Creating a Calisthenics Workout Plan from Scratch

Hi! I am the author and founder of Old School Calisthenic

July 15, 2016

Creating a calisthenics workout plan from scratch is crucial to any starter in bodyweight training. It’s time-consuming, and if you don’t have the proper knowledge and experience, it can lead to failure. And you can’t build a workout plan without grasping a training journal. Most people find this habit irritating, but you need to track your workouts on the agenda.

In this article, I help you design a clear-cut action plan to train with calisthenics.

Why Is Important to Keep a Training Log?

  1. It actually helps you stick to it. You may find it to be a hurdle in the beginning, but a good workout plan soon becomes a habit
  2. It enables you to measure progress. It makes you feel like all the effort you are putting in is worth something
  3. It creates time efficiency and gives you goals to shoot for
  4. It allows you to focus on the body parts you want to develop and is customizable according to your body composition

Why Do You Need to Create a Workout Plan?

You first visualize success and the final goals. But soon after, you need to make plans long and short term oriented. This planning, like keeping a daily track of what you do, compounds the small steps towards success. Hard work leads to success only when done according to a smartly designed schedule.

A good training program or a workout routine when faithfully followed over a long period can give you incredible results. Before planning, consider these habits first:

  • Sleep at least 8 hours every night
  • Follow a nutritionally-balanced diet that will make you more performance-ready
  • Reduce the amount of alcohol
  • Don’t skip breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Make these meals a priority and focus more on eating clean
  • Train even when you don’t feel energized and even when the weather gets worse because your schedule says it
  • Entirely remove junk food, fast-food products, sodas, sweets and food sources containing a high amount of animal fats as well as added sugars (table sugar)
  • And maybe the most important one: decide what exactly your goal is.

Then everything depends on a good workout plan developed around a person’s capabilities, age, goals, time availability, etc.

Let’s now talk about how to tailor a calisthenics workout plan.

Are You Overweight, Skinny, or Skinny-Fat? Let’s determine this aspect first!

Find out how much time you can devote to exercise. Be it 2 hours every day or just 30 minutes every day. Whatever your time commitment is.

Set your fitness goal based on how you look at the moment. Some of you will have to lose weight, while others to build muscle. Eventually, each of you wants to look pretty muscular, but one step after the other.

Until you have a relatively low body fat percentage, I don’t recommend to train for building pure mass. You can’t have visible abs without having a low body fat percentage. All the pure muscles stay hidden under the stored fat.

Get A Low Body Fat Percentage Before Grown Lean Mass

If you don’t have any basic strength, then don’t just rush into lifting weights or to the closest machine to work your biceps only because you don’t yet have the strength to complete a single pullup. Instead, you should approach this with the utmost awareness and start working gradually with a beginner calisthenics program. If that is not the case, then focus more on aerobic training like skipping the rope, jogging/running, sprinting to ensure you will lose the extra weight.

Clean up your nutrition and learn how to eat correctly to be efficient during training sessions. Then make a training schedule based on what you can do, not based on what you cannot. If you can’t master your body weight because you are overweight, then focus on running and jumping the rope to lose the excess. However, if you can do basic bodyweight exercises, then focus on doing circuits training as well as classic sets & reps.

Create The Calisthenics Workout Plan

Focus on calisthenics and leave the apparatus alone. Although I consider that some exercises such as deadlifts or bench press can be useful for building strength and muscle, I still think that the majority of your gains should come from bodyweight training. It is the most natural and least harmful way of training; besides that, it can also be a powerful tool to develop a powerful body.

That leaves you with choosing the exercises to work with:

  • You should choose a few variations of fundamental exercises like pushups, pull-ups, dips, squats, leg raises, jumps, sprints, etc. Perform a few variations of each, and you will work every single muscle in your body, like diamond pushups, wide pushups, and dips. Other variations would be wide pullups, chinups, and horizontal pull-ups.
  • Create a training schedule with these exercises. The methods you can use to arrange them are various, from full-body circuits, to pyramid style and back to classic sets & reps. It doesn’t matter how as long as you know what you’re training for.
  • If you can’t train based on my calisthenics programs, then focus on aerobic workouts. It will leave you with several choices: swim, play sports, etc. Or you can go for absolutely free fitness activities such as: running, jogging, sprinting and skipping the rope. Design a training schedule based on them for at least 3-4 times a week.
    One day you can jog for 25-40 minutes while another you can run at a higher intensity for 30 minutes and finish with a couple of 50 meters sprints. And when you get sore from running, then it will be a perfect time to practice the jump rope. A training session of skipping the rope for 10 sets of 1-2 minutes will significantly boost your vascularity.

You can try pyramid sets, drop sets, supersets, and circuit training to bring variety in your training routine according to your abilities. 

I cannot stress enough the importance of a training journal in a single article. It helps you with learning, provides information for analysis, and track performance like sets and reps, or strength and endurance improvements.

Follow This Monthly Workout Plan as an Example:

Monday: pull-ups -> dips -> pushups -> leg raises
Tuesday: jump rope -> squats -> sprints
Wednesday: dips -> pushups
Thursday: squats -> leg raises
Friday: pull-ups -> pushups


Monday: dips -> pushups -> leg raises
Tuesday: pull-ups
Wednesday: sprints -> jump rope -> squats
Thursday: dips -> pushups
Friday: pull-ups -> leg raises


Monday: pull-ups -> dips -> pushups -> leg raises
Tuesday: sprints -> squats
Wednesday: rest day
Thursday: pull-ups -> dips -> pushups -> leg raises


Monday: Run 30-60 minutes
Tuesday: Rope-Jumping for 10-15 sets
Wednesday: Jog 25-40 minutes
Thursday: Do a great warm-up with 10 mins of jogging. Then do 4-5 sprints of both 100 and 50 meters.

The Stuff You Write in the Training Journal:

  • The weekly workouts
  • Total reps and sets performed.
  • How you felt during and after the workout.
  • Notes on any pain, difficulty, or discomfort felt during any particular movement.
  • Hours of sleep, nutritional intake, anything else that you found related to training.
  • What is the best part of your workout and what you disliked!
  • Set goals for the next week
  • Water Intake, etc.

No matter what you are doing for health and fitness, writing a journal is a valuable tool that will help you remember details and accelerate your progress.

Get the Best Articles in Your Inbox!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on print
Share on linkedin

Related Articles

Upper Body Calisthenics Circuit Workout
Muscle Building
Adorian Moldovan

Upper Body Calisthenics Circuit Workout

There is no progress in bodyweight training without doing upper body circuit workouts. These calisthenics circuits are always based on the fundamental pull-ups, dips and

What is your current fitness level? What are you looking for in your journey to get fitter than ever and what do you think could help you get in the best shape of your life?