Calisthenics: A How To Guide - Part 1

Calisthenics: A How To Guide - Part 1

Calisthenic, bodyweight training, street workout...the discipline has got many names and has changed a lot since that famous Hannibal for king’s video. Believing wikipedia, Calisthenic is derived from the 2 Greek words Kalos (κάλλος), which means "beauty" and Sthenos (σθένος), meaning "strength".



The street workout is a combination of regular exercises and gymnastic movements, all requiring no weight and no (or very limited) equipment. To clarify, because you do a few pull ups or bodyweight squats this does NOT make you a true Calisthenic practitioner (yet)...the same as scoring that unbelievable free kick in last night's 5-a-side doesn't make you Cristiano Ronaldo, but hey, that’s a good start!



Talking about starts, where do we begin? Calisthenics training is about gradual progression from mastering the basic exercises to then moving on to ones that get you the “wooow” and extra likes on social media (bonus!). So now, put the weights down for a bit, find your nearest outdoor workout park and let’s start with the 4 basic moves.

Push Up

Ok, hands up, who don’t know how to do a push up?!
  • Just get on the floor,
  • Hands under your shoulders,
  • Keep your body straight,
  • Shoulders, hips and feet in line.
  • Now lower yourself to the floor. If you’re not close enough to be able to kiss the floor then it doesn’t count..and no saggy are not a backstreet boys back up dancer!!
It’s all about the ROM (range of movement) baby! Congratulations you’ve just done a bog standard push up. There are still a lot of variations but we’ll come back to that later in the article.

Pull Up

Benching 130kg but you can’t lift yourself up? Please don’t be that guy!

  • Grab a high bar,

  • Grip a bit wider than shoulder width,

  • Hang all the way down,

  • Palm facing away from you and lift your chin above the bar.


Easy? No? Ok let’s do some negative reps then for those who are just starting pull up. To build up the necessary strength, you will jump to get your chin over the bar hold it 1,2 seconds and then lower yourself slowly in 3,4 seconds, and repeat!
Quick info so that we are all clear on that debate:
  • Pull up = palm facing away (pronated)

  • Chin up = palm facing you (supinated)


Difference: You’ll use more lats in a pronated and more biceps in a supinated grip. Work on both!


Dips / Straight Bar Dips

  • Grab the parallel bars.

  • Jump up, get your balance right locking your elbow out.

  • Then bend your arms and lower your body, leaning slightly forward.

  • Get down until your shoulder pass your elbow level, and then come up.

  • Keep your core strong, avoid any back curving (overarching), arms flaring out and legs waving.


Straight bar dips work similar as normal dips, you’ll just have both hand on the same bar and lower yourself until the bar touch above your belly button. Change the width of your grip to make it more challenging.


Australian Pull Up

God knows why they are called Australian pull up - something to do with things being topsy turvy down under!! Anyway, sometimes called inverted row: 

  • Grab the same parallel bar as for dips,

  • Your body will now hang under the bar,

  • Foot on the floor, body in a straight line & lock your elbows,

  • Pull yourself up using only your arms and back strength and keeping your feet on the floor.

OK now you understands the basics’s time to go way and master them!


Part 2 of the Calisthenic: A How To Guide will show you how to work on the “Dope” and “Wow” exercises that get all the attention on social media!

Author - Jeason Marvin
Instagram - @jeasonmarvin
Facebook - Jeason.marvin
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