Tiger Athletic Calisthenic Bible

The primary aim of The Tiger Athletic Calisthenic Bible is to teach and promote physical literacy. It is a widely held misconception that one needs to be a member of one of our expensive commercial gyms or have expensive gym equipment and supplements in order to lose weight, get stronger and live a more active, fulfilling life. I believe everyone is an athlete! My passion is to get women in touch with their unique physiques and help them understand that they can get healthy using just their bodies, the physical environment and a little imagination.

The word calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek words kálos (κάλλος), which means “beauty”, and sthénos (σθένος), meaning “strength”. It is the art of using one’s body weight and qualities of inertia as a means to develop one’s physique. A longstanding urban legend has claimed that the exercise was named after one of its earliest promotors, the Greek historian Callisthenes.

Callisthenics are exercises consisting of a variety of gross motor movements; often rhythmical and generally without equipment or apparatus (body-weight training), intended to increase physical strength, physical fitness, and flexibility, through movements such as pulling or pushing oneself up, bending, jumping, or swinging, using only one’s body weight for resistance; usually conducted in concert with stretches. When performed dynamically and with variation, calisthenics provide the benefits of muscular and aerobic conditioning, in addition to improving psychomotor skills such as balance, agility and coordination.

Sports teams and military units often perform leader-directed group calisthenics as a form of synchronized physical training (often including a customized “call and response” routine) to increase group cohesion and discipline. Calisthenics are also popular as a component of physical education in junior and senior schools the world over.

Introduction

Body weight exercises are strength training exercises that do not require any apparatus; the individual’s own weight provides the resistance for the movement. Movements such as the push-up, the pull-up, and the sit-up are some of the most common body weight exercises.

Advantages

  1. Body weight exercises are the ideal for individuals interested in fitness but do not have access to or interest in using equipment. While some exercises may require some type of equipment, the majority of body weight exercises require none. For those exercises that do require equipment, common items found in the household are usually sufficient (such as a bath towel for towel curls), or substitutes can usually be improvised (for example, using a horizontal tree branch to perform pull ups). Body weight exercises benefit all age groups.
  2. Most body weight exercises can be progressed or regressed, this progression/regression strategy allows people of all levels of fitness to participate. Some basic methods to increase or decrease the difficulty of a body weight exercise, without adding extra weight, are: changing the amount of leverage in an exercise (such as elevating the feet for a standard push-up, or performing the push-up with knees on the ground), performing the exercise on an unstable platform (such as performing push-ups on a basketball), modifying the range of motion in an exercise (such as squatting to a 45 degree angle rather than a 90 degree angle), incorporating unilateral movements as opposed to bilateral movements (such as performing a one-armed push-up), and adding isometric pauses during the exercise (such as holding for a few seconds at the bottom of a push-up).Gymnasts make extensive use of isometrics by doing much of their training with straight arms (such as iron crosses, levers, and planches). When compared to weight lifting, body weight exercises often require much more flexibility and balance.
  3. Body weight exercises have a far lower risk of injury compared to using free weights and machines due to the absence of an external load that places strain on the muscles and joints. The lower risk of injury is only provided that the athlete/trainee is progressing through the correct progressions and not immediately skipping to strenuous movements that can place undue and possibly harmful stress on ligaments, tendons, and other tissues. Although falling on the head, chest, buttocks, and falling backwards can occur, these are far less harmful injuries than dropping a weight on a body part, or having a joint extended beyond its natural range of motion due to a weight being used incorrectly.
  4. Body weight exercises also give the advantage of having minimal bulking and cutting requirements that are normally utilised in free weight and machines training. This is due to bulking bringing extra fat that decreases the performance of body weight exercises, thus body weight exercises not only remove the need for a bulking or cutting phase, but it can help a person retain a low body fat percentage all year round.
  5. Body weight exercises also work several muscle groups at once, due to the lack of isolation and the need of a large majority of muscles to perform a movement properly. For example, in a push up, the body must form a rigid straight line, and the elbow joint must move from a straight angle to the smallest angle possible, and thus the core muscles, chest muscles, triceps, and legs are all involved in ensuring proper, strict form. 

Disadvantages

  1. Body weight exercises use the individual’s own weight to provide the resistance for the movement, hence the weight being lifted is never greater than the weight of one’s own body. This can make it difficult to achieve a level of intensity that is near the individual’s one rep maximum, which is desirable for strength training.
  2. Body weight exercises can be increased in intensity by including additional weights (such as wearing a weighted vest or holding a barbell, Kettle Bell, sand bell or plate during a sit up), but this deviates from the general premise that body weight exercises rely solely on the weight of the individual to provide resistance. However, difficulty can be added by changing the leverage, which places more emphasis on specific limbs and muscles, e.g. a one legged squat works a leg far stronger than a two legged squat, which not only requires strength but progressing to a one legged squat builds strength along the way. The same can be seen with one arm pushups, pull ups, and many other exercises. Difficulty can also be added by increasing volume, adding explosiveness to the movements, or slowing down the movement to increase time under tension.

