In calisthenics, only bodyweight exercises are practiced. These bodyweight exercises range from pull-ups and push-ups to planches and front levers. Those last two, we call them the skills of calisthenics. To learn these, you need to give up a lot of time and energy. Learning one of these skills is pretty difficult. To make these skill workouts a bit more interesting, you can implement some weight exercises. With these, you can do a couple of exercises that can drastically help you improve the skill you are currently practicing.
Therefore in this post, I will show you eight weight exercises for calisthenics skills.
The first exercise we are talking about is the deadlift. The deadlift is an exercise I think sounds familiar to everybody. For the people who don’t know the deadlift, you basically try to lift a heavy barbell off the ground. See here a demonstration video:
The deadlift targets a lot of muscles in your body:
- core(mainly lower back)
When it comes to calisthenics skills, this exercise is very useful. In skills such as front lever and planche, your core/lower back and glutes are vital. And as you can see, the deadlift trains these muscle groups very well.
Note, when deadlifting, make sure you perform it with excellent form. Doing deadlifts with bad form can injure you in many horrible ways. So please never ego lift and focus on the correct technique.
The bicep curl is next to the deadlift, another well-known exercise. The exercise is fairly straightforward. You basically curl a free weight up with your palms pointed upwards. As seen in the video below:
This exercise can either be done with dumbbells or with a barbell. It is an isolation exercise, meaning that it mainly targets one muscle group. In this case, it is the bicep.
Calisthenics skills trained: Hefesto and one arm pull-up.
Both skills require insane bicep strength, doing bicep curls frequently will help you achieve these moves faster or improve them. The nice thing about the bicep curl is how easy it is to adjust the weight to your level. So as you get stronger you can always curl a more uncomfortable weight.
When curling, try to avoid using momentum. By swinging, it is not the bicep that is doing all the work. If you catch yourself doing this, I suggest you decrease the weight a little bit.
Dumbbell Maltese press
The next exercise is a bit less common. The Dumbbell maltese press is the best exercise to build straight arm strength, which is crucial in calisthenics skills.
How it works, you need two dumbbells or kettlebells and a bench. Lay on the bench, grab the weights and lift the weights up and down while keeping your arms straight.
Calisthenics skills trained: Planche, maltese, planche press.
The planche and the maltese are two insanely hard exercises and require a lot of straight arm strength. However, building this strength takes a lot of time, but we can speed up the progress a little bit with this exercise.
Please note, this exercise should always be done with arms completely straighten out. If you can’t, please reduce the weight a little bit. Without straight arms, this exercise is useless.
The fourth exercise is also well-known under lifters. The shoulder press is an exercise in which the goal is to press as much weight up above your head. As calisthenics practicers, we do handstand push-up instead of the shoulder press.
Calisthenics skills trained: Basically every shoulder-related skill.
The best thing about the shoulder press is that you can easily adjust the weight. See, when people start with calisthenics, they are most likely not be able to do a handstand push-up. These two exercises are, in theory, basically the same. By building a lot of shoulder strength with the shoulder press, will make doing a handstand push-up faster possible. Of course, in practice, there goes a lot more into it. Things, such as balance, etc. But, pure strength-wise, the shoulder press is a great way to build decent shoulder strength for beginners.
Building a strong in calisthenics is very beneficial. Your grip is challenged in almost every exercise. And the stronger, your grip, the better you will perform the exercise. An amazing exercise to build a solid grip strength is the wrist curl.
How it works, you grab a dumbbell(I recommend not too heavy), and you curl it like a bicep curl, but you only curl your hands. Here is a video to demonstrate it:
Calisthenics skills trained: all of them!
As I just said, your wrists are involved in every exercise, strengthen them will be super beneficial. Believe me, work on your grip strength and see how your performance will improve.
I made a whole article on how you can increase your grip strength quickly, you should check that out! Click here if you are interested.
Dumbbell bench rows
The row is one of the best back exercises a person can execute. And although in calisthenics, there are countless ways to train your back, the row is still one great exercise to add to your routine.
Muscles groups targeted with the row:
- upper back
Calisthenics skills trained: Front lever, front lever pull-up, one arm pull-up,
All the skills I mentioned above require an insane amount of lat strength and pulling power in general. With the dumbbell row, you can, again, practice the skill, while still not being able to do it. There are, if you look closely, pretty similar to each other. Especially the one-arm pull-up and the front lever pull-up look similar.
Make sure when you do this exercise, you only perform it with good form. Otherwise, you will undoubtedly hurt injure yourself in the future. So if you don’t know what the correct technique is, take another close look at the video, I don’t want you to hurt yourself!
The last exercise on the list of weight exercises for calisthenics skills is one to make our lower back stronger. Reverse hypers with ankle weights attached are a perfect and easy way to build a strong lower back.
To do this exercise, you need a bench and a few ankle weights. Lay down on the bench, as you see in the video. Next, swing your legs up and down, or do isometric holds.
Calisthenics skills trained: All of them!
A strong lower back is essential in every single exercise, In planches, front levers, etc. And not only in calisthenics, but a strong lower back is also always nice to have, especially when you are beginning to age.
My only tip is to never overburden your lower back. It can bring some painful issues, you don’t want that, believe me…
But besides that, there is no single reason to not do this exercise!