Calisthenics: know what it is, benefits and how to do it

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, exercising can be overlooked. Maybe you have little time, maybe the gym is expensive… Enter calisthenics!

A functional exercise that does not need equipment, as it only uses its own body weight and can be practiced anywhere!


What is calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a type of exercise that uses only your own body weight , without depending on materials and devices. The practice can use bars for some exercises, but it is only that.

As, in general, it only needs the practitioner’s own weight, it can be practiced anywhere, not just in gyms.

In addition, it is not limited to isolated muscle exercises as is the case with classic training, but using the whole body in tune.

It can be classified as a type of functional training, which is based on natural movements of the human body, which means that there is little risk of injury. In addition to low risks, warm-ups and stretches are performed before practice.

Calisthenics originated in France in the early 19th century and soon spread across Europe, especially in Germany. The word comes from the Greek kallos , which can be translated into beauty and sthenos , something like strength or vigor. It is the beauty of strength.

It is mainly aimed at seeking strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. It is a practice with different levels of intensity. While beginner exercises are very simple and easy, they can become very intense , involving movements that require enormous muscle strength and precision of movement.

It all depends on how you perform the practice and how you are progressing.

Benefits of calisthenics

There are several benefits provided by the practice of calisthenics. Some of them are:

Muscle strength

Calisthenics focuses on working muscle groups, increasing their strength. After a few sessions it is already possible to feel that exercises that were difficult start to get easier because your muscles get stronger.

As there are no weights, the increase in intensity comes in other ways, especially in the technique used in exercise.

For example, changing the angle of one exercise or the position of your arms in another makes it more difficult.

There are cases in which practitioners may even use their colleagues’ bodies as weights or supports to make the task more difficult.

Increased muscle mass

The muscles grow as we exercise them. Gradually, muscle mass increases in the body due to the practice of calisthenics. This improves the strength and endurance of our muscles, in addition to helping to burn body fats.

It is important to mention that despite causing an increase in muscle mass, calisthenics does not focus on hypertrophy. Therefore, the muscles should not be expected to become huge through calisthenics.

It is more focused on functional advantages such as strength, resistance and precision of movements.


Any physical exercise burns energy, and calisthenics is no different. Coupled with a proper diet, you can burn fats through this exercise.

However, as calisthenics also helps to increase muscle mass, it is possible that the number of scales will increase, since muscles – lean mass – weigh more than fat. However, this is no reason to be concerned.

Motor coordination

The practice of calisthenics improves motor coordination, allowing your movements to become more precise and firm.


Over time, your flexibility may increase. Calisthenics exercises basically affect all muscles in different ways, allowing many types of movement to evolve.

Physical conditioning

With time of practice, your conditioning gets better. At first you can only take a few minutes of exercise, but as time goes on, your endurance gets better and practice becomes easier.

In addition, calisthenics does not improve the capacity only for the exercises performed, but in its entire physique.


Practice strengthens the muscles we use to balance ourselves, making the task easier. Many of the exercises are specifically aimed at balance.

You can practice anywhere

You don’t have to pay for a gym or buy expensive equipment. Practice at home, in the yard, in a park or in squares. Anywhere is good enough for calisthenics, since the only equipment needed is your own body.

Some exercises use the barbell, but it is not as if it is really necessary. Trees, posts, benches, any of these things can have the same effect. You can even use your colleagues in place of bars!


Practice is fun! You may even forget that you are playing a sport while looking to make a new move.

Calisthenics no Brazil

The practice has been present in Brazil for decades and although it is not so popular, it is currently growing. Calisthenics training groups and teams can be found everywhere, in parks, squares, beaches and even in gyms.

The Calistenia Brasil group , one of the most famous in the country, has a training center in São Paulo, in addition to several associated groups.

How does calisthenics training work?

Calisthenics training seeks to increase body strength, motor coordination, balance and resistance through “circuit” exercises. They are sequences of exercises in repetitions.

For the selection of exercises, several points must be considered as the capacity of your body and your goal with the training, since each exercise has a main focus and one should not forget its limits to avoid injuries.

The exercises must be done in full and accurately so that each one of its benefits is well used.

Don’t forget to perform the exercises slowly and in a controlled manner to ensure that you are doing everything right!

