How To Start Calisthenics

How To Start Calisthenics [Both Weighted And Bodyweight] For Maximum Results

How to start calisthenics? This is a question I get asked all the time.
 
I started my calisthenics journey with bodyweight exercises. It’s amazing being able to build a strong, muscular physique with barely any equipment!
 
But I’d be lying if I said that bodyweight calisthenics gave me my best results.
 
Let me tell you why.
 
Progressing with bodyweight calisthenics is a daunting task.
 
With so many advanced exercises to master, it can be confusing to know where to begin!
 
So, like most beginners, I went through trial by fire.
 
Since I was only using my bodyweight, the only way yo progress was to add volume, or change leverages.
 
Changing your leverages makes an exercise easier or harder to perform. This type of progression is used extensively in bodyweight calisthenics. But it has its own set of problems.
 
Progressing with changes in leverages is not a smooth process. The jumps between different bodyweight progressions are quite large. These large jumps make progressing with bodyweight calisthenics frustrating for the beginner.
 
Needless to say, I was spinning my wheels performing hundreds of push ups, sit ups and squats everyday.
 
I even tried new exercises, different variations and practiced proper exercise progression.
 
But, all this lead to nothing but burn out due to the large jumps between each progression.
 
That’s when I lost faith in the fact that starting bodyweight calisthenics was a good idea.
 
That’s when turned to the iron.
 
Lifting heavy weights for 6 months made me stronger, bigger and faster than ever. But I missed my calisthenics training.
 
There had to be a way to marry the two!
 
I have since realized that there is a simpler way to progress with calisthenics.
 
That is why I have written this guide.
 
This guide will show you how to start calisthenics the right way! It will help you build muscle and get stronger while having the time of your life!
 
This guide will show you how to:
 
  1. Optimize your calisthenics training for maximum results.
  2. Start incorporating weighted calisthenics and why you should train this way.
  3. Choose the best exercises when starting calisthenics
  4. Assess your current fitness level. Your unique starting point.
  5. Choose the best calisthenics training split.
  6. Choose the best calisthenics equipment your individual fitness goals.
So let’s get started!

How To Optimize Your Calisthenics Training for Best Results

1. When Starting Calisthenics, Always Build Your Strength, Don’t Test It!
 
Calisthenics training can be extremely flashy. Handstands turn into handstand push ups, which which turn into single hand balancing. But to achieve these extremely rare feats of skill and strength you MUST build strong base first!
 
So what’s the difference between building strength and testing it?
 
When you test strength you are pushing your body’s limits. This results in form break-down and generally bad reps. Bad repetitions lead to inefficient motor patterns. And these inefficient motor patterns lead to injury.
 
So how do you build strength instead of constantly testing it?
 
The most efficient way to build strength is to:
  1. Perform repetitions with good form – to do this, you will have to work with sub-maximal loads. This means lifting loads (or using leverages) lower than your max. Performing exercises at a sub- maximal effort allows you to build strength. This is done by executing near perfect form on every rep. As we know, practice makes perfect. Thus, when working with sub maximal loads, you are building your strength by practicing proper movement patterns. This brings us to the next and most important factor in terms of building strength – progressive overload.
  2. Progressive overload – Progressive overload is the single most important factor in terms of building strength and muscle. No other training variable comes close to trumping this training principle when building strength and size. Progressive overload is the method of increasing the stress on a muscle over time (read more -Progressive Overload). The EASIEST way to progressively overload a muscle is by adding weight. Other forms of progressive overload include: Increasing volume (read – calisthenics volume training), changing leverages (read – progressive calisthenics), performing unilateral work (performing exercises on one limb, in a bid to increase stress on the muscles in that limb).
  3. Take the muscle through it’s maximum safe range of motion (full range of motion) – Performing full range of motion in all your exercises is extremely important when building size and strength. This is by far the biggest mistake anyone starting calisthenics or bodyweight training can make. Performing partial repetitions increases your chance of injury. This is because they don’t build strength through the entire range of motion of the muscle. This leaves the muscle weak in the “untrained” range, thus making it susceptible to injury. Also, the most efficient way to build muscle and strength is to allow your joints to express their normal full range of motion. This will transfer greatly into everyday life with benefits like improved mobility and more efficient movement patterns through a greater range of motion.
2. Incorporate Eccentric Training To Build Strength
 
Eccentric movements are essentially the the “lowering” portion or phase of any exercise.
 