Classes of Exercises

Body weight exercises are generally grouped into four rough classes:

  1. Push, which requires the individual to use pushing movements to direct the body against gravity;
  2. Pull, which requires the practitioner to use pulling to direct the body;
  3. Core, which involves contracting movements of the abdominal and back muscles; and
  4. Legs/Glutes, which involve movements of the legs and glutes to direct the individual’s body against gravity.

Push Exercises

Push body weight exercises use a resistive or static pushing motion to work various muscle groups. Most push exercises focus on the pectoral, shoulder, and triceps muscles, but other muscle groups such as the abdominal and back muscles are leveraged to maintain good form during the push exercise.

Bridge

Begin in a sit-up position with the hands positioned by the ears, palms down, fingers facing the legs. Push up with the arms and the back muscles until the body resembles a lowercase ‘n’. The spine must be convex and the limbs straight. Difficulty can be increased by entering the bridge from a standing position and bending backwards in a controlled manner into the bridge.

Common variants

Inverse Push Ups

Muscle Groups

Triceps

Trapezius

Deltoids

Glutes

Lower back

4-Count Bodybuilder

From a standing position, drop to a squat with hands on floor (count 1), thrusts the legs back to a push up position (count 2), returns the legs to the squat position (count 3) and then returns to standing position (count 4).

a. The Burpee variation replaces count 4 with a plyometric squat jump before returning to the standing starting position.

b. The military 8-Count Bodybuilder adds a full push up after count 2 (count 3 and 4), and opens and closes the legs while in push-up position (count 5 and 6).

Common Variants

Burpee

8-Count Bodybuilders

Muscle Groups

Legs

Abdominals

Shoulders

Dips

Begin with the hands placed on two solid surfaces at or around waist height. The knees are then bent to raise the feet from the ground, and the body is lowered as far as possible using the arms, then raised again.

Muscle Groups

Triceps

Pectorals

Seated Dip

Begin with their feet on the floor, legs out straight, and hands placed on a supporting level surface between knee and waist height. Start with straight arms with the shoulders above the hands, the body is lowered until the arms are bent at a 90-degree angle. The body is then raised to the starting position. Difficulty may be decreased by moving the feet closer to the body. Difficulty may be increased by raising the feet onto a stable surface.

a. The Hanging Dip or Parallel Dip variation requires an apparatus such as a dip bar or two parallel bars (or substitutes such as tree branches or two tables) and the legs are fully raised off the ground, with the individual’s body weight supported by the arms alone.

Common Variants

Hanging Dip

Parallel Dip

Muscle Groups

Triceps

Chest

L-sit

Sit with the body in an L-position, the upper body perpendicular to the ground and the legs out straight and parallel to the ground. The hands are placed beside the glutes. The hands and arms then push the entire body, including the legs, upwards off the ground with the legs remaining parallel to the ground. This exercise taxes the muscles through isometric tension.

a. The V-Sit variation increases the difficulty by holding the legs higher, angled away from the ground, so the individual’s body forms a ‘V’ shape.

Common Variants

V-Sit

Muscle Groups

Obliques

Rectus Abdominis

Triceps

Quadriceps (these are needed to maintain straightness in the legs)

Pectorals

Lunge

Stand on flat surface, step forward with one leg and bend down until the front knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. The back knee bends to almost touch the ground. The front knee should not extend past the front toes in order to maintain good form. Return to the starting position by pushing back with the front leg and stepping back so both feet are together.

a. Back Lunge variation is performed from the same position, however, step back with the leg until the front knee is bent at a 90-degree angle and the back knee is almost touching the ground.

b. Iron Mikes variation, start out in the bottom position of the lunge, perform a plyometric jump and switch leg positions so the landing position is opposite to the starting position.

c. Walking Lunges variation does not return the front leg to the starting position, step forward with the back leg to place the feet together.

Common Variants

Back Lunges

Iron Mikes

Walking Lunges

Muscle Groups

Thigh

Buttocks

Hamstrings

Side Lunges

Start with the feet positioned slightly apart and take a wide step to the side with the left foot, toes pointing slightly outward. As the left foot contacts the ground, shift your weight to the left so the majority of your body weight is supported by the left leg. Lower the hips and slide the hips back until the left thigh is parallel with the ground. The back and the head are kept straight throughout the movement. Hold the position for a moment, then raise the body by pushing up with the left leg and move the feet together again. The exercise is then repeated on the right side.

Difficulty may be increased by performing the Wide Side Lunge variant; start with the feet in a wide stance instead of together, keep the feet in the wide stance throughout the exercise and omit the intermediate step of moving the feet together between repetitions.

