5 Explosive Calisthenics Exercises for Strength (Guest Post)

Calisthenics may be more beneficial in building strength than you realize…

Today we want to share an informative Guest Post by Rebecca Smith. See how Rebecca became a calisthenics enthusiast in her Bio below.


When you think about building strength and power through exercise, the first thing that may come to mind is a set of heavy weights at the gym. After all, most dedicated bodybuilders are identified with weight lifting. But do you know that you can actually power up by using just  your bodyweight? Well, you can…

The way you can build strength is by doing calisthenics. Calisthenics is a form of exercise where you use only your body weight as resistance. Classic exercises such as push-ups, jumping jacks, squats, and lunges are some of the more commonly known calisthenics moves; while pull-ups, chin-ups and dips are mainstay favorites of most calisthenics practitioners.

By performing a full-body calisthenics workout, you can definitely build muscle, improve strength and sculpt your body. The added benefit is that if you practice calisthenics, you will have a more balanced muscular form. The reason for this is because most calisthenics exercises are compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups at the same time.

For example, if you use free weights like a dumbbell to do a triceps exercise, you are  targeting your triceps. While this may be beneficial for advanced bodybuilders who are trying to form the body for aesthetic reasons, this may not serve your purpose if you want overall body strength.  On the contrary, doing  basic push-up targets your triceps as well as the other arm muscles as well as the chest, abdominals, hips, and back simultaneously. Exercising these muscles together gives you a total body workout.

So, if you have not done calisthenics before, you may want to start by incorporating traditional bodyweight exercises into your beginner calisthenics workout. This is important to building your mobility, strength and endurance, while using a full range of movement.

Levelling up your calisthenics routine

Man Doing Push Ups on the Beach. Resource: Pexels

Many people think that  calisthenics are easy, but most make the mistake of wrongly executing even the most basic exercise like the push-up. To make calisthenics exercises effective, your must focus on your form. Form is vitally important and has to be perfect. And, once you master the correct form, doing a calisthenics progression will upgrade your workouts.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing a workout routine that is perfect for you. It will really depend on what your goal is and what you want to achieve. While many people think calisthenics exercise are used by gymnasts, it is also associated with building strength. This list of 5 exercises below will show that increasing strength and power is possible.

Start with these 5 calisthenics exercises

This list below is composed of strength-building calisthenics exercises. The first two exercises,

1. Incline Push-up and 2.  Inverted Row

can be done by beginners but as you progress, increase the difficulty by using variations of the exercises. By changing the angle or the position of your body, you can make these  two exercises harder or easier. This is the beauty of calisthenics because you can change it based on your fitness capabilities, ensuring that you can safely perform the exercise without injury.

The last three exercises in the list

3. Explosive Dip, 4. Tucked Dips, and 5. Explosive Chin-up

are for advanced calisthenics athletes. These exercises are for those who have already mastered their pull-ups, chin-ups and dips. Because you only use your bodyweight with these three exercises, many people think that the only way to progress is by adding a weighted vest or by using a dip belt. However, you can actually add tension and make the exercise more challenging by either changing the position of your body, stabilizing some parts of your body, or by changing the speed of your pulls.

Please keep in mind that if you are a beginner, do not try these last three exercises immediately because you might not have the required strength yet and mobility to perform these exercises correctly and safely.

1.  Incline Push-up

This is one of the best exercises to build explosive strength as it is very easy to change if you want to target different parts of your chest. Depending on the height of the incline, the incline push-up can get harder or easier which is why it is suitable for people of any level of fitness.

Performing the incline push-up is a great exercise if you want to master the proper push-up mechanics. It is similar to a standard push-up but as the name implies, your body is on an incline because your arms are elevated as they are being supported by a raised platform. While doing this exercise, keep your core tight, your back flat and make sure you breathe in and out as you go up and down.

The resistance the incline delivers is not as difficult as the other calisthenics exercises. But while many people consider it as one of the easiest pressing exercises, it is still an amazing workout that is very easy to progress and integrate in your daily routine.

2.  Inverted Row

The inverted row is another exercise that even beginners can do but it has proven itself time and again that it is still exceptionally effective even for the most advanced calisthenics athletes. It targets your back, biceps, traps and all the stabilizer muscles in between. It is a functional exercise that builds your upper body strength.

The inverted row can be performed using a bar, rings or suspension belts with your body leaning back down and pushing yourself up towards the equipment.

When using the bar, you have to grip the bar with an overhand grip (palms facing away from you). Then, lean back down until your body is at an angle depending on the height of the bar. If the bar is higher, your body will be at around 45 degree angle which makes the exercise easier. If the bar is lower, your body will be somehow parallel to the floor, which makes it harder for you. Next, lift yourself up pulling the bar towards the middle of your chest, keeping your core tight. Your body should always be in a straight line as you lift yourself up and make sure you don’t bend your body.

