I started bodyweight training (calisthenics) about 4 years ago. I used to pump iron, but for some reason, I became bored with it, even if I regularly changed my workout routine.
Also, I saw many videos on Youtube with Hannibal and other guys doing those cool exercises in the street. I was so motivated. I felt this was going to be the new type of training for me.
So, I throw away the barbells and dumbbells and jump into the bodyweight training. To tell the truth, at first, I thought calisthenics was going to be easy for me since I already had had some routine in weight training.
But, I have to realize that this type of workout is not as easy as it seems. It requires endurance and bodyweight exercises are not easy at all. Plus, I made many mistakes such as analyzing the moves instead of doing them or I focused more on reps than the proper form. But with time, everything went into its place.
If you are a total beginner, the following video from RedDeltaProject can help you a lot. You can learn the most common mistakes that newcomers commit.
1. Paralysis by analysis
This is an excellent point. Do not spend too much time with learning the basics. Start now and as you go on you will search for the information you will need when it is required. Anyway, how would you know what are your weak and strong points are if you do not do anything?
Also, most of the people want to start with getting a calisthenics workout routine. But, keep in mind that what works for other, may not for you.
For example, when I started I tried to follow a plan, which included the essential bodyweight moves such as push-ups, pull-ups, dips, etc. My weakest point was doing pull ups, the program told me to the 8-10. I could do only 3-4 correctly.
Because of this, I was always frustrated, but I tried it even if my form was shit. If I could go back time, I would spend more time with exercises that prepare my body and muscles such as inverted body rows or just simply hanging on the bar.
To sum up, learning is not bad, but do to overdo it. Start, and you will learn what you have to learn.
2. No bridging
Seems to be not a valuable advice, but it can help a lot to make those upper body exercises better and get stronger. Also, it is excellent to your posture and spine.
3. No hanging
At the first point, I was talking about being annoyed because of pull ups. Now I know, I should have hung more. Just by hanging on the bar you can develop those muscles that are required for the pulling type bodyweight exercises.
Another example that I experienced. A year go I started doing hanging leg raises and other abdominal exercises that can be done on the bar. For that, you should hang for 40-60 seconds to make the reps. Thanks to them my grip and lower arm became so strong that I can do more pull ups and chin ups.
So, if you are a beginner, and cannot do any pull-ups and chin-ups yet on the right way, just hang.
4. Weak grip
Training the forearm and grip strength is usually forgotten. But, strong lower arm and fingers are crucial not just for calisthenics but for those who prefer lifting weights.
Anyway, it is logical. How could you lift weight and your body, if you have a weak grip? Using wrist wraps and other techniques are just shortcuts. So, spend time with strengthening your forearm, wrist, and grip with weights or with bodyweight moves.
5. Concentrate on making your muscles work
While you do the exercises concentrate on your muscles. Feel and force them to work. Calisthenics is like any other sport. You should be focused to get the tension and muscular fatigue.
6. Chasing the Repetitions
And finally, about repetitions. Accurately making the moves should always be your first goal. I’ve seen many people claiming that “I could do 50 push ups”, but their form was terrible. I think that is good for nothing. They just lie to themselves.
Ok, sometimes it is good to challenge yourself or if you want to practice for a competition. But, if you are a beginner, always focus on the proper form. And with time, those extra reps will come as well. Don’t cheat!
+ Be patient
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your body and mind require time to get used to calisthenics. But, if you keep training, the results will come. Many friends of mine started it, but gave up after 3 weeks, because they thought they did not develop. Do you think those guys doing street workout get such results in 2 months?
That is all. I hope these this suggestions will help you to get started with calisthenics. If you need more advice, just check out our bodyweight training section for even more tips.
Have you got other tips or mistakes that have not been listed here? Share with us in the comment section below.