What are calisthenic exercises?

The body has many muscle groups and calisthenics seeks to exercise all of them. This means that there are several different exercises in practice.

We have listed some of them here and you will notice that you already know most of them. They are common in any physical education class at school or in gyms.


Squats use the thigh muscles. To perform them, keep your spine straight and bend your knees and lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then stand up again.

Leg exercises are very important in calisthenics because most of the training is aimed at the upper body.

If you do not pay attention to your legs, they may develop little compared to the top, which can give a disproportionate appearance.


The sit-ups are famous. They strengthen the rectus abdominis muscles, which are those of the belly. There are variations that emphasize other muscles in the region.

To perform sit-ups, lie on a flat surface, with your feet flat on the floor, and without moving your legs, lift your torso using your abdominal muscles to do this.


The plank is another type of exercise for the abdominal region. In it, the practitioner lies on his stomach with his elbows and forearms resting on the floor, and his arms at a right angle.

The feet must lift the body and the well-aligned position must be maintained for a few seconds without any other part of the body touching the floor.

Fixed bar

The fixed bar is one of the few equipment used in calisthenics. It consists of a simple bar above the height of the practitioner, which holds on to it and uses the arms to lift the body.

The use of the fixed bar exercises various muscles of the arms, back and chest and there are variations to focus on different regions, in addition to working other muscles such as those of the legs.

Bars suitable for practice can be found easily in parks and sports centers and sometimes, in these places, it is easy to find substitutes for this equipment.


Push-ups are also famous. To do this exercise that strengthens your arms, you must keep your body straight and place your hands on the floor, resting parallel to your body and taking care to keep them just below your shoulders.

Lower your body to the floor and then lift again.

Parallel bars (Dips)

Parallel bars are another device that can be used. They are also easily found in parks and squares. They consist of two bars, one next to the other, in most cases shorter than the practitioner.

The so-called “dips” (in English, dives) are simple exercises in which the practitioner raises his weight on the bars and flexes his arms, going down and up.


The sink is a type of squat that also works the thighs. To perform it, one must step forward and flex the knee slowly, forming a 90º angle with the front leg. It is important not to let the knee of the back leg touch the floor.

This exercise, in addition to strength, requires balance and resistance.


The jumping jacks are exercises often used for warm-up and which have positive effects on the motor coordination and the heart muscles, since it is an aerobic activity.

To do them, you must stand with your spine straight. Then take a small jump in place, spreading your legs apart and lifting your arms over your head at the same time. Then jump again, returning to the starting position.

Mountain climber (montanhista)

The mountain climber is an exercise that uses all the major muscle groups. To do this, you must stay in the initial push-up position, with your body straight and your hands resting on the floor, just below your shoulders.

It is not necessary to keep your elbows fully extended, but your arms should be straight.

Then, one of the feet must be raised and the knees should be taken towards the abdomen, without touching the floor. Try to touch the upper thigh to the chest. You do not necessarily need to succeed, but the attempt guarantees adequate movement. Don’t forget to keep your body straight.

Return the leg to the starting position and repeat with the other, performing several repetitions.


The handstand is also popularly known as “handstand”. It requires effort from the whole body, but it is mainly focused on the shoulders. It also exercises balance and is beneficial for the resistance of ligaments.

This exercise is a little more advanced than the others listed here. Supporting all the weight on your arms and standing upside down can be dangerous if you are not sure about the movement.

So, resting your feet on the wall the first few times, or having someone to hold them and make sure your legs are straight is a good idea to start.

Remember not to throw your legs forward, as it is possible to fall on your back on the floor.

Human flag

The human flag is an exercise that requires a lot of the whole body, especially the abdominal muscles and the center of the body, but also the arms and legs. In it, the practitioner places both hands on a pole or side support and stands with only his arms .

The name of the exercise makes it clear what happens. The practitioner stands with his whole body raised to the side, as if it were a flag. Much strength goes in this movement, which is one of the most advanced of calisthenics.

Calisthenics for beginners: how to start?

Starting with calisthenics is easy. Anyone can practice . You don’t need a gym or equipment, just have your body with you.

It is recommended to consult physical education professionals to learn how to do the exercises correctly , but they are safe and simple.