Common Variants

Wide Side Lunges

Muscle Groups

Quadriceps

Glutes

Hip flexors

Hamstrings

Bear Walk

Place the hands and the feet on the ground, with the head facing the ground, proceed to crawl around by striding with the arms and legs.

Muscle Groups

Shoulders

Chest

Triceps

Trapezius

Core

Rocking Chairs

Begin in a fully extended plank or push-up position. The body is then pushed slowly forward about six to ten inches, while the arms are kept straight. The body is then returned to the starting position.

Increase difficulty by bending the arms and lowering the body until it is close to the floor. The body is then slowly pushed forward and returned to the starting position. The difficulty may be further increased by extending the arms between sets to perform a push-up.

Common Variants

Rocking Chair Press

Muscle Groups

Pectorals

Triceps

Deltoids

Core

Shove Offs

Begin by standing in front of an elevated surface with a ledge that will bear the weight your weight. The body is tilted forward with the hands and arms extended and the back and legs held straight. The body is allowed to continue to fall forward and the individual catches their weight on the elevated surface with their hands in a palm-down position and arms bent. The arms are then forcefully extended to push the body back to the upright position. The waist is not bent at any time during the exercise.

Increase difficulty by selecting a lower surface which decreases the leverage of the arms and moves the centre of gravity forwards towards the hands.

Muscle Groups

Pectorals

Shoulders

Triceps

Mountain Climbers

Begin in a push-up position, with the body in a straight line and elbows locked. The left knee is brought to the chest and the left foot placed on the ground, with the right leg remaining outstretched. Then perform a small hop and switches the position of the feet so that the right knee is brought to the chest, the right foot placed on the ground and the left leg is extended behind the body. The exercise is then repeated, most commonly at a fast pace for a defined length of time.

Muscle Groups

Shoulders

Abdominals

Core

Pec Crawl

Begin in a push-up position on a smooth surface. The body is propelled forward using only the arms which are never bent beyond 90 degrees. The feet are dragged behind you, the body held in a straight line. This exercise is best performed on a smooth floor while wearing socks or with a folder towel placed under the feet. If performed on a carpeted surface, sneakers should be worn and the toes pointed backwards while the exercise is performed.

Muscle Groups

Deltoids

Core

Pectorals

Triceps

Dive Bomber

The feet are placed on the ground just a few inches apart, with the legs held straight. Bend over at the waist and place your hands on the ground a few feet in front of the toes, forming an inverted ‘V’ with the body, the hips forming the vertex of the ‘V’. Swing your chest and shoulders down in an arc, between the hands, so the chest nearly touches the ground. The head and shoulders are curved up in an arc as high as possible, until the back is fully arched, the head is facing forward, and the pelvis is only a few inches off the ground. The motion is then reversed, the chest and shoulders moving through the hands, close to the ground, with the arms pushing the body back to the starting point. The arms should end up straight and in line with the back.

a. The Half Dive Bomber variant simply stops the movement at the point the chest is between the hands and then reverses the movement to return to the starting position.

b. The Hindu dand variant returns directly to the starting position without bending the arms or arcing the chest and shoulders back through the hands.

c. Decrease difficulty by moving the feet further apart, or by elevating the hands on a stable surface. The difficulty can be increased by placing only a single leg on the ground at a time.

Common Variants

Half Dive Bomber

Dand

Muscle Groups

Pectorals

Triceps

Deltoids

Core

Pec Flies

Starts by lying face down on a smooth, hard floor. The legs are placed out straight with the toes on the floor, and the arms out to the sides. Two small towels are placed under the palms. With the arms and body kept straight, the palms are slid together in a controlled manner until the hands are under the shoulders. The hands are then slowly slid apart until the chest is barely touching the floor.

Muscle Groups

Pectorals

Core

Shoulders

Side Triceps Extension

Start by lying down on your right side, body in a straight line. The right hand is placed on the left shoulder, and the left hand is placed palm down on the ground, under the right shoulder, fingers pointing towards the head. The left arm pushes the upper body off the ground until the arm is straight, bending at the waist to keep the lower body on the ground. The body is then lowered to the starting position. The exercise is repeated on the left side to work the right triceps.

Muscle Groups

Triceps

Obliques

Crab Walk

Start by sitting on the ground with the knees bent. Both feet and both palms are placed on the floor. The body is lifted off the floor and you walk like a crab, both forward and backward.

Muscle Groups

Triceps

Core

Hip Raiser

Sit on the ground in an L-position with the back perpendicular to the ground and legs out straight. The palms are placed on the ground beside the hips. The soles of the feet are placed on the ground and the pelvis is lifted off the floor until the knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and the body is straight from the head to the knees, with the face pointed straight up. The position is held for a moment and then the body is returned to the starting position.

