Climbing the Hill: The Ultimate Calisthenics Workout Transformation
A ll my workouts involve one thing: calisthenics or bodyweight exercises. I do all my workouts on parallel bars, pullup bars, or on the ground.
I used to be into heavy powerlifting, but recently moved to a purely bodyweight training regimen.
I noticed a big change in both my physique and strength.
I actually felt a difference in my body; doing my unique exercises opened up a totally new door.
I noticed I was using muscles that I had never even used before.
Believe it or not, all my workouts involve calisthenics circuit routines now. Circuit training is the ultimate step to getting fast results in strength, endurance, muscle mass, and conditioning. In a circuit, you move from one exercise to the next with little or no rest between moves.
Circuit training doesn’t allow your heart to rest or slow down, it keeps it up consistently throughout your workout allowing you to burn more calories faster and to shred up.
I do hundreds of different calisthenics circuits and I never touch the weights. I’ve lost 37 pounds of fat in 6 months doing my exercises. I went from 202 pounds to 165 pounds of lean muscle mass.
I get at least 50 messages a day just on my transformation and how I did it.
The best part is, anyone can do it themselves with hard work and dedication.
I train six days a week, an hour to an hour and 30 minutes, and I never have to go to a gym.
I’m going to share four of my circuit workouts with you. One for beginners, two are for more advanced exercisers, and one is only for extreme athletes.
Find the workout that’s best for you and, if you stick to it, you will see results in less than two months.
|30-40 minutes||1-2x per week||strength training||high intensity||varies by exercise||30 seconds|
How To Stretch For A Calisthenics Circuit Workout
Follow the videos below for routines to warm up your entire body before the workout. For more tips on mobility and stretching, follow Onnit’s Durability Coach, Cristian Plascencia, on Instagram (@cristian_thedurableathlete).
Workout #1: Beginner Calisthenics Circuit Workout
Do all the exercises in the order shown, resting 30 seconds between exercises and 3 minutes afterward. Repeat for 3 rounds.
1. 10 pullups
Do these with your palms facing away from you, hands just outside shoulder-width apart.
2. 10 chinups
Palms face toward you, hands shoulder-width apart.
3. 20 dips
Use parallel bars and lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
4 . 25 jump squats
Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor and jump as high as you can.
5. 20 pushups
Lower your body until your chest is about an inch above the floor. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. Actively pull your ribs and pelvis toward each other, engaging your core—don’t let your lower back sag.
6. 50 crunches
Curl your torso up until your shoulder blades are off the floor.
7. 10 burpees
Stand with feet shoulder width and squat down to place your hands on the floor. Now shoot your legs behind you fast so you end up in the top position of a pushup. Jump your legs back up so they land between your hands and then stand up quickly.
8. 30 seconds jumping rope
Workout #2: Intermediate Calisthenics Circuit Workout
Rest 5 seconds between exercises and 8 minutes at the end of one round. Repeat for 2 rounds.
1. 5 muscle ups
Hang from a pullup bar with hands outside shoulder width and legs straight. Draw your shoulder blades back and together and arch your back to swing your body forward a bit. Then quickly try to bring your shoulders and hips together so that your body swings back and rises up until your hips touch the bar. Press your body straight up over the bar to lock out your elbows.
3. 25 jump squats
6. 60 seconds leg flutters
Lie on your back on the floor and tuck your tailbone to flatten your lower back into the floor. Brace your core. Extend your legs overhead and then lower them as far as you can before you feel your lower back is about to buckle up from the floor. Begin raising and lowering both legs, alternately, a few inches (as if swimming). Keep your core braced so your lower back stays against the floor.
8. 30-second sprint, nonstop
Run up a hill if you can, or run in place.
Workout #3: Advanced Calisthenics Circuit Routine
Perform each exercise for 30 seconds straight. Do NOT rest between exercises. Complete 1 round.
1. Hold a handstand for 30 seconds
You can do the handstand using a wall for support. Place your hands about six inches back from the wall and get into a downward dog pose. Step one foot toward the wall and then kick your back leg up while focusing your eyes on the floor in front of you. Press into your hands and straighten your body with your heels against the wall.
3. Wall push ups
Get into pushup position in front of a wall and walk your feet up the wall behind you. Press your feet into the wall to create tension throughout your body, and perform pushups.
4. Kick up push ups
Sit on the floor and roll backward, as if doing a reverse somersault. Stop when your feet face the ceiling and reverse the direction quickly, performing a kickup—kick your feet up and forward so you launch off the floor and land in a deep squat. From there, drop into a pushup.
5. Squat position move side to side
Get into a low squat and step side to side. Take two steps one direction and then switch directions.
6. X’s and O’s core workout
Lie on your back on the floor and extend your arms and legs to form an X-shape. Crunch and draw your knees to your chest, hugging them with your arms.
8. Jumping lunges
Get into a lunge position—rear knee just above the floor and front knee bent 90 degrees. Jump and switch legs in mid air, landing with the opposite leg forward.
Hop side to side, staying on the balls of your feet.
Workout #4: Extreme Athlete Calisthenics Circuit Routine
Rest 30 seconds between exercises but do not rest between rounds. Do 3 rounds.
