Mon Sep 09

How to Start in Calisthenics from level Zero

Yerai Alonso

Yerai Alonso

How to Start in Calisthenics from level Zero

In this article I want to do a guide for people who start completely from scratch, people who don't have any strength, old people or similar situations in which doing the basic exercises such as pull ups, dips or push ups is not a fair option.

We will see which specific exercises you can do and how to adapt the basics in calisthenics to lower its difficulty by a great deal so you can build strength from there.

If you want to start calisthenics in a good way, that allows you to have the best possibilities in this sport, I think that you should aim to learn basic progressions for push, pull, legs and abs exercises.

Pull ups from level zero

The first progression that we can do to start with the pull up work, if you don't have any strength, would be to find a bar at your chest level. Get your feet on the ground under the bar and your hands with the palms facing you. In this position do reps, if you have different bar heights you can use them to increase or decrease the difficulty. The higher the bar the easier the exercise.

As soon as you have more strength, find a bar to your hips level, get your feet a couple steps under the bar and your hands on the same position as before. Do reps trying to have your hips and back in a straight line (don't let your waist fall down). If you have the possibility you can use different bar heights to regulate difficulty, the higher the bar the easier the exercise.

The next progression would be the same exercise but using a prone grip (palms facing away). When you have enough strength do them with straight legs to increase the difficulty.

Now we will stop using our legs, so our next progression will be to get to the bar with supine grip (palms facing us), jump to get your chin over the bar and hold there the required time.

When you are strong in that position, you can start to do short range reps. Same as before you jump until your chin is above the bar and this time you try to do very short reps. With time you will fill stronger and do them with a little more range.

The next one would be the same but trying to do half the range, until your arms form a 90º angle.

And the finisher is the chin up. When you get enough strength to do 5 or 6 chin ups, you will be able to do pull ups with no problem.

Push ups from level zero

To start from scratch with push ups, and be able to adjust the difficulty to our level, whatever it is, we will start doing them on high bar or platform, with feet on the ground and hands on it. Try with a bar or platform to your stomach height, and if it is too difficult for you at that level, find a higher one. As you can see, the higher your hands, the easier the exercise.

When you get stronger, lower the height step by step, until you can do them in a bar or platform to your knee level approximately.

When you get a hold of that level, we can start with the floor, where we will start doing knee assisted push ups.

Once that is no problem for you, we can do full, traditional push ups. It is probable that the first times you won't be able to do full range of motion, but don't worry and keep working on them until you can do it correctly.

Legs from level zero

Again the first steps involve a high bar, to your chest level approximately. Hold the bar and do a partial squat, flexing your knees until 45º more or less. If you feel that you are strong enough, try to assist yourself as little as possible with your arms. If it is difficult for you assist yourself until you get stronger.

Next step would be to do the same position but with more range of movement, getting to 90º with our legs.

Next we will do the same two steps but without the assistance of the bar. First partial squat to 45º, and then squat to 90º. The final exercise, when you are strong in regular squat and your body is used to that movement (maybe 2 or 3 months in, so your knees are fully adapted), we will start to do deep squats, passing the 90º in every rep.

Abs from level zero

To work on our core we can also start from scratch without any problem. The first step would be the classic plank. First if you have never done it can be a little exhausting to hold it, but you will be able to increase the time continuously day by day. If it is very difficult for you, you can start using your knees to make it easier, and when you get stronger you do the regular plank.

Next step would be to do leg raises on the floor, laying face up you have to lift your legs until doing a 90º angle. At first if it is difficult you can flex your legs a little, and with time try to do it with straight legs.

Now we start working in the bar, with knee raises. completely holding in the bar, raise your knees to your chest and then extend again.

Next level would be L sit raises on the bar, with straight legs you lift them to 90º. And finally leg raises on the bar, touching it with your feet.

Dips from level zero

To start with dips we find a bar to our hips level or a little higher, we hold it facing away with prone grip and we do partial, short reps.

When we are strong there and a little more flexible in our shoulder extension, we do full range reps.

Next step would be to do the same process but in a bar, bench or platform to our knee height approximately . First partial reps, and then full reps.

With that basic strength, we will start to work on the parallel bars. First only holding the position for time.

When you feel confortable with that position you can start to do partial reps, until 45º.

And finally we will do full dips, getting to 90º or more in your arm flexion.

If you keep improving your level on each exercise, you will have a well rounded basic strength to keep improving in your calisthenics training and start to practice more difficult exercises, tricks and son on. You can check a routine here

In our app we have different content suited for beginners level 0. Some of them are the following:

  • Full body domination training program, starting in level 0
  • Your first pull up training program, starting in level 0
  • Full body transformation training program, starting in level 0
  • Routine "My first day at the Park"
  • Routine "Home initiation"

To find this routines go to Sessions and use the finding tool.


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