Muscle Groups

Triceps

Shoulders

Glutes

Hamstrings

Air Plunges

Begin by lying down on the ground flat on the back, with the arms placed palm-down on the ground. The legs are lifted until they are straight in the air, perpendicular to the ground. The arms are used to push the hips off the ground as high as possible, keeping the legs perpendicular to the ground. The hips are then lowered slowly to the starting position. Lie flat on the back, arms to the side, palms on the ground.

Increase difficulty by holding the hips in the top position for a few seconds before they are lowered to the ground.

Muscle Groups

Triceps

Lower abdominals

Surface Triceps Extensions

Begin by grasping a stable, waist-level surface such as a couch, railing, table or a horizontal bar. The surface is grasped with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. The feet are placed back slightly further than a standard push up position. The body is kept straight, while the arms are bent and the body lowered until the head is below the hands. The body is then raised by pushing up with the arms until the arms are locked out straight. The elbows should be kept pointed straight down throughout the movement.

Decrease difficulty by grasping a higher surface to move the centre of gravity closer to the body.

Muscle Groups

Triceps

Core

Arm Rotations

Begin by standing and placing the arms straight out and perpendicular with the body. The hands and arms are moved in circles, first forward, then backward, for a selected number of rotations.

The targeted muscle groups of this exercise can be modified by re positioning the arm and body: making circles with the arms pointed out straight in front of the individual moves the focus to the front deltoids, while bending over and moving the arms up and down instead of in circles emphasizes the rear deltoids.

Muscle Groups

Shoulders

The Roof Is on Fire

Begin in a push up position and performs a single push up. Then the individual will kneel and raise their hands in the air four times as if they are performing an unweighted overhead press. The individual then performs two push ups, then kneels and performs eight unweighted overhead presses. The individual will continue to ladder up in this manner, with the count of unweighted overhead presses equaling four times the number of push ups. When muscle failure is reached, the individual then ladders down with a decreasing number of push ups and a corresponding number of unweighted overhead presses.

Muscle Groups

Shoulders

Triceps

Pectorals

Push Ups

The body weight Push Up is a common marker of an individual’s general fitness level. The body weight push-up has many distinct variations, many of which are listed below.

Classic Push Up

Start by lying on the ground in the prone position. The feet are placed together and the palms are placed on the ground under the shoulders. The arms then push the body off the ground with the body is kept in a straight line. Once the arms are straight, the body is then lowered until the chest touches the ground.

Decrease difficulty by elevating the hands onto a stable horizontal surface to move the centre of gravity away from the arms. The arms may even be placed on a solid wall or other sturdy vertical surface to make the exercise as easy as possible.

Increase difficulty by elevating the feet on to a stable horizontal surface to move the centre of gravity towards the arms. As well, the exercise may be performed with the hands on an unstable surface such as a medicine ball. The exercise can be further modified by performing the push up on one leg with the other leg held in the air to put more focus on the lower lumbar region. To move the focus to the pectoral muscles, the hands may be moved further apart.

Muscle Groups

Pectorals

Triceps

Deltoids

Core

Handstand Push Up

Start with the hands about three feet from a wall or other solid vertical surface. The legs are placed on the wall one at a time, then the hands are ‘walked’ toward the wall, sliding the feet and legs up the wall until the hands are approximately a foot from the wall. The body is lowered in a controlled fashion by bending the arms, until the head nearly touches the ground between the hands.

Muscle Groups

Shoulders

Triceps

Core

Chinese Push Ups

Start with feet on the ground, heels together. The palms are then placed on the ground five hand lengths away from the toes, forming a diamond with the thumbs and the fingers. The body is bent at the hips to form a 90-degree angle between the torso and legs. The arms are bent at the elbow until the top of the head almost touches the ground between the hands. The arms are then straightened to return to the starting position. The back and legs should be kept as straight as possible throughout the exercise.

Decrease difficulty by placing the hands on an elevated surface, while placing the feet on the elevated surface will cause the exercise to become more difficult.

 

Muscle Groups

Triceps

Deltoids

Get in Line

Start in a push up position, place one hand directly under the forehead while the other hand is placed under the sternum. The arms are bent and the body lowered to the floor as in a normal push up, the elbows kept as close to the body as possible. The hands may be alternated with every repetition or with every set.

Muscle Groups

Triceps

Deltoids

Close Grip Push Ups

This exercise is performed just as a classic push up, but the hands are moved closer together to approximately one or two hand widths apart. The hands may be elevated to decrease the difficulty, or the feet raised to increase the difficulty.

Muscle Groups

Triceps

Pectorals

Shoulders

Core

Military Press

The Military Press is performed in a similar manner to the Chinese Push Up, but the hands are placed shoulder-width apart.

Muscle Groups

Triceps

Pectorals

Shoulders

Core

Shoulder Drop Push Ups

The Shoulder Drop is performed in a similar manner to the Classic Push Up, but one shoulder is lowered to the ground as the opposite shoulder is raised high in the air.

