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Beginners Guide: 3 Day Calisthenics Workout Plan

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What is Calisthenics Workout? 

Derived from the terms kállos (beauty) and sthenos (strength), calisthenics is a term that describes beautiful and graceful movement. The roots date as far back as Ancient Greece; countless people have done calisthenics training over the centuries. Today, most people associate calisthenics with street fitness – the act of training in public parks and outdoor facilities.

Calisthenics training is a form of exercise where the goal is to master your body. Specifically, you learn various practices where your body provides resistance instead of external weights. For example, pull-ups are an excellent calisthenics activity. Instead of lifting weights to strengthen your back and biceps (such as with a bro split routine), you’re using your body. As a result, pull-ups build impressive back, bicep, and grip strength (1). The movement also teaches different muscles how to work together and improves core stability. Other notable examples of calisthenics exercises include push-ups, planks, human flag, and muscle-ups.

Calisthenics training offers many benefits, but perhaps the most notable one is the sheer versatility. First, you can have effective full-body workouts by using only calisthenics exercises. Do some pull-ups, push-ups, squats, and burpees, and you’ll train most muscles in your body (1, 2, 3). Second, calisthenics workout plans don’t require any equipment. You can pick from many activities and start doing them right away, even if you have nothing more than an exercise mat around. Third, calisthenics is for everyone. Young or old, advanced or new to fitness, man or woman, calisthenics is for you. There are countless exercises to pick from, and you can find a beginner calisthenics plan to help you build a foundation.

If you wanted to track your workouts, all exercises can be found on and tracked on the Hevy app.

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own dumbbell back workout with Hevy, and track your progress – for free

Calisthenics Vs. Weightlifting 

Calisthenics certainly seems enticing. But you’re probably wondering how the art stacks up against good old weightlifting. In other words, can you reap the same benefits? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each:

Calisthenics

Pros

  • You need almost no equipment.-It’s for everyone, regardless of fitness level.
  • It builds muscle mass and strength quite well (4).
  • It’s challenging but fun to do and rewarding to progress.
  • It’s free, and you can train outside.

Cons

  • Training the lower body effectively can be complex.
  • It can be a bit intimidating for newbies to get started.
  • It sometimes takes a long time to master a specific movement.

Weightlifting 

Pros

  • It’s fun to do.
  • The room for improvement is practically endless.
  • You can vary the intensity across the different exercises as you see fit.
  • There are plenty of choices for weights and machines 

Cons

  • You need a range of weights and machines for effective and balanced workouts.
  • There is an inherent risk of ego lifting, so you need to be careful and always lift the appropriate weights.
  • Unless you have a home gym set up, you will have to maintain a gym membership.

3 Day Split: Beginner Calisthenics Workouts 

Day 1 Routine 

Your routine for the first day is straightforward. You get to do three familiar exercises that work wonderfully to build pushing, pulling, and core strength.

Chin-Ups

man pull up chin up

Reach up and grab the pull-up bar with an even underhand grip (your palms facing back). Your hands should be roughly shoulder-width apart. Bring your chest out, engage your abs, and squeeze your glutes. Take a breath and pull yourself up, making sure to have your nose or chin go over the bar. Lower yourself slowly and extend your elbows fully as you exhale.

Do three sets of as many reps as you can.

Push-Ups

man push up

Get down on all fours. Spread your hands slightly wider than shoulder level and have them flat on the floor. Your shoulders, elbows, and wrists should be in a straight line. Extend your legs and balance your lower body on your toes. Straighten your entire body and make sure that your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles are in a straight line. Engage your abs and take a breath. Lower yourself as much as you can and make sure that your elbows remain somewhat tucked in; avoid having them flared. Press up, fully extending your arms, and exhale.

Do 3-4 sets of as many reps as you can.

Sit-Ups

Lie on the floor, bend your knees, and have your feet flat on the floor. Bring the tips of your fingers to the back of your head. Engage your abs and take a breath. Crunch up until your torso is almost upright. Hold the top position for a moment and lower your torso back to the floor, exhaling on the way down. As you do sit-ups, make a conscious effort to crunch at the abs as if you’re trying to fold your torso. Simply moving up and down is not enough and often emphasizes your hip flexors instead of the abs.

Do three sets of as many reps as you can.

Day 2 Routine

Your routine for the second day is a bit different, but we are still using proven exercises. Together, these three movements train your lower body, shoulders, biceps, abs, and back.

Squats

man jump squat

Stand tall with your feet spread slightly wider than hip level and toes pointed a bit out. Bring your chest out and engage your abs. You can also extend your arms forward for balance. Take a breath and begin to squat while keeping your heels in contact with the floor. Imagine that you’re trying to sit in a chair. Go down as comfortably as you can – ideally until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Push through your heels to get back up and exhale near the top.

Do three sets of as many reps as you can.

