calisthenics for men

A Guide To Calisthenics For Men

The word on the street is calisthenics. Why? Because it builds body mass, challenges your fitness level and is the ultimate strength-gaining work-out. You don’t even have to join a gym. So what’s this discipline all about? And why are more men moving away from traditional lifting techniques?

What are Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a set of functional exercises that follow the natural movement of the body. It’s likely that these exercises will be familiar to you because they include press-ups, squats, lunges, dips, and planks.

Whilst on first appearance, the high- volume repetitions might seem basic and relatively simple, these create the perfect foundation for building strength, lowering fat mass, improving posture, and changing body composition. 

Calisthenics for beginners

You wouldn’t walk into a gym and head for the heaviest dumbbells, would you? Same applies to calisthenics. It’s best to begin with basic exercises and build up to the advanced ones as you become more experienced. The great thing is that the exercises have beginner, medium and advanced options, making it really easy to adapt your workout. 

What Equipment Do You Need for Calisthenics?

Don’t panic just yet if you’ve forked out an expensive health club membership. Of course you can use the gym equipment to do some calisthenic exercises or just use the floor mats! The point is that this discipline can be done anywhere, by using tables, benches, dip bars, blocks, and boxes. Even some parks have calisthenic equipment in them nowadays.

One great investment is a portable mat because as you get sweatier, there’s a lot of potential for slipping and sliding. That’s never good and can be the cause of an accident and injury. Not to mention that it can be unbelievably distracting. 

A non-slip mat provides you with the confidence to really go for it. We love the Yogi-Bare Enhanced Grip Paws X Mat. It’s longer and wider than your average mat, perfect for calisthenic exercises. The extra thickness means that it also offers supreme comfort and support for your joints, whilst the perforated surface’s intense grip technology prevents slippage. 

Beginner Calisthenics Exercises 

Jump Squats

With the body facing forward, position feet directly underneath your shoulders and parallel to one other. With toes pointing slightly outward and knees bent, lower down into the squat (as if easing yourself into a chair). Hips should be pointing down and back. Come back up to standing, then repeat.

Engages: Glutes, quads, hips, hamstrings



From the standing position, take a big step in front, transferring your weight forward. Step the other foot backwards. Make sure you feel stable and balanced, bend your knees, and lower your body into the squat. Go as deep as feels comfortable. Press the front heel firmly into the ground, before returning to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg. Once you get the hang of it, you can speed up the movement.

Engages: Quads, Glutes and Hamstrings

Pull Ups

Hang from a bar, overhand with palms facing away.  Pull yourself upwards until your chin is just above the bar before lowering down again. With practise, you’ll be able to progress to the chest to bar pull up.

Engages: Lats (Latissimus Dorsi), biceps, pecs, rhomboid

Chin Ups

This time use an underhand grip with your palms facing inwards. Hands should be shoulder width apart or slightly narrower. Pull yourself upwards as far as possible, without shrugging your shoulders or lifting your chin toward the bar before lowering down again.

Engages: Lats (Latissimus Dorsi), biceps, pecs, rhomboid


You can use gym equipment, parallel bars, dip bars or 2 parallel objects with a steady surface. Gripping the bars or parallel objects, dip down slowly, whilst simultaneously keeping your chest strong and upright, then pull yourself back up.

Engages: Triceps

Dips move the body up and down by hinging on the elbows. They’re particularly great for working the triceps. These can be done using gym equipment, parallel bars, dip bars (often found alongside other outdoor exercise equipment) or 2 parallel objects with a steady surface. In simple terms you dip down in a controlled movement, whilst keeping the chest upright, then pull yourself back up to complete a rep. 

Push Ups 

Begin in the high plank position, then slowly, lower down. Just before your chest or chin makes contact with the floor, push back upwards to the high plank again. Throughout the movement, keep your spine straight and core muscles tight.

Engages: pectorals, deltoids, triceps, abdominals. 

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