Muscle Groups

Pectorals

Triceps

Deltoids

Core

Deep Push Ups

Deep Push Ups are performed as a Classic Push-up, with each hand placed on a raised surface so the body can be lowered between the hands at the bottom of the movement. This modification places more emphasis on the pectorals and deltoids.

Muscle Groups

Pectorals

Triceps

Deltoids

Core

Staggered Hands Push Up

Performed like a Classic Push Up, except one hand is placed forward of the normal starting position and one hand is placed slightly behind.

Muscle Groups

Pectorals

Triceps

Deltoids

Core

Bouncing Push Ups

Performed as a Classic Push Up, but the body is propelled upwards with a plyometric movement so the hands leave the floor for a moment. Land gently on the fingers and palms of the hand and lower the body again to the floor.

Muscle Groups

Pectorals

Triceps

Deltoids

Core

Semi-Planche Push Up

Begin in a prone position, with the hands palm-down on the ground with the fingers pointed toward the feet. The arms are then extended to raise the entire body off the ground so that only the palms of the hands and the toes are touching the ground. The body is then returned to the starting position.

Muscle Groups

Pectorals

Triceps

Deltoids

Core

Planche Push Up

Performed as a Semi-Planche Push Up, but the toes are also raised off the ground and the entire body is balanced on the hands which remain stationary on the ground.

Muscle Groups

Pectorals

Triceps

Deltoids

Core

One-Arm Push Up

Performed in the form of a Classic Push Up, but one arm is placed behind the back, with the elbow of the other arm held tightly against the ribs. The feet are spread apart to provide balance, and the body is lowered and raised using only a single arm.

Muscle Groups

Pectorals

Triceps

Deltoids

Core

Abdominals

Obliques

Lower back

Spiderman’s

Begin in a prone position on the ground, the balls of the feet on the ground and the hands placed on the ground above the head, fingers splayed. The body is then raised in the air, keeping the midsection as straight as possible, until only the fingers and balls of the feet touch the ground. The body is then lowered to the starting position.

Muscle Groups

Core

Back

Pectorals

 Pull

Pull body weight exercises use a resistive or static pulling motion to work various muscle groups.

Human Flag

Start by grabbing a vertical object such as a pole or tree trunk, with both hands palms pronated. The body is then lifted into a horizontal position using the abdominal muscles, with the arms remaining as straight as possible. 

Muscle Groups

Abdominals (mainly obliques)

Shoulders

Triceps (this is for the pushing down by the lower arm)

Biceps (this is done by the pulling of the upper arm)

Muscle up

Starts with an aggressive standard Pull Up with an overhand grip to chest level, at which point the wrists are rotated forward to permit the elbows and arms to swing above the bar. The arms then push the body up until the arms are straight and the waist is at the level of the bar. The motion is then reversed so the body can be lowered back to the starting position. The transition between the high pull up and the low dip is the most difficult part and emphasizes the trapezius.

Muscle Groups

Deltoids

Trapezius

Erector spinae

Latissimus dorsi

Biceps

Brachialis

Pull Up

The body weight Pull Up is another common indicator of an individual’s general fitness level.

Start by hanging from a bar with the arms extended and the palms facing away from the exerciser. The body is then pulled up using the arms until the elbows are bent and the head is higher than the hands. If the hands are moved closer, more emphasis is placed on the biceps and elbow flexors.

Muscle Groups

Deltoids

Trapezius

Erector spinae

Latissimus dorsi

Biceps

Brachialis

Abdominals

Let Me Ins

Start by facing the outer edge of an open door that has a standard doorknob set. The feet are placed on either side of the door and the door pressed between the feet, the heels directly below the doorknob. The individual then leans back until the arms are straight and bends the knees so a 90-degree angle is formed between the thighs and back. The body is then pulled toward the door until the chest touches the edge of the door. The thighs and back should remain locked into a 90-degree angle throughout the exercise. The body is then lowered to the starting point.

The exercise can be performed with either a side grip or over-handed grip, which places emphasis on the extensors on the outside of the forearm, or an under-handed grip, which shifts the focus to the flexors on the inside of the forearms.

The difficulty can be modified by moving the feet; moving them forward increases the difficulty while moving the feet back decreases the difficulty. The exercise can also be performed with unilateral movements (one-handed) to increase the difficulty.

The Towel Grip variation works to increase grip strength. A small towel or rope is hooked around the doorknob and the individual grasps one end of the towel in each hand to perform the exercise. In lieu of a door, the same exercise can be performed with a tree trunk, railing, or any vertical stable pole.

