What is Hybrid Calisthenics

 

Many people believe that calisthenics and weight training should be mutually exclusive. Although both forms of training are resistance training that increases muscular strength and endurance, they yield different results. 

 

Calisthenics utilizes your own body weight as resistance and does not require any special equipment. Despite this, you will need a pull-up bar to perform pullups, along with dip bars to perform dips. 

 

The most common bodyweight exercises include pull-ups, push-ups, dips, squats, lunges, and crunches. Calisthenics is more affordable and convenient as they can be practiced without equipment.

 

Hybrid Calisthenics Equipment

 

You can find a set of pull-up and dip bars at your local park, or install them at the comfort of your own home. Our calisthenics instructor, Pat Chadwick, recommends you purchase any of these 10 pieces of calisthenics equipment to rock your home fitness routines. 

 

Weight lifting utilizes weighted objects as a form of resistance. You will simply lift these weights for the desired amount of repetitions which targets specific muscle groups. This can be done with fixed exercise machines or free weights. Examples of weight lifting include bicep curls, bench presses, shoulder presses, leg presses, and tricep extensions.

 

With this in mind, if you enjoy both types of training you can combine the two together to create a form of workout that is called “Hybrid Calisthenics”. This is ideal if you want to maximize strength and hypertrophy. Moreover, it will enable you to be an overall complete athlete.


Hybrid calisthenics allows you to lift heavy. For calisthenics, this could be weighted pull-ups, weighted dips, weighted push-ups, and it is good to switch this up by doing conventional deadlifts, back squats, and bench presses. This will increase motor unit recruitment where your muscles develop contractile strength, which results in hypertrophy.

What Level is Hybrid Calisthenics

This style of training is suitable for all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced because it is highly adaptable to your current training level. You will need to establish a good understanding of where your body currently stands, then you can modify your workout.

For example, to make pull-ups easier, you can regress to Australian pull-ups, also, to make push-ups easier you can place your knees on the floor to do knee push-ups. On the other hand, progressing or regressing in weightlifting is straightforward, you can simply increase or decrease the weight of the free weights or exercise machines.

Hybrid Calisthenics Workout

 

Once you have figured out your training goals, you can then determine if hybrid calisthenics is the best approach to help you reach your workout. This training style is ideal if your goal is to gain strength and size

To create a successful hybrid calisthenics program, you would make training splits and you can do this two ways, either separative training (alternate between weighted and calisthenics sessions) or combining the two in a single session.

Here is a training split example:

  • Pull days (targets latissimus dorsi, biceps, traps, posterior deltoids, teres major)
  • Push days (targets pectoralis major, triceps, anterior deltoids, serratus anterior)
  • Leg days (targets glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, hamstrings)

Chest and Tricep Exercises

Calisthenics

Push-Ups

  1. Begin in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked on top of your wrists. Your legs are together, and your feet extended. Brace your core, glutes, and quads to ensure your body is in a straight line from head to feet.
  2. Inhale as you lower down by bending both elbows whilst keeping your core engaged. Lower down until your elbows are at 90 degrees and keep the elbows close to your torso.
  3. Exhale as you push up and return to the starting position. Lock both arms out fully to ensure a full range of motion.
  4. Repeat this movement between 6-12 reps, for 4 sets. You can learn more about this in our push-ups tutorial.

Dips

  1. Place your hands on a parallel bar with your arms locked out and your torso upright. Keep your core tight, legs together, and bend your knees so that your feet are off the ground and behind your back.
  2. Inhale as you lower your body down by bending the elbows. Lower down until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Keep your core tight and your knees together throughout this movement.
  3. Exhale as you push up to return to the starting position. Lock your arms out before repeating the next rep.
  4. Repeat this movement between 5-12 reps, for 4 sets. If this is too difficult, you can place both feet on the floor to assist during the push-up phase. Learn how to do dips and its variations in this dips tutorial.

Weights

Bench Press

If you are new to weight training, it is highly recommended you start with an empty bar with usually weighs around 45 pounds. Concentrate on doing one quality rep at a time and be able to do 10 clean reps before including additional weight plates on top.

