Old-Fashioned Calisthenics do the Trick

Exercise doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective. Sometimes the simplest routines are best, which is why calisthenics work.

Calisthenics is simply an old-school fitness term for exercises you perform with your bodyweight and no added resistance. This includes pullups and chin-ups as well as squats, lunges, glute bridges and planks.

The good news is you can do these at home, the gym or outside. And people of all fitness levels can benefit by building full-body strength, stability and control. You will use functional compound movement patterns like squats and pushups.

Better yet, calisthenics uses your bodyweight as resistance so it’s less stressful on joints and connective tissues. As you progress, you’ll need to add higher-level exercises.

If you’re just starting, plan two days per week and aim for three, saving a day in between for rest and stretching.

Begin with a routine of basic movements including glute bridges, planks and lunges. Focus on these movements to master proper technique and prevent injury and continue to add more for variety.

Glute bridge

  1. Lay on your back, knees bent and feet hip-width apart on the mat. Place heels 8 inches from your butt with arms by your sides.
  2. Squeeze glutes and abs as you lift your hips toward the ceiling as high as you can without arching your back. Stop when your body is in a straight line from knee to hip to shoulder.
  3. Squeeze glutes tightly and hold.
  4. Lower slowly, keeping tension as you go.

(If you feel hamstrings more than glutes, move your feet closer to your butt.)

Plank

  1. Get in a pushup position on the floor and hold your body lifted off the ground.
  2. For proper form, keep hands under shoulders, engage glutes and keep your body aligned straight. (For beginners, start on your knees.)
  3. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, aiming for 60 seconds. Add modifications when this becomes easy.