It may surprise but you can get pretty big by lifting your own bodyweight during exercises such push-ups, pull-ups, dips…
In the post “Reach Your Muscular Potential With Bodyweight Exercises” was explained why bodyweight exercises are very effective and can actually help you reach your maximum muscular potential as a natural bodybuilder.
Today we are going to present you a total body routine consisting solely of calisthenics.
Calisthenics offer a great variety of upper body exercises. If you use your imagination, you will be busy for years to come. Make sure you follow the right progression and don’t just jump in deep waters.
The upper body exercises are divided into three categories – pushing, pulling and core.
Recommended pushing exercises:
Push-ups – this exercise has passed the test of time. Why? It just works. The push-up builds your chest, triceps, deltoids and core. There are many different variations that allow virtually everybody to do some sort of a push-up. If you can’t do a single one, you can start with wall push-ups. If you are too strong for regular push-ups, just elevate your feet on a chair. The sky is the limit. After all Calisthenics are all about being creative and working the muscle from different angles.
Dips – this exercise shares a lot of the push-ups characteristics. However, its basic version is harder than a standard push-up. The dips also work your chest from a different position. The stretch at the bottom is much deeper. Make sure you keep your form strict when doing dips. The dip is not one of the most shoulder friendly exercises but good technique and intelligent programming will reduce the possibility of injuries.
Recommended pulling exercises:
Pull-ups – just like the push-up pull-ups have passed the test of time and have been part of the training regimens of generations. It’s one of the most loved movements and has built a lot of wide lats. The street fitness enthusiasts have developed virtually unlimited amount of variations. We recommend that you start with the basic one.
Australian pull-ups – this version of the pull-up is essentially the opposite of the push-up. It’s a good pulling exercise to build some volume in your routine.
Note: Many people experience elbow tendonitis when performing regular pull-ups. That’s why it’s not a bad idea to reevaluate your programming and perform pull-ups on Olympic rings or with neutral grip (palms facing each other). Those variations are much kinder to the elbow.
Recommended core exercises:
Calisthenics allow you to perform thousands of exercises for your abs. The sky is the limit. The most popular are the hanging leg raises, the plank and the l-sit. Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to those three exercises but it’s a good starting point that will built a foundation upon which you can build your castle.
Contrary to popular belief aesthetic and strong lower body can be developed through calisthenics. Resistance is resistance and effort is effort. The recommended bodyweight exercises for the lower body are:
Running (jogging) – running will help you develop endurance and your lower body will be conditioned to endure long cardio sessions. There will be small strength increase too. However, don’t expect leg growth from jogging. It may occur if you are tremendously untrained, but don’t dream of miracles. Jogging is not supposed to build tons muscle. It’s cardio.
Sprinting – explosive movements such as sprinting murder the lower body. If you take a strong squatter and make him sprint, the next day he will be sore like never before. The soreness is usually in the hamstrings and glutes. It’s because sprinting is posterior chain dominant. Frequent sprinting will build your legs, especially if you do it uphill. (Good, luck!)
Bodyweight squats – bodyweight squats can also be used as a form of cardio, If your joints hurt from running, squats are your best bet.
One leg squat a.k.a. pistols – after you’ve mastered the regular bodyweight squat you can switch to different one leg variations. One of them is the “pistol”. It’s very hard to do, but there are many good tutorials on YouTube that will help you get there after following a progression. One leg squats build strength and muscle.
Building the routine
The routine below is just an example and there are many more options!
Day 1: Push + Legs;
Push-ups – 5 sets of as many as you can do with GOOD form.
Sprints – 5 sprints between 50m and 100m (depending on your level of conditioning).
Note: Warm-up properly before attempting any of the above, especially the sprints. If you are overweight (over 25% body fat) first lose some weight. You can replace sprints with mild jogging. Make sure your diet puts you in a caloric deficit as well.
Day 2: Pulling + Core;
Pull-ups – 5 sets of as many as you can with GOOD form.
Australian pull-ups – 5 sets of as many as you with GOOD form.
Two core exercises of choice for 3 sets.
Example: 3 sets of hanging leg raises; 3 sets (holds) of planks;
Note: If you grip is tired from the pull-ups, you are allowed to use straps for the hanging leg raises.
Day 3: Rest;
Day 4: Push + Legs;
Dips – 5 sets of as many as you can with good form.
Bodyweigth squats – 5 sets of as many as you can with good form.
Day 5: Pulling + Core;
Same as Day 2.
To summarize: Calisthenics are a great way to simplify your training, save money from gym memberships and develop athleticism.