Saturday, 20 April 2024

Calisthenics, Fitness

Types of Calisthenics: Styles & Exercises

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woman doing calisthenics sit ups

Calisthenics is bodyweight training, with a focus on strength. This might sound boring to you, but trust us, it isn’t.

There’s a huge variety of exercises and types of calisthenics for you to explore. From flashy and street calisthenics to one-handed pushups and muscle-ups, you’ll have a blast trying out new exercises and types as you progress.

Let’s get into it.

What Are Calisthenics Exercises?

Calisthenics helps to build functional strength, making your day-to-day tasks easier. These exercises reduce stress on your joints while building overall fitness and power.

Calisthenics exercises encourage a longer lifespan for your joints and save you money and time. You won’t need to head to the gym for machine support or pay monthly gym fees. You can perform these right from your living room.

Performing these exercises will also increase your metabolism. The more you burn calories, the more weight you’ll lose (provided you’re looking after your nutrition too).

Types of Calisthenics

man doing handstand

Calisthenics is bodyweight training, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring or repetitive. This discipline offers a huge variety of exercises. And, as with many exercises, calisthenics is as fun and flashy as you make it.

Everyone is unique. And we all have our own styles and ways of doing things that work for us, especially when it comes to exercise.

Take a look at these different types of calisthenics you can try below.

Military calisthenics

If you think boot camp, then you’ve already got the gist of this calisthenics type. It includes the likes of push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, and sit-ups.

Consider these the OGs when it comes to regular workouts. They are perfect for full-body workouts and they get your heart rate up.

Benefits include:

  • No equipment needed
  • Increased mobility and strength
  • Ideal for group workouts

military calisthenics

Flashy calisthenics

These calisthenics types are more targeted towards an advanced level of working out. It includes exercises like planche push-ups and pseudo one hand pull-ups. They are sophisticated and will need continuous practice.

The term flashy calisthenics describes it perfectly. If you want to turn heads, then this style is for you.

Street calisthenics

It’s fast and the best for adrenaline lovers. This style uses static movements, which work very well with freestyle calisthenics. They contain a combination of great exercises that challenge stability, core strength, balance, and strength.

Exercises include, but are not limited to:

  • human flag
  • handstand push-up
  • One-arm chin-up

Aesthetic calisthenics

Aesthetic calisthenics is designed for individuals who desire balance and symmetry in their body weight. This type of calisthenics focuses on not only the major muscles but the minor muscle groups too.

Curiously, the word calisthenics comes from the Greek words “kallos” and “sthenos”. “Kallos” refers to the idea of beauty and aesthetic, especially as it relates to the human form.

If you’re searching for an attractive physique that embodies both strength and beauty, you can’t go wrong with this type.

man doing human flag

Static calisthenics

The static style is also known as isometric calisthenics. This type is famed for holds, pulls, and pushes.

With holds, athletes stay in the same position for a prolonged period of time. With pulls and pushes, they remain in a specific position while preloading muscles to achieve a powerful force. Example: Preparing to jump.

Playground calisthenics

If you were a fan of monkey tricks as a kid, this one is for you. It’s all about versatility in your movement.

It shows what your body can do on steel bars and in the playground. You get to work on your flexibility and mobility while working out outside.

woman doing playground calisthenics

Best Calisthenics Exercises List

We’ve taken a look at the styles of calisthenics. Now, let’s look at some of the basic exercise types.

We encourage you to start slowly, with the less challenging moves. Then, work your way up if you want to challenge yourself.

Feel free to add any of the below into your calisthenics workouts. There are exercises for all your major muscle groups.

Calisthenics chest & tricep exercises

Here are some of the exercises you can try for an upper body workout. These vary between beginner, intermediate, and even advanced levels. 

woman doing knee push ups

For beginners, you’ll want to start with one or more of these:

Knee push-ups

Knee push-ups are performed by getting your knees stable onto a flat surface. Placing your hands shoulder-width apart under your shoulders. Then, go ahead as if you were doing a normal push up. Keep your core tight and this will be effective as a calisthenics ab workout too.

