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Calisthenics for Beginners: Women Edition (Benefits, Exercises and FAQ)

Toned, lean muscle, and functional strength await those who venture into the world of calisthenics. The Calisthenics body type is not just about looking good; it’s about building a foundation of strength, flexibility, and endurance.

Please, don’t gloss over the term “functional.” Calisthenics is about building strength for everyday life movements, not just for  lifting weights at the gym (17). This makes it a perfect exercise choice for women who want to feel strong and capable in their daily activities.

With that in mind, how do you start on this path to physical empowerment? Should you just jump into doing push-ups and pull-ups, or is there a more structured way to ease into it?

Thankfully, you don’t need to figure it all out on your own. We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide that will take you from calisthenics curious to a confident practitioner.

This guide covers the benefits of calisthenics, introduces you to beginner-friendly exercises, and answers some of the most frequently asked questions. Let’s get into transforming your fitness routine and, ultimately, your life.

Why Should Women Start Calisthenics?

Calisthenics not only offers a path to improved physical health through functional strength and potential weight loss but also promotes a holistic approach to well-being that encompasses mental health, body positivity, and a stronger, more capable body.

Here are the top reasons why women should start calisthenics:

It Boosts Cardiovascular Health

Calisthenics exercises, which include movements like jumping jacks, burpees, and high knees, get the heart pumping. This increased cardiovascular activity strengthens the heart muscle, improves blood flow, and reduces the risk of heart disease (20).

Heart disease is a leading cause of death among women globally (24). By engaging in activities that bolster heart health, women can significantly lower their risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases (8) (12).

Research indicates that regular aerobic exercise, including dynamic bodyweight movements found in calisthenics, can improve heart health by lowering blood pressure, reducing bad cholesterol levels, and increasing good cholesterol (1).

It Enhances Muscular Strength and Endurance

Calisthenics relies on using one’s own body weight to build muscle. Exercises like push-ups, squats, and planks target multiple muscle groups, improving overall muscular strength and endurance over time (20).

For women, increased muscle strength contributes to better metabolism, supports bone health, and aids in the prevention of osteoporosis, which women are more prone to, due to hormonal changes in their life, such as menopause (2).

Studies have shown that resistance training, like calisthenics, increases lean muscle mass, which in turn enhances metabolic rate (9). Higher metabolic rates mean the body burns more calories at rest, aiding in weight management and reducing the risk of obesity-related diseases.

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It Promotes Flexibility and Mobility

Many calisthenics exercises incorporate stretching and flexibility movements, which can improve joint mobility and overall flexibility (g).

Improved flexibility is crucial for reducing the risk of injuries and for maintaining overall body functionality (16) For women, particularly those who might sit for extended periods or lead a sedentary lifestyle, enhancing flexibility can alleviate pains and improve posture.

Flexibility exercises have been linked with decreased stiffness in arteries, which is beneficial for heart health (19). Increased mobility through regular engagement in calisthenics can also mitigate back pain and improve balance and coordination.

It Improves Functional Strength

Functional strength refers to the strength that gets us through daily life activities — lifting groceries, climbing stairs, or even carrying a child. Calisthenics enhances this type of strength by simulating natural movement patterns and engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously (17).

For women, developing functional strength is essential not just for performing daily tasks with ease but also for injury prevention. Strong muscles and joints are less prone to strains and injuries, which can be especially crucial for women as they age, helping maintain independence and quality of life (14).

Studies indicate that functional training, like calisthenics, significantly improves core stability, balance, and overall physical performance (7). These improvements are due to the way calisthenics trains the body in an integrated manner, mimicking the movements and challenges faced in real life

It May Aid Weight Loss

Calisthenics exercises can be highly effective for burning calories, both during and after workouts, due to their intensity and the large muscle groups they engage. This increased calorie burn can contribute to weight loss and fat reduction when combined with a calorie deficit.

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for overall health, reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers (13). For women, controlling weight can also have benefits for hormonal balance and reproductive health (22).

High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which can easily be incorporated into calisthenics routines, is particularly effective for fat loss (18). HIIT calisthenics workouts boost metabolism and can keep it elevated for hours after exercise, a phenomenon known as the “afterburn effect” (4).

It May Improve Bone Health

Calisthenics, being a weight-bearing exercise, can significantly improve bone density (6).

When you engage in exercises that force you to work against gravity, such as push-ups, squats, and lunges, you’re not just building muscle but also putting stress on your bones. This stress signals your body to increase bone mass, leading to stronger, healthier bones.

