Benefits of Calisthenic Exercises

Medically Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on February 18, 2024
2 min read

Calisthenics might be the word your grandfather used for physical exercise. This type of workout started cropping up in grade schools in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These low-resistance exercises use your body weight rather than other equipment.

You do many repetitions of each move to help build muscle while improving how long you can keep the exercise going. Calisthenics can be a warm-up or cool-down for another fitness routine or sport. Or it can be its own workout.

Calisthenics are making a big comeback in workouts around the world. There are lots of ways these moves can benefit you.

Calisthenic exercises are relatively quick and involve moving most or all of your body. You repeat each exercise at least 10-12 times. You do more if you like, depending on your fitness level.

Some examples of calisthenic exercises include:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Trunk twists
  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Planks
  • Lunges

The benefits of calisthenics depend on your fitness level. For beginners who are only able to do 10-12 repetitions at a time, the workout helps build muscle strength. Once you're able to do more reps, calisthenics help increase muscle endurance -- how long you can keep up the exercise.

If you're already physically fit and want to increase muscle strength, you can adjust calisthenic exercises for your fitness level. For example, you can add extra weight while you exercise. This could mean wearing a weighted belt to do pull-ups.

You can also make exercises harder by changing your body position. Try raising your legs on a platform or a step while you do push-ups. This challenges your muscles more, which helps build strength. Building muscle may give you a leaner appearance, too. Calisthenics may also help make your body more flexible.

They can also be good for helping you stick to workouts for a longer time. But in order to get the full benefit, you have to do the exercises quickly. You can't stop for more than a minute or so between each set. That keeps your heart rate up, making calisthenics a more challenging and effective workout.

There are a lot of variables regarding the number of calories you use while doing calisthenics, including intensity, effort, your weight and your age. 

These numbers should be considered averages for calories burned while doing calisthenics for about 30 minutes:

  • 135 calories if you're 125 pounds
  • 167 calories if you're 155 pounds
  • 200 calories if you're 200 pounds

If you do vigorous calisthenics for half an hour, your calorie burn will be more like this:

  • 240 calories if you're 125 pounds
  • 298 calories if you're 155 pounds
  • 355 calories if you're 200 pounds

If you have health problems, get your doctor's OK before beginning a new exercise routine.