Incline push-ups

Incline push ups are another variation of a traditional push-up. If you can’t yet perform a standard pushup, the incline version is a great place to start.
Use the same form and movement as a traditional pushup. But, place an elevated surface (like a weight bench) under your hands.

Standard push-ups

A standard push up is one of the best pushing movements in calisthenics. Setting push-up targets can help you to increase your pushing strength and get excellent results.

Start by aiming to complete 5 quality push-ups in one set without resting. When you’ve reached this, add 5 to the number. Before you know it, you’ll be performing pushups with the form and speed of military cadets!

Close-grip push-up

Move your hands closer together when adopting the pushup starting position. This will target your tricep muscles more.

This type of calisthenics exercise activates your triceps, chest and pecs. And, also changes things up from a regular push-up.

Decline push ups

All the rules for a standard push-up still apply for this one. The difference is the gradient of the exercise.

Place your feet on a bench or high enough surface. By doing this, you can increase the amount of bodyweight your arms will be lifting. Experiment with different heights to see what you find the most challenging.

Wide grip push-ups

For a wide grip push-up, you’ll have to set your arms further apart. Flare out your elbows more than you would for a standard push-up. This will put good pressure on your tricep and chest muscles.

man doing push ups

And now for more advanced calisthenics training:

Uneven push-ups

Place a higher level bench/flat surface on one side of your body. You will perform this exercise by doing a standard push-up. But, with one arm at a higher level than the other.

As you get familiar with the pressure, step it up a notch and change the height of the surface.

One-handed push-ups

Tricky, we know! But, these are achievable with work and persistence.

Focus on building core stability, strength, and balance. Once you increase in these areas, a one-handed pushup will become a reality.

Planche push-ups

You may have spotted a few Olympic gymnasts pulling this one. Imagine doing a pushup, but with your legs raised off the ground in alignment with your core.

You have to put your body weight forward, allowing your chest and shoulders to take the weight. This is not for newbies.

Calisthenics back exercises

These calisthenics workouts target the back muscles, including the semispinalis, multifidus, and rotatores.

Wall pull up

You will need equipment to perform a wall pull-up. An assembled pull-up bar, power tower, or even a sturdy doorframe can be used.

Pull-ups are excellent exercises as these strengthen the back muscles and improve your pulling movements. You’ll also increase your grip strength and overall body strength.

Horizontal pull-ups

Horizontal pull-ups, aka inverted rows, are excellent for targeting back muscles. With proper form, these exercises strengthen scapular (shoulder blade) retraction.

In terms of how this helps day to day, think along the lines of improved posture, a stronger body, and a higher level of overall fitness.

Pull-up negatives

This is the best way to work towards a full quality pullup. If you haven’t been exposed to strength training before, or have only recently started your fitness journey, don’t be discouraged if you find you can’t do one. It’s common.

Negative pullups help you to progress to a full pullup by developing your strength. In this version, you cut out the “pulling up” part of the exercise. You instead start with your chest at the bar and focus on slowly lowering yourself down from the bar to a hanging position.

woman showcasing types of calisthenics

L- pull up

With this exercise, you perform pull-ups as you would normally. However, as you pull upwards, create an L-shape with your lower body and hold it.

The static hold means that you won’t have the momentum to assist you. The execution will rely on your strength and stability. It’s an advanced variation of the standard pull-up.

Pseudo one-hand pull-up

You will need to work one arm per set. You need to work both your arms with an equal number of sets and to fully engage your back muscles.

Similar to the one-handed pushup, this takes strength, stability, balance, and control.


calisthenics pull up

The muscle-up is an advanced strength training exercise that combines the best of a pullup and a triceps dip. Consider it a dynamic push and pull exercise.

Muscles-ups can be performed on gymnastic rings or bars. The exercise is executed by performing a pull-up and then transitioning into a triceps press.

Final Thoughts on Types of Calisthenics

woman researching workouts on laptop

We’ve given you a quick snapshot of the different types of calisthenics and the exercises you will encounter in this fitness discipline. There’s a style for every personality and every tempo.

What are you waiting for? Choose a few of these exercises and start working out today!

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