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The Five Best Calisthenic Exercises

author image Kristina de la Cal
Kristina de la Cal is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, “Breaking up without Breaking Down," in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.
The Five Best Calisthenic Exercises
The body is the only equipment needed for a calisthenic workout. Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Also known as body-weight workouts, calisthenic exercises are workout routines that enhance fitness levels and build strength using the natural weight of the body. Calisthenic exercises are ideal for working out at home without equipment. Perform each movement with proper form and breathing to reduce the risk of injury. Complete multiple repetitions of each movement for maximum fitness benefits. Consult with a medical professional before beginning a new exercise routine.


The Five Best Calisthenic Exercises
Pushups target multiple muscle groups. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Working more muscle groups than any other calisthenic exercise, pushups are an essential part of a complete body-weight workout routine. Standard pushups involve lying face down in a plank position and using the arms to raise and lower the body while maintaining a flat back and a tight stomach. Tuck the elbows in close to the sides. Pushup variations range from knee and wall pushups for beginners to one-arm pushups for those who are more advanced.


The Five Best Calisthenic Exercises
Beginners can start with wall squats and work up to more advanced variations. Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Build lower body strength by adding squats to your calisthenic exercise routine. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forward. Begin the movement by lowering the hips then bending the knees into a squat position with your torso between your legs. Complete the movement by thrusting the hips forward and straightening the knees to return to a standing position. Variations of squat techniques range from wall squats and sumo squats for beginners to one legged or overhead squats for those who are more advanced.


The Five Best Calisthenic Exercises
Lunges help strengthen leg muscles. Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Lunges target leg flexibility, stamina and strength. Similar to the squat stance, begin the lunge movement by standing straight with the feet shoulder-width apart and the toes pointed forward. Step forward with one leg while bending at the hips and knees until you reach a lower position with both knees bent at no more than a 90 degree angle. Push up with the same leg used to move forward and return to the starting position. Variations of lunge techniques range from basic lunges for beginners to back and side lunges for those who are more advanced.

Oblique V-Ups

A calisthenic exercise routine would not be complete without an abdominal exercise such as oblique V-ups. Begin the movement lying on your right side with your legs outstretched from the hips at a 30 degree angle. Rest your right arm on the floor and place your left hand behind your head. Keeping them straight, lift your legs from the floor, bring the torso toward the leg, and then slowly return to the starting position. Complete repetitions as desired on both sides.

Jumping Jacks

The Five Best Calisthenic Exercises
Avoid injury from jumping jacks by landing softly on the toes. Photo Credit Mike Powell/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Develop stamina and burn fat by adding jumping jacks to your calisthenic exercise routine. Stand straight with the feet close together and the arms at the sides. Then bend the knees slightly and jump while flinging the arms and legs outward to the sides. Land with the feet spread shoulder-width apart and hands reaching upward and then jump again to return to the starting position. Maintain good form by keeping the back straight and the knees bent.

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