Take the pull up for example. If you can’t perform a complete pull up, try performing the eccentric version of the exercise.
 
You will notice that it is far easier to perform an eccentric pull up than it is to perform a full pull up. This is because the muscle is always stronger in the eccentric phase of an exercise. To perform the eccentric pull up, simply bring yourself to the top of the pull up bar.
 
You can do this by jumping up and holding the bar with your chin above the bar. Or you can place a stool and set yourself up to where your chin is above the bar.
 
Then, simply lower yourself as slowly as possible to the bottom portion of the pull up. Once at the bottom, repeat the process of bringing your chin above the bar and lowering yourself slowly.
 
If you managed to increase your reps on the eccentric pull up, you should come to a point where you are strong enough to perform the full exercise.
 
Thus, eccentric reps allow you to build strength in an exercise that you cannot perform by building strength in the lowering (or eccentric) phase of the exercise.
 
In fact, eccentric training allows you to build strength through the entire range of motion of the exercise! Especially when you are struggling to perform even half a repetition.
 
So use eccentric training whenever you can!
3. Stop Trying To “Shock The Muscles”
 
There is no need for a beginner or anyone for that matter to “shock the muscles”.
 
Pick a movement and stick with it until you master its leverages or add a substantial amount of weight to that particular movement.
 
Specializing in a movement will make you stronger and will also build bigger, stronger muscles required to perform that particular movement.
 
So if you want bigger legs, pick a squatting movement and make it progressively harder to perform.
 
Want bigger biceps? Master the leverages or add weight or reps to the pull up.
 
This is the simplest and easiest way to build strength and size and it has worked for centuries.
 
Take the story of Milo of Croton for example. Milo picked up a calf on his shoulder and walked with it everyday from the day it was born. Eventually, the calf grew up into a full grown bull.
 
Yet, Milo was still able to pick up the full grown bull and walk with it on his shoulders.
 
Why?
 
Because Milo stuck to the same exercise of picking up the calf over his shoulders and mastered that movement.
 
As the calf grew, it’s weight increased, thus making the movement harder to perform.
 
But, since Milo stuck to it, his body adapted and became stronger along with the calf, and was eventually able to shoulder an entire bull.
 
Mastery and Progressive overload is the key to building superhuman muscle and strength.
4. Don’t Rush Bodyweight Skill Training
 
Mastering bodyweight skills takes a long time.
 
It is in fact one of the reasons we all get into calisthenics in the first place. We see these amazing athletes on the internet performing muscle ups, planche push ups, one arm handstands and want to replicate the same.
 
But rushing skills without building a significant strength base can be disastrous to your calisthenics journey.
 
Skills take a lot of time and effort to perfect. They can also place massive loads on the joints, ligaments and tendons. If you’re not strong enough, this can be a recipe for disaster. Common injuries include, elbow tendinitis, wrist pain and knee injuries.
 
If calisthenics skill training is your goal, then work on building a strong foundation of strength first.
 
Strengthen your muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons through their entire range of motion before moving onto skill training. Then, take your time going through all the skill progressions, making sure you master each one before moving onto the other.
 
Rushing calisthenics skills can also derail your strength gains. This is where proper programming for strength and skills comes into play.
5. Structure Your Program For Maximum Gains
 
Programming is the key to your progress. This is where the culmination of all the aforementioned tips come into play. Proper programming can be the difference between efficient strength and muscle gains or simply running around in circles. Proper programming is always personalized to your individual needs.
 
