35 Best Calisthenics Exercises from Beginner to Advanced

Are you a calisthenics athlete, or maybe you are just starting calisthenics and you want to know what the best calisthenics exercises are? Well, I have been doing calisthenics for a long time now, and I have made a list of the 35 best calisthenics exercises, from beginner to advanced and put them into this one article.

What you will learn in this article:

  • A list of the 35 best calisthenics exercises, from beginner to advanced
  • How to do each of the exercises
  • What muscles they work
  • Exercises for every skill level

A list of the 35 best calisthenics exercises, from beginner to advanced

Here is how the list will be structured:

-Back/biceps

-chest/triceps

-shoulders

-core

-legs

Calisthenics exercises: Muscle groups we are going to cover

I did it this way so that it is much easier for you to scroll through and find exactly what you need.

Calisthenics exercises for back/biceps

Your back and biceps are a great place to start if you want to develop a strong and impressive upper body. 

So here are my recommended calisthenics exercises:

Beginner:

Negative pull-ups:

So, when I first started out, I focused on the negative pull-up as one of my first calisthenics exercises. All you will need is a bar to hang from. 

How to:

  • Start by grabbing onto the bar.
  • Then jump to the top until your chin is above the bar.
  • Lower yourself as slowly as possible until your arms are completely straight.

Australian pull-ups:

The Australian pull-up is another great exercise for beginners. 

How to:

  • Start by lying down beneath a waist-high bar.
  • Grab it with an overhand grip.
  • Pull your chest toward the bar while keeping your body straight.
  • Lower yourself back down.

Negative chin-ups:

This one’s similar to negative pull-ups but with a different grip.

How to:

  • Start by grabbing onto a bar with an underhand grip.
  • Jump to the top with your chin above the bar.
  • Lower yourself as slowly as possible until your arms are completely straight.

Scapula pull-ups:

These are crucial for strengthening your upper body and developing your upper back muscles.

How to:

  • Start by grabbing onto a bar and hanging with your arms completely straight.
  • Perform a reverse shrug to squeeze your shoulder blades together and slightly lift your body upward. 
  • Hold at the top position before you lower back to the start position.

Intermediate:

Pull-ups:

This is one of my all-time favourite calisthenics exercises. 

How to:

  • Grab onto the bar with an overhand grip; make sure your arms are straight.
  • Pull yourself up until your chin crosses the bar.
  • Lower yourself back down.

Chin-ups:

Similar to pull-ups but with an underhand grip, chin-ups gave my biceps a bit more love while still engaging my back.

 How to: 

  • Start by grabbing onto a bar with an underhand grip and hanging with your arms completely straight.
  • Pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar
  • Lower yourself back down until your arms are completely straight.

Wide-grip pull-ups:

These focus on a wider variety of back muscles.

How to:

  • Start by grabbing onto the bar with a wide grip; make sure your arms are completely straight.
  • Pull yourself up until your chin crosses the bar.
  • Lower yourself back down.

Elevated Australian pull-ups:

These are amazing if normal Australian pull-ups are too easy for you. 

How to:

  • Start by lying down beneath a waist-high bar.
  • Grab it with an overhand grip.
  • Put your legs on an elevated surface
  • Pull your chest toward the bar while keeping your body straight.
  • Lower yourself back down.

Advanced:

Archer pull-ups:

Archer pull-ups are an advanced variation that requires significant strength and balance.

How to:

  • Start by hanging from a bar with a wide grip.
  • Pull yourself up to the side while keeping your other arm as straight as possible.
  • Lower yourself back down.

Explosive pull-ups:

My training reached a whole new level when I started doing explosive pull-ups.

How to:

  • Start by grabbing onto a bar and hanging with straight arms.
  • Pull yourself up around the bar as high as possible, not into the bar like a normal pull-up. 
  • Lower yourself back down

Tuck front lever pull-ups:

This exercise combines core strength with back and bicep engagement.

How to:

  • Start by grabbing onto a bar
  • Hang with your knees bent and bring your body upward so it points foreward instead of downward.
  • Pull your chest toward the bar.

Assisted one-arm pull-ups:

These are amazing for building pulling strength.

How to:

  • Start by hanging a towel from a bar.
  • Grab the towel with one hand and the bar with the other.
  • Pull yourself up towards the hand that is on the bar. 
  • Lower yourself back down.

Calisthenics exercises for chest/Triceps

It is time to pay attention to the chest and triceps. These are two vital muscle groups that are essential to developing upper-body strength and appearance.

So here are my recommended calisthenics exercises:

Beginner:

Knee push-ups:

When I first started, my go-to exercise was knee push-ups. They offered a solid base for developing chest and tricep strength, and they are very easy to do.

How to:

  • Start in a plank position with your knees on the ground.
  • Lower your chest towards the floor by bending your elbows.
  • Push yourself back up.

