Now a competitive sport, calisthenics started as a way to keep the body stronger and fitter.

If you think of gross motor movements, you usually think of calisthenics. These exercises are rhythmical, not generally needing apparatus or equipment, and is basically body weight training. Intended to increase body strength, fitness, and flexibility through movements such as pulling or pushing yourself up, bending, jumping, or swinging, using only one’s body weight for resistance. When performed vigorously and with variety, calisthenics can provide the benefits of muscular and aerobic conditioning, in addition to improving psychomotor skills such as balance, agility, and coordination.

The word calisthenics comes from the Ancient Greek word kalos which means beauty and sthenos meaning strength. It is said that this sport was named after one of its earliest promoters, the Greek historian Callisthenes.

Sports teams and military units often perform leader-directed group calisthenics as a form of synchronized physical training (often including a customized “call and response” routine) to increase group cohesion and discipline. Calisthenics are also popular as a component of physical education in primary and secondary schools over much of the globe.

In addition to general fitness, calisthenic exercises are often used as baseline physical evaluations for many military organizations, such as the US Army Physical Fitness Test and the US Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test.  Now, there’s a rapidly growing international sport called street workout, which consists of athletes competing against one another by each showing their body-weight strength and body-control in timed routines to impress a panel of judges.

Here are some calisthenic exercises


This is a good exercise to build your upper body with. It works your pectorals, triceps, and anterior deltoid.

Incline Push-ups

This is a regular push-up with the feet elevated on a bench, bed, chair, etc. This targets the development of the upper pectorals.

Chest Dip

This is also a good exercise to strengthen the pectorals, triceps, and anterior deltoids.


This is one of the best mass builders for the back. It develops the laterals more so than other exercises, and can really build a nice back. Find a sturdy place where you can do this safely.


This is performed by bringing one leg forward and almost kneeling on the back leg. Once the front leg creates a perfect 90 degree angle, stand up and alternate legs, keeping the back straight and chest out.


This exercise is good to strengthen the lower back. Another way to perform this exercise is on the edge of a bed or chair, with someone holding your feet so you’re solid in place and won’t fall.

Jumping Jacks

Performed by jumping to a position with the legs spread wide and the hands touching overhead and then returning to a position with the feet together and the arms at the sides

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