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Calisthenics Workout Routine: The Most Effective Exercises To Try

Thanks to more studies about fitness, we know that while working out at the gym is great, it is not the only way to build muscle, increase your fitness level nor even to lose weight. While there are many ways to workout that require the use of fancy machines/equipment, calisthenics stands above the rest by producing incredible results with just your body weight and a few easily accessible pieces of equipment.

But how do you come up with a good calisthenics workout routine that matches what you see is achieved by your favorite creators online? Read on to learn more about how to create the best calisthenics workout routine for beginners, the best exercises to add to your calisthenics workout plan, how to build muscle with just your body weight and much more.

What Is A Calisthenics Workout?

Calisthenics are exercises that rely on your body weight to create resistance. Unlike gym exercises that require machinery and free weights or traditional Pilates that uses the reformer to create resistance, calisthenics just requires you and your body weight.

These seemingly easy exercises work with your bodyweight, muscles and joints to not only build muscle strength, but also muscle mass, flexibility and coordination. As unbelievable as this may sound, especially to those who wholeheartedly believe in gym workouts, research has proven that these claims are true.

  • In one study published in 2017, researchers found that a calisthenics workout routine can help improve posture, strength (using both the push up and pull up tests) and body composition of untrained individuals (12).
  • In another study published in 2018 in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers found that calisthenics could even result in more muscle strength than gym weighted workouts. 

In the study 23 healthy, moderately trained men were divided in 2 groups – 14 of them doing calisthenic exercises and 9 of them doing traditional bench press training exercises. All participants did upper body exercises three times a week for 8 weeks. 

See also
Calisthenics Bicep Workout: 5 Ingenious Exercises With & Without Bars

At the end of the study, researchers found that all participants experienced the same improvements in their maximum reps and the improvements in their muscle thickness had no significant difference. 

However, they found that when it came to their push-up progression, the participants who did calisthenics workouts had better results than those who participated in traditional bench press training exercises (4).

  • In another recently published study looking at how flexibility and muscle strengthening workouts affect functional limitation, researchers found that general muscle-strengthening, stretching, and calisthenics activities all help with the decreased risk of incident functional limitation in generally healthy, middle-aged and older adults.

calisthenics workout routine  

However, stretching and calisthenics seemed to work with decreased odds of incident functional limitation, 24% and 38% respectively (2). 

  • Functional limitation refers to the reported level of difficulty in the six core functioning domains namely: seeing, hearing, mobility, communication, cognition, and self-care (7).

This simply means that adopting the practice of doing calisthenics workout at home will help improve your general quality of life and make everyday tasks that much easier to handle.

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What Is The Best Workout Routine For Calisthenics?

When you search this question, almost every available answer is a list of calisthenic exercises that make up the best routine. While there is nothing wrong with this, most answers miss one very important component and that is simply, ‘what makes a good calisthenics workout routine?’.

While having a set out calisthenics workout plan for beginners at home is good, such lists do not consider those who might want to go off the set routine and make their own calisthenics workout routine – one that they feel fits them best. 

See also
Calisthenics Shoulder Exercises: Techniques and Workouts

If you are one such person who prefers making their own routine rather than use something that someone else already listed, here are some tips to help you make the best calisthenics workout plan that you can

A well rounded calisthenics workout routine should include

Warmups and cool down 

These are the two most overlooked and underused parts of any workout routine. 

While you may want to skip them thinking that they are not important, you should remember that stretching your muscles before and after a workout helps lubricate the joints and lengthens the muscles which helps prevent injury during the workout and delays muscle soreness after the workout. 

Warm up also helps increase your heart rate, which allows for better blood circulation and oxygen delivery during the workout. Cool downs help push the built up lactic acid from your muscles and help bring your temperature and heart rate slowly back to normal levels (11, 13, 15).

Some stretching calisthenics include wrist circles, wall angels, finger stretches, cat-cow stretch, etc.

Cardio exercises 

Also known as aerobics or endurance activities, they cover most full body workouts. If you are looking to maintain and especially lose weight, cardio is very important as it helps burn away any excess fat in the body. Cardio exercises are also fantastic for your heart and lung health (5, 3).