Push-ups:

As my confidence grew, standard push-ups evolved into my go-to workout. They are essential for developing powerful triceps and a good chest.

How to:

  • Begin in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower yourself until your chest almost touches the ground.
  • Push yourself back up.

Bench dip:

Bench dips were a great way for me to focus on tricep development as I progressed in my training.

How to:

  • Sit on the edge of a bench with your hands gripping the bench’s edge and your fingers pointing forward.
  • Lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the ground.
  • Push yourself back up.

Negative dips:

Negative dips played a crucial role in helping me prepare for full dips and improve my tricep strength.

How to:

  • Use parallel bars or a dip station.
  • Start at the top of the dip position with your arms fully extended.
  • Lower your body slowly and with control until your upper arms are parallel to the ground.

Intermediate:

Diamond push-ups:

Diamond push-ups provided an exciting challenge for my chest and triceps. The hand placement intensifies the exercise.

How to:

  • Begin in a push-up position, but with your hands close together under your chest, forming a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers.
  • Lower your body, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
  • Push yourself back up.

Explosive push-ups:

Explosive push-ups are fantastic for building chest and tricep explosiveness. They take your upper-body strength to a whole new dimension.

How to:

  • Begin with a standard push-up position.
  • Lower your body as usual, but then explosively push off the ground, aiming to get your hands off the floor.
  • Land softly and go right into the next repetition.

Dips:

Dips are a step up from bench dips and a great way to further develop tricep strength. You can even make dips harder by adding weight using a dip belt.

How to:

  • Use parallel bars or a dip station.
  • Start with your arms fully extended.
  • Lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the ground.
  • Push yourself back up.

Decline push-ups:

Decline push-ups shift the focus to your upper chest, providing a more difficult challenge.

How to:

  • Place your feet on an elevated surface (like a bench) and assume a push-up position.
  • Lower your body, keeping your back straight.
  • Push yourself back up to the starting position.

Advanced:

Archer push-ups:

Archer push-ups are a step beyond regular push-ups. They require amazing chest and tricep strength, along with balance and control.

How to:

  • Begin in a standard push-up position.
  • Move one hand to the side while keeping the other under your shoulder.
  • Lower your chest towards the hand that’s out to the side while the other arm remains straight.
  • Push yourself back up to the starting position.

One-arm push-ups:

One-arm push-ups are a testament to your chest and tricep strength. They require full-body stability and insane upper-body control.

How to:

  • Start in a push-up position with your feet slightly wider for balance.
  • Shift your weight to one side and extend the opposite arm out to the side or place it behind your back.
  • Lower your body until your chest touches the ground and push yourself back up.

Clap push-ups:

Clap push-ups demand explosive chest and tricep power. They’re a great way to challenge yourself.

How to:

  • Begin with a standard push-up.
  • Lower your body as usual, but then explosively push off the ground.
  • While in mid-air, clap your hands together before landing.

Tricep push-ups:

Tricep push-ups specifically focus on tricep development and strength, making them a valuable addition to your routine.

How to:

  • Start in a push-up position.
  • Lower yourself in such a way that your forearms touch the ground and your arm makes an L.
  • Push yourself back up, emphasizing the triceps.

Calisthenics exercises for shoulders

It’s time to shift our focus to a muscle group that plays a crucial role in your physique: the shoulders. Developed shoulders enhance your appearance and also contribute to overall upper body strength and stability.

So here are my recommended calisthenics exercises:

Beginner:

Shoulder taps:

Shoulder taps are a fantastic introduction to shoulder engagement. They help build stability and control, making them a perfect starting point.

How to:

  • Start in a push-up position.
  • Lift one hand and touch your opposite shoulder.
  • Alternate between sides while keeping your body stable.

Bird-dog exercise:

The bird dog exercise is excellent for enhancing shoulder stability and overall body control, making it a great addition to your beginner routine.

How to:

  • Begin on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  • Simultaneously extend one arm forward and the opposite leg backward while keeping your core engaged.
  • Return to the starting position.

Intermediate:

Pike push-ups:

Pike push-ups are a step up from regular push-ups and a fantastic way to target your shoulders.

How to:

  • Start in a downward dog yoga pose with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower your head toward the ground by bending your elbows.
  • Push yourself back up.

Wall handstand hold:

Wall handstand holds help to improve shoulder strength and balance, preparing you for more advanced exercises.

How to:

  • Face a wall and place your hands on the ground, about shoulder-width apart.
  • Kick up into a handstand position with your heels against the wall.
  • Hold the position, engaging your shoulders and core for stability.

Advanced:

Wall handstand push-ups:

Wall handstand push-ups are an amazing calisthenic exercise for shoulder development, requiring both strength and balance.

How to:

  • Perform a wall handstand as described above.
  • Lower your head toward the ground by bending your elbows.
  • Push yourself back up.

Floating pike push-ups:

Floating pike push-ups are an advanced variation that demands incredible shoulder strength and control.