Common Variants

Towel Grip Let Me In

One-Handed Let Me In

Muscle Groups

Latissimus dorsi

Biceps

Forearms

Deltoids

Let Me Ups

The individual starts by lying on the ground in the supine position, and grasps a bar mounted at arm’s length above the chest. The arms are bent to pull the body up to the bar, while the body remains as straight as possible from the ankles to the shoulders. The body is then lowered until the arms are straight.

The exercise may be made less difficult by moving the feet closer to the bar and bending the knees. The exercise may be increased in difficulty by raising the feet onto a raised surface. Performing the exercise with an overhand grip focuses on the extensors on the outside of the forearm, while an underhand grip changes the focus to the flexors on the inside of the forearm.

Muscle Groups

Latissimus dorsi

Biceps

Forearms

Deltoids

Towel Curls

Start in a standing position with the back against a wall. The ends of a bath-sized towel are grasped in each hand, and the towel is looped under the foot of one leg. The towel is pulled upwards with the arms, the elbows locked against the side of the body, while pushing down with the foot to provide resistance. The arms are then lowered slowly as the foot continues to provide resistance until the arms are at the starting position.

The difficulty of the exercise may be modified by providing more or less resistance with the foot; the exercise may be made even more difficult by performing it with one hand.

The Ledge Curl variant uses a fixed ledge between waist and chest height to provide resistance. The hands are balled into fists and placed under the ledge. Then bend over slowly while pressing up against the bottom of the ledge, then returns slowly to the starting position, maintaining the same level of resistance along the way.

The Isometric Curl variant uses one hand placed on the wrist of the other hand to provide resistance to the curling motion; the curling arm does not move in this case but instead benefits from the isometric tension of the exercise.

Common Variants

Ledge Curls

Isometric Curls

Muscle Groups

Biceps

Forearms

The Claw

Begin by placing the arms in front of the body, and opens and closes the hands and fingers as tightly and as quickly as possible. This exercise is usually performed for a large number of repetitions.

Muscle Groups

Hands

Forearms

Core

Core exercises primarily involve dynamic and static contraction of the back and abdominal muscles. Core exercises can aid with improved balance and overall stability.

Crunch

Start in a supine position on the ground. The shoulders are curled towards the pelvis while the lower back remains flat against the floor. The focus is placed on contracting the abdominal muscles.

a. The Crunch It Up variant places the feet under a stationary object such as a low bed or couch. The arms are crossed over the stomach and the knees bent. Using the abdominal muscles, the torso is brought up just until the arms touch the thighs. The torso is then lowered to the starting position.

b. The V-Ups variant starts in a supine position with arms straight out on the ground and parallel to the body. The body is bent at the hips, the torso is raised off the ground and the legs brought to the chest with knees bent. The legs and torso are then lowered until they are just a few inches off the ground, but not touching it.

c. The Side-V variant starts on the ground, lying on one side of the body, with the arm closest to the ground stretched out perpendicular to the body. The other arm is bent and the hand placed behind the head. The torso is raised and the legs, kept straight, are raised until the legs form a 90-degree angle with the torso. The legs and torso are then lowered until they are just a few inches off the ground, but not touching it.

d. The Jack-Knife variant starts on the ground, legs stretched out straight and the arms on the ground extended straight up over the head. The chest and legs are simultaneously brought up until the hands touch the feet. The legs and torso are then lowered until they are just a few inches off the ground, but not touching it.

e. The Bicycle variant starts on the ground, the hands behind the head. The knee is pulled in toward the chest while the upper body curls up to touch the opposite elbow to the knee. The leg is then straightened and the exercise performed on the other side. The legs should be suspended off the ground during the exercise.

Common Variants

Crunch It Ups

V-Ups

Side V-Ups

Jack Knives

Bicycle

Muscle Groups

Abdominal

Hyperextension

Start in a prone position on the ground with the arms straight out in front of the body. The arms, legs and upper chest are lifted off the ground, and then slowly lowered back to the ground. This exercise is also known as “Superman’s”.

a. The Thumbs-Up variant starts in the same position, forms two fists with the thumbs pointed straight up, then lifts the head, shoulders and chest off the ground as high as possible.

b. The Swimmers variation raises and lowers the opposite leg and arm and alternates sides.

c. The Pillow Humpers variant places a towel under the hips and the feet under a stationary object like a low bed or couch. The hands are placed behind the head and the torso is raised off the ground as far as possible.

Common Variants

Thumbs Up

Swimmers

Superman’s

Pillow Humpers

Muscle Groups

Lower back

Erector spinae

Planche

Start on the ground in a prone position, with the hands at the side of the body by the hips, palm down. The body is held straight while the arms push the body off the floor until the arms are straight. The entire weight of the individual is balanced on the arms. The body is then lowered to the ground.

Muscle Groups

Full Body

Plank

Place the toes and the forearms on the ground, with the elbows underneath the shoulders and the arm bent at a 90-degree angle. This position is maintained for as long as possible.

a. The Static Push Up variant simply holds the starting position of a Classic Push Up for as long as possible.

b. The S&M Push Up variant builds on the Static Push Up variant, but opposite legs and arms are lifted from the ground. The position is held as long as possible before switching sides.

