Skip to content

Start Calisthenics This Summer & Master Your Bodyweight (Beginner’s Program)

Image result for kennington park workout

With the weather being as nice as ever in the UK this summer, why confine yourself to a gym? Why not get out in the sun and fresh air while building both an incredible physique and acquiring head turning skills?

If you ever wanted to learn skills like handstands, muscle ups, front and back levers or even the mighty human flag, the plan I’m about to share with you will provide a wonderful foundation to build upon and work towards these advanced moves.

I’ve been wanting to share a beginner’s routine to start calisthenics for a long time now as I’m forever being asked how to get started, and how to improve dips/pull ups etc…so when Nick from UnmeasuredFitness contacted me about some guest writing, I saw a wonderful opportunity. It was clear from his site he not only knows what he’s doing, but also knows plenty about the art that is proper programming.

I set him the challenge of designing a plan to help average people get on the right track to getting healthier, fitter, stronger and more athletic using nothing more than your bodyweight. And boy did he deliver! Right, enough from me. Over to Nick!

Hey, Straight Talking Fitness fans, my name is Nick and I’m here to show you an easy but effective calisthenics workout plan for beginners.

I’m honored to have the opportunity to be guest posting for this website. James seems like an amazing athlete and an incredibly wise teacher. I’m here to show you some practical programming for new athletes. That’s exactly what this calisthenics workout plan for beginners is meant to address.

More often than not, jumping into a new methodology of training can be overwhelming.

Especially when you have the likes of Daniel Vadnal and Frank Medrano as your first glimpses into calisthenics training. It can be hard to not just sit in awe. Let alone think about how to approach it.

So that’s exactly what I hope to teach any newcomers about.

Here we are, a calisthenics workout plan for beginners.

Part 1 – Structure

Every good workout plan covers a few key lifts.

Calisthenics training is no exception. While there are tons of cool moves out there to do, there are a few key staple moves that will come up often.

As well, every great program has a structure to it. Examples like SL 5×5 for weight training and PPL calisthenics routines have a set exercise selection done a couple set days per week.

Our calisthenics workout plan for beginners will follow a similar formula.

Since strength levels vary between athletes and newcomers are facing adaption, I tend to start lighter than other workout program designers.

Entering slowly allows for a better adaption to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS for short) for most people.

More often than not excited newcomers jump into a program written by somebody with years of physical stress adaptions under their belt and fall victim to extreme muscle soreness.

More often than not, this soreness makes those same exact people take time off of training.

With how our calisthenics workout plan for beginners addresses a low amount of key exercises, it better suits people who haven’t had much of a background in physical training.

Baby steps and consistency build success.

The routine will look something like this:

Pulling Exercise 3 Sets 4-12 Reps Rest 1:30 Between Sets
Pushing Exercise 3 Sets 4-12 Reps Rest 1:30 Between Sets
Leg Movement 3 Sets 4-15 Reps Rest 1:30 Between Sets
Plank Progression 1 Set 30 Sec-1 Min Rest 1:30 Between Sets
Lower Back Exercise 3 Sets 4-12 Reps Rest 1:30 Between Sets

Our calisthenics workout plan for beginners shines in only needing five key exercises to flourish.

Key progressions and variations are listed in the next section.

Part 2 – Exercise Progressions

Pulling Exercises

Rows – Vertical Row, Horizontal Row, Feet Up Row
Pull-Ups – Negative Chin-up, Full Chin-Up, Pull Up, Wide Pull Up

Displaying IMG_20180625_133125.jpg

Pushing Exercises

Push-Ups – Knee Push-Up, Full Push-Up, Diamond Push-Up
Dips – Feet On Ground Dips, Negative Dips, Full Dips
Displaying IMG_20180625_133942.jpg

Leg Movements

Squats – Assisted Squats, Full Depth Squats, Bulgarian Split Squat
Lunges – Front Lunge, Side Lunge, Back Lunge
Displaying IMG_20180625_135707.jpg

Plank Progressions

Knee Plank, Full Plank, Decline Plank, Arm + Leg Raise Plank
Displaying IMG_20180625_140757.jpg

Lower Back Exercise

Super Mans

Part 3 – Putting It All Together

You have a routine and you have progressions. What do you do now?

A routine needs to be established and I should probably explain why I chose what I chose.

The Routine

For our calisthenics workout plan for beginners, the aim is to accomplish this workout three times per week.

My suggestion is to allow for a day of rest between each workout day.

That means following an M/W/F workout schedule with T/Th/Sat/Sun off for rest. Otherwise, T/Th/Sat workouts can be done with W/F/Sun/Mon rest split.

Each week is ended with two days off.

While some athletes don’t prefer taking two days consecutively off, I think it helps newcomers adapt.