How to:

  • Begin in a downward dog yoga pose with your hands on the ground.
  • Lower your head towards the ground by bending your elbows, and elevate your legs a bit when you are at the bottom
  • Push yourself back up while maintaining the pike position.

Calisthenics exercises for core

A strong core is essential for physical strength and stability. Your core is the powerhouse that supports your body’s movements and maintains balance, and calisthenics exercises are perfect for building that core strength.

So here are my recommended calisthenics exercises:

Beginner:

Plank:

Planks are an excellent foundational exercise for core strength. They are one of the first calisthenics exercises you need to master.

How to:

  • Begin in a push-up position, but with your forearms on the ground.
  • Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe and engage your core.
  • Hold this position as long as you can.

Glute bridges:

The glute bridge targets your lower back, glutes, and core, making it a great beginner exercise.

How to:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lift your hips off the ground while keeping your shoulders on the floor.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top.

Side planks:

Side planks work the obliques and improve lateral stability, which is crucial for overall core strength.

How to:

  • Lie on your side with your elbow directly under your shoulder and your legs stacked on top of each other.
  • Lift your hips off the ground, forming a straight line from head to heels.
  • Hold this position, engaging your core.

Intermediate:

Plank hip dip:

Adding a hip dip to the side plank increases the challenge and engages your obliques even more.

How to:

  • Start in a side plank position.
  • Lower your hip toward the ground, then lift it back up.
  • Repeat the movement, targeting your oblique muscles.

Bicycle crunch:

Bicycle crunches work the entire core and require coordination, making them an excellent intermediate exercise.

How to:

  • Lie on your back with your hands behind your head.
  • Lift your shoulders off the ground and bring your right elbow towards your left knee while extending your right leg.
  • Alternate sides in a pedalling motion.

Lying leg raises:

Lying leg raises target the lower part of your core and help build strength in that area.

How to:

  • Lie on your back with your legs straight.
  • Lift your legs up until your body is at a 90-degree angle, keeping your legs straight.
  • Lower them back down without letting them touch the ground.

Advanced:

Dragon flag:

The dragon flag is a challenging core exercise that demands immense strength and control.

How to:

  • Lie on your back and hold onto a stable surface above your head.
  • Lift your legs and hips off the ground, keeping your body straight.
  • Lower your legs back down without letting them touch the ground.

Hanging toe-to-bar touches:

Hanging toe-to-bar touches are one of the best dynamic calisthenics exercises because they require both core strength and coordination.

How to:

  • Hang from a bar with your arms fully extended.
  • Lift your legs up and touch your toes to the bar.
  • Lower your legs back down.

Hanging windshield wipers:

Hanging windshield wipers is an advanced exercise that targets your entire core and improves rotational stability.

How to:

  • Hang from a bar with your arms fully extended.
  • Keep your legs straight and swing them from side to side like a windshield wiper.

Calisthenics exercises for legs

Your legs are the foundation of lower-body strength and overall athleticism. Your legs are the driving force behind many functional movements, and building strength in this area is essential for a well-rounded physique.

So here are my recommended calisthenics exercises:

Beginner:

Bodyweight squats:

Bodyweight squats are the cornerstone of leg training. They help build fundamental leg strength and are ideal for beginners.

How to:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower your body by bending your knees and pushing your hips back.
  • Keep your chest up and your back straight.
  • Push through your heels to return to the starting position.

Lunges:

Lunges are excellent for targeting individual legs and improving balance.

How to:

  • Stand with your feet together.
  • Take a step forward with one leg and lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Push off your front foot to return to the starting position.
  • Alternate legs with each repetition.

Intermediate:

Pistol squats:

Pistol squats are a challenging single-leg exercise that requires balance and strength.

How to:

  • Stand on one leg with the other leg extended in front of you.
  • Lower your body as if you were sitting in a chair while keeping the extended leg off the ground.
  • Push through your heel to return to a standing position.

Bulgarian split squats:

Bulgarian split squats are a potent exercise for building leg strength, particularly in the quads and glutes.

How to:

  • Stand a few feet in front of a bench or sturdy surface.
  • Extend one leg behind you and place the top of your foot on the bench.
  • Lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the ground.
  • Push through your front heel to return to the starting position.

Advanced:

Dragon squats:

Dragon squats are an advanced variation of pistol squats that add an extra element of balance and control.

How to:

  • Perform a pistol squat but extend your non-working leg straight forward instead of keeping it lifted.
  • Lower your body and your extended leg until your hamstrings touch your calf.
  • Push through your heel to return to a standing position.

Shrimp squats:

Shrimp squats are a demanding leg exercise that requires both strength and mobility.

How to:

  • Stand on one leg with the other leg bent behind you, holding your foot with your hand.
  • Lower your body while keeping your non-working leg off the ground.
  • Push through your front heel to return to a standing position.

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