Common Variants

Front Plank

Side Plank

Reverse Plank

Static Push Up

S&M Push Ups

Muscle Groups

Core

Abdominals

Back

Shoulders

Russian Twist

Start by sitting upright on the ground, with arms crossed and knees bent. The feet are lifted off the ground while the torso is twisted so the left elbow can touch the right knee, then twisted in the opposite direction so the right elbow can touch the left knee. The movement is repeated as long as possible.

Muscle Groups

Abdominals

Intercostal

Obliques

Standing Knee Raises

Start by standing upright, with arms raised out in front of the body. The left knee is brought up as high as possible, held up for a few moments, then lowered to the ground. The right knee is then raised as high as possible, held, then lowered to the ground.

Muscle Groups

Abdominals

Leg Raises

Start in a supine position on the floor, palms on the floor under the lower back or buttocks. The legs are slowly raised to a 45-degree angle with the ground, then slowly lowered to the ground.

The exercise can be increased in difficulty by raising the legs to a 90-degree angle, and not allowing the legs to return fully to the floor between repetitions.

a. The Flutter Kicks variation raises both legs off the ground by several inches, then alternates lifting each leg to the 45-degree position and returning it to its starting position.

b. The Hello Darlings variant raises both legs off the ground by several inches, then opens and closes the legs with a horizontal movement.

c. The Hanging Leg Lift variant starts by hanging from a horizontal bar by their hands. The knees are brought slowly up to the chest and then returned to the starting position. The difficulty can be increased by keeping the legs straight as they are raised as high as possible.

Common Variants

Flutter Kicks

Hello Darlings

Hanging Leg Lifts

Muscle Groups

Abdominals

Hip flexors

Beach Scissors

Begins by lying on the side, one hand propping up the head, both legs kept straight. The upper leg is raised as high as possible, held in the air for a moment, then lowered to the starting position. The difficulty may be increased by propping up the body on one elbow.

Muscle Groups

Hip flexors

Obliques

Hip Ups

Begins by lying on the ground, propped up on one elbow, hip and feet touching the ground. The hips are then raised until the body is in a straight line. The hips are then lowered to the starting position.

Muscle Groups

Obliques

Intercostal

Supine Windshield Wipers

Begin by lying on the ground in a supine position, legs raised in the air at 90 degrees, arms stretched out the sides. The legs are then lowered to the right side by rotating the hips, then brought back to the starting position. The legs are then lowered to the left side, then returned to the starting position.

Common Variants

Half Windshield Wipers

Full Windshield Wipers

Muscle Groups

Abdominals

Obliques

Intercostal

Yes, No, Maybes

Begin in a supine position on a raised surface, with the head and neck extending off the edge. The head is then moved up and down in a “yes” fashion. The head is then turned from side to side in a “no” fashion. Finally, the head is moved from side to side, bringing each ear to the nearest shoulder in a “maybe” fashion. The exercise may also be performed in a prone position, with the hands placed on the back of the head to provide extra resistance.

Muscle Groups

Neck

Legs/Glutes

Body weight exercises that work the thigh, calf and glute muscles are generally performed in the upright, seated, and all-fours positions. Increasing the difficulty of exercises in this class is usually accomplished through unilateral modifications (performed on one leg) or providing additional weight over and above the individual’s own body weight.

Calf raises

Start with both feet on the edge of a raised surface, with the toes on the surface and the heels lower than the toes. The heels are raised as high as possible, then returned to the starting position.

The difficulty may be increased by performing the exercise on one leg.

a. The Cliff-hanger variant requires one foot only to be placed on the surface and the position held as long as possible in isometric tension.

b. The Donkey Calf Raises variant requires that you bend at the waist to about 90 degrees and rest the arms on a chair or other stable surface.

c. The Little Piggies variant is performed by placing the heels on the surface, and moves the toes instead.

Common Variants

The Cliff-hanger

Donkey Calf Raises

Little Piggies

Muscle Groups

Calves

Squat

Start in a standing position with feet shoulder width apart. The legs are bent at the knees and hips, and the torso is lowered between the legs. The knees should remain behind the toes at all times. The body is then raised to the starting position.

a. The Invisible Chair variant is performed with the back against the wall, knees bent at 90 degrees, and the body is held in this position for as long as possible.

b. The Wall Squat variant is performed with the back against the wall and the feet one step forward from the wall. The back slides down the wall as the knees are bent to a 90-degree angle.

c. The Sumo Squat variant is performed with a wide stance, and the body is lowered until the thighs are parallel to the ground.

d. The One-Legged Squat is performed with one leg held out straight in front of the body while the other leg bears your full weight during the squat.

e. The Pistol Squat variant builds on the One-Legged Squat and brings the buttocks all the way down to the heel of the foot on the ground. This variety of squats is made to challenge your balance. The Bulgarian Split Squat. Put the rear leg on a bench, drop straight down, and make sure that the front heel always stays in contact with the ground to avoid any excess stress on the knees. Retain a tall posture throughout the whole exercise. These can work the abs, quads and glutes, as well as the ability to stabilize. Moreover, 3 sets of 6-10 reps do the job to satisfaction.

f. The Sissy Squat variant uses a pole or other support to hold with one hand, while the body leans backward through the squat until the buttocks are resting on the heels.