  1. Lie on a bench with your knees bent at 90 degrees and feet on the ground.
  2. Grip the bar using an overhand grip just wider than should-width. Brace your core and push the bar up by extending your arms.
  3. Inhale as you lower the bar towards your chest by bending the elbows, keep lowering until the bar is hovering 2 inches above your chest.
  4. Exhale as you push up, gripping the bar tightly, and stop at a point before your arm almost locks out. Focus your sight on a single spot at the ceiling rather than looking at the bar. 
  5. Repeat this movement between 8-12 reps, for 4 sets. You can add weights on top if you find the bar too light.

Back and Bicep Exercises

Calisthenics

Pull-Ups

  1. Begin in a dead hang position with your arms shoulder-width apart, gripping the bar tightly using a pronated grip. Lock your arms out and raise your feet above the ground. Keep your core tight.
  2. Exhale as you pull the bar down towards the ground by bending the elbows and pulling up until your chin is above the bar. Maintain core engagement.
  3. Inhale as you lower down by extending the elbows and return to the starting position. Lock your arms out fully to ensure a full range of motion.
  4. Repeat this movement between 5-12 reps, for 4 sets. If you do not yet have the strength to do a pull-up, you can regress to doing Australian pull-ups or check out all of the best pull-up progressions in this pull-up tutorial.

Lat Pulldown

  1. Grab the bar using an overhand grip at wider than should-width apart. You can be in a seated position with your torso upright and core tight. Other grip positions are available, for example, the underhand grip will put more emphasis on the biceps. 
  2. Exhale as you pull the bar down until it passes your chin, and squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you are going to crush a nut in between them. Keep your core tight, your torso upright, and your feet flat on the floor. Do not lean back and rely on momentum, this is cheating!
  3. Inhale as you extend the arms out. Lock your arms out fully before doing the next rep.
  4. Repeat this movement between 10-12 reps, for 4 sets. Start with low weight and gradually increase it as you get stronger.

Legs (Glutes, Quadriceps, Hamstrings)

Calisthenics

Bodyweight Squats

  1. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing slightly outwards. Your core is tight and your arms are by your sides. 
  2. Inhale as you lower down as if you are sitting on a chair. Keep lowering until your knees are at 90 degrees, whilst simultaneously bringing your hands together in front to counterbalance. Keep your knees behind your toes to avoid overextension and injuries. Maintain an active core tension throughout this movement. 
  3. Exhale as you drive through the heels of your feet to return to the starting position. Push your hips forward and tense your glutes at the top position.
  4. Repeat this movement between 10-20 reps, for 4 sets. You can find out more about this exercise and its variations in this squat tutorial.

Weights

Barbell Back Squats

  1. Grip the bar tightly at a wider than shoulder-width position using an underhand grip. Place your head under than bar so that it is resting on your rear shoulder muscles. Extend your legs so that you are standing straight, followed by taking two steps back, with your feet being wider than shoulder-width apart, and toes pointing slightly outwards. Brace your core.
  2. Inhale as you lower down by sitting back as if you are sitting on a chair. Lower until your knees are at 90 degrees. Keep your core tight, your torso upright, and always look forward.
  3. Exhale as you drive up through your heels and return to the starting position. Push your hips forward and squeeze your glutes at the top position. 
  4. Repeat this movement between 10-12 reps, for 4 sets. Start by using only the barbell, and gradually add weight on top as you get stronger.

Hybrid Calisthenics Benefits

Muscular Hypertrophy

Weight lifting is better if building strength and size is your goal as external weight makes it easier to overload specific muscle groups which promotes muscular tears and repairs. However, if you include calisthenics on top of this, it can seriously boost your strength and size through a different type of tension on your muscle fibers, and this also triggers growth. 

Improve Muscle Strength and Endurance

Hybrid calisthenics will allow you to become an overall complete athlete, as the strength you gain from both forms of training will be transferrable to each other. Weight training will allow you to lift heavier, therefore improving your muscular strength. Whereas calisthenics will build up your endurance and stamina, enabling you to execute reps for longer before becoming fatigued. Both of your fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers will be developed.

Increase Workout Variability 

Although calisthenics and weight training offer much variety in terms of exercise variations. When you combine the two into your training routine, this offers much more diversity in your workouts, which creates new stimulus on your muscles constantly, therefore, create more progress over time. The likelihood of you getting bored of training could very well decrease because of more exercise variations.

 

About the Author

My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.