Remember, rest is needed to recover from training. New athletes even more so until adaptations occur.

If you can’t possibly rest, feel free to add in some light cardiovascular work. A nice brisk walk on your off days may facilitate better recovery from workouts.

Aptly, this tactic is called active recovery. It aids in blood flow circulation and nutrition being delivered to the sore muscles.

Mentality and Best Practices

Before jumping into any program you have to address your goals.

As well, realize fitness is a journey. Everyone is at different stages of their journey.

Set short term and long term goals for yourself. These can range from “regain full depth mobility in my ankles” to something the likes of “achieve my first pushup.” These are short term.

For long-term goals, have something vague enough to accomplish but never be satisfied with. Examples are “stay below 15% body fat” and “move around each day.”

Specify a timeline to accomplish short term-goals. I wouldn’t set anything further than three months out. Shorter deadlines require a focus on consistency and progress to achieve while longer deadlines enable slacking.

As well, keep in mind that failure is guaranteed. Someone who has never failed has never truly tried.

Acknowledging this fact will better prepare you for setbacks.

In addition, mentally assuring yourself that delays happen will make sure you don’t spiral out of control when they do occur.

Word of Caution

Understanding failure doesn’t mean that complacent behavior should be allowed. 

Be the best version of you and strive for progress, don’t settle for less. Just understand things happen and you need to get back on the horse and try again.

Again, understanding these concepts will drive you towards success in our calisthenics workout plan for beginners.

Exercise Selection

Equally as important is my explanation of exercise selection.

Rows are integrated for those who have access to gymnastic rings, or something to the likes of them. They are easier progressions than the full chin up for most, and they develop functional strength in pulling based movements.

Likewise, pull-ups are added because they are the “bread and butter” of calisthenics movements. These are the big bad dog of the bodyweight movements, it’s tried and true for good reasons.

Coupled with push-ups, any of these movements could make a damn fine workout. Push-ups are a staple exercise hailed for their low equipment need and supreme chest building abilities.

Not to mention, dips are phenomenal chest and tricep exercises. When push-ups aren’t enough, try out a good set of quality dips. Their difficulty will surprise you.

In the same fashion as all the others, leg exercises are masters of what they do. Squats and lunges are basic and down to earth. Functional movements build functional units.

Lunges serve to build balance and coordination, while squats help develop a full range of motion in the lower body.

Planks come next.

The plank builds on the cores endurance based support system. Fostering high-quality form during the plank will yield carry over into other lifts.

Likewise, planks are great at building the core strength and endurance necessary to work towards a handstand.

Don’t cheat on the plank by letting your hips sag or by putting your butt up in the air too high.

Lastly, the superman exercise is a secret weapon I’ve picked up. As so many other athletes have found, there are some exercises that just surprise you.

Similarly, I was surprised by this exercise.

Image result for superman exercise

Moreover,  I didn’t realize how weak my lower back was until I integrated them into my workouts.

As a matter of fact, I recommend any established athlete to pick this exercise up, the benefits are countless.

Equally Important

Have fun with your training. Exercise is a way to better ourselves and improve our health. Never should the routine become daunting or unpleasant to do.

If this occurs feel free to change around progressions for a week. Try something new. Bring a taste of variety into your training.

By the same token, stay consistent 80-90 percent of the time and I know changes will occur for you.


Your health is in your control, no one else’s. Take the responsibility and thrive.

-Nick from

P.S. I usually link other articles down here, but today I’m doing an author bio!

My names Nickolas McKeever and I run UnmeasuredFitness, a website for calisthenics. At one point in my life, I was close to 300 pounds.

I was unhappy with my body and my life and I decided to change.

I’ve been a weightlifter, a calisthenics practitioner, and a runner. Throughout all of my experiences, I’ve had ups and downs but I’ve always stayed true to one goal. “Working hard and becoming the best version that I can be.”

My goal is to help everyone overcome their self-imposed limits and learn how to train anywhere for whatever their goal is.

Hell, I got my original start and motivation from playing video games and wanting to do a pull up like Nathan Drake.

Anyone can do great things with their bodies, I’m just here to show you that you can.

Again, thank you for giving me this opportunity and getting the chance to meet you, James, it’s been lovely chatting and I hope to do that interview sometime soon. Keep up the strong work!

A HUGE thank you to Nick and believe me, I couldn’t have come up with a better starting plan for calisthenics. If you follow this and apply the laws of progressive overload – i.e. adding reps when you can or using a harder progression for each category, you’ll see phenomenal results.
If you have any further questions on this routine please leave a comment or email me 

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

7 thoughts on “Start Calisthenics This Summer & Master Your Bodyweight (Beginner’s Program) Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: