How to Create a Calisthenics Workout Plan from Scratch (2024)

Adorian Moldovan

Hi! I am the author and founder of Old School Calisthenics

Embarking on a calisthenics journey can be both exciting and challenging, especially for beginners who want to create a workout plan from scratch. With a multitude of exercises and workout strategies to choose from, it’s crucial to develop a plan that not only aligns with your fitness goals but is also tailored to your current fitness level and individual needs. In this article, I’ll walk you through the essential steps to create a customized workout plan that will help you achieve your fitness goals and foster a sustainable and enjoyable exercise routine. From defining your goals and assessing your fitness level to selecting the right exercises and tracking your progress, we’ve got you covered with a comprehensive roadmap to build a workout plan that works for you.

Step 1: Define Your Goals

The first step in creating a calisthenics workout plan is to define your goals. These goals could range from losing weight, building muscle, increasing flexibility, or improving overall athleticism.Be specific about your goals, as this will help you create a more targeted and effective workout plan.

Here are some examples of training based on common fitness goals:

  1. Strength Training: If your goal is to increase strength, your training plan should focus on resistance exercises like pistol squats, deadlifts, pushups, dips, and pull-ups. For beginners, a great way to approach strength training is by focusing on training the muscles.Hypertrophy,also known as muscle-building,can indirectly increase strengthas the diameter or thickness of the muscle fibers increases.Strength is directly dependent on the diameter of each fiber, so increasing muscle size through hypertrophy can help improve overall strength. Additionally, muscle-building exercises are generally less taxing on the nervous system, making it a more adaptive and sustainable form of training.
  2. Weight Loss: For weight loss, the focus should be on cardio exercises likerunning, cycling,orswimming,along with resistance exercises that target multiple muscle groups. High-intensity interval training(HIIT)can be effective for burning calories and improving overall fitness. It’s also important to maintain a caloric deficit throughdietto achieve weight loss.
  3. Muscle Building: If your goal is to build muscle, your training plan should focus on resistance exercises that target specific muscle groups. Exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and lunges can be effective for building muscle. It’s also important to eat a diet that supports muscle growth, including enough protein and calories.
  4. Flexibility and Mobility: For improving flexibility and mobility, thefocus should be on exercises that stretch and loosen muscles, such as yoga, Pilates, or dynamic stretching. Resistance exercises can also be effective in improving mobility and balance (full range of motion).
  5. Endurance: For improving endurance, the focus should be on cardio exercises like running, cycling, or swimming, along with exercises that improve muscular endurance, such as circuit training orhigh-rep calisthenics.

Remember that training based on goals is a personalized approach to fitness, and the training plan should be tailored to the individual’s fitness level and preferences. It’s important to have a balanced approach to training, including a variety of exercises that target different muscle groups and fitness goals.

Step 2: Assess Your Fitness Level

Before starting any workout plan, it’s essential to evaluate your current fitness level. This assessment will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to create a plan tailored to your needs. You can perform simple tests like push-ups, pull-ups, and squats to gauge your fitness level.

Step 3: Choose Exercises

Once you’ve defined your goals and assessed your fitness level, you can begin selecting the exercises for your workout plan. Choose exercises that target the muscle groups you want to develop and are appropriate for your fitness level. Some basic calisthenics exercises include:

  1. Push-ups (chest, shoulders, triceps)
  2. Pull-ups (back, biceps)
  3. Squats (legs, lower back)
  4. Leg Raises (core, legs)
  5. Planks (core)
  6. Lunges (legs)
  7. Dips (triceps, chest)
  8. Burpees (legs, core)
  9. Sprints (legs, core)

Remember to include a mix of upper body, lower body, and core exercises for a well-rounded workout.

