Exclusive: Top 10 Things That Happen As You Begin Calisthenics


Like anything new in life, there comes a period of awkwardness and self doubt or for the more positive people just a bit of self evaluation. It’s par for the course. I have been doing Calisthenics now for 4 months and I can honestly say that it was and is the best decision of my life, in terms of my choices of exercise.

Early in 2005 I had injured my collar bone just slightly while training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. After the injury I never thought I would be able to do pull ups again.

It wasn’t until a friend of mine told me about Rolfing that my life changed and my Calisthenic journey began.

For those of you thinking about giving Calisthenics a try, below are ten things that happen:

1) You will find out just how tough managing to do pull ups, push ups, and dips really can be. Not all Calisthenic movements require pull ups, push ups and dips however they are the cornerstone and building blocks, along with several others. When you first start out it’s tempting to want to begin initially like the pros. Baby steps. Work on stretching and warming up before and after every workout. And think like a turtle slow and methodical. Take your time. It’s been only four months  and I am already seeing huge changes that I otherwise never had with conventional weight lifting.

2. YouTube will be your best friend. It is amazing how engulfed I have become in watching all the Calisthenic “Superstars” from Frank Medrano to Hannibal for King to Lazar Novovic. You can get addicted to the gluttony of videos. There is so many great videos out there that I got consumed. It was definitely like I was attending, Calisthenics 101. I just had to keep reminding myself that all these guys started out from scratch just like me, so if they can get to where they are, so can I. It will just take time.

3. You may be the odd one at the gym or out and about. It’s truly amazing how good old fashion pull ups, push ups, dips, and the multitude of Calisthenic movements that have been around forever seem almost from another planet for example when you are at the gym. I recently canceled my gym membership, because, there simple wasn’t enough decent space to practice Calisthenics. All the open space was taken up my machines and barbells and dumbbells. The funny thing, I actually have more space to practice at home than I did at the gym. In addition, I noticed that I never really used any of the perks that my gym offered like the plethora of machines. i never touched any of them, just the pull up bar, dips, and plyo-box, and the occasion kettle balls. You can actually create a better gym for Calisthenics at home.

4. You will be sore and not know why. Calisthenics is incredibly underestimated, and really not given the respect it deserves. I became so accustomed to thinking that muscle soreness only came from lifting weights or working out on machines. Not true. With Calisthenics, you will workout, and not feel like you really worked out, because you are doing such basic moves, but low and behold, you are sore. Trust me. Doing push ups or pull ups or leg lifts for one set does not count. Try doing 12-15 sets of 15-20 reps. You will be sore.

5. Be an evangelist.  As you progress in your training, day after day, and week after week, your enthusiasm also increases. And before you know it you have become a full fledged fan who wants to share with anyone who will listen the benefits of lifting and working out with your own body-weight, no gym required. I often find myself stepping up on to my proverbial soap box to share with some unsuspecting person(s) the unlimited benefits of Calisthenics.

6. Creativity. It’s inevitable that you will begin to be more creative with your workouts. With each movement you do you are going to want to switch it up to avoid your body getting used to any one exercise and as such your muscle and body do not grow.  Believe it or not there are hundreds of ways just to do a push up. As you continue training, you will find out that you become more ingenious in varying up the standard ways of doing most exercises with a more uncommon method. One that is sure to really increase your overall growth and have fun in the process.

7. Forget legs. Forget Lower body. It’s really easy to just focus on the more popular movements and neglect one of the building blocks of the body, which is the lower body. Many of the more popular exercises focus primarily on the upper body. But don’t let that discourage you from working out on the lower body. I grew up thinking that you need to lift weights or work out on heavy leg machines in order t get a muscular lower body. That is not the case. Try doing one legged pistol squats or a one legged hamstring bridge. I guarantee not only will you feel some soreness but you legs and lower body will grow far greater than you can imagine.

8. Lose track of time. I often find that I lose track of time when it comes to my workouts. Part and parcel from it just being really fun. The movements, albeit, simplistic in nature, take a lot of focus and concentration. Because your body is your gym, you tend to find that you focus on technique and form. With Calisthenics, slow is better. Quality versus quantity. And as such time just files by. As the saying goes, we tend to lose track of time when we are having fun.

