The Ultimate Calisthenics Progression Guide

calisthenics porgression pushup

 

One of the biggest problems with body weight exercises is that its difficult to make the exercise more challenging. When you use weights you can simply grab a heavier weight. When you use your own body weight most people just do more reps. Yet in order to get bigger muscles we need to do low reps. So how do we stay in low rep ranges without “adding weight”?

Answer: Do Harder Exercises

When you choose an exercise that is challenging you’ll automatically stay in a low rep range. As you get stronger the number of reps increase.

In order to build size and strength you must progressively overload the muscle with more and more resistance. If you lift weights its easy, right? Just grab heavier and heavier weights as your muscle gets stronger.

Yet when you use body weight exercises this presents a problem. You can’t make a push up harder in the same way you can make a bench press harder, ie- adding weight. However, you can make it harder in other ways by doing more challenging exercises.

The below Calisthenics Progression Guide is designed to help you build mass and strength by progressing from one exercise to the next.

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Step 1: Find out your exercise level (see levels below). Try the exercises from each category and award yourself the corresponding points of you can do that exercise 12 reps (30 seconds if its a static hold). Don’t award yourself points for exercises below that difficulty just the exercise where you can complete 12 reps in good form. The goal here is to simply find your level of ability.

For example, in the Chest Category I can do 12 reps of Uneven Push Ups. That means I would award myself 7 points and move on to the next category, NOT points for each exercise below the Uneven Push Up.

Step 2: Once you have a point value for each category add them up together. Locate your category below:

Bodyweight Grasshopper: 0-13

Bodyweight Ambassador: 14-27

Bodyweight Warrior: 28-38

Bodyweight Jedi: 38-51 (This is where I am at with a score of 44.)

Bodyweight Sensei: 51-67

Step 3: Make a list of the exercise from each category that are just above the level of difficulty that you are currently at and start working on it. There are a lot of tutorials that are designed to help you so follow them and continue to build up strength and size by staying a low rep range.

 

The Calisthenics Progression Guide For Every Major Body Part

The progressions are laid out in order of easiest to hardest. Remember that the goal is to work out in the rep range of 8-12. Once you can get to 12 reps of a certain exercise its time to try the next exercise.

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Chest

 

    • calisthenics progressionIncline Push Ups (1 Point) – This is a beginner chest exercise that works mostly the lower part of the chest muscle. If you are just starting out on your fitness journey this is the perfect option. You can use a wall or bench or whatever elevated surface you can find. What’s up Tommy Clifford (He’s the guy in the video… one of my childhood friends who now does Iron Man Tri’s).

 

    • Push Ups on Knees (2 Points) – Ah, the traditional “girly push up”. Although with some of the girls that follow SOA I’d be careful who you say this to. When you put your knees on the ground it takes a lot of the strain off of your chest muscles. So if you are a beginner than start here.

 

    • Standard Push Ups (3 Points) – I think everyone knows the classic push up. Make sure your back is straight and you go through a full range of motion.

 

    • Wide Push Ups (4 Points) – This exercise is similar to the standard push up but you’ll be positioning your arms out wider at about 1 1/2 times the width of your shoulders.

 

    • Decline Push Ups (5 Points) – Now we are really starting to step up our game. Find something to put your feet on like a chair or couch. Then crank out your push ups. The exercise shifts the focus to the upper portion of your chest. If you are looking for that extra lift in your pecs than this is the perfect exercise.

 

    • Dips w/Elbows Out (6 Points)– Dips are one of my favorite chest exercises. Find some parallel bars at the local park or get some chairs and do them off of the back rests or the seat (if it’s high enough). Make sure your elbows are pointed out. This will shift the focus from your triceps to your chest.

 

    • Uneven Push Up (7 Points) – Get in the same position as the normal push up but shift your weight over to one side. You can either put your hand on an object like how you see in the video or you can simply shift your weight to on side.

 

    • One Arm Push Ups (8 Points) – If you have successfully made it through the 70/30 – 90/10 splits than its time to work on the one arm push up. If you still can’t quite do a single rep of the one arm push ups try holding it in certain positions as a static exercise. For example, hold the top position as long as you can. This isometric will engage the same muscles as the normal one arm push up and get you prepared for the full exercise.

 

    • Tuck Planche (9 Points) – I love this exercise. It’s more of a strength exercise and less of a muscle mass exercise but I had to throw it in because it is still challenging. You can either do these on the p bars or on the ground. Make sure that you lean far enough forward for your weight to be balanced. Also make sure to keep your arms straight.

 

    • Tuck Planche Push Ups (10 Points) – This exercise is just like the Tuck Planche but you’ll be doing Push Ups. Try to not let your body swing forward too much otherwise you’ll just be doing the standard dip exercise.

 

    • Planche (11 Points) – This is a super hard exercise that relies on whole body strength as well as the chest muscles. There are moves that seem to defy the laws of gravity and this is certainly one of them.

 

    • Planche Push Ups (12 Points) – If you get to the point where the planche starts to get easy go for planche push ups. It will take it up several notches.

 

 

 

    • Planche on Rings (Maltese) (13 Points) – And the kingpin of all chest body weight exercises…? The Maltese. Few people on the planet have the patience an First seen here > https://ashotofadrenaline.net/calisthenics-progression/
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