Regimens: The Calisthenic Challenge

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, March 1996

Regimens: The Calisthenic Challenge
By Ken McAlpine

"For calisthenics to be effective, you have to resist the urge to rest when the burning sensation in your muscles comes along," says Mark De Lisle. "That's where you'll make great gains."

If this no-rest-for-the-weary strategy grabs you, you'll love the programs in De Lisle's new book, The Cutting Edge Total Body Workout. Sampling from the book, here's the equipment-free program, with repetitions designated for beginners, intermediates, and the calisthenically advanced. Start with the upper-body exercises and move down. Take 15- to 30-second rests between sets and exercises. Do ten minutes of stretching before and after the routine.


Except for the dips, these are done in pyramid fashion, meaning working up to and then back down from the maximum number of repetitions.

Dive Bombers Assume a standard push-up position, feet shoulder-width apart. Now raise your butt in the air by moving your feet 12 to 18 inches in toward your head. Pretend you're trying to put your head through an opening in the bottom of a fence, scraping your chest along the ground as you go under, and then come up slowly using a steep, arching motion. Beginner: 2 repetitions, 4 reps, 2 reps. Intermediate: 2-4-6-8-6-4-2. Advanced: 2-4-6-8-10-12-10-8-6-4-2.

Bar Dips Find a set of parallel bars or place two well-anchored chairs shoulder-width apart. Stand upright between them, arms extended, gripping a bar with each hand. Bend your knees and lower your body until your arms are bent 90 degrees. Push back up to a straight-arm position. Beginner: four sets of five. Intermediate: four sets of 15. Advanced: four sets of 20.

Diamond Push-Ups Assume a standard push-up position, feet shoulder-width apart, but place your hands together, making a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers. Come down so that your lower chest touches the diamond. Beginner: 2-4-2. Intermediate: 2-4-6-8-6-4-2. Advanced: 2-4-6-8-10-12-10-8-6-4-2.


No pyramids here, but the same rules apply: Allow yourself no more than 15 to 30 seconds of rest between sets or exercises.

Leg Raises Lie flat on your back. Keeping your feet together, raise your legs so that your feet are six inches off the ground. Pause and then raise them three feet off the ground, then back down to six inches. Beginner: ten. Intermediate: 30. Advanced: 60.

Half Sit-Ups Assume a standard sit-up position, with your knees bent. Put your hands on your waist and bring your upper body halfway up, to a 45-degree angle. Lower slowly.

Obliques Lie on your right side, legs bent slightly, knees and feet together. Prop yourself up on your right elbow, and place your left hand by your ear. Slowly bend your upper body until your left elbow touches your left knee and your body is in a V. Repeat on the left side. Beginner: five on each side. Intermediate: 30 on each side. Advanced: 60 on each side.

Copyright 1996, Outside Magazine

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Get tips. Get stories. Get fit.

Looking for the best in fitness? We got you covered.

Thank you!