9.  Not rest enough.  Rest is paramount, not just sleep and but recovery between sets. In the beginning I wanted to go from one exercise to another, and I completely forgot to give my body the occasional rest break. That was not a smart thing on my part. Now if I am doing split workout routines, where I workout multiple body parts, like chest and back. I will do one set of standard width pull ups (back) and than one set of close grip push ups (chest), wait 30 seconds, and repeat with a varied movement like reverse grip pull ups and wide grip push ups, than I rest again for 30 seconds. I noticed that this significantly helps my recovery for the next series of movements.

10. Weight & Machine Withdrawals. I have been weightlifting for nearly 20 years so it’s only natural that, because of habit, I have, what I like to call barbell withdrawal. I was so accustomed to believing that I needed to lift some piece of metal or iron in order to qualify as strength training. That is absolutely ridiculous. Now I take pride in knowing that I can workout anywhere and anytime. No gym required. As long as I can find some floor or chair I am pretty much good to go.

Well there you have it. Ten Things That Will Happen as you embark on your Calisthenic journey. You may not experience all ten, and it really doesn’t matter if you do or don’t. In fact, you may come up with your own ten things that happen to you that are completely different. The important thing, is to just begin, and stick with it. Trust me, you will love it.



About Bronson Tang

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  1. Adam Marrocco

    May 16, 2016 at 3:10 am

    It saddens me a lil to see that I’m the first person to comment on this article!!
    I just want to start by saying that you and I are one in the same!!! I promise you I have done every one of the 10 things on thay list!! When I read #5 “be an evangelist” I almost died laughing, I find myself doing the same thing pretty well every time I’m in the gym!! Like you I’ve been training for a decent part of my life and it was only until about 8 months ago that I really started to solely train calisthenics… and let me just say I wish I would have started YEARS AGO!!! This article was so perfectly written to me, it feels like you took the words right out of my mouth!!
    I, like you, have fallin in love with calisthenics, so much so that I’m goin to NY this June to take Al and Danny Kavadlo’s(I’m sure you know who they are) progressive calisthenics instructor certification program!! Because I, like you, feel the need to spread the word on how bennificial calisthenics can be beyond the physical changes!
    I’m not usually the type to leave comments after I read an article… but when your cut from the same calisthenics cloth as the person who wrote it… leaving a comment is a must!!!
    Check me out on instagram @adam.marrocco . I know you’ll appreciate how far I’ve gotten in 8 months, and id love to see how your coming along with your progressions! Hope to hear back from ya, and keep preaching calisthenics!! I know there’s at least one person that agrees with ya, but I gaurentee there’s alot more that do too!!!

    Handstands and Muscle Ups 4 life!!

    • Bronson Tang

      May 16, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      Hey Adam,

      Thanks for the comment. That is awesome that you are going to New York, Al Kavadlo was one of the first people that gave me an interview when I had literally no one on this blog. That is sweet that you are super excited about Calisthenics…I saw your pics and videos nice work. Keep up the hard work….and have fun.take care

  2. Chris Coulson

    July 1, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    These are all very great tips. I think people really need to pay attention to your seventh tip. I see a lot of people that neglect their lower body. Great article!

    • Bronson Tang

      November 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      Thanks Chris,

      Yes many people neglect the legs….our largest muscle group, and well one of the most important as they are our vehicle for getting in and around….thanks

      Take care

  3. Kiran

    July 23, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    I’m really happy about the article…I just wanted one small assurance that it really works…cause when i started this few people were like all this doesn’t work unless u don’t go to gym… Well after reading this article I’m motivated and hoping to work harder…I’m happy that I found out about calisthenics..

    • Bronson Tang

      November 1, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      Thanks Kiran,

      Yes Calisthenics works, I think though, that one must balance your exercise. Because to just say that calisthenics is the end all be all, is not right either. There are people like myself that are rehabbing a bum shoulder and full body weight exercises creates far too much stress on the tendons, muscles and joints that using weights is a far better option…..it depends on your skill level, needs, and current physical make up, as well as a host of other things, but I think you get the idea. Thanks again…take care