The Ultimate List of Calisthenics Exercises

If You want build functional strength you must practice calisthenics training. These exercises are essential, and can be a great foundation to your fitness training routines. Enjoy this long list of calisthenic movements!

Calisthenics training is all about mastering your body and developing strength, balance, control, mobility, and flexibility. To put this another way, it’s an ideal addition to any workout plan.

If you’ve ever wanted to start calisthenics training during your gym time, here’s your complete guide.

What is Calisthenics Training?

Calisthenics is a form of training where you use bodyweight exercises to build muscle. Think pullups, pushups, dips, pistol squats—those kinds of exercises.

No gym membership—no expensive weights. Just you and your body.

Calisthenics training is usually associated with lean and agile athletes, but there’s more to calisthenics then crazy pull-up tricks and tight abs.

The Pros of Calisthenics Training

  • It’s FREE. You don’t need a gym membership or anything. All you really need is your local playground or an at-home pull-up bar. The most expensive equipment you might need is gloves.
  • It’s a Full-body Workout. Almost all calisthenics exercises engage numerous muscles. When you do a pull-up, imagine the different muscles you’re using: back, arms, core, chest, and shoulders. Compared to any machine in the gym, you’re targeting 2-3 times as many muscles with calisthenics exercises.
  • The World is Your Gym. Calisthenics exercises can be performed anywhere: living room, backyard, playground, hotel room—anywhere with space enough to do a pushup. You don’t need to get up early to drive to the gym or leave work to drive half an hour away for a workout. While living in Africa, I’d do pull-ups on ladder rungs, roofs, pipes, and the back of staircases.
  • It Burns Fat. Calisthenics workout routines are perfect for HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and AMRAP circuits, which are proven to accelerate fat loss. Don’t get me wrong—traditional weightlifting is great for burning fat too, but it’s just harder to incorporate HIIT training into heavy lifting.

The Cons of Calisthenics

  • Leg Training is Difficult. Although squats, lunges, and wall sits are great exercises for building up your quads and glutes, you just can’t get the same muscle development as you can with heavy squats. Calisthenics will increase your leg strength and balance, but it will never prepare you to lift massive amounts of weight with your legs.
  • Progress is Hard to Measure. In the gym, you can measure progress simply: are you adding more weight or doing more reps? Calisthenics can be a bit more challenging. Often, progression is determined by mastering one move and moving on to a more challenging one (from a chair dip to a dip or an assisted pull-up to a pull-up). When weightlifting, you don’t suddenly progress from bench pressing to incline bench pressing—you just start incline pressing at a lower weight. The same can’t be said when someone wants to do a handstand pushup or muscle-up…and those kinds of moves are essential for muscle progression.

Difficult to Build Massive Muscles. Calisthenics exercises won’t develop huge muscles, and bodyweight strength doesn’t necessarily translate to lifting strength. You might be able to do 100 pushups, but that doesn’t mean you can bench 200 lbs. Strong muscles come from lifting big weights. Bodyweight exercises tend to build strong lean muscles, instead.

Now that you understand a bit more about calisthenics we can move on to the calisthenics workout routine.

But first, you need to know the different calisthenics exercises.

BONUS: Download a free printable exercise checklist [PDF]. The list includes 50 compound exercises and 50 isolation exercises, all organized by muscle group.

The Complete List of Calisthenics Exercises

This list of calisthenic exercises is a great source of information if you’re looking to get started with basic progression.

Chest Calisthenics Exercises:

Back Calisthenics Exercises:

Shoulder Calisthenics Exercises:

Ab Calisthenics Exercises:

Arm Calisthenics Exercises:

Leg Calisthenics Exercises:

Expert Calisthenics Exercises:

With these exercises alone, you have a lot of variety to incorporate into your routine to truly make it your own!

But if you’re new to calisthenics, you can’t just dive into these different, awesome exercises. First, you need to know how to start calisthenics training.

How to Start Calisthenics Training

As with anything else, you have to start calisthenics training with the basic exercises. Before you start attempting muscle-ups and handstand pushups, you’ll need to develop your practical fitness through the fundamental exercises:

  • Pushups
  • Pull-ups
  • Dips
  • Squats
  • Leg Raises

All other exercises are just advanced variations and combinations of these basic exercises.