When using rings or suspension belts, the same concept applies. Make sure you always lift yourself up with your body straight and abs tight. The higher you are from the ground, the easier the exercise will be. If you want to progress the exercise, walk further from your grip until your body is at a lower angle or  parallel to the floor.

Even as a beginner, you should focus on keeping the body straight as you pull yourself up. To make the inverted row more challenging, learn to really stabilize your shoulder blades and the core rock solid.

3.  Explosive Dip

If you want to increase the power of your triceps and anterior deltoids, then mastering the explosive dip is recommended for you. What you need to do is assume the dip position on parallel bars, but keep your body upright with your back straight, your core tight, and legs lifted off the ground behind you. Then, bend your arms until they reach 90 degree angle, making sure your elbows are pointing behind you and not to the side. Once you reach the 90 degree angle, come back by explosively pushing yourself up until you are slightly elevated than the bars, momentarily releasing hold of the bars.

It is important to keep in mind that prior to performing explosive dips, you should first master the classic dip. The reason for this is so that you can safely perform the exercise due to the increased mobility the classic dip has built on your arms and shoulder.

4. Tucked Dips

This is another advanced calisthenics move where you assume the classic dip position but then you push your hips up so your upper body is horizontal, facing down to the ground while raising yourself up and down. The tucked dips target the chest, shoulders and core. Being an upgrade from the classic dip, it will build insane strength and it is a key ingredient to give you a massive, godly chest.

When doing the tucked dip, keep the hip and body angle stable. Avoid jerking or curving your body while doing the dip exercise. If you find yourself leaning forward or leaning back, this makes the exercise easier which probably means that you are cheating on the exercise. When you change this exercise to be easier for you, it will not get the same results. The key here is to execute it correctly, making sure that your form is always on point. Otherwise, you might as well do a push-up as you’ll just get the same result if you’re cheating on your form.

5.  Explosive Chin-up

This exercise works the muscles in the upper back, lats, biceps, triceps, and shoulders. This is an amazing upper body workout that will really power you up. As the name suggests, the basis of this exercise is the chin-up. Chin-ups are different from pull-ups as they use an underhand grip, meaning your palms are facing toward you as you grip the bar. While chin-ups and pull-ups may look the same, the change in grip actually works the muscles in a different way.

Doing a chin-up is challenging. If you find that you cannot perform this yet, focus on building strength in your arms. You can do this by practicing push-up variations, inverted rows, and dips. You can also just hang on the bar for as long as you can which may be more challenging than it seems.

To perform a basic chin-up, grip the bar using an underhand grip. Then pull yourself all the way up and descend. To make the chin-up effective, you have to keep your core muscles really tight. Then, to increase the intensity of your chin-up, you can perform the explosive chin-ups. What you need to do is explosively pull yourself up, momentarily releasing the bar, then gripping again before you descent. To do this exercise right, don’t use your core and hips to help you as this will lessen the tension from your back muscles. While you may be tempted to use your core and hips as it will look more explosive, it will not get the same result.

This is an exercise for advanced calisthenics athletes that are looking to upgrade their workouts for that maximum power build.

Strength through calisthenics

Photo of a Man with a Muscular Body. Resource: PexelsPerforming calisthenics exercises is an amazing way to build functional strength and sculpt your dream body without expensive gym memberships or class session fees. You can perform these exercises in public parks that have pull-up and parallel bars.  Or, if you live in an area that has no access to outdoor parks you can buy affordable bars that you can install at home. There are many options that do require much space.

One important reminder when performing a calisthenics routine is to ensure that your execution is accurate.  Follow the instructions stated above with each exercise. You can also watch online tutorials to compare your form. If you are unsure, practice in front of a mirror or ask a friend to monitor your performance. Do not rush into advanced workouts without mastering the correct way to do the basics first.

Calisthenics has been historically proven to build strength and power. But while you’re building muscles, it also improves your mobility, flexibility, balance and endurance. It gives you an incredible full body workout that will not only transform your physique but will also create a body that is functionally strong.

About the Author:

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith started calisthenics at age 26 as a means to lose weight and tone her body. She was so inspired after completing her first successful muscle up, that she continued to train. This passion led her to become a full-time calisthenics instructor. Rebecca also holds a Management Degree and a Diploma in Nutrition.

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We hope you enjoyed Rebecca’s article and exercises and want to thank you for spending part of your day with us! Wishing you the best of Health!

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Author: Joan E Wilder

We provide information and motivation focused on the importance of physical activity to our quality of life. It is our hope to help people invest in themselves by staying active throughout their lives. It's that important.

3 thoughts

  1. Thank you for the informative article and great exercises Rebecca. I didn’t realize how simple body-weight exercises and help me get stronger. I’ll be sure to work them into my weekly routine. Thank you for sharing this helpful information!

  2. Doing an exercise with correct form is so important, not only to get the most benefit but to keep from being injured. It’s best to do a simpler version that you can do correctly than a more difficult one you can’t do with good form. Interesting article. :-)

    janet

    1. Very true Janet, form prevents injury – thank you for mentioning that and for spending time with us today!

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