1. 10-second back lever hold
Grasp a bar with hands outside shoulder width and curl your knees up to pass underneath the bar and over your head. Extend your legs so your body is now inverted. Bend your knees 90 degrees and slowly lower your body until you’re parallel to the floor. See this video for more.
2. 7-second flag hold
You’ll need a ladder or other object with rungs. Push onto one rung with your stronger arm and pull on a higher rung with your weaker arm and raise your legs up off the floor until your body is parallel to the floor.
3. 5-second front lever hold
Pull your body up and extend your torso back so you are parallel to the floor.
4. 15-second bent arm planche hold
Suspend yourself over dip bars and extend your legs behind you with your arms straight so that your body is parallel to the floor. See this video for more.
5. 30-second handstand hold
Hold the top position of a handstand (arms extended).
6. 3 very slow muscle ups
Take at least 3 seconds to press your body up from the bar.
7. 10 slow dips
Take at least 3 seconds to lower your body.
8. Pull up hold position for 30 seconds
Hold the bottom of a pushup (chest just above the floor).
See many of these exercises in action in the video below.
Not only are you going to love the results from these workouts, you are going to find out they’re fun to try too. Good luck!
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My name is Jordan Hill. I love seeing progress in other peoples lives including myself. I’m a motivator, and a fitness freak. My videos are to uplift you a motivate you through life. God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.Psalm 46:1. If you want more workouts, find me on youtube: www.youtube.com/user/jronhill7281
Thanks for sharing. I’ve been doing circuits for 6 months too and it’s done wonders for my body.
For the inverted pushups, a piece of carpet attached to whatever you’re pressing your feet against will keep them in place.
Love the workouts. You stated in your article ‘Climbing the Hill’ that you train 6-days/week. If I started doing one of the advanced routines or for that matter the basic workout you list, it should be repeated 6-day/week do you do some other type of workout during the week?
Great article by the way.
I am a beginner and want to do calisthenics but am having a hard time finding a good beginner working. This one looks good…but I can’t do 10 pullups/10 chinups in a row. I also can’t do 20 dips in a row.
What would you suggest?
MIKE , why don’t you try chest addict routine from madbarz , for me it was so helpful at the begining, follow that routine for a couple of days and you may be able to do some pull ups,chin ups and dips.
Hi mikey… one way of building up to 10 pull ups would be to just do as many as you can then add 1 extra rep per week until you hit 10 pull ups. Your body will get stronger each week!
Starting out calisthenics from weightlighting.
How often do you suggest the beginner program? 6/days a week?
Hey great circuit,Love it!
I’ve been weightlifting for some years, but i got tired of it, so im looking for a new Goal.
The circuit looks pretty straight forward, just one question.
Repeat during the 6 days the same circuit? No rest day? Should i start from 4-5 days maybe the first weeks?
Thanks a lot for your time!
Great article, but I think I was most impressed with your bio. Your goal is an admirable one.
Hey . So i cannot do pull ups or chin ups due to my weak upper body , any suggestions ??
Someone to assist, jump up to the bar and slowly lower urself, use bands or get “starting strength” from machines or weights in the gym. If overweight is the issue, do the simpler exercises and try to lose some weight b4 going to the more advanced ones. Keep track on ur progress and push urself, while keep pace when something feels off or hurts in the wrong way.
resistance bands or pull up negatives or go on the shorter bar and do the push up motion of a muscle up
I’ve seen this question asked multiple times before me. But, how many times a week would you suggest doing the beginner’s workout? Three days a week with cardio days between them or six days straight?
Righteous workout! One minor suggestion. Now, I’m not a top level endurance athlete, but I cross-train at least 5 days a week. I’d just like to point out that the ‘beginner’ workout should get a new title. It’s far beyond beginner. Maybe you could call it the lion tamer? After two rounds of the entire list, a solid loss of my dinner off the gym balcony, I’ve never felt better yet pushed to my limits in years.
I’m 12 and conscientious on my strength, physique, and flexability
I can barely do 10 push ups let alone 1 pull up I can do dips on a chair though I have strong legs from running a lot and can do a 8min30sec mile but my upper body strength, abs, and flexibility are terrible and I would like to improve. I am 4’10 and 93 pounds ( I know I’m short(Asian)). Can someone recomend me what to start with??
Great article btw you INSPIRE ME
btw the beginner is kind of over exaggerated for people who just start out
Have a great Workout!
KT – this is never an easy feat just starting out. I’d personally start out using TRX training workouts to build up your pull-up and push-up strengths. As you get stronger, negative strength training is the next big step. Here is a solid Onnit workout that dives into that – https://www.onnit.com/academy/5-exercises-to-improve-pull-up-strength/
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10 Pullups followed by 10 chinups is beginner? Come on guy, what’s next? Do you eat regular lettuce instead of Kale on your cheat day?
They don’t have to be consecutive. Just finish them in chunks or do modified ones until you can pump out those. You have to do things you think you can’t otherwise you’ll never get better.
There’s a difference between “think you can’t” and simply “can’t”. This would qualify as the latter for any actual ‘beginners’.