Whether you’ve been wanting to switch up your workout routine, or you’re brand new to working out, you may be wondering, “how do I start off with calisthenics?” It may seem simple to use your own body weight to build muscles (and itis, in the sense that you don’t need a lot of space or equipment) but proper form is important in calisthenics, or you run the risk, at worst, of injury, and at best, of not getting the gains you desire because you’re not doing the moves correctly.
How do beginners start calisthenics?
Beginners should remember that you don’t need a fancy gym membership or a personal trainer to start calisthenics. “A beginner should start out with a routine that doesn’t need any equipment, can be done in any room of the house, and has a low degree of difficulty since you’re not going to have as much strength or endurance built up yet,” Jamie Hickey, nutritionist and founder of Truism Fitness, tells Lively. “Good examples are squats, lunges, planks, push-ups, mountain climbers, and laying down leg raises,” he says. These are foundational exercises that will help you build up to more difficult moves.
You want to make sure you have a good understanding of the form (if you’re not sure, you can watch a video made by a reputable personal trainer) before you begin, or ask someone who works at your gym to help out.
What calisthenics skills should you start with first?
With so many calisthenics exercises to choose from, it can seem daunting to know where to start. “Start off with stable movements such as squats and push-ups and over time add in different rep and tempo variations,”online fitness coach, Leighanne Stephens, tells Lively. “Leave the crazy and cool looking stuff until after you've built some skill and strength to avoid injuring yourself.”
In addition to the exercises previously mentioned (squats, lunges, planks, etc.) it's a good idea for beginners to focus on moves that cultivate balance and strength. “Strength will enable you to [eventually] do some cool exercises but the balance will help you make sure these movements are done correctly, in a controlled manner and even help you add a little finesse to your workout exercises,” Stephens says.
In addition, focusing on the core can be a good place for beginners to start with calisthenics. “Core strength is vital when it comes to being able to perform calisthenics movements, so being able to hold a plank for at least a minute and a half without breaking a sweat would be a good start,” Edwin Rodriguez Jr, a trainer at Miami Strong Gym, tells Lively.
How long should you work out as a beginner?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for how long you should work out as a beginner (sorry, that would be too easy). “This [amount of time] is going to vary for everyone,”
Hickey says. “If you haven’t worked out in years and weigh 300 lbs. then you may be able to only work out for 10 or 15 minutes.” He adds that while you should push yourself to see results, you also need to listen to your body: “Start in short increments at first and over time add a couple more exercises or five more minutes to your routine.” This is a gradual, scalable way to increase your workout’s length and intensity.
Stephens adds that there’s no reason for a workout to be longer than an hour and if you find you’re needing more than that then you're wasting too much time around the exercises. To maximize the time you spend actually working out, it can be helpful to make a plan beforehand for what exercises you’ll be working on, and how many reps you’re hoping to complete. You can even write it down so you can refer to the plan as you workout, which will help you tweak it in the future.
“Pick a few exercises to work on, [and decide] how many reps and sets you're going to do and how long to rest for,” Stephens says. “You may want to start with just 30 minutes. If you have the strength and stamina you can do more but don't push too hard too soon and get held back by injuries and too much muscle soreness.”
Vital note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.