This includes and is not limited to your:
 
  • Current fitness level (strength, mobility and flexibility),
  • Calisthenics goals (strength, size, or skill training),
  • Availability to train (how often and how much would you like to train),
  • Access to proper equipment,
  • Nutritional and Dietary requirements.
This is also where knowledge and experience come into play and the reason why I don’t recommend that beginners build their own programs.
 
Staying consistent with a program that you like is also extremely important. A good program will show results if you stick with it.
 
Once you have the right program for your individual needs, stick to it and do not change a thing. In fact you should be able to run a good program for a couple of months before having to make any major changes to it.
 
Too many beginners program hop. Invest in a good program and the gains will come.
6. Use Proper Form
 
Starting calisthenics is like starting any other sport. Using proper form will not only reduce your risk of injury but will also make the exercise easier to perform.
 
This might sound counter-intuitive. But, using proper form will allow you to carry a lot more weight or perform a lot more repetitions in the long run than improper form ever will.
 
Using proper form especially for a beginner is of utmost importance, as having to unlearn bad form, later on in your calisthenics journey can be a hiccup to your progress.
 
Also, using improper form will eventually lead to stagnation in your fitness journey, or worse. Improper form leads to injury. So, make sure you learn the correct form when performing all exercises.
 
If you aren’t sure of your form, film yourself performing the exercises and have someone critique your own form. And if you still aren’t sure, get professional help.
 
Form check videos barely don’t cost a lot and they can be a huge help!
7. Build Your Grip Strength
 
Calisthenics is upper body dominant. And a lot of the exercises require tremendous wrist and grip strength.
 
This is especially true when performing weighted calisthenics. Often times your grip can be the limiting factor when performing a movement.
 
Which means that your grip gives out before your back or your arms fatigue. This is why training the grip is extremely important when performing calisthenics exercises.
 
Improving your grip strength also has tremendous carry over into life in general. There are studies showing how grip strength improves longevity.
 
Grip strength is also great for sports and martial arts endeavors. It also carries over well in to real life activities such as carrying groceries and opening that tightly closed jar.
 
So don’t neglect your grip strength when starting calisthenics.
8. Never Skip Leg Day
 
When one hears the word calisthenics, they often think body weight exercises performed on the bar. They think about moves like the the pull, up, the muscle up, the dip, the handstand push up, the human flag and so on.
 
One almost never thinks about calisthenics and legs. In fact, proper leg training is often shied away from in the calisthenics world. And for good reason, the most coveted move in calisthenics leg training is the pistol squat.
 
It’s no wonder that you see most of your calisthenics athletes covering their legs in baggy track pants and long shorts. It’s because they’ve neglected to strengthen their legs.
 
Their legs look like spindle sticks in relation to their upper bodies.
 
The single leg pistol squat is an excellent bodyweight exercise, but it can only go so far. After a while, it becomes necessary to load the legs with weights and that is where calisthenics fails today.
 
If a pistol squat is a calisthenics exercise, then why isn’t a loaded barbell back squat a calisthenics exercise as well?
 
Make sure you do not neglect your lower body. It is the root of all your strength. If you are limited by equipment, using a backpack with weights is a great way to load your pistol squat or use a sand bag.
 
You don’t need massive amounts of weight as you are performing the exercise on one leg. Granted unilateral training takes longer, but you need to progressively load the legs with heavy weights if you want them to grow.
 
Remember your legs were meant to take the entire weight of your body and a lot more. This means they must be loaded in order to strengthen them significantly.
 
So use heavy weights when working your legs, weighted squats are still a calisthenics movement!
9. Take Advantage Of Weighted Calisthenics
 
Calisthenics athletes almost always aim to achieve highly coveted bodyweight skills.
 
And for good reason. Bodyweight skills look impressive, and a lot of non-calisthenics athletes struggle to perform them.
 
But, at the end of the day, most bodyweight skills are skills of balance. They are not feats of maximal strength.
 
It is rare to find a calisthenics athlete who shows off feats of maximal strength. Heavy weighted pull ups, push ups, dips, handstand push ups, deadlifts and weighted squats are all exercises that calisthenics athletes should be performing and competing in!
 
