If you’re looking for a travel-friendly style of working out, don’t want to invest in costly dumbbells or barbells, or just want to change things up from your regular weightlifting workouts, bodyweight workouts may be the answer. Here are some great resources and guides to bodyweight exercises and calisthenics that can help you add some variety to your fitness regimen.
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Man Vs. Weight – This website offers lots of information and tips on bodyweight training and calisthenics workouts for men (though I’m sure women can benefit, as well). It has one of the most complete guides to calisthenics I’ve seen, along with a number of workout plans, as well as progression guides, tutorials, and thorough reviews of other bodyweight workout programs.
Shape Fit – This website has a number of exercise guides, including one focusing on bodyweight exercises. The guide is basically a list of exercises with links to photos and instructions. However, I didn’t see any links to actual bodyweight workouts or plans, unless they were elsewhere on the website.
Onnit Academy Basic to Beast Complete Bodyweight Workout Program – Health and fitness business Onnit offers a good bodyweight workout program through its online Onnit Academy brand. It includes beginner, intermediate, and advanced workouts, tips and tricks to use, and advice on recovery.
Downloadable Workout Programs
Bodyweight Burn – The Bodyweight Burn program is a complete workout system using 3 exercise methods that work together to give you a great bodyweight workout in just 21 minutes. The program includes a follow-along workout video series, instructional videos, a quick start guide, and an integration guide that allows you to incorporate Bodyweight Burn with other workout programs. You can find a review of this program on the Man Vs. Weight website.
The System – This 12-week program from the Bar Brothers requires just a pull-bar and the floor, and is targeted mainly towards beginner and intermediate levels. It also comes with a video series that covers the course introduction and tips; nutrition information; and detailed workout plans and instructions. You can check out a review of The System on the Man Vs. Weight website.
The Marine Body – The newest workout system from the maker of Bodyweight Surge promises to give you a strong, lean physique in just 45 minutes a week. The program includes a training manual, nutrient timing manual, quick start guide, and a supplement guide. I haven’t purchased the program yet, so I can’t give a review, but it looks interesting.
You Are Your Own Gym Vol. II – This highly-rated 3-DVD set from Mark Lauren offers short, focused, effective follow-along workouts ranging from novice to advanced levels. Once you’ve mastered these workouts you can move on to Lauren’s Elite Functional Exercise (EFX) DVD system.
PiYo – This DVD offering from Beachbody was created by Chalene Johnson, and combines Pilates and yoga in a pumped-up format to deliver strength, definition, and flexibility. Because it’s led by Chalene, women may be more comfortable with this system than other programs led by men, but guys can certainly benefit from it, too.
Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – This comprehensive guide in book form from Bret Contreras features full-color anatomical illustrations, step-by-step instructions, and training advice. The illustrations show the primary muscles worked in the exercises, along with the relevant surrounding structures, including bones, ligaments, and tendons.
Plus 2 bonus resources!
BodyweightTrainingArena.com – This website focuses on calisthenics and its benefits, and offers a variety of workouts and progressions. If you’re new to the world of bodyweight workouts, start with their Basic Calisthenics Workout Routine for Beginners. In addition to workouts, the site also includes bodyweight progressions, the Calisthenics Academy, and a shop where you can buy T-shirts, gear, and other assorted items.
Bodyweight Training: The Definitive Guide – This guide from physician couple Alex and Brittany Noel Robles at TheWhiteCoatTrainer.com features 10 chapters chock-full of info on – you guessed it – bodyweight training. Starting off with bodyweight training and calisthenic fundamentals, it then covers the 6 types of bodyweight exercises, goes into detail on how this type of training can develop the different areas of the body, and ends with a how-to on developing your own bodyweight workout program. It’s a long read, but definitely worth it if you’re serious about bodyweight training!
Bored with bodyweight? Prefer to work out with weights? Here’s a tip from Marcus at Mind to Muscle Fitness:
To get the most out of your weight training, you need to apply the progressive overload principle.
This is the best way to “stimulate” your muscles and force them to adapt and grow stronger.
You can do this by:
- Adding weight to the bar (or upping your dumbbell weights)
- Doing more reps with the same weight
- Doing more sets
- Decreasing your rest periods
Pro tip: You don’t have to add weight EVERY single workout (this is very difficult to do). All you need to do is aim for one extra rep. Believe it or not, this will add up over time.
The resources listed above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bodyweight training and calisthenics. There’s plenty more out there on the web, so just type “bodyweight exercises” into Google and start exploring!