When you’re trying to put together your very first bodyweight exercise routines, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with information.
There are no less than several hundred sites that either specialize in bodyweight exercises, or which specialize in fitness but offer advice to those getting into calisthenics.
One of the best approaches I’ve found is to look at what the experts recommend and either start with one of them, or take bits and pieces as your own.
In this post, we’ll take a look at a dozen of the most interesting foundational routines offered by experts in the field.
Bodyweight Exercise Routines
I’m only a tiny bit of the way into my journey, but I’ve already shared my beginner calisthenics workout routine.
But I’m a novice, and I can’t yet share the kind of insights the gurus can.
So I decided it would help to gather up some of the best advice from the best practitioners in the field. Let’s take a look–I’ll pick a few beginner workouts and a few that are a little more interesting, just for variety.
Al Kavadlo is my favorite calisthenics expert out there today. He has a knack for being an entertaining voice, providing lots of great insights, explaining things in language beginners can understand, and being very articulate and precise in his delivery. I’m trying to take a few lessons from him about speaking on camera too!
But we’re here for bodyweight routines. To get us started, let’s take a look at Al Kavadlo’s 5×5 Workout (Beginner Version):
Al’s 5×5 Workout (Beginner Version) includes:
- 5 Australian Pull-ups
- 5 Lying Knee Tucks
- 5 Split Squats (Right)
- 5 Split Squats (Left)
- 5 Push-Ups
Danny Kavadlo is Al’s brother, with a slightly tougher persona, a few more tats and his own thriving training practice. He recently shared a typical workout with Ready To Workout that includes the following elements (read the article for the sequencing):
- 30 fingertip push-ups: 2 rounds
- 15 pull-ups: 2 rounds
- Pistol Squats: 10 reps per leg
- Muscle-Ups: 5-10 reps
- 1 arm push-ups: 5-10 reps per arm
- Hanging Leg Raises-Shins to Bar: 10 reps.
- Human flag training left/right (about 15 min).
- 30 more fingertip push-ups.
- Handstand and back bridge practice.
No wonder dude looks like a badass!
Diesel Grace, who’s now part of the growing Kavadlo empire, is a calisthenics expert in her own rite. Here we take a look at Grace’s graceful calisthenic abs workout, which she performs with ____ Rachel:
Grace’s routine consists of:
- 25 plank jacks
- 25 shoulder stand leg raises
- 15 get-ups
- 20 pike sliders
- 10 elevated leg extensions or ground leg extensions
- 20 bird dog crunches
Paul Wade is best known for Convict Conditioning. Although Wade doesn’t have any video workout routines that I could find, I like his position when it comes to those questioning calisthenics as a builder of strength:
If anyone tells me that bodyweight-only work can’t make them strong, I challenge them to get to the stage where they can bust out:
- 5 one-arm push-ups (prison-style, with the feet close)
- 5 one-arm pull-ups (no kipping)
- 10 handstand push-ups
- 20 pistol squats
- 20 strict hanging leg raises
- 10 stand-to-stand bridges
Then come back and tell me that they aren’t Spiderman-strong.
You win, Paul!
Mike Fitch is known for creating the Global Bodyweight Training system as well as Animal Flow. He is also articulate and presents a pleasant persona that’s encouraging for beginner trainees.
In this video, Mike shows us four exercises intended to get you ready for summer and provides good explanation of how to do each one.
The routine includes:
- Pike Pushup
- Crab Reach
- Single Leg Squat
- Side Kick-Through
Alex @ Calisthenic Movement
Alex and Sven at Calisthenic Movement have provided a great library of videos to the community already. They provide personal training both in person in Germany, and worldwide online. In this Street Workout Beginner Routine, they recommend a number of great exercises.
Level 1 includes:
- Australian Pull-Ups
- Dips with Resistance Band
- Australian Chinups
- Knee Pushups
- 20-30 Second Wall Handstand Wall
- Hanging Leg Raises
Level 2 contains:
- Skin the Cat
- 50-60 Second Wall Handstand
- Hanging Extended Leg Raises
- Reverse Leg Lifts
You’ll be tired if you just do one set of both levels!
Todd Kuslikis is best known for A Shot of Adrenaline, a site he put together after going through his own transformation from a scrawny young man to his current strong and confident self-mastery.
From Todd’s extensive Youtube library, I chose the Around-The-World Pushup routine. This is one of the more intense bodyweight exercise routines I’ve seen for the chest. It includes exercise patterns similar to, and that train you for, the assisted one-arm pushup!
Included within this routine are a couple of primary exercises that he demonstrates in full, through to fatigue:
- Horizontal around-the-world pushup
- Vertical around-the-world pushup
This will rock your upper body world!
Ed Checo is the founder of Barstarzz, a calisthenics community and movement founded in 2009 when Ed was 19. (I’m over twice Ed’s age and what was I doing in 2009? Sitting in an office!)
Ed has a healthy view of calisthenics as contrasted with traditional training, as quoted here at A Shot:
Traditional training is too specific. You train one muscle group a day, but that’s not how the body is meant to work. You should train for skill and athletic ability, and changes in your physique should be a byproduct of that training. I believe that’s the key to good health.
Here, Ed talks us through an ab workout for a strong core and ripped abdominals:
Ed’s workout is pretty simple. It consists only of three exercises:
- knee raises
- half leg raises
- full leg raises
Have no doubt, though. Those exercises if done regularly will build abs! I’m only Beginning to see that for myself now!
Antranik puts out some of the best, most thorough tutorials around! And he seems like a really patient, nice guy.
Antranik doesn’t post that many “routines” online, so I had to grab the one I could find. In this case, it’s a rings workout–definitely not something for the beginner to jump into.
You’ll need to read Antranik’s corresponding blog post for all the details, but here are a number of the exercises included:
- Inverted Hang,
- Skin the Cats,
- Shoulder Stands,
- Muscle Up Variants)
- Elbow Levers
- Air Baby
- Backward Roll
- Forward Roll
- Low Bridge
- Front Lever
- Back Lever
- German Hangs
- False Grips
- One Arm Swings
This is definitely one I’m not quite ready for yet, but I’m looking forward to starting on!
Hits Richards is known for Calisthenic Kingz. These guys position themselves as the New Age of Fitness. Based on what’s in their Advanced Calisthenic Routine Challenge, I’m convinced! Ouch!
Check these exercises out:
- 1-minute Pushup static hold
- Mountain climbers
- Hanging L-sit Leg Raises, toe to bar
- Handstand pushups
- One leg squats/pistol squats
- One leg burpees with squat jump
I think I’ll end the article here as I’m dead from typing all that! OK, just kidding. But wow.
Ryan Hurst is known for GMB Fitness. Ryan provides a great instructional style as exemplified here on his training video for the L-Sit. (I couldn’t find bodyweight exercise routines from Ryan either–but I’m still looking!)
Here, Ryan shows us a few varieties of L-Sit:
This should give you something to work on no matter your level of advancement.
Thanks for sticking with us this far! Hope this compilation has been helpful to you. If so, or if you have any thoughts on what you might like to see in addition, please comment below!