But, it’s not their fault. The calisthenics community prides itself on not needing any equipment to get fit. And that is an excellent skill to acquire in itself.
 
But, if bodyweight calisthenics is a survival skill, then weighted calisthenics is a secret weapon!
 
Especially for the beginner, weighted calisthenics is an excellent tool.
 
Weights are not only measurable, but also easily accessible. If you don’t want to invest in specialized equipment, a backpack filled with some books will suffice.
 
Although I always recommend using a dipping belt and some weight. You can even attach your backpack to the dipping belt and perform pull ups, dips, push ups and bodyweight rows a lot more comfortably with a simple dipping belt. I
 
f you really want to take your weighted calisthenics seriously, nothing gets more primal than lifting a heavy sandbagBuilding a sandbag is cheap and heavy sandbag carries are the most functional movements you can perform!
 
Think about it, what gets more primal than lifting and moving a heavy oddly shaped object? Heavy pull ups, push ups, dips, squats and even deadlifts with a sandbag will build real world strength and size like nothing else.
 
So whether it’s plates, books, water or sand, resistance is resistance. So use it, and progressively overload your weighted calisthenics for maximum gains!
10. Warm Up Properly
 
A good warm up routine will reduce the risk of injury and improve performance of the muscles being worked.
 
The problem is, everybody is warming up the wrong way. Jogging or performing any cardiovascular work is not equivalent to warming up the muscle that has to be worked.
 
Cardiovascular work only increases the body’s temperature. It doesn’t prime the muscles, ligaments and tendons for the loads being lifted in that particular exercise.
 
To warm up properly, make sure you warm up the specific muscles that are going to be worked. If you are going to do dips, warm up with a few push ups, then start doing dips. If you are going to do a couple of push ups, warm up with some push ups off your knees, then proceed to perform push ups off the toes.
 
It is imperative to warm up the muscles that are going to be worked, via the movement that is going to be performed.
 
Don’t perform a general warm up for the whole body through cardiovascular activity and then work a muscle in some other movement.
 
This is a recipe for disaster.
11. Work On Your Mobility And Flexibility
 
If there was one thing I neglected throughout my fitness journey, it was working on mobility and flexibility.
 
In fact, mobility and flexibility should be higher on this list as it has a direct effect on the quality of your life. Not having enough mobility will also directly affect your training.
 
For example, if you have tight hamstrings or calves, you won’t be able to touch your toes or get into a full depth squat.
 
Not being able to perform a full range of motion squat (ass to grass) or not being able to touch your toes will put you at risk of injuring your lower back, calves or hamstrings while performing basic daily tasks such as bending squatting, running or jumping.
 
Improving your range of motion will allow you to bigger and stronger faster!

How To Start Weighted Calisthenics And Why I Choose To Train This Way

Weighted calisthenics is the fastest way to build size and strength!
 
Several bodyweight exercises cannot be progressed effectively enough to provide continuous strength and size gains.
 
Jumps between progressions of certain calisthenics exercises are generally large, especially when moving from the intermediate to the advanced phase.
 
This means a lot of time is spent trying to acquire the next progression, while the current progression has already been mastered. This puts the athlete in a phase of stagnation.
 
Having already mastered the current exercise, an athlete is ready to progress. Progression will lead to more strength and size gains. But, the leap between his current level and the very next progression is so large that he cannot progress.
 
Thus the athlete ends up stagnating at the current level, while having to learn the skill for the next progression.
 
Most of these skills require balance, not strength. And as a novice, it is strength that will build size, not balance.
 
For example take a look at building overhead pressing strength with pure bodyweight calisthenics.
 
One has to start with the base movement which is the pike push up.
 
From the pike push up the next and only progression is the handstand push up. The jump from the simple pike push up to the handstand push up is gigantic.
 
The novice has to first build balance in the handstand, which can take several months to learn. And only then progress to the handstand push up.
 
