Calisthenic Guidelines

When performing calisthenics to develop muscle strength or endurance, you should follow the same recommendations outlined in Chapter 7. Intensity is largely based on the number of sets and reps, and the length of rest periods. Resistance is provided by body weight rather than an external resistance. Proper form for calisthenic exercises follows many of the general exercise guidelines outlined in Chapter 7, including muscle balance and exercise order. Any of these exercises can be added to your gym-based routines to create more variety. Detailed instructions for some calisthenic exercises are in Table 8-1 (adapted from The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide.)

To begin a calisthenics program select one exercise per muscle group from Table 8-1. Perform this routine two to three times per week.

  • For each exercise, start with one set of eight reps. Rest 60 seconds after each set.
  • Increase your workout each week by adding one to two reps until you can do 12 reps.

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  • Once you have reached this point, do two sets of eight reps of each exercise. Again, increase your workout by one to two reps per set each week until you can perform two sets of 12 reps.
  • Once you have reached this point, do three sets of eight reps; again, increasing your workout by one or two reps per set each week until you can do three sets of 12 reps.
  • Once you can do three sets of 12 reps, try increasing the difficulty of your workout by: 1) changing the exercises you perform; 2) decreasing your rest periods; 3) using a weighted pack or having a partner provide resistance; 4) exercising one side of the body at a time. Other suggestions are in Table 8-1.
  • Once you can do three sets of 12 reps, try increasing the difficulty of your workout by: 1) changing the exercises you perform; 2) decreasing your rest periods; 3) using a weighted pack or having a partner provide resistance; 4) exercising one side of the body at a time. Other suggestions are in Table 8-1.
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