Here’s a list of more bodyweight exercises that target various muscle groups:

  1. Bulgarian split squats (legs, glutes)
  2. Planks (core)
  3. Side planks (core, obliques)
  4. Bicycle crunches (core, obliques)
  5. Russian twists (core, obliques)
  6. Mountain climbers (core, cardio)
  7. Jumping jacks (cardio, full body)
  8. Step-ups (legs, glutes)
  9. Glute bridges (glutes, hamstrings)
  10. Inverted rows (back, biceps)
  11. Calf raises (calves)
  12. Handstand push-ups (shoulders, triceps)
  13. Pike push-ups (shoulders, triceps)
  14. Superman (lower back)
  15. Hollow body hold (core)
  16. L-sit (core)
  17. Horse stance hold (legs)
  18. Wall-sit (legs)
  19. Lying leg raises (lower abs)
  20. Flutter kicks (core, legs)
  21. Crouch walking (legs)
  22. Jump squats (legs, core)
  23. Plyo push-ups (upper-body)
  24. Plyo pull-ups (upper-body)
  25. Jumping lunges (legs)
  26. Skater jumps (lateral jump)
  27. Box jumps (legs)
  28. Tuck jumps
  29. Hanging off a pull-up bar (forearms).

These exercises can be combined and modified to create a comprehensive and well-rounded workout plan. Remember to consider your fitness level and goals when selecting exercises for your routine.

Calisthenics may appear to be a limited form of training because it relies solely on bodyweight exercises. However, there are actually a wide variety of exercises and progressions that can be used to build strength, improve flexibility, and increase overall fitness. It does require some creativity and a willingness to experiment with different exercises and techniques.

Building a great calisthenics workout plan does take time and practice. It’s important to start with a few basic exercises and gradually add more complexity and difficulty over time. A simple structure based on sets and reps is a great starting point, and it’s important not to overcomplicate things. Consistency and hard work are key to achieving results with calisthenics, and over time, you’ll be able to build a more comprehensive and challenging workout plan that aligns with your goals and fitness level.

My Calisthenics Transformation! Motivational video

Step 4: Structure Your Workout Plan

Design your workout plan by deciding on the number of sets and repetitions for each exercise. Start with lower repetitions and gradually increase them as you progress. Further, you should allocate specific days for each muscle group, ensuring you have enough rest between workouts.

A sample workout structure could be:

  • Day 1: Upper body circuit
  • Day 2: Lower body, stretching
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Upper body (sets and reps)
  • Day 5: Light running and core
  • Day 1: Lower body and core
  • Day 2: Upper body
  • Day 3: Active rest (light cardio, stretching)
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Full body (HIT)

Step 5: Warm-Up and Cool-Down

Include a warm-up and cool-down in your workout plan. A warm-up can consist of 5-10 minutes of light cardio or dynamic stretching, while a cool-down should include static stretching and deep breathing exercises.

Step 6: Track Your Progress

As mentioned earlier, keeping a training log is essential for tracking your progress and maintaining motivation. Record the exercises, sets, and repetitions for each workout, along with notes on your performance and any improvements you’ve noticed. Regularly reviewing your training log will help you make adjustments to your workout plan as needed.

Here are some ways you can track your progress in calisthenics:

  1. Keep a training log: Record your workouts in a training journal or app. Note the exercises, sets, reps, and any additional details like rest periods or modifications. This will help you track your progress over time and identify areas where you can improve.
  2. Take progress photos: Take before and after photos to visually track your progress. This can be a great way to see changes in muscle definition, body composition, and overall physique.
  3. Measure your body composition: Use tools like body fat calipers, a measuring tape, or a scale to track changes in your body composition. This can help you see changes in muscle mass, body fat percentage, and overall weight.
  4. Track your performance: Measure your performance in specific exercises, like the number of push-ups or pull-ups you can do in a set, and track your progress over time. This can be a great way to see improvements in strength and endurance.
  5. Set goals: Set specific, measurable goals for yourself and track your progress towards achieving them. This can help you stay motivated and focused on your fitness journey.

By tracking your progress in these ways, you can stay motivated, measure your improvements, and adjust your training plan as needed to achieve your goals in calisthenics. Here are the pictures documenting my calisthenics transformation:

Step 7: Stay Consistent and Adjust as Necessary

Consistency is key to achieving your fitness goals. Stick to your workout plan and make adjustments as needed to keep challenging yourself. Remember that progress takes time, and it’s crucial to be patient and persistent.

By following these steps, you’ll create a calisthenics workout plan tailored to your needs and goals. And don’t forget to check out the program for additional guidance on beginner calisthenics exercises.

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