Even if he decides to skip the balance aspect of the handstand push up and decides to perform handstand push ups against the wall, he is still not strong enough to perform them, as the strength deficit is too large.
 
In the meanwhile the novice has to continue repping out pike push ups that barely challenge him anymore. And most calisthenics skills are like this.
 
The jump from the pull up to the one arm pull up is enormous.
 
It is the same with the push up and the dip. If you don’t add weight to the movement, you are simply stalling all progress until you acquire the “skill” (not strength) to execute the exercise.
 
And we all know that strength builds size.
 
Weighted calisthenics on the other hand is another ball game. And I highly recommend you progress in this direction as soon as possible.
 
Of course this still means performing calisthenics movements that move the body through space.
 
The only difference being, you will be progressing at a much faster rate by simply adding weight to your calisthenics movements. You can still do all your favorite calisthenics movements this way while building more muscle and strength.
 
In fact I recommend training both bodyweight calisthenics and weighted calisthenics at the same time.
 
How?
 
By using weighted calisthenics to build size and strength, training bodyweight skills on the side.
 
This is the best way to master calisthenics! And is the reason why I choose to train this way!
 
Choosing the best exercises to start calisthenics
 
For millennia, men and women have built strength using basic primal movements.
 
These primal movements move the body through space.
 
Moving the body through space requires exceptional amounts stabilization from multiple muscle groups at the same time. This is what results in maximum gains in both strength and size.
 
Moving the body through space is the backbone of every calisthenics routine!
 
But that’s not all! In order to get bigger and stronger, you have to make these movements progressively harder to perform. Once you’ve chosen the right movement, you have to stick to these movements and master them.
 
So with that said, the question then becomes:
 
What are the best calisthenics primal movements and how do we make them harder to perform?

Best Exercises To Start Calisthenics

Squatting Movement Pattern

Most calisthenics athletes tend to neglect lower body training. This needs to be taken care of first and foremost, especially if you’re a beginner. Squats are one of the most primal movements.
 
The very act of sitting and getting off a chair or the toilet involves squatting mechanics.
 
Truth be told, if you want to develop a stong lower body, the only way to do so is with heavy loaded squats.
 
This is because the lower body is capable of lifting loads in excess of 2x your bodyweight. This is not including your bodyweight itself! This kind of poundage cannot be replicated with any number of bodyweight pistol squats and lunges.
 
No matter what bodyweight experts say, you cannot build a solid base of size and strength (in the lower body) with your bodyweight only!
 
It has always intrigued me that calisthenics practitioners don’t include the loaded squat into their routine. Saying that it is not a calisthenics movement.
 
If a single leg squats can be loaded with backpacks, dumbbells or a sandbag, why can’t a barbell be used to load the back squat? And why isn’t the barbell back squat a calisthenics movement? Both loaded pistol squats and barbell loaded back squats move the entire body through space!
 
It is dogmatic to call barbell movements that move the body through space not calisthenics. It simply makes no sense at all!
 
Unilateral movements like lunges, train balance and co-ordination by training one limb at a time. But, they cannot be loaded as much as a bilateral movement like the squat.
 
Thus, you cannot build as much strength on unilateral movements, as you can with bilateral movements. Unilateral movements also take twice as long to train as bilateral movements do.
 
That being said, unilateral movements do have their place. They make for excellent assistance exercises. You can still build relatively strong legs using unilateral movements. Just, remember, you still require an external load to do so!
 
In short, for leg training, pick one loaded squat variation and load it significantly. You start with just your bodyweight and move onto adding load through backpacks, sandbags, or a good old barbell.
 
Or simply start with a bodyweight squat and then move onto heavy loaded unilateral movements. But, remember unilateral training will make your workouts longer.
 
And if you still want to learn the pistol squat, just train it as a skill! Trust me, your loaded back squat will significantly improve your expertise at the pistol (when you train the pistol as a skill).
 
Also, remember not to forget your calves. One of the best calisthenics exercises for the calves is the single leg standing calf raise. Now, just think about how you can effectively progress from there.
Deadlift Movement Pattern 
 
The deadlift is one of the most effective primal movement patterns in existence.
 