Bone health is particularly important for women due to the increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones and makes them more susceptible to fractures (10).

Factors such as menopause and lower peak bone mass than men, contribute to this risk. Engaging in regular calisthenics can help counteract these factors, preserving bone strength and reducing the likelihood of osteoporosis and fractures.

It Supports Mental Health

Engaging in calisthenics can be a powerful mood booster. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are known to help reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression (15).

Mental health is a critical component of overall well-being. For women, who are statistically more likely to experience anxiety and depression (23), regular exercise can serve as an effective tool in managing mental health (15).

A plethora of studies support the link between regular exercise and improved mental health. Exercise acts as a natural antidepressant by improving neural growth, reducing inflammation, and fostering feelings of calmness and well-being (5).

It Fosters Body Positivity

Calisthenics empowers individuals to focus on what their bodies can do, rather than solely how they look. Achieving new fitness milestones, like mastering a pull-up or holding a longer plank, builds confidence and promotes a positive body image.

In a society where women often face unrealistic beauty standards, fostering a sense of body positivity is vital. Calisthenics encourages appreciation of body functionality and strength, which can be incredibly empowering.

Studies suggest that physical activity can improve body image and self-esteem (11). When you see tangible improvements in your strength and abilities, it naturally leads to a more positive perception of your body and its capabilities

By integrating calisthenics into their fitness regimen, women can reap tremendous benefits that extend far beyond physical health, touching on mental well-being, self-esteem, and overall life satisfaction. It’s not just about getting fit; it’s about building a foundation for a healthy, happy life.

Read more: Wall Pilates for Butt: A Quick Guide for Beginners

It Requires Little Equipment and Can Be Done Anywhere

One of the most significant advantages of calisthenics is that it can be done with little to no equipment, making it accessible and convenient for anyone (17). All you need is your body weight and a small space to perform exercises such as push-ups, squats, and lunges.

This makes calisthenics an ideal workout option for women who may not have access to a gym or equipment, those on a budget, or even busy moms looking for quick and efficient workouts.

This can be done virtually anywhere – at home, in a park, or while traveling – making it easy to maintain a consistent exercise routine no matter where life takes you.

By embracing calisthenics, women can break free from the limitations of traditional exercise equipment and gym memberships, empowering themselves to take control of their fitness journey on their own terms. 

What Is The Best Calisthenics Workout for Women?

The best female calisthenics workout will vary depending on individual goals, fitness level, and preferences. However, a basic routine for women could include:

  1. Warm-up: A few minutes of gentle cardio (e.g., jogging in place) to get the blood flowing and muscles warm (21).
  2. Dynamic stretching: Incorporating movements that mimic the exercises you’ll be performing can help prepare your body for the workout.
  3. Push-ups: This classic exercise is highly effective for building upper body strength and can be modified to suit different fitness levels.
  4. Squats: These compound exercises target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, making them ideal for overall lower body development.
  5. Planks: A full-body exercise that targets the core and strengthens the back muscles, planks are an essential addition to any calisthenics routine.
  6. Lunges: Another lower body strength exercise that targets the legs and glutes, lunges can be done in various variations to add variety.
  7. Cool-down: Ending the workout with a few minutes of gentle stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and improve flexibility (3).

Detailed Calisthenics Workout Routine for Women

1. Warm-up

Muscles Worked: Full body

Steps: Begin with 5 minutes of gentle cardio such as jogging in place, jumping jacks, or high knees. This increases the heart rate and prepares the body for exercise.

2. Dynamic Stretching

Muscles Worked: Full body

Steps: Perform dynamic stretches for about 5 minutes, focusing on movements that mimic the workout exercises. Include arm circles, leg swings, and hip circles to enhance mobility.

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3. Push-ups

Muscles Worked: Chest, shoulders, triceps, and core

Steps: Start in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor, then push yourself back up. Keep your back straight and core engaged throughout the movement. Beginners can start with knee push-ups, or hand elevated push-ups, whether that is on a wall, kitchen counter, bench, or box.

4. Squats

Muscles Worked: Glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and core

Steps: Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward. Bend at the knees and hips to lower your body as if sitting back into a chair, keeping your chest up. Push through your heels to return to standing.


5. Planks

Muscles Worked: Core, shoulders, and back

Steps: Lie face down, then raise yourself up onto your forearms and toes, keeping your body in a straight line from head to heels. Engage your core and hold this position. Ensure your hips do not sag or pike up. Begin with 30 seconds and gradually increase the duration.

