What You Need to Know

Welcome to the world of calisthenics, a style of workout that emphasizes rhythmic, bodyweight exercises. Calisthenics is perfect for those looking to build strength and flexibility without needing a gym membership or expensive equipment. Before you begin, remember that calisthenics is highly adaptable; moves can be modified to fit your skill level. This post outlines five basic moves that are great for beginners and can be done right in your living room.

Tuck Planche

The tuck planche is an excellent foundational move for building upper body and core strength. It might look intimidating at first, but with consistent practice, you’ll make progress.

How to Perform a Tuck Planche:

  1. Start Position: Place your hands on the floor, fingers slightly turned out for stability.
  2. Body Position: Lean forward, shifting your weight onto your hands while bringing your knees towards your chest.
  3. Lift Off: Engage your core and lift your hips, attempting to bring your body parallel to the ground. Your knees should remain close to your chest to maintain balance.
  4. Hold: Try to hold the position for a few seconds before lowering back down gently.

As you grow more comfortable, extend the duration of the hold and work on straightening your legs for more advanced variations like the straddle or full planche.

L-Sit (Elevated)

The L-Sit is a powerful exercise for developing core strength and improving the stability of the hip flexors.

How to Perform an Elevated L-Sit:

  1. Setup: If you don’t have parallettes, use sturdy books or blocks to elevate your hands slightly off the ground.
  2. Position Your Hands: Place your hands next to your hips on the elevated surface.
  3. Lift Off: Press down through your hands, lifting your body and extending your legs in front of you. Your body should form an ‘L’ shape.
  4. Hold: Maintain this position, keeping your legs and arms straight. Start with shorter holds and gradually increase the duration.

For beginners, bending the knees can make the hold easier, and as strength builds, attempt to straighten the legs fully.


Handstands are not just for gymnasts—they are a fundamental calisthenics skill that builds incredible upper body strength, balance, and body awareness.

How to Perform a Handstand:

  1. Wall Assistance: Initially, practice near a wall for safety.
  2. Hand Placement: Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor.
  3. Kick Up: Gently kick one leg up at a time, using the wall to help find your balance.
  4. Hold and Balance: Focus on keeping your arms straight and using your fingertips to make small adjustments to maintain balance.

Practicing handstands regularly helps improve your form and confidence, eventually leading to performing the move without wall support.

Elbow Lever

The elbow lever is less about brute strength and more about balance and core control.

How to Perform an Elbow Lever:

  1. Body Position: Start by lying flat on your stomach.
  2. Arm Position: Place your palms on the floor beside you, then bend your arms to bring your elbows close to your belly.
  3. Lift Off: Using your core, lift your body off the ground, balancing primarily on your elbows.
  4. Hold: Keep your body straight and horizontal to the floor. Start with short holds and increase duration as you improve.
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The elbow lever can be simplified by practicing with one arm, reducing the balance challenge as you build strength.

Tucked Dragon Flag

The tucked dragon flag is an advanced exercise that strengthens the core and lower back.

How to Perform a Tucked Dragon Flag:

  1. Setup: Lie on your back and grab a sturdy object behind your head with both hands.
  2. Initial Lift: Tuck your knees to your chest and use your arms to lift your shoulders and upper back off the floor.
  3. Extend: Slowly extend your body upwards, keeping your back straight and your legs tucked.
  4. Controlled Lowering: Lower yourself back down slowly, maintaining control and not letting your hips drop.

This move is challenging but can be broken down into progressive stages as you build the necessary strength.

Declaration of Love

These exercises demonstrate the beauty of calisthenics: minimal equipment, maximum effectiveness. They offer a starting point for anyone interested in building strength and flexibility through simple yet powerful movements. As you progress, these moves lay the groundwork for more complex skills and combinations, showcasing the transformative power of calisthenics.

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