Think of a picking up a heavy bag off the floor or lifting heavy pipes, bricks or tools at a construction site. Think of a soldier picking up a heavy ammunition box, firefighters lifting a person on a stretcher or a mother lifting her baby off the floor.
 
All of these actions essentially require the execution of a deadlift.
 
Unfortunately, there is no bodyweight movement that can replicate the full body benefits of a deadlift. It works the entire body while carrying an external load and moving the body through space.
 
The deadlift involves muscles of the lower body, the upper body and the core. The muscles of the upper back, which don’t get a lot of love with calisthenics also gets stimulated with the deadlift.
 
The musculature of the mid and upper back is crucial to maintaining proper posture. This is why you see a lot of calisthenics athletes with bad posture and rounded upper backs.
 
So, if you’re a calisthenics beginner make sure to add this weighted total body movement to your routine.
Pulling Movement Pattern 
 
Enter the pull up. The pull up is an excellent upper body builder. It works multiple muscles of the upper body. Some of these muscles include the lats, the mid back, the biceps, the upper chest and the abdominals. The supinated grip pull up (palms facing you) has been shown to provide as much stimulus to the biceps as a regular bicep curl. It is also shown to provide as much stimulus to the abdominals as a regular ab crunch. The exercise provides immense bang for your buck in terms of building maximum upper body size and strength while saving time. It also builds the lats which gives the V-taper, which adds to the illusion of looking big.
 
The pull up is an extremely functional movement with carryover into real life situations. Think scaling walls, fences, gates or ledges in order to get somewhere or get away from something!
 
It is a staple of any real strength training program.
Pushing Movement Patterns 
 
These can be divided into a overhead pushing movement and a horizontal pushing movement.
 
There are two movements that come to mind when talking about horizontal pushing movements. The first is the push up, the second is the dip.
 
Both movements are excellent chest builders when loaded with weights. While, the bodyweight dip can carry you a long way towards building pushing strength, it too must be loaded to build maximal strength.
 
An overhead pushing movement that moves the entire body through space is the handstand push up.
 
It is an excellent size and strength builder, even when using bodyweight only.
 
You can build huge shoulders as well as the upper chest when doing full range of motion handstand push ups. But this move requires a lot of balance and co-ordination to perform.
 
Even performing the regressions of this movement can be awkward and cumbersome.
 
Don’t get me wrong, learning the handstand push up and it’s regressions can be extremely rewarding in building both strength and sizeBut due to the fact that it is extremely hard to progress on, I recommend performing another exercise instead.
 
Now this is going to be the start of some of the most controversial things that I am going to say in this article. In fact this might come as a shock to the calisthenics community, but, the exercise that I recommend performing instead of the handstand push up is the standing barbell overhead press.
 
You may ask, how on earth does the barbell overhead press move the body through space?
 
Here’s how.
 
The standing barbell overhead press involves the stabilization of the entire body to performIt requires stabilization of the entire musculature of the core, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves in order to perform the movement.
 
In fact, performed correctly, the standing barbell overhead press requires the movement of the the torso, hips and as a consequence the legs themselves.
 
One cannot simply press the barbell straight overhead without moving the torso and head slightly backward, without also pushing the barbell forwardThe problem with pushing the barbell forward being you lose the correct bar path required to execute the lift, thus failing in execution of the lift.
 
Again, the handstand push up is an excellent exercise, but it is better trained as a skill when starting calisthenics. You can jump into the hand-balancing aspect of the handstand immediately. This is way more fun than not making progress on and overhead pushing movement.
 
Furthermore, the overhead press will improve your handstand push up strength while you simultaneously learn the handstand side-by-side.
 
This way you kill 2 birds with one stone.
 
Check out my handstand push up ebook for $20
Core Strengthening Movements 
 
A strong core is the foundation of any athletic endeavor
 
By virtue of moving the body through space, calisthenics already incorporates a lot of core stability in it’s exercises
 
This is especially true when using gymnastics rings. 
 
