Calisthenics is a simple discipline; you lift your body through space and against the resistance of gravity. You’ve been doing just that since you were able to walk. But what is basic in concept can also be deep and complicated in practice, especially if you get trapped in the countless calisthenics internet rabbit holes.
To make your training more practical, I’ve created this list of the most important Dos and Don’t everyone should understand about calisthenics training.
Don’t do endless push-ups & sit-ups.
Bodyweight training often lends itself to “rep-chasing,” where you endlessly pursue more volume. Adding extra sets and reps is fine when starting, but before too long, you’re slogging through one exhaustive workout after another with diminishing returns.
Do Learn progressive calisthenics theory
Like all forms of strength training, there are many ways to progress in calisthenics. Adding more volume is a good way to advance your training, but it’s certainly not the only, or even the best, way, much of the time.
Instead, a knowledge of how to make progress with advanced push-ups, rows, pull-ups, and squats is the key to results without mind-numbing volume.
My latest book, Progressive & Weighted Calisthenics, is my #1 recommended resource for building muscle and strength without tedious volume-filled workouts.
Don’t focus on any one muscle group.
One of the most common calisthenics mistakes is spending too much time and attention on one area of the body. A common example is only practicing upper body exercises, like push-ups and pull-ups, or neglecting the muscles along the posterior chain, like the hamstrings.
Do practice leg work & bridges
Contrary to popular belief, calisthenics is an effective way to train all body muscles, including the legs, back, and even the neck. Some of the more effective hamstring and back exercises in existence are bodyweight techniques.
Don’t Emulate what you see on social media too much.
It’s easy to forget that social media doesn’t always accurately represent real life. That’s not to say that what you see isn’t real; it’s just an inaccurate depreciation of what most people practice to reach their fitness goals.
Do build a program that’s best suited for you and your goals
You probably won’t get your best results with fancy circus tricks and over-complicated routines. Instead, your most effective strategies will rely heavily on basic exercises customized for your fitness level and goals. The best exercises and routines may not help you trend on social media, but they will be far safer and deliver faster results.
Don’t commit to a life-long routine.
Many people want to find a workout routine that’s the “best” way to get results. They search for that one routine that will take them to the promised land if they can only commit to it for a lifetime.
Do learn many techniques and strategies
Few people get very far with any one routine or exercise plan. Long-term success almost always involves using many different training strategies and methods.
Various strategies allow you to adapt your training to fit changing circumstances. Sometimes you may need to utilize a high-volume approach. Other times, using a high-intensity strategy may be the way to go.
Calisthenics is a very versatile discipline. There’s no need to limit yourself to any one routine or style. You can certainly have a training focus, but variety is the spice of life and the key to long-term success.