Calisthenics basics – push exercises – Learn Calisthenics

Darek Woś


I’m sure everybody has heard about the base in calisthenics. We often catch suggestions like: “stick to the basics” or “build-up that base”. How to understand it?

Push and pull

In strength training, we can set apart two types of exercises – pushing and pulling. Calisthenics is a compound sport, meaning that multiple muscles work together when you exercise. 

Push workout engages pushing muscles the most, and you are training your chest, shoulders, and triceps. On the other hand, a pull workout activates pulling tissue – back and biceps. In this article, I will show you some fundamental pushing exercises. We are going to discuss the pulling base next week.


It is probably the most well-known exercise in the world, and the definition of the push-up is quite simple. Push-up is an exercise performed while lying face down by raising and lowering the body with the straightening and bending of the arms. While performing push-ups, keep your spine in a neutral position. If your body allows you to do push-ups with a full range of motion, do them. You will benefit from it in the future. The progressive overload potential in this exercise is almost limitless. Is it too hard for you? Do it kneeling variation. Is it too easy? Use deficit push-ups or add weight not to stop the progress.

Dip – King of the push-ups

The dip is a push-up done vertically. To perform this exercise, you support yourself on a dip bar with your arms straight down and shoulders over your hands. Then, lower your body until your arms reach a 90-degree angle at the elbows, and lift your body, returning to the starting position. Dips can be performed on gymnastics rings too. I recommend you this setup, as it gives you much more freedom. But be careful because it will require more balance.

Lean forward to target the chest more. Do it vertically to grind triceps gains. Progressive overload potential is almost as good as the push-up one. The easiest way to make this exercise harder is to load it with weights. Remember, dips are more challenging than regular push-ups, especially for beginners. If you struggle to do them, try using resistance bands to reduce the intensity.

Pike push-up to the handstand push-up

Everyone who had seen handstand push-ups probably assumed that’s a pretty demanding exercise. You don’t need to do it on the first attempt. Even more, you shouldn’t. Our body needs preparation before jumping to such high-intensity exercise. Lucky for us, we’ve got pike push-ups. Pike push-up is a brilliant variation of the classic version, which targets shoulders the most. It involves lowering your head from a downward dog position (butt up, head down) until it touches the ground, then pressing back up to the start position. You can increase the intensity of this exercise by elevating your legs on a box or bench. Gradually, you will be able to gain the strength required for handstand push-ups. Hamstrings mobility could be a bit problematic in pike push-ups. If that’s your issue, make sure you stretch that tight muscles. (Pike Stretch or Good Morning Stretch will be just fine)


I think there is no need to explain what a handstand is. Complete calisthenics athletes should try it and learn it. It is a great skill that works your entire body and creates body awareness. If you dream about free handstand push-ups or spectacular skill transitions, handstand mastery is must-have. I recommend you our free e-book about it to expand your knowledge.


In this article, I tried to simplify some basic exercises of the push workout. Of course, there are many more push-up variations, so it would not be possible to write down all of them in one short essay. There are, however, two more exercises worth mentioning – Diamond push-ups and triceps extensions, also known as Sphinx push-ups. These targets the triceps the most. Make sure you check them out.

That’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for the next week since we will discuss the second part of the basics – pull exercises.

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