By virtue of proper exercise selection, a calisthenics practitioner will build a well developed core
 
I personally don’t recommend spending too much time trying to strengthen the core when already performing the movements listed above. They all work the core heavily when being performed.
Gripping Movements 
 
One of the most under-trained aspects of strength in the human body is the grip.
 
In fact, your grip might be the weakest link in your body, especially when starting calisthenics
 
There will come a point in your fitness journey when you are strong enough to perform a particular movement, but your grip gives out
 
This is why it’s important to get a head start on grip strength. 
 
Grip training comes in various shapes and forms, but the most fun way that I’ve found to train the grip is to simply hang from the bar
 
You can also use various hanging grip implements to train different aspects of grip strength
 
But the biggest reason to train the grip is; a strong grip is a strong indicator of longevity. This means the stronger your grip, the more likely you are to live longer. 
 
So start training your grip strength from the get go! It will keep you leaps and bounds ahead of your peers.
How To Assess Your Fitness Level When Starting Calisthenics
 
When starting calisthenics or any other fitness endeavor, you must understand your current fitness level. Luckily, this is really easy to assess and can be accomplished within a couple of minutes.
 
Make sure to warm up before you start this self-fitness assessment. Check out my article on calisthenics warm up for more details on that.
 
Make sure to pick movements that give you the most bang for your buck.
 
After completing the calisthenics warm up routine, test how many repetitions of the aforementioned movements you can perform at a given weight.
 
Remember, you are trying to achieve maximum continuous repitions to complete failure.
 
You then want to note down these numbers for each exercise you’ve chosen to perform. These numbers will tell you where to start your calisthenics journey.
 
As a rule of thumb, it is always good to start working out at 60% of your rep max. So if you got 10 reps on the pull up, start working out with 6 reps at a time.
 
You can do a total of 3 work sets per exercise. And make sure to add reps to the exercise every week.
 
Add one rep per week to each set, untill you manage to reach 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
 
Then add 10% to the load being lifted (in the case of the pull up, the load is your bodyweight). Re-assess your maximum achievable repetitions to failure. And then use that as your new benchmark to start training again.
 
But this time onward, you can start at an intensity of 70% on your rep max.
 
Each time you reach 3 reps of 12 reps, simply add 10% to the current load being lifted, reassess your rep maxes and start @70% of your rep max again.
 
This program is simple to follow and can be utilized for a long time.
Best training split when starting calisthenics
 
The best way to stimulate growth is with full body routines. While split routines are easy, they are not optimal for strength and hypertrophy.
 
You can read my article about Full body vs. Split routines here.
 
But the gist of it is, full body routines save time and allow you to optimize your training by:
  • Stimulating protein synthesis multiple times a week
  • Improving strength through high frequency training
  • Allowing specialization in skill work and active recovery on rest days.
  • Allowing for more rest days. Think about it, you’re in the gym a lot less than a 6 day a week split
The Best Equipment For Starting Calisthenics
 
For a more in-depth review on the best calisthenics equipment check out this article here.
 
Here is a list of equipment that will allow you to train at home, in the office or anywhere else.
 
Pull up bar – Best for beginner to advanced
 
Push up bar – Best for beginner
 
Gymnastic Rings – Best for intermediate to advanced
 
Weighted Vests – Best for beginner to advanced
 
Ankle Weights – Best for beginner to advanced
 
Skipping rope – Best for beginner to advanced
 
Dipping belt – Best for beginner to advanced
 
Sandbags – Best for beginner to advanced
 
Yoga mat – Best for beginner to advanced
 
Parallettes – Best for beginner to advanced
 
All this equipment can easily fit into a back pack and can be carried around wherever you go.
 
This is the beauty of starting calisthenics.
 
Conclusion:
 
The possibilities with calisthenics training are endless. That is what got me started with this versatile type of training in the first place. Learning calisthenics while incorporating primal movements that move the body through space will make you a primal machine.

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