6. Lunges

Muscles Worked: Glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings

Steps: From a standing position, step forward with one leg and lower your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee can move freely as this mimics every day movements. Push back up to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

7. Cool-down

Muscles Worked: Full body

Steps: Spend 5-10 minutes doing gentle stretching for all the major muscle groups worked during the routine. This can include stretches such as hamstring stretches, quadriceps stretches, arm cross stretches, and shoulder stretches to aid in recovery and flexibility.

How Often Should Women Do Calisthenics?

Women should work their way up to practicing calisthenics 4 times a week, as per Joseph Pilates original recommendation. However, it is essential to listen to your body and adjust the frequency based on your fitness level and recovery abilities.

Beginners may want to start with 2-3 sessions per week and gradually increase the frequency as they become more comfortable with the exercises. It’s also essential to incorporate rest days into your routine to allow muscles time to repair and recover.

Read more: Pilates Full Body Workout for Beginners (No Equipment Needed)



  • How Do Women Start Calisthenics?

Women start calisthenics by first understanding the basics of calisthenics and learning proper form for exercises. It’s also essential to start with a realistic routine, based on your fitness level and gradually increase the difficulty as you progress.

  • Is Calisthenics Good For Female?

Yes, calisthenics is an excellent workout for women as it provides a full-body workout without the need for expensive equipment. It also improves strength, flexibility, and can aid in weight loss.

  • Can a Girl Learn Calisthenics?

Absolutely. Calisthenics is suitable for people of all genders and ages. With proper guidance and instruction, girls can learn and excel at calisthenics exercises just like anyone else.

  • Is Calisthenics Harder for Women?

Some women may find calisthenics more challenging at first due to differences in muscle distribution and strength than men. Men typically have more upper body strength, which makes some exercises easier for them. 

Women, on the other hand, have more lower body strength, which makes exercises like squats and lunges easier for them. However, with consistent practice and progressions, women can achieve the same level of mastery as men in calisthenics exercises.

That said, other factors such as fitness level, body weight, and individual strengths and weaknesses can also affect the perceived difficulty of calisthenics for women.

The Bottom Line

Calisthenics is a fantastic form of exercise for women, offering numerous benefits such as improved strength, flexibility, and overall well-being. With little to no equipment required, it’s an accessible and convenient option for those looking to get active and build a strong foundation for a healthy life. 

By following a consistent workout routine and listening to your body’s needs, women can achieve their fitness goals and feel empowered in their own skin.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Cardiovascular Effects and Benefits of Exercise (2018, frontiersin.org)
  2. Determinants of Bone Health – Bone Health and Osteoporosis (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  3. Do We Need a Cool-Down After Exercise? A Narrative Review of the Psychophysiological Effects and the Effects on Performance, Injuries and the Long-Term Adaptive Response (2018, link.springer.com)
  4. Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (2006, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  5. Exercise for Mental Well-Being: Exploring Neurobiological Advances and Intervention Effects in Depression (2023, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  6. Exercise for Your Bone Health (2023, niams.nih.gov)
  7. Functional fitness: Is it right for you? | Mayo Clinic Diet (n.d., mayoclinic.org)
  8. Heart disease prevention: Strategies to keep your heart healthy (2023, mayoclinic.org)
  9. Increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  10. Osteoporosis in Females (2023, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  11. Physical activity and self-esteem: testing direct and indirect relationships associated with psychological and physical mechanisms (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  12. Physical activity for cardiovascular prevention (2024, escardio.org)
  13. Prevention of Chronic Disease by Means of Diet and Lifestyle Changes (2006, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  14. Reduce Pain and Increase Mobility with Regular Activity (2022, orthoohio.com)
  15. Role of Physical Activity on Mental Health and Well-Being: A Review (2023, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  16. Stretching: Focus on flexibility (2023, mayoclinic.org)
  17. The advantages of body-weight exercise (2022, health.harvard.edu)
  18. The Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training Type on Body Fat Percentage, Fat and Fat-Free Mass: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials (2023, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  19. The Efficacy of Stretching Exercises on Arterial Stiffness in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized and Non-Randomized Controlled Trials (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  20. The Impact Of Ten Weeks Of Bodyweight Training On The Level Of Physical Fitness And Selected Parameters Of Body Composition In Women Aged 21-23 Years (2015, researchgate.net)
  21. Warm-Up Strategies for Sport and Exercise: Mechanisms and Applications (pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  22. Weight, fertility and pregnancy health (2023, betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
  23. Why is depression more prevalent in women? (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  24. Women and Heart Disease (2022, cdc.gov)
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