Top 14 Calisthenic exercises you could do anywhere

Calisthenics were thought of as boring exercises performed by the military or middle school gym classes. Calisthenics has been rebranded as body-weight exercises. Old school techniques are still the best. The word calisthenics comes from the Greek words kallos(beauty) and sthenos (strength). There is a beauty to training for strength and flexibility with pushing, pulling, lunging, and lifting movements using little to no equipment. When performed in a continuous, rigorous way, calisthenics train up your strength and aerobic capacity. Calisthenics can be performed anytime, anywhere and with little equipment. You could these workout exercises at home, work, playground while watching the kids and just about anywhere you have a minute.

1] Pushups

A push-up is a total-body functional movement that is great for increasing strength and has the benefit of engaging the core and lower body. Start in a high plank position. Place hands firmly on the ground, directly under shoulders. Ground toes into the floor to stabilise your lower half. Brace core and flatten your back so your entire body is straight. Lower your body until chest grazes floor. Don’t let your butt dip or stick out at any point and your body should remain in a straight line from head to toe.

2] Lateral Lunge

Begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart, hands on hips. Step out to the right and shift your body weight over your right leg, squatting to a 90 degree angle at the right knee. Try to sit down with your butt, keeping your back as upright as possible. Push off and bring your right leg back to center to complete one rep. Finish all reps on this side, and repeat on left side to complete one set.

3] Plank

The plank is one of the best exercises you can do for your core because it builds isometric strength to help sculpt your waistline and improve your posture. Lie facedown with legs extended and elbows bent and directly under shoulders; clasp your hands. Feet should be hip-width apart, and elbows should be shoulder-width apart. Contract your abs, then tuck your toes to lift your body (forearms remain on the ground); you should be in a straight line from head to heels.

4] Squats 

In strength training and fitness, the squat is a compound, full body exercise that trains the muscles of the thighs, hips and buttocks, hamstrings, and more as well as strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body. A simple bodyweight squat uses almost every muscle group in the body.  Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips.  Your toes should be pointed slightly outward – about 5 to 20 degrees outward. Look straight ahead and pick a spot on the wall in front of you. You’ll want to look at this spot the entire time you squat, not looking down at the floor or up at the ceiling.

Breathe in, break at your hip and push your butt back.  Keep sending your hips backwards as your knees begin to bend.  It’s important that you start with your hips back, and not by bending your knees.

Keep your back straight, with your neutral spine, and your chest and shoulders up.  Keep looking straight ahead at that spot on the wall.

As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet. Many new lifters need to focus on pushing their knees out so they track with their feet. So, watch you knees! When they start to come inside the toes, push them out (but not wider than your feet). Think about it like this: if you were to attach a laser to the end of each of your knees, the laser would track between your second and fourth toes. Make sure your knees are out!

Squat down until your hip joint is lower than your knees (what we call parallel), anything less than parallel is a partial squat.

5] Crunches

Lie down on your back. Bend your knees. Your feet can be flat on the floor, or you can keep them suspended in the air during your crunches. Keep your arms to the side, behind you head or crossed across your chest then lift your shoulders towards the ceiling using your abdominal muscles and pause at the peak. It is very important not to lift your entire back off the floor, as this can cause back strain, and the extended movement does not help you develop six pack abs any faster. When your shoulders are off the ground, pause and hold that position for a full second (or more). Don’t just “plop” back down control your movement on the way down.

6] Pull-ups

Grab a bar with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width, with your hands facing away from you. Hang all the way down.  Pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar.  Slight pause  Lower yourself all the way back down. Don’t swing!

7] Squat Jumps

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Start by doing a regular squat, then engage your core and jump up explosively. When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Land as quietly as possible, which requires control.

8] Dips

Dips workout your tricep and chest. Your grip should be no wider than shoulder width. Opt for the narrower setting on dip bars when possible. On both the descent and ascent of each rep, keep your body as vertical as possible. You can accomplish this by keeping your legs straight down below you, which will position your body more upright and place more emphasis on the triceps. When descending keep your elbows tucked in to your sides and pointing back behind you. Descend to a point at which your upper arms are about parallel with the floor, but no further. Focus on the triceps as you push yourself back up and contract them as hard as you can in the top position, reaching full lockout. This last point is important. Locking out the elbows—those last few inches of the rep—is all triceps.

9] Calf Raises (can be done on a step)

Stand up straight and position your toes facing forward. The balls of your feet should be secured on top of the step with the heels extending off it.  The knees should be kept with a slight bend; never locked. This will be your starting position. Raise your heels as you breathe out by extending your ankles as high as possible and flexing your calf. Ensure that the knee is kept stationary at all times. There should be no bending at any time. Hold the contracted position by a second before you start to go back down. Go back slowly to the starting position as you breathe in by lowering your heels as you bend the ankles until calves are stretched.

10] Jumping Jacks

Start by standing with your feet together. In one motion, jump your feet out to the side and raise your arms above your head. Immediately reverse the motion by jumping back to the starting position. Jumping jacks work the calves, glutes, deltoids, lats, and gracilis muscles.

11] Burpees

The burpee, also known as a squat thrust, is a full body exercise that works out all the body, adds strength, definition and increases endurance. Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. Kick your feet back, placing your body into a plank position, while keeping your arms extended. Jump your feet back into the squat position. Jump up from the squat position.

12] Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers utilise your core. Begin in a pushup position, with your weight supported by your hands and toes. Flexing the knee and hip, bring one leg until the knee is approximately under the hip. This will be your starting position. Explosively reverse the positions of your legs, extending the bent leg until the leg is straight and supported by the toe, and bringing the other foot up with the hip and knee flexed.

13] Walking Lunges

Walking lunges works your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Stand upright, feet together, and take a controlled step forward with your right leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90-degree angles. The back knee should point toward but not touch the ground, and your front knee should be directly over the ankle. Press your right heel into the ground, and push off with your left foot to bring your left leg forward, stepping with control into a lunge on the other side. This completes two reps.

14] Leg Raises

Leg raises are a great way to target your lower abdominal muscles, which can be left short-changed by traditional sit-ups. They’ll also increase the strength and flexibility in your hips and lower back, traditional problem areas for people who spend plenty of time at a desk. Start by lying down on the floor or a mat. Lay with your arms at your sides and legs stretched out next to each other, then raise those legs. Even if you can’t hold them perfectly rigid, keep your legs as straight as possible, and lift them until they are pointing at the ceiling, or as near as you can get. Make sure your toes are pointed. Then lower them back down, being careful to keep your movements measured. The return journey should be at the same pace at which you raised your legs. Lower them until they’re hovering just above the ground, and then raise them again.

[image from workoutlabs, bodybuilding]

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