Common Variants

Invisible Chair

Wall Squat

Sumo Squat

One-Legged Squats

Pistol Squat

Bulgarian Split Squat

Sissy Squats

Muscle Groups

Legs

Good Mornings

Start in a standing position, hands behind the head. The body is bent at the waist and the back is kept straight until the legs and torso form a 90-degree angle. The torso is returned slowly to the starting position.

Muscle Groups

Glutes

Hamstrings

Lower back

Dirty Dogs

Start in an all-fours position, then lifts one knee off the ground and swings the knee out to the side as far as possible, maintaining the bent knee at a 90-degree angle. The leg is then returned to the starting position and the exercise is then performed with the other leg.

a. The Mule Kick variant is performed by straightening the leg as it is lifted away from the body as high as possible.

Common Variants

Mule Kick

Muscle Groups

Glutes

Lower back

Hip flexors

Standing Side Leg Lift

Stand with their feet hip-width apart. The leg is lifted to the side in a slow, controlled manner until it forms a 45-degree angle with the stationary leg. The leg is then returned to the starting position and the exercise performed on the other side. One hand may be rested on a chair or other stable surface for support.

Muscle Groups

Glutes

Hip flexors

Lower back

Standing Leg Curls

Start with the feet shoulder-width apart. The leg is lifted from the ground, with the knee bent, and the foot curled in toward the buttocks. The leg is returned to the starting position and the exercise performed on the other side. One or two hands may be rested on a chair or other stable surface for support.

Muscle Groups

Glutes

Hamstrings

One-Legged Romanian Dead Lifts

Start in a standing position with the feet together. Bending at the waist, one leg is raised in the air while the hand reaches for the floor. The leg is lowered to the starting position and the body returned to the upright position. The leg and back should stay straight at all times during the exercise.

Muscle Groups

Hamstrings

Lower back

Core

Hip Extensions

Start with the back resting on the ground, and the legs bent at 90 degrees with the feet resting on an elevated surface such as a chair. Using only the legs, the hips are pushed up as high as possible, held in contraction for a moment, then lowered to the starting position.

Muscle Groups

Glutes

Hamstrings

Lower back

King of the Klutz

Stand on one leg, body held vertically, closes the eyes, then holds the position for as long as possible. The difficulty may be increased by performing the exercise on a soft or unstable surface.

Muscle Groups

Calves

Quadriceps

Hamstrings

Hip flexors

Bam Bams

Lie in a prone position on a raised, horizontal surface so the legs may project freely beyond the edge of the surface and the toes rest on the ground. The legs are then spread as wide as possible, then raised slowly and brought together until the heels touch. The feet are then returned to the ground. The legs are held as straight as possible throughout the exercise.

Muscle Groups

Glutes

Ham Sandwich

Kneel on the ground, with the feet anchored under a solid surface, or held to the ground by another person. The body is then lowered until the chest is touching the ground. The individual then uses a plyometric movement with the arms to return to the starting position.

Muscle Groups

Hamstrings

Pectorals

Shoulders

Beat Your Boots

The feet are placed together on the ground and the individual bends at the waist to grab the ankles, with the legs kept straight. The knees are then bent until the buttocks touch the ankles. The body is then returned to the starting position.

Muscle Groups

Hamstrings

Quadriceps

The Arabesque

The arabesque is a technique that is borrowed from the ballet moves. It works excellently for the butt muscles, and does not even make the use of free weights. However, if you want to add cuffs or ankle weights, you need to follow the following procedure. Place your hands on the back of the chair or on a railing, and lift one leg behind you as high as possible, while holding your glutes and squeezing them for a count of about 4 or 5. Make sure to maintain an upright position so that you do not stress your lower back instead of the glutes.

Muscle Groups

Hamstrings

Glutes

The Duck Walk

Duck walks are really good exercises to help shape your butt. The procedure to do this exercise is to assume and hold a squatting position while walking forward for the repetitions and then walk backwards in the same positions for the repetitions. This position might not be very “diva” looking, but is highly effective all the same.

Muscle Groups

Quadriceps

Hamstrings

Glutes

Ref:

  1. Wikipaedia
  2. NSCA
  3. ETA

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