Upper and lower body exercises 

These fall under strength training. When it comes to strength training, you shouldn’t prioritize one body part more than the other (unless it’s a rather stubborn area). 

See also
A Good Calisthenics Workout Has These 9 Exercises

These workouts should be balanced in order to give you good results and an attractive physique. If you are looking to create a 30-day workout routine for beginners, be sure that the routine has both upper and lower body exercises in equal amounts.

Core workouts 

The core covers the abdomen, lower back and pelvis, and are known as the core muscles. An interesting fact about the core is that it is usually exercised (albeit not directly) when you are doing full body, lower body and even upper body workouts. 

However, if you want to directly target the muscles under the abdominal fat, adding core specific workouts is a good idea. Not only can this help give you those sexy ab muscles, but it can also help reduce chronic back pain, improve posture, balance, athletic performance and much more (14).

Read more: The Simplest Lower Back Calisthenics Guide for Beginners

Flexibility and balance training 

Most of this can be covered under the warmup and cool down sections. However, some full body, upper and lower body exercises like handstands, walking backwards, toe taps, etc. can help with this. Yoga and Tai Chi  can help with this too.

Rest days 

Like warm ups and cool downs, rest days are often ignored in the pursuit of fitness and weight loss. However, nothing derails your fitness journey and weight loss timeline than not resting enough. Always make sure that your calisthenics workout routine allows 1 or 2 full days of rest a week.

calisthenics workout routine  

The Best Exercise To Add To Your 30-Day Calisthenics Workout For Beginners

Using the above tips, here is a table that includes a number of workouts for each section that you can add to your calisthenics workout plan for great results

Type of Workout Exercise examples
Warm Ups Arms circles Hip circles Cat-cow stretch Leg swings Runner’s lunge Hamstring stretch Bicep stretch Side bend
Upper Body Calisthenics Pull ups Chin ups Tricep dips Planks with shoulder taps Diamond pushups Plank side walk Bodyweight triceps extension Heel touches
Lower Body Calisthenics Calf raises Basic bodyweight squat Heel elevated goblet squats Jump lunges Glute kickbacks Jump squats Fire hydrants
Full body Jumping jacks Mountain climbers Burpees Skipping rope Star jumps Running Plank jacks Box jumps
Core Workouts Trunk twists Leg raises Elbow planks Crunches Sit-ups Flutter kicks Air bicycles
Rest days Option 1 - Active recovery - Includes simple exercises like yoga, walking, simple stretches and tai chi Option 2 - Passive recovery - Time to be a couch potato. Just relax in bed watching your favorite shows, reading or just napping. The goal is to rest as much as possible

Please note that while this is not an exhaustive list of all calisthenics workouts available, it is a pretty solid list that can work for beginners looking for exercises to do on a calisthenic workout-no equipment routine.

See also
The 28-Day Calisthenics Workout Challenge To Improve Your Fitness

Tips on how to effectively do these workouts

  1. Always start with a warm-up. Dedicate at least 5 minutes to this – 10 minutes is best but if you are short on time, 5 minutes work too
  2. You can split your calisthenics workout routine (i.e., lower body day (leg & glutes) , upper body day, legs and abs, upper body and abs, full body workout day, etc. – or simply pick 2 exercises from each section and do them all together. The choice is yours. Experiment to find what works best for you
  3. Attempt to do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps for each exercise you choose. For exercises like mountain climbers, wall sits, and planks that cannot be counted in reps, use a timer. Do the exercise for 30 seconds (up to 1 minute) for 1 set. 
  4. Always remember to cool down after your routine is done
  5. For people who do not have a lot of time to dedicate to working out, you can use calisthenics in a micro workout challenge. Micro workouts are exercises that last between 2 to 10 minutes and are done throughout the day whenever you get a minute. Because calisthenics requires no equipment, they are the perfect tool to use in micro workouts to stay fit.

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Can You Build Muscle With Only Calisthenics?

Yes, you can. Do not discount calisthenics for muscle growth and strength simply because such exercises do not use weights to create resistance. Research shows that you can still grow muscle mass and increase muscle mass simply from doing bodyweight exercises (4, 6).

