Introduction to Calisthenics – Training Plans

Our beginner training plans will give you a calisthenics workout that focuses on the basics to get you stronger.

Both plans are quite short and can be completed in less than half an hour. That’s not a massive commitment to become stronger, healthier, and in my experience, happier.

Strength vs Muscle Mass

Strength Training

When it comes to strength training, there are two primary influences behind how strong you are, these are your nervous system and the size of your muscles.

If you have a strong nervous system for a particular movement then your brain can recruit more muscle cells to perform the said movement.

This is why you can often see rather lean athletes perform quite strong feats of strength.

To train this way, you should keep your number of repetitions (reps) low, and your number of sets (that is the number of times you perform the reps) high, this keeps your muscles relatively fresh and enables you to perform harder exercises, which require more strength.

For more detailed information on this, then check out my article on how to build strength.

Hypertrophy Training

If you have bigger muscles, then you have more muscle mass to move yourself through the movement.

To train for muscle mass you should perform high reps (but not too high), with a low number of sets, this will fatigue your muscles and tell your body that it needs to grow bigger in order to perform this again. This is commonly referred to as hypertrophy.

You’ll also have to eat enough calories to build the extra muscle and have a decent level of testosterone, but that’s a post for another day.

Training Plans

This post will provide two separate plans for working to both of these goals, which one you use is up to you. Having said that I advise that strength should come first and as these are beginner exercises, they are designed to build a solid foundation.

If you’d like to then take this further, you can then either check out the free calisthenics tutorials on this site or visit our locations page to see if we have a coach near you.

5 x 5 Strength Training Plan

In this plan you’re going keep the reps low with higher sets; the goal is to be able to perform the same progression through all 5 sets, but if you’re feeling fatigued then feel free to drop down to an easier exercise.

You should work through all five exercises in turn before moving onto the second set, this way your muscles will remain a little fresher as you work different muscle groups in each exercise.

Any exercises that are uni-lateral such as one leg short bridges, should be performed 5 times on each side. Train your weaker side first and don’t go beyond this with your stronger side.

5 Sets of
5 x Incline Push-ups
5 x Inverted Rows
5 x Bodyweight Squats
5 x Lying Leg Raises
5 x Short Bridges

Once you can perform 5 sets of 5 reps for a given exercise, then next time make it more difficult, check out the progression / regression section under each guide on how to do this.

3 x 10 Hypertrophy Training Plan

With this plan you will be training higher reps to fatigue your muscles.

Unlike the strength training plan, you should pick a level of progression and stick to it for both sets.

Any exercises that are uni-lateral such as one leg short bridges, should be performed 10 times on each side, train your weaker side first and don’t go beyond this with your stronger side.

Once you can perform 10 reps in all 3 sets then it’s time to make the exercise more difficult.

10 x Incline Push-ups

One minute rest, repeat 2 times for a total of 3 sets.

10 x Inverted Rows
One minute rest, repeat 2 times for a total of 3 sets.

10 x Bodyweight Squats
One minute rest, repeat 2 times for a total of 3 sets.

10 x Lying Leg Raises
One minute rest, repeat 2 times for a total of 3 sets.

10 x Short Bridges
One minute rest, repeat 2 times for a total of 3 sets.

Next Steps

Calisthenics Fundamentals

Since writing this guide, I’ve been inundated with messages of support and asking for a plan to take this further.

This is why I’ve written the Calisthenics Fundamentals program.

It is a series of workouts that will take you from absolute beginner, to the top levels of calisthenics strength all whilst focusing on the basic movement patterns.

We teach the program both online and in-person.

For more information, click on the button below.

Calisthenics Fundamentals
By |2018-07-17T12:57:53+00:00August 12th, 2014|Introduction to Calisthenics, Training Plan|23 Comments

About the Author:

Dave Mace is the founder and head coach of Maximum Potential Calisthenics. He takes great pleasure in motivating and inspiring others to succeed with their own bodyweight training. Success for him is measured in helping others (and himself) to achieve their maximum potential and perform feats of strength that you once thought were impossible!