Go ahead and forget everything you’ve learned about pushups and pull-ups and start from scratch. Start with slow, high-quality repetitions so that you can completely master the form. It’s better you do 5 perfect pull-ups than 20 ugly pull-ups!

When starting your training, focus on progression:

  1. Each workout, aim to do more repetitions than the workout before (but don’t sacrifice form for reps). If the last workout you did 5 sets of 5 pull-ups, try to do 5 sets of 6 pull-ups. Then 5 sets of 7 pull-ups or 3 sets of 10 pull-ups.
  2. Once you feel confident with a basic exercise, progress to a more challenging exercise. Then progress in form and reps with the more difficult exercise. For example, you can do 25 bench dips, so you attempt to progress to the full bodyweight dip. You might only do 3-4 reps, but then next workout you do 5 dips. Then you do 7—and you continue your progression.

Examples of Calisthenics Exercise Progressions:

  • Incline Pushup –> Normal Pushup –> Decline Pushup
  • Chin-up –> Pull-up –> Wide-Grip Pull-up –> Muscle-up
  • Bench Dip –> Dip –> Chest Dip
  • Knee Raises –> Leg Raises –> Front Levers

When you develop more practical strength, you’ll be able to progress to more advanced and difficult exercises. And these more challenging exercises will help you continue building muscle.

Once you get comfortable with these exercises, you can easily develop your own calisthenics workout plan!

A Calisthenics Workout Plan for Beginners

This workout will help you master the basic calisthenics exercises. You’ll develop the strength and balance you need to move on to more advanced exercises.

For each circuit, perform each exercise until near failure. Rest for 1 minute between each exercise. Once you finish a circuit, rest for 3 minutes and then repeat. Do each circuit 3x.

Calisthenics for Beginners – Full-Body Circuit:

  • Pull-ups
  • Squats
  • Pushups
  • 30-Second Wall Sit
  • Chair/Bench Dips
  • Chin-ups
  • Hanging Knee Raises
  • Pike Pushups

Calisthenics for Beginners – Leg/Abs Circuit:

  • Squats
  • Hanging Knee Raises
  • 30-Second Wall Sit
  • Plank
  • Lunges
  • Bicycles
  • 30-Second Wall Sit

Month 1

  • Monday – Full-Body Circuit
  • Wednesday – Full-Body Circuit
  • Friday – Full-Body Circuit

Month 2

  • Monday – Full-Body Circuit
  • Tuesday – Leg/Abs Circuit
  • Wednesday – Full-Body Circuit
  • Friday – Full-Body Circuit

Once you finish Month 2, you should feel comfortable with the basic exercises and ready to advance your workout. If you need additional training, repeat Month 2 again.

Intermediate Calisthenics Workout Plan

Now that you’ve developed at least base levels of practical fitness, you’re ready to move on to the intermediate workout.

Follow the same instructions (above) for these circuits.

Calisthenics for Intermediates – Fly High Circuit:

  • Dips
  • Pull-ups
  • Decline Pushups
  • Chest-over-bar Chin-ups
  • Leg Raises
  • Dips
  • Pushups

Month 3 & 4

  • Monday – Fly High Circuit
  • Tuesday – Full-Body Circuit
  • Thursday – Fly High Circuit
  • Friday – Legs/Abs Circuit

Expert Calisthenics Workout Plan

This workout routine incorporates some more difficult calisthenics exercises.

Follow the same instructions (above) for these circuits.

Calisthenics for Experts – Muscle-up Quest Circuit:

  • Wide-Hands Pull-ups
  • Clapping Pushups
  • Dips
  • Typewriter Pull-ups
  • Windshield Wipers
  • Handstand Pushups
  • Chest-over-bar Pull-ups
  • Dragon Flags

Month 5 & 6

  • Monday – Muscle-up Quest Circuit
  • Tuesday – Full-Body Circuit
  • Wednesday – Leg/Abs Circuit
  • Thursday – Muscle-up Quest Circuit
  • Friday – Fly High Circuit

Beyond Expert Calisthenics

Once you can perform the circuits above, you’ve achieved a high-level of practical fitness.

But there are still many advanced exercises you’ve yet to progress to. Continue bodyweight exercises and develop your muscles and strength to reach “beyond expert” calisthenics. This approach prevents injury and helps you reach your fitness goals.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

If You want build functional strength you must practice calisthenics training. These exercises are essential, and can be a great foundation to your fitness training routines. Enjoy this long list of calisthenic movements!