Calisthenics exercises: row

14 calisthenics exercises – Beginners & Advanced

Calisthenics exercises, there are so many different types that it can be challenging for beginners to know where to start. To provide insight into the most practiced exercises, this blog presents the 14 key calisthenics exercises, categorized for both beginners and advanced practitioners.


What are calisthenics exercises?

Calisthenics exercises are exercises where you use your own body weight to build strength and train your body. Calisthenics emphasizes developing functional strength, flexibility, and body control with minimal equipment. It’s a popular form of training for those looking to enhance their physical strength and skills using their own body.

Strength calisthenics exercises

No doubt, you’re probably familiar with exercises like jumping jacks and burpees. These are calisthenics exercises that primarily target improving your cardiovascular fitness.

The calisthenics exercises discussed in this blog, however, are specifically designed to promote muscle growth and enhance muscular strength.

Beginner calisthenics exercises

The beginner exercises serve as the foundation within the realm of calisthenics. When embarking on your calisthenics journey, it is crucial to master these foundational movements before progressing to advanced exercises. If you want to make quick progress with these beginner exercises, download our free calisthenics workout plan for beginners.

Pull-up & Chin-up

The pull-up and chin-up are vertical pulling exercises that target the muscles of the back and biceps. The chin-up emphasizes the biceps more, while the pull-up targets the muscles of the back.

To train these exercises, hang straight under a bar or rings. From this hanging position, depress your shoulders and then pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar.

To make pull-ups and chin-ups easier, you can use a resistance band. Conversely, if you want to make them more challenging, you can use a weight belt.

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Calisthenics oefeningen: row

You’ve probably heard of pull-ups, but rows might be new to you.

With rows, you hang horizontally under a bar or rings. Your arms are straight while your entire body is engaged. From this position, you pull yourself up until your chest reaches the bar.

Rows primarily target your back and biceps. If you can’t do pull-ups yet, rows are ideal for building your pulling strength. This way, you gradually become stronger in your pull strength and will eventually be able to do pull-ups.

You can train rows on a low bar or using rings. To make them easier, reduce the angle. To make rows more challenging, elevate both feet.

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Push up

The push-up is the most well-known calisthenics exercise, and for a good reason—it’s the ideal exercise to train your chest muscles and triceps.

What makes push-ups so great is that you can do them anywhere, and you can easily modify them to be easier or more challenging. You can do incline push-ups to make them easier. To make them more challenging, you have many options, such as:

  • Decline push-ups
  • Ring push-ups
  • One-arm push-ups

Watch the video above for 22 types of push-ups, ranked from easy to difficult.

Calisthenics oefeningen: dips

Dipping is the ideal way to work on your pushing strength. When training dips, you’re also targeting your triceps, chest, and shoulder muscles.

Most gyms have a dip station or dip bar, but if not, you have plenty of other options. You can dip in a calisthenics park, hang rings, or dip between two (sturdy) chair arms.

The advantage of dips (compared to push-ups) is that it’s easier to add weight to them. You can easily attach weight to your dips with a weight belt, making it a challenging exercise.

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Straddle handstand

Learning the handstand is not easy. That’s why it’s crucial to start training it as early as possible in your calisthenics journey.

In addition to requiring strength in your shoulders, mobility in your shoulders and wrists is crucial for this exercise.

The L-sit is the perfect complement to your handstand training. With the L-sit, you’re targeting the abdominal muscles and the posterior pelvic tilt position of your hips, which is also essential for your handstand.

You can train an L-sit while hanging from a bar or supporting yourself on the ground, rings, or an elevation.

If you can’t yet hold a full L-sit, start by training the tucked L-sit. Build up your hold time, and eventually, you’ll progress to a full L-sit.


Often, the focus in calisthenics exercises is on the upper body. And, to be honest, I advocate for adding weights to your leg workout. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to train your legs with just your body weight.

The key leg exercise in your calisthenics routine is the squat. Once you’ve mastered the bodyweight squat, you can train various more challenging variations, such as the shrimp squat and the pistol squat.

Do you want to start training with the above bodyweight exercises for beginners and:

  • Get stronger and more muscular
  • Make structural progress
  • Progress towards weighted Calisthenics exercises

Download the free calisthenics workout plan for beginners below.

Advanced Calisthenics exercises

Once you’ve mastered the beginner calisthenics exercises, you can start training the advanced ones. These include dynamic exercises like the handstand push-up and the muscle-up, as well as isometric exercises like the front lever, planche, and back lever.

foto muscle up nick.jpeg

The muscle-up is the perfect combination of push and pull strength. You pull yourself up with a dynamic pull-up, then transition over the bar and push yourself out with a straight bar dip.

Benefits of the muscle-up include training a large number of muscles, namely your back, chest, and shoulder muscles, as well as your biceps and triceps. Additionally, the muscle-up helps build explosive strength.

Once you’ve mastered the handstand, you can start training towards handstand push-ups. This is an ideal exercise to work on your shoulder and tricep strength.

Before you begin training for the handstand push-up, it’s necessary to consistently hold a handstand for 30 seconds.

To build the required strength for the handstand push-up, you can use the following exercises:

  • Pike push-up
  • Elevated pike push-up
  • Wall handstand push-up
  • Shoulder press (not a calisthenics exercise)

The shoulder press is useful to include because it allows for easier scaling of your strength. You can simply add light weight to each workout, challenging yourself progressively.

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Human flag

The first static exercise on this list is the human flag. This is an impressive strength exercise where you hang horizontally on a bar or pole.

The human flag is also a combination of push and pull strength. To maintain a straight position, you push away with your lower arm while pulling with the upper arm.

Aside from being a fantastic party trick, the human flag builds significant strength. Not only do your back, chest, and shoulder muscles get a serious workout, but your abdominal muscles also have to work hard during this exercise.

back lever

The back lever is a static exercise where you hang horizontally under the bar, with your face toward the ground.

As with all static exercises, you use your entire body to stabilize yourself. However, the pure strength to hold the back lever comes from your pulling muscles.

To build enough strength for the back lever, I recommend training with a lot of weighted pull-ups. In “Overcoming Gravity” (the bible for many calisthenics practitioners), it’s mentioned that the strength needed for a back lever is equivalent to a weighted pull-up 1 rep max of about 50% of your body weight.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Important factors for exercises like the back lever include your height and weight due to the leverage effect in the back lever.


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Front lever

To achieve the Front Lever, you need significantly more strength than for the Back Lever. This is because, in the Back Lever, you are essentially hanging in your shoulders, while in the Front Lever, you have to pull yourself horizontally using pure strength.

For a full Front Lever, you need pulling strength equivalent to a 1 rep max pull-up with 80 to 90% of your body weight.

For example, if you weigh 80kg, this means you should be able to perform a pull-up with at least 64 – 72kg of additional weight. These are averages, and the specific requirements may vary based on your height.

Click here: front lever to learn how to train for the front lever.



Weighted calisthenics

In order to make quick progress within your calisthenics journey, weighted calisthenics is an option for you. Hereby, you easily add weight to your pull ups or dips by making use of calisthenics equipment like a dipping belt or a weight vest. If you like to compete, there’s even weighted calisthenics competitions often refered to as street lifting.

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