A beginners guide to Calisthenics

Back in November at the Brunei X Fit I was lucky enough to meet Kenneth Gallarzo a.k.a @progressive_calisthenics.

We got to talking and I obviously asked him all about calisthenics and how a total beginner could get into some of those moves/poses. He explained to me just how simple someone with no experience can get into it.

Basically calisthenics is body weight training, but it’s functional fitness at its best. Originating from the Greece – this popular sport can be as simple as a pushup or as difficult as a planche. The cool thing is that you don’t necessarily need equipment, so it’s accessible to everyone.

I wanted to share what I learnt from Kenneth so let me introduce you to Calisthenics.


Full Body Workout

As I said before, Calisthenics is body weight training. You are using your whole body to workout which is guaranteed to target a full variety of muscles with one exercise.


This is such a cost effective sport. You can workout in the comfort of your own home, at the park or the beach. You don’t need a gym, machines or equipment to start.

Any Fitness Level

No matter your fitness level – you can do this. It’s all about progressing. You’re not going to start with a one handed hand stand! but starting and practicing a crow pose with slowly get you there.


Not into Yoga or Pilates? What some people fail to realize is that to do Calisthenics you have to be able to comfortably move your body in different positions. Foam rolling, stretching, warming up and using full range of motion all help you with this, and should be part of your Calisthenics workout.


Calisthenics is great not just for strength but also for developing coordination. Just like burpees or jump rope, Calisthenics uses different body parts and improves your body’s motricity as a whole.

To get started, follow these exercises. I’m doing the beginners modification and Kenneth is showing us the advanced.

Make sure to always have at least a 10minute warm up first!


Beginners modification for Dips: Hands on an elevated surface. The further your feet are from your body the harder the dip. Start with Straightened arms. Lower yourself slowly until your shoulders are parallel to your elbows and go back up again to starting position.

Advanced Dips: Grab the dip bars, jump up and straighten your arms. Lower yourself slowly until your shoulders are below your elbows.

A compound push exercise with a small range of motion: Mainly works your triceps but also engages your forearms, shoulders, chest and lower back.

Planche / Handstand

Beginners modification for a planche or handstand: Crow pose

Advanced planche and handstand: Start with a tuck planche (basically like crow but hands looking outwards) then move your knees back until they are floating in an open tuck planche. From the tuck , straighten the legs into a full straddle planche.

Handstands: Stimulates endocrine system, Balance, Strength, Flexibility.



Beginners modification for a Lever: Pull yourself off the ground and using momentum flip yourself to the other side. Do this while controlling your core. Flip yourself backwards to get back to your starting point.

Advanced Lever: Grasp the bar within overhand grip. Pull your legs and hips up, at the same time leaning back. Your back should be rounded and your body tucked up into as much of a ball as possible. Flip backwards and let your legs hang. Engage your core and slowly flip back to your starting point.

The Lever: Shoulders. Back, core – Midline stability. Enhances control and awareness to upper body movements.

Pull ups


Beginners modification: Get under a bar and with your feet still on the floor, perform a pull up. Make sure you use your back when pulling up, not just your arms. Keeping your feet on the ground “off-loads” about a third of your body weight.


Advanced Pull up: Sit under the bar and grip it with your palms facing out. Straighten up and lift until your chin is over the bar.

Pull Up: Compound exercise – back, shoulders, chest and arms.

Tuck front lever pull up

Beginners modification: Put your legs up on the bars and use your arms, back and shoulders to pull up. ( Kind of like a row )

Advance Tuck Lever Pull up:

Once you’ve got the hang of the straight arm pull ups, you will work on pulling your knees up. This is a really strong core movement.

A front lever is a skill that involves each and every muscle of your upper body, including some parts of the lower body such as the glutes. Add in that pull up which also includes back, shoulders, chest and arms.

Push up

Beginners modification: Use something so that your hands are on elevated ground. Make sure you are bringing down your chest to the ground and that your body is straight.

Advanced Push up / Decline Push Up :

Push up position. Feet resting on a stable elevated surface, hands on the ground.

The higher you place your feet, the harder it will be. Stabilizing muscles in your shoulders have a lot work to do. Want to make it even harder? Try lifting one leg off the surface while you perform Decline Push Ups. And don’t forget to switch legs

Push up: Compound exercise – arms, shoulders, chest, back, abs and even legs.


How simple do those look? I usually go and use the bars at my neighborhoods park or beach. My goals at the moment are definitely perfecting my push ups and pull ups!

Thank you Kenneth for the lessons!

Let me know what you guys thought of that workout in the comments section below.

+ Follow Kenneth on Instagram for more Calisthenic motivation.




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