When I started out with calisthenics a few years ago, I really didn’t know much about handstands and levers but just started and gave them a try, slowly learning along the way by trial and error. Calisthenics proved to be a lot more fun than the weights for me, but a lot harder as well, as the progressions can really take some time.
Undoubtedly, looking back on it all, there are a number of simple things that I learnt that could have sped my progress up quite a bit. Here’s a few simple tips that you can use when getting started, followed by a great video by Chris Heria from Thenx with a few of his awesome tips.
1. The Basics!
The foundation of calisthenics and bodyweight training is mastering the basic exercises. These exercises consist of:
- Push ups
- Pull ups
So start with these initially before you start to try the other more complex stuff like handstand push ups and levers.
Following on from the first point, focusing on those core bodyweight exercises is your first step, but getting in the reps on them is the next step. So be sure to do each exercise for reps and try aim to constantly improve the number of reps you can do on each exercise to build up strength and endurance.
3. Don’t skip progressions!
This is probably the most common mistake we all make. We see the cool holds like the planche and front lever and want to just start training for one of those and doing one of them immediately, without having the proper base and foundation to build upon. If you skip the small progressions that are needed to get to a certain exercise, you will end up taking waaaaay longer to get it, trust me I know! So take a step back and don’t rush the process. It will come when it comes, but just follow the process.
4. Rest is important!
When you think of calisthenics as ‘just bodyweight’ exercises, it can seem like it may not be that intense on your body. This is certainly not the case. Since you are using multiple multiple muscle groups when performing most exercises, it can really take its toll on your body so remember to give yourself adequate rest.
5. Include some weights
After a few weeks of starting with calisthenics I just cut out weight training completely thinking it would hinder my progress. I soon realized keeping a bit of weight training in my routine would actually help with my progress and the look of my physique. So my advice would be to keep some weight training in your programme (if you enjoy it of course), thus doing a bit of both. Another great thing to do is to add weight to the bodyweight exercises, which will really improve your strength!