Using a calisthenics workout is a great change of pace. It can also be used when you are just starting your fitness program. Calisthenics is really just a broad description for any exercise that uses your own body mass to build muscle. You may find, as you read this page, that you have been doing some of these exercises since elementary school. Just a hint...the military uses them, so you know they work! They will help you lose weight at a healthy pace.
Yep, you remember doing jumping jacks, don't you? That is just one of the many calisthenics exercises that you can do at home, in the park, in the back yard or in an open space at the gym. They are great for making you strong, flexible, agile and having enhanced endurance.
Let's set you up with a total body workout based on body-weight-only exercises.
Beginner Calisthenics Workout
The nice thing about a calisthenics workout is that you already have everything you need: Your body, the ground and gravity. That's it. Here we go! Do these 3 or 4 days per week.
Jumping Jacks - Good calisthenics workout warm-up exercise. Stand straight and tall with legs together and arms down at your side. Bend knees slightly to jump. As you jump, raise your arms over your head like clock hands so they touch. At the same time, spread your feet beyond shoulder width quickly so you can land on your feet. Jump again and go back to the starting spot. That is "1" jumping jack. Do these in succession. Do 5 sets of 10 as a warm up.
Push ups - A staple of body-mass exercises. Works chest, arms, core and shoulders. Keep your body still like a board. Start with you face towards floor, palms a bit wider that shoulders and on your toes (be on your knees if that is easier to begin with). Lower down to within 3 inches of the floor. Push yourself back up while exhaling. Add variety by changing hand positions narrow/wide, forward/back....Do 5 sets of 5 and keep increasing reps by at least one every workout.
Pull up/chin ups - Strengthens arms, back and shoulders. Add variety by using palms toward you (chin up) and palms away from you (pull up, much harder). You will need a bar, tree limb, etc. Hang from the bar and pull your body up without swinging to where your chin is at bar height. Ease yourself back down....Do 5 sets of 2 and keep increasing reps.
Dips - Works the triceps, core and shoulders. Can be done in front or behind you. Use a bar (front), chair or bench (behind). Position yourself with arms extended and then lower your self down (dip) and back up. Do 5 sets of 5 and keep increasing reps.
Crunches - These focus on abdominal muscles (stomach). Be sure to protect your back and DO NOT pull on your head or neck to perform the movement. Add variety by elevating legs further, adding a bicycle movement (check youtube for videos). Do 5 sets of 10 and keep increasing reps. I prefer these to full sit-ups because they are safer for your back.
Squats - Works the majority of lower body. Never skimp on your legs!! Set feet shoulder width apart. Be slightly back on your heals as you squat down to where your thighs are parallel to the floor. Have hands on hips or out in front of you for extra balance. Stand back up and repeat. Do 5 sets of 5 and increase reps each workout.
Lunges - Also an excellent lower body full work out. They hit nearly every hip and leg muscle with all the possible variations. Start by standing tall with hands on hips. Step forward (front lunge) with either foot and bend each knee to a 90 degree angle. Step that foot back to the starting position (you will need to explode back up to do this). Repeat with other foot. That is "1" lunge. They are tougher than they sound. Do 5 sets of 5 to start and add reps each workout. For variety, step back or to the side instead of forward.
There, you have a calisthenics workout laid out using only your body mass. It's cheap, it's convenient. You have no other excuses. Ain't nothing to it but to do it.