Calisthenics are exercises that use your body weight as resistance. To perform a calisthenic workout all you need is sufficient space and a sturdy overhead beam or bar from which you can hang. Because calisthenic exercises can be performed anywhere, this form of workout as popular with military personnel as well as martial artists, gymnasts and other athletes looking for an simple but effective workout routine. Warm up by performing some light cardio and dynamic stretching before starting your workout. Perform two to four sets of each exercise or work through the list as a non-stop circuit.
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The prisoner squat targets all of the muscles in your lower body while also stretching your chest and shoulders. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your fingertips touching the back of your head. Push your elbows back and lift your chest. Push your hips back, bend your knees and squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Stand back up and then repeat. Keep your weight on your heels and do not lean too far forward. Your shoulders should stay over your feet at all times.
Pushups are the most well-known calisthenic exercise and also the most commonly performed. They target your chest and the rear of your upper arms -- your triceps muscles. To perform a pushup, bend forward and place your hands on the floor directly beneath your shoulders with your fingers pointing forward. Walk your legs back until your heels, hips and head form a straight line. Keeping your abs tight, bend your arms and lower your chest to within one inch of the floor. Extend your arms and push back up to the starting position. If a full pushup is too challenging, bend your legs and rest your knees on the floor. This variation is commonly known as a three-quarter pushup.
Pullups and chinups are two of the more challenging calisthenic exercises and target your upper back and biceps muscles. To perform these exercises, hang from a sturdy overhead bar and then, from a fully extended position, bend your arms and pull yourself up so that your chin is above the level of the bar. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position and repeat. Pullups are performed with a wider than shoulder-width pronated or overhand grip while chinups are performed with a narrower supinated or underhand grip. You can make these exercises less demanding by placing your feet on a chair and using your legs for assistance.
Lunges are a unilateral leg exercise that improves balance, coordination, flexibility, mobility and muscle endurance. To perform lunges, stand with your feet together and your hands by your sides. Take a large step forward, bend your legs and lower your rear knee to within one inch of the floor. Push off your front leg to return to the starting position. Immediately perform another repetition leading with the opposite leg. Continue alternating legs for the duration of your set.
Crunches are a simple exercise that target your rectus abdominus muscle, abs for short. This muscle, when well-developed and not covered with fat, is known as a six-pack. Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your fingers on your temples and press your elbows back. Contract your abs as though you are bracing against a "gut punch" and then curl your spine to raise your shoulders and upper back off the floor. Hold the uppermost position for a second before lowering your shoulder back to the floor and repeating. This exercise can also be performed with your feet off the ground and your knees and hips bent to 90 degrees.
The final exercise in this workout targets erector spinae or lower back muscles. Lie on your front with your hands clasped behind your lower back and your forehead resting on the floor. Keep your feet on the floor and your legs straight throughout this exercise. Lift your head and chest 6 or so inches off the floor and then slowly return to the starting position. Only lift up as far as feels comfortable. Make this exercise more demanding by placing your hands on your temples.