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Avoid the Gym by Using Calisthenics

Avoid the Gym by Using Calisthenics

Calisthenics, or bodyweight exercises, originated thousands of years ago in ancient Greece and have been a major component of fitness in athletics, military, law enforcement, and daily fitness for home workouts without equipment. Here is a request from a Perfect Pushup customer seeking to do more exercises without having to go to a gym.

I need help in making a full body bodyweight routine.  Any advice/sample that you can offer?  I am seventeen and have been using the Perfect Pushup on and off for a year now.  With it, I am able to pump multiple diamond push ups more than I ever have in the past years.

I have been creating calisthenics based workout plans for more than twenty years to build muscle stamina, strength, and flexibility.  By adding a form of cardiovascular activity like running, swimming, or biking to complete the workout, you can burn more calories and improve heart and lung circulation.  I also like to supplement calisthenics with some form of simple weight training like dumbbells in full body movements. If you use the Perfect Pushup or the Perfect Pullup with your sets of exercises, you can reduce your repetitions by 50% typically depending on your fitness level.

Here are some sample routines that focus on both upper body, lower body, and core exercises:

Upper Body Warm-Up

Repeat 5-10 times
Jumping Jacks - 10
Push Ups - 10

*add pullups when multiple sets is possible at 5-10 reps per set

Lower Body Warm-Up

Repeat 5-10 times
Jumping Jacks - 10
Squats - 10

Upper / Lower Body & Cardio Combo

Repeat 3-4 times
A full body plan like the one below is a fast way to complete a workout with little or no rest by resting your upper body by working your lower body and abdominal exercises:

Pullups - max reps
Squats - 20-30
Pushups - 20-30 reps
Lunges - 10-15 / leg
Abs of choice - 50 reps
Optional Cardio of choice - 10 minutes

Learn about Supplemental Dumbbell Routine

Lower body / Cardio Workout

Repeat 4-5 times
Here is a quick and challenging workout to build both leg speed and endurance.

Run or bike 3 minutes
Squats - 20 reps
Lunges - 15/leg reps
Heel raises (calves) - 20-30 reps

Upper / Lower back Balance Cycle

Repeat 2-3 times
In order to balance out doing several sets of pushups or other pushing exercises, add in the below exercises for 2-3 sets at the end of the workout to avoid internal rotation of the shoulder girdle.

Reverse pushups - 25 reps
Birds - 25 reps
Plank pose - 1 minute

Check out Balancing Your Push Up Workouts.

Push / Pull Upper body Cycle

Repeat 4-5 times
To fully work the upper body, balance out the pushing muscles (chest, shoulders and triceps) with the pulling muscles (biceps, forearms, back)

Push Ups - max reps
Reverse Push Ups - 20
Pull Ups - max reps
Birds - 20
Abs of choice - 50

Add MJDB#1 for supplemental push / pull exercises

Abdominal Cycle

Do this 2-3 times during the workout and 4-5 times a week.  It is fine to do abdominals and cardio exercises several days a week or on back to back days.

Crunches - 25
Reverse Crunches - 25
Double Crunches - 25
Left Crunches - 25
Right Crunches - 25
Bicycle Crunches -25
Plank pose - 1 minute

These workouts can be done throughout the week, but as with weights, it is not recommended to do the same major muscle groups on back to back days.  So pick a calisthenics day and follow it with a cardio workout on the next day is the easiest way to create a fitness routine for yourself.  If you are new to exercise, just google some of the exercises in the workouts above or visit for articles, pictures, and books complete with workouts and exercise descriptions.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

Related Topics

Weight Training General Fitness Workouts Fitness Equipment Running and Cardio Pushups and Pullups Stew Smith