Calisthenics for Women

All right, ladies, are you are determined to work out and get in shape?

However, like most of us, you don’t necessarily have the time or money to justify gym life.

Fortunately, you don’t need an expensive gym membership to get a good workout in. All you need is an exercise regimen that works for you and your own body. I’m referring to calisthenics.

Calisthenics for Women

Calisthenics is one of the oldest methods of getting the body into shape, using the weight of one’s own body as a form of resistance.

Think of yourself as your own set of weights.

Not only does calisthenics allow us to see our body as our own equipment, it can also allow us to understand our bodies on a deeper level. As women, we are constantly under scrutiny by beauty-market standards.

Not to mention that the sexism and ablism involved in gym culture can lead us to believe that we are limited in our routines just because we are women or have certain physical limitations.

Calisthenics is a beautiful way to combat that and explore and embrace your body and what it is capable of doing and the strength it possesses.

10 Calisthenics Exercises for Women

Now let’s get to exercising! Here are ten calisthenics exercises to get you started:

1. Push-Ups

Activate your core muscles and get yourself into a plank position.

Your core muscles will help stabilize you. Keep your elbows tucked into your sides and do not lift that butt into the air—keep the back straight.

Lower yourself to the ground slowly, and push yourself back up.

This is one of the most basic calisthenics exercises. You can adjust the intensity by doing knee push-ups instead, simply place both knees on the floor. As with regular push ups, maintain a straight line through the body.

2. Jump Squats

Its name is self-explanatory, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Proper technique means a proper workout and lowered risk of injury.

First, adjust your feet so they are facing forward, parallel to each other and in direct line with your shoulders.

Now, readjust your feet a few inches apart with toes pointing slightly outwards.

Squat like you’re sitting on a chair. Bend the knees and stick your hips back and down. Keep your chest straight, head up, and forward.

Only go as far as is comfortable for you. Do not extend your knees beyond your toes. Then jump into the air with force.

3. Burpees

The burpee is similar to a combination of plank and jump squats.

While getting into the jump squat position, ready your hands to transition to the floor, palms facing down.

After landing the jump, softly drop into the plank position by pushing the balls of your feet out in back of you, keeping your back straight.

Try not to hold the plank position for too long. Then jump back into the air with arms extended above your head, landing on your feet, and going right back into your push-up position.

This not only is a great way to work out the legs, but a great way to get your cardio in as well!

4. Back Extensions

Don’t be fooled by the name, this not only works out your back, but your thighs and glutes as well.

The glutes attach at the lower back and help support it, so it’s important to pay attention to that padding you sit on! Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.

Lift your butt so that it aligns with your thighs. Hold the position for 10 seconds and then lower your butt to the floor gently.

5. Pull-Ups

If you have access to a pull-up bar, then this is a fabulous calisthenics exercise that will engage a whole host of muscles, including your biceps and your back. Grip the bar—I suggest wearing some workout gloves to avoid bar burn—shoulder-width apart, and pull yourself up so your chin is over the bar. Be careful when lowering yourself down that you do not accidentally hit your chin.

6. Lunges

Lunges engage your legs and get your blood pumping without having to jump up and down frantically, especially if you have to sit down all day at work.

Simply put one foot forward, bending the knee at a right angle, and then push back up.

Keep your chest straight and head forward and do not drop the back knee to the floor.

Your front knee should not extend beyond the front foot. Keep your heels on the ground as much as possible. Increase the intensity by doing a walking lunge, alternating legs as you lunge-walk.

7. Wall Sits

Another good one for office workers.

Get yourself a sturdy wall, slide down until your knees are at a right angle, and hold as long as you can. Engage your core!

Just like in push-ups, engaging your core can assist your body in exercises that target different muscles.

8. Calf Raises

Calf raises are a good addition to a holistic calisthenics routine and actually help strengthen calves for other calisthenics activities such as sprinting.

Stand straight and then lift yourself onto the balls of your feet by raising the heel, following through onto your toes. Hold for a few seconds and slowly lower yourself down.

9. Crunches

Lie on your back with your knees and feet in line with your hips. Whether you cross your arms across your chest or place them them behind your head, just do not grip your head or the neck. This can cause neck strain.

If you do feel you are straining yourself, stop and readjust.

Keep your head and neck relaxed as you engage your abdominals and lift your upper body.

At a controlled pace, return back to the floor. Consult your general practitioner or chiropractor before doing crunches if you have lower back problems. The folding motion of the body could aggravate existing conditions, such as sciatica.

10. Single Leg Lowers

Instead of using your upper body to engage your abdominals, you’re going to move your legs!

Lie with your back flat on the floor with both legs straight above you. Lower one leg to just above the floor while holding onto the thigh of the other, keeping your back grounded.

Now switch legs quickly without bending your legs too much and moving your back off the ground.

Calisthenics Tips for Women

Because calisthenics lends itself to a self-directed home workout, you may want to take a few safety precautions before you start.

The Space

Push anything that could potentially cause you harm to the side, including any pets you could accidentally step on.

It also helps to have good air circulation and enough light.

Most importantly, don’t feel bad if your living room-gone-gym isn’t the large open space you see in Boflex commercials. All that matters is that it works for you.

Warm Up

One of the best ways to avoid injuries is to warm up. Some good stretches to assist in your calisthenics routine are the downward dog, the seated twist, and a knee to chest stretch.

Hydrate and Nourish

Proper nourishment and hydration will help you avoid headaches, dizziness, and fainting.

Sports Nutrition specialist Kate Patton, RD, recommends consuming a meal higher in protein and carbohydrates before you workout.

Wait at least a half hour after eating to start exercising.

Drink water! The American Council on Exercise suggests drinking about 2-2.5 cups of water 2-3 hours before you workout, 1 cup before your workout, and about a cup every 10-20 minutes during your workout. Remember to drink water afterwards, too!