training and you want to do it more often, I say go for it.

      Again, if your goal is to build muscle (hypertrophy) I’d say keep the rep ranges between 8-12 repetitions because that is the optimal rep range for that goal. 

      Hope this helps!

      Reply

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