Before you start, don’t forget to stretch and warm up. This prevents you from being injured. A short, slow walk for a few minutes is enough to warm up properly.

Workout to do at home

How about some routines for you to start practicing calisthenics? Here are some examples of simple itineraries for your day to day.

Remembering that you don’t have to stick to them if you don’t want to and you can set up your own routine with other exercises as well.

These are for beginners and you can choose one of the options to do up to 3 repetitions .

They are completed in a few minutes and you can practice them, for example, on a break from work, as soon as you wake up or on a walk in the park or beach.

There’s no excuse for not doing it!

Option number 1

  • 10 push-ups;
  • 15 seconds of board;
  • 10 sit-ups;
  • 10 squats.

Option number 2

  • 10 push-ups;
  • 10 bar raises;
  • 10 squats with jump;
  • 10 dips.

Option number 3

  • 10 squats;
  • 10 slots;
  • 45 seconds of polichinelos;
  • 30 segundos de mountain climbers.

Tips and care

There are some precautions that must be taken into account when practicing calisthenics. They prevent you from being injured and hurt yourself, just as it is possible with any physical exercise. Are they:

Respect your limits

This is probably the most important care in any exercise practice. Know and respect the limits of your body.

Do not overdo it during sessions, try to leave at least one day between each training session and do not exercise that you are not ready to do yet.

For example, it will not do your body any good to try to do 50 push-ups every day, especially if there has been no gradual increase up to that number of push-ups.

It is also useless to try to go for the human flag if you have started exercising now. Progress in the exercises little by little and you get there, always overcoming your limits, but only a little at a time. Safety is the most important thing.


We have already talked about respecting the limits on how important rest is, but it is worth detailing this a little more. When exercising, it is important to give your body time to recover before the next class, reducing the risk of injury.

So rest is essential.

It is recommended that you train between 2 and 3 times a week. For example, you can practice on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, leaving Tuesday, Thursday and the weekend so that your body can recover and start all over again next week.

So you guarantee an adequate rhythm and that helps to keep your body healthy without compromising your rest time.


Food, during physical exercise, is also very important. Eat healthy foods and don’t forget to consume those that give you energy. Breads, fruits, meats, vegetables, all food groups can serve as a source of energy.

Avoid highly industrialized products and soft drinks, as the amount of sugars and chemicals can have negative health consequences.


Never forget to hydrate. Physical exercise can cause your body to lose water, so it is important to get it back. Drink plenty of fluids during the session.

You can also use isotonic drinks to replenish, in addition to water, the mineral salts in your body.

Stretching and warming up

Don’t forget to stretch before and after practice! This prevents injuries to the muscles that prepare for and relax afterwards.

Common questions

Can I practice calisthenics at home

Yea! Calisthenics does not require equipment and does not need a gym. It can be practiced at home without any major problems, so don’t be afraid to exercise at home right after you wake up, before your shower or anytime you feel like it!

Does calisthenics lose weight?

-Yeah . Callisthenics is an exercise that can help a person reduce weight. But don’t forget, exercise is not enough to lose weight. Food is also extremely important!

Is calisthenics functional training?

Yes , but be careful. By definition, a functional training is one that uses movements that are close to or identical to the movements naturally performed by the body, considering the daily activities of the practitioner, such as walking, running, jumping, pulling, balancing and coordinating the muscles.

This type of exercise reduces the risk of injury since your body was made to perform this type of movement, in addition to bringing benefits to your day-to-day life, since the muscles and skills that receive the benefits are also used outside of training. .

But calisthenics exercises are much older than the definition of functional exercise. So it is important to remember that calisthenics was not created with this definition in mind, but fits it.

Functional training is not limited to what we can do with the weight of the body and can use devices. Therefore, it is possible to say that calisthenics is a type of functional training, but not necessarily all functional training is calisthenic.

What are the goals of calisthenics?

The main objective of calisthenics is to benefit balance, motor coordination and physical strength, giving the practitioner the ability to work with his own body in an appropriate and efficient manner. Practice is a fun and efficient way to keep your body healthy and safe in exercise.

Calisthenics is an exercise practice that uses the weight of the practitioner’s own body so that he gains muscle mass, balance, strength and motor coordination, among other beneficial things.

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