Unlike lifting heavy weights, you don’t just add up weight to the bar when practicing calisthenics. And that makes all the difference when it comes to training, learning movements and practicing new exercises. Fundamental fives? That’s the 5 most important exercises of calisthenics. All more complex exercises are variations of these basics. You can’t skip them, and if you fail to perform them properly, you can forget training with higher level exercises.
When you begin lifting weights, you can do pretty much ANY exercise without trouble. You just don’t lift heavy weight, but you can perform the exercise with ease. Talking about calisthenics, the stronger you get, the more exercises variations you can perform. With the most complex exercises you are not only contracting several muscle but using your whole body to perform them. If you’d like to learn more about calisthenics and weight lifting differences, you can click and read this article – soon!
Now, let’s come to our subject, the fundamental five. Those exercises are the basics you must be able to perform. No question asked. If you can’t? You increase the chance of injuring yourself while trying higher level exercises and you’ll just not be strong enough to land a single rep of them.
More than being able to do some basics, there’s several repetitions coming with each fundamental. Fail to hit this number and you fail to master this fundamental.
You should only train higher levels exercises when you can throw in the following:
- 30 push ups
- 20 pull ups
- 30 dips
- 15 leg raise
- 40 squats
If you can’t pull that off – pun intended – first try, don’t freak out. Being a gym maniac, it took me several weeks to overcome each of these challenge. And yes, there are some tips & tricks you can use to break the score!
Now, if your biggest obstacle is pure lack of strength… there’s only one solution. And it works for everyone. It’s called training every single day. Don’t get me wrong. 2 hours gym/calisthenics session every single day, it’s overkill. Doing 100-200 push ups every day to master this movement? That’s the way to go.
Personally, I’m still throwing in some exercises when I’ve some spare time. And no, you don’t spend 20+ minutes to do this. It takes literally 30 seconds to get some reps done. Here’s the conquering plan.
Do 100 of each fundamental every day. Doesn’t matter how many sets you need to break the objective.
First day? Don’t expect it to be easy. You’ll even get sore the next day if your body doesn’t train these movements often.
Next week? Piece of cake. You’ll be able to perform these in way less sets than in the first week. Plus, soreness will go away.
Next month? You’ll easily be able to master the 5 fundamentals. And from now on, you’ll be able to pull some impressive movements…
Before moving to the presentation of these movements – because it’s harder than simply contracting your muscle – I’m sharing with you some tips I would have loved to hear earlier so I could have smashed these ways faster.
- Bodyweight training becomes easier the leaner you get. Obvious? Drop some pounds of fat. Get as lean as possible. You’ll now be able to add more repetitions to all these exercises. Basically, the lighter you are, the easier those movements become
- Move to the gym and build more strength so these exercises become easier. Hitting the weight is a great idea because it helps you perform movements differently with of gravity. If you struggle doing your 30 push ups, visit the bench press
- Do some cardio. It may be a lack of endurance. You can build your stamina by practicing your cardio. Replace one of your gym/calisthenics days with a running day, it does wonders. If that’s still not enough, consider swimming because it’s impossible not to have a great breath when you swim
- Eat more protein. Even your breakfast should be protein based! This one will ensure you get results faster. Protein’s the building block of your body. Add in some exercises and you’ll move mountains in no time
Let’s dive into some exercise speck tips.
Push-ups – 30 reps to master
The one exercise men should be able to pull off. Most people can’t do 10 pushups. Now, to break 30 pushups, it’s another story.
- Place your hands on the floor. Make sure there’s they are shoulder distance apart
- Stretch your legs out behind you. Your shoulders, knees and toes should be aligned
- Bend your elbows to lower yourself down to the floor without touching it
- Push with your chest and arms to get back in the first position
Weight lifting exercises helping you to do more pushups: Bench press and its variation: bar, dumbbells, inclined, declined…
Push-ups build your chest and triceps muscles
Tips: Struggling to reach the 30 reps? Try inclined and declined variation to train more chest muscles
Pull-ups – 20 reps to master
You want to brag? Show’em how many pull-ups you can do in a row.
- Grab your pull-up bar with an overhand grip. Your hands shoulder width apart.
- Start with your arms completely straight. Pull your chest towards the bar using your arms and back
- Once your chest reaches the bar lower your position by retracting your arms until you reach the start position
Weight lifting exercises helping you to do more pull ups: back pull-down, rowing…
Pull ups build your upper back and biceps muscles
Tips: change the angle of your body to change the difficult. Horizontal body requires more strength while vertical body is easier when you begin
Dips – 30 reps to master
Pushing your body to the top. This movement will train your triceps and upper back muscles. If you want big arms, get good at doing dips
- Place your hands on the stairs with your fingers facing forwards
- Lock your knee and position your legs out in front of you
- Bend your elbows and allow your butt to move down to the ground
- Push up until your elbows become straight again
Weight lifting exercises helping you to do more dips: triceps pull down, tight grip bench press…
Dips build your upper back and triceps muscles
Fun fact: Knowing how to perform this exercice actually saved my life! I was in the mountains and stepped up on a platform over a hole. The platform flipped 90°. Reflex, my elbows bend into dips position and saved my life. The hole wasn’t deep. There was just a big spike right in the middle of it. Since then I love dips
Leg raises – 15 reps to master
As well as strenghtening your core, your grip will be strenghtend as this exerice takes place on a pull-up bar. Once you know how to perform this exercice you’ll be able to do many more – complex – movements.
- Hang on the bar with your arms shoulders apart. Use an overhand grip
- Using your core muscle raise your legs as high as you can while locking your knees
- Keep raising your legs until they touch your hands
- Lower your legs slowly to the start position
Calisthenics exercices helping you to do more leg raises: crunches, flutter kicks, board…
Leg raises build your abs and core muscles
Tips: when beginning you may not have the strength to lift your legs up to your hands. Just lift them as high as you can. Train more and you’ll be able to lift your legs as high as the bar!
Squats – 40 reps to master
It’s one of the most basic and fundamental movement you can perform. Need to collect something that fall down? Right, you do a squat.
- Stand your heels shoulder width apart. Hands held out in front of you
- Keep your back as straight as possible while bending on your knee
- Squat down as low as you possibly can
- From this bottom position squat up using your hips until you get back to the starting position
Weight lifting exercises helping you to do more squats: Any leg machine will do the job
Squats build your legs and glutes muscles
Tips: Make sure your feet stay at shoulder width distance and as flat as possible – avoid using shoes!