Inverted Rows

man inverted row barbell

Begin with a bar that’s at shoulder level or around that height. Grab the bar with an even overhand grip (palms facing forward). Have your hands slightly wider than shoulder level. Walk your feet forward so they are beneath the bar. This maneuver will put your body at an angle. Make sure your arms are straight, bring your chest out, engage your abs, and squeeze your glutes. Take a breath and pull yourself toward the bar until your upper body taps it lightly. Hold the position for a second and gradually extend your arms as you exhale.

Do three sets of as many reps as you can.

Romanian Deadlift

Stand tall with your feet a few inches apart and toes pointed slightly out. Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and take a breath. Bend your torso forward as you bring your glutes back. This motion will emphasize your posterior muscles and keep your back straight. Bend your torso forward as much as you can – ideally until you feel an intense stretch in the back of your legs. Drive your hips forward to stand up and exhale.

Do 3-4 sets of as many reps as you can.

Day 3 Routine 

The final routine of the week is also simple and features proven exercises. Together, the three movements work your lower body, strengthen your shoulders, and promote core stability.

Lunges

Stand tall with your feet close and toes pointing forward. Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and place your hands on your hips. Take a breath and lunge one leg forward, placing it flat on the floor. You should lunge far enough, so when you descend, the lower half of your front leg remains upright. Lower yourself by bending at the knee and go down until your back knee taps the floor. Press through the heel and extend your front leg fully as you exhale. Keep repeating. Once finished, bring your other leg forward and repeat for the same number of repetitions.

Do three sets of as many reps as you can.

Pike Push-Ups

man pike push up body weight

Get down on all fours, spread your hands slightly wider than shoulder level, and place them flat on the floor. Your shoulders, elbows, and wrists should be in a straight line. Straighten your knees and position your feet at a distance that forces your body into an inverted V shape. Bring your shoulders back to put your spine in a healthy position. Take a breath and lower your upper body to the floor by bending at the elbows. Go down until your face almost touches the floor, then press straight up and exhale.

Do three sets of as many reps as you can.

Elbow Plank

white background plank woman

Get down on all fours with your forearms and hands flat on the floor and facing forward. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders. Straighten your legs, have your feet a few inches apart, and balance your lower body on your toes. Engage your abs and squeeze your glutes to straighten your body. Maintain a regular breathing pattern and hold this position for as long as you can.

Do three sets and hold as long as you can. 

You can also set up a 4-day calisthenics split. But begin with three workouts to build a foundation first.

Weekly Set-up For Calisthenics Workouts

The great thing about being a beginner is that you don’t have to train that often to make good progress. With that in mind, here are a couple of ways to set up your weekly calisthenics 3 day split workout:

Schedule 1

Monday – Routine 1
Tuesday – Off
Wednesday – Routine 2
Thursday – Off
Friday – Routine 3
Saturday – Off
Sunday – Off

women inclined push up

Schedule 2

Monday – Off
Tuesday – Routine 1
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – Routine 2
Friday – Off
Saturday – Routine 3
Sunday – Off

For the sake of our example, we’ve used the routines from the previous point. But this applies to any type of workouts you choose to do. Record and Track your progress with Hevy.

Conclusion

Calisthenics refers to different things, for some people, calisthenics is the art of bodyweight training. Others see it as street fitness and learning how to do muscle-ups and pull-ups. But at its essence, calisthenics is the art of beautiful, graceful, and controlled movement.

There are many misconceptions about calisthenics, such as you need weights to gain muscles. The goals of calisthenics training go way beyond having a specific training goal, like doing 20 pull-ups. Instead, calisthenics is an art that teaches total body control, learning how to use many muscle groups together, and developing your physical capabilities.

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own dumbbell back workout with Hevy, and track your progress – for free

Calisthenics offers many benefits. Perhaps the most notable are:

  • Improved core strength and whole-body stability (5)
  • Strength and muscle mass (4)
  • You can start and improve regardless if you’re a complete newbie or an advanced gym-goer.
  • You need absolutely no equipment to do it

But calisthenics alone is not everything. We also need to take care of our muscles, joints, and connective tissue. Regular stretching (before and after training), sleeping well, and paying good attention to our nutrition is essential for good calisthenics results and longevity (6, 7, 8).

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is a superset? Why are they essential with calisthenics? 

A superset means to do two exercises back-to-back with no recovery in-between. While not essential, supersets can be beneficial because they:

  • allow you to do more work in less time
  • challenge you more
  • make your workouts more fun
  • build your aerobic capacity more effectively

Would doing a calisthenic give me the same results as weight lifting? 

It certainly could. Your muscles understand stress and tension. So long as you provide a stimulus, calisthenics, weight training, and many other forms of physical exercise can build muscle and get you stronger.

How is calisthenics different then bodyweight exercise?

The primary difference is that bodyweight exercises refer to those you typically do in a specific pattern. While sometimes similar, calisthenics is different because more skill, core stability, and fluidity are involved in mastering the activities.

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