  • When it comes to using a calisthenics workout to build muscle, be sure to apply the principle of progressive overload. Progressive overload means to gradually increase the intensity or difficulty of workouts over time – doing this constantly challenges your muscles which increases their strength and mass (9).
See also
Calisthenics Workout Plan For Beginners

In weight training, this means increasing the weights used in the workouts. However, because calisthenics do not use weights, you can do this by: 

  • Increasing the intensity of the workouts – Instead of taking your time doing the exercises, switch things up and treat your routine like a HIIT routine
  • Increase the number of sets or reps per workout of choice
  • Increase the number of workouts done per session

Remember that progressive overload does not only help with muscle thickness and strength, but it can also help prevent plateaus. 

Is It OK To Workout With Calisthenics Everyday?

No, it is not. As mentioned above, rest days are very important to any workout routine. Failure to rest will negatively affect your progress and could even lead to overtraining syndrome – a condition that not only negatively affects you physically but also mentally (8).

Read more: Calisthenics Shoulder Exercises: Techniques and Workouts

calisthenics workout routine  


  • Is 100 Pushups A Day Good?

Being able to do 100 push ups a day is certainly a great feat – it shows just how strong your upper body is, especially your arms. However, attempting to do 100 push ups isn’t a good idea. 

Remember that muscles need time to rest in order to rest and grow. Do not be tempted to do those trending ‘100 pushups a day challenge’ as while the results look great, no one ever seems to mention how painful working your arms everyday can be.

  • Is Calisthenics Better Than Gym?

Depends on how you look at it. Calisthenics is better in the terms that it is cheaper as you do not pay for equipment or a gym membership. Calisthenics can also be done anywhere, be it at home, at the park, the beach or basically any open space. 

However, for people who want to grow huge bodybuilder type muscles, the gym is a better option. The very heavy weights work best to grow those gigantic muscles, something that your body weight cannot do.

  • Is 1 Hour Of Calisthenics Enough?

Yes, it is. Most longer workout routines last anywhere between 45 minutes to 90 minutes, making 1 hour a nice sweet spot to end your calisthenics workout.

  • Is 20 Minutes Of Calisthenics Enough?

It can be, especially if you choose to do your calisthenics exercises HIIT style. Research shows that shorter workouts done at a higher intensity not only work to improve health and weight but they can work just as well as longer workouts (1, 10).

  • How Many Push-Ups A Day?

The number of push ups you should do a day largely depends on an individual and how much strength and cardiovascular strength they have. However, remember that while you can technically do push-ups everyday, it is not advisable to do so. The maximum number of times you should work a muscle group in a week is twice – any more will very likely trigger overtraining.

The Bottom Line

A calisthenics workout routine is a good idea for someone who wishes to workout at home and one who does not wish to spend money on equipment. Despite the lack of equipment or weights, these kinds of workouts can help you lose any excess fat and get absolutely ripped. For those who want a lean but muscular physique, this is the routine for you.


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. A Perspective on High-Intensity Interval Training for Performance and Health (2023,
  2. Are flexibility and muscle-strengthening activities associated with functional limitation? (2022,
  3. Cardiovascular Effects and Benefits of Exercise (2018,
  4. Effect of Progressive Calisthenic Push-up Training on Muscle Strength and Thickness (2018,
  5. Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults (2012,
  6. Effects of progressive body-weight versus barbell back squat training on strength, hypertrophy and body fat among sedentary young women (2023,
  7. Functional Limitation (2024,
  8. Overtraining Syndrome (2012,
  9. Progressive overload without progressing load? The effects of load or repetition progression on muscular adaptations (2022,
  10. Short-Term, Equipment-Free High Intensity Interval Training Elicits Significant Improvements in Cardiorespiratory Fitness Irrespective of Supervision in Early Adulthood (2021,
  11. The Effect of Warm-Up and Cool-Down Exercise on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness in the Quadriceps Muscle: a Randomized Controlled Trial (2012,
  12. The effects of a calisthenics training intervention on posture, strength and body composition (2017,
  13. The Importance of Warm Up and Cool Down Article (2020,
  14. The real-world benefits of strengthening your core (2012,
  15. Warm Up, Cool Down (2024,
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