Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athletespeople just like you that are working with their own body weight to get strength, lose fat build muscle, recover from injuries and live their best lives!

If you are aiming for an overall strong, healthy and fit body that would last for years, naturally you would want to achieve it in the fastest and safest manner.

Training hard is not enough.

👆 YOU NEED TO TRAIN SMART.

And the smartest way to train with calisthenics is by investing in your calisthenics program that can actually deliver you results.

A structured program provides you direction and consistency in your training that translates to you reaching your goals in the fastest, safest, and most effective way. There’s no other way around it.

With tons of online and offline programs on the internet, you can get lost and confused about what to choose. Certainly, the most popular isn’t always the most effective. Especially nowadays, the internet is filled with bogus, deceptive programs that promise you the best but give you not even the bare minimum.

In this read, we have gathered a list of only the TOP-NOTCH calisthenics programs available for you to invest in so you can reach your goals and enjoy the benefits of having a strong, healthy body that lasts for a lifetime.

✊What to look for in a program

🤜Before we start answering our main question, we, first, need to talk about how you can tell what a great program looks like. 

Not all calisthenics are the same. Each has its own philosophy, approach, style, and strategy in assisting you in your fitness journey. With the differences, there will be certain criteria that would matter the most in facilitating your progress in an efficient and enjoyable manner. 

Here are the criteria on how you can judge a program:

  • ✅Program structure

The primary factor that dictates your progress based on your training routine would be the quality of the program structure. In this criterion, we’re looking at if the program is personalized, which is ideal, or a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all type.

A cookie-cutter program’s only advantage is its affordability and accessibility, but the price advantage could ultimately hamper your progress. 

When dealing with this type of programs, you’ll also be dealing with these issues in the long run: 

    • ✊ Promoting compensation, movement dysfunction, and possible risk of injury if too challenging
    • ✊ NOT promoting adaptation/development if not challenging enough

What you should be looking for is a personalized program that can address your goals, needs, lifestyle, and current skill level. This way, your program is designed specifically for your progress and you will not be dealing with the dangers mentioned above.

If not, an adjustable, scalable program offers benefits similar to a personalized one, BUT could affect your convenience of training as you need to adjust your program yourself. 

Another contributing factor in the program structure is its overall quality. What you are looking for is the progressive calisthenics approach and how it is utilized for the program.

✨Progressive calisthenics is simply an approach to calisthenics that maximizes your training through the use of progressions. These progressions are exercise variations that help you adjust the level of difficulty of an exercise to suit your skill level.

Progressive calisthenics eliminates the unfortunate major misconception that to grow strong with bodyweight, we only need to add more reps and sets. The misconception on only volume to progress is very much flawed as not everyone can do the same exercise. Beginners will have a hard time and could get injured. Advanced will no longer grow stronger, and will only build muscle endurance.

Grow stronger, bigger, more mobile, and healthier in a safer manner thanks to progressions. 🏆🏆🏆

  • ✅Overall goals

Relating to program structure is the goal of the program. It provides the overall direction to where you are headed in your journey. It should be aligned to what you like.

Regarding goals, it doesn’t mean that having more goals automatically means that it’s a better program. 

What should be considered is how the program structure is designed based on the goals and how realistic it is considering a given time frame.

  • ✅Length of program

Speaking of time frame, let’s talk about the length of a program.

You must have already seen those types of programs that claim “2-week 6 pack abs” or “6-week planche” programs. Sounds too good to be true! 😲

When looking for a program, check the length of the program claims. It should be realistic and honest.

Make sure that the “6-week planche” program is repeatable until you learn the planche or you get more value from the content of the program other than the X-week program.

If the program claims you’ll get abs in a matter of 2 weeks, 👎 simply scroll away and look for something that provides value over the duration of the program.

  • ✅Platform

It doesn’t matter much if the platform of the program is on an app or a website. It can even be a physical copy delivered to your doorstep!

What’s essential in the platform is its accessibility, convenience, and understandability. 

The design shouldn’t be convoluted that you’ll get stressed even before starting your workout.

Look for something that’s easy to follow and something that can help you track your progress. If you find an app convenient, go for it! If you like jotting down your progress, get a printable program.

So let’s answer the question:

What is the best calisthenics program? 👇

Comparison Table for Calisthenics Programs

 

ThenX Review

General Overview

Duration: 8 Weeks +
Difficulty Level: Beginner – Intermediate – Advanced
Training Plan: Programs divided in 3 levels are further categorized into different goal settings covering weight loss, muscle building, skill building and much more.
ThenX Website

ThenX is a giant in the youtube fitness industry with a linked mobile app to boot. 

With Chris Heria, founder and CEO of the company, leading the youtube channel, he established a credible source of calisthenics and fitness knowledge through his vast experience as a professional personal trainer and street workout champion.

With that, he and the ThenX team deliver their personal coaching expertise into the ThenX app.

Upon downloading the app, you’ll immediately see the simple and clean design of the interface. Very easy to use and navigate. 

There are 3 main categories of programs: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced.

Under each of these, you’ll find tons of workouts ranging from fat loss, muscle building, weighted calisthenics, etc.

Pros:

1. Massive amount of free content

ThenX has been kind enough to provide tons of free content on Youtube, they also provide free access in their mobile app. Of course you won’t get access to the complete content without paying (a very affordable fee), but you will still be able to train and stay motivated with the free content.

2. Tons of exercise and program varieties

There are 1000+ workouts to choose from. This could be overwhelming but you can use this to your advantage to stay motivated in your training which is very much important even if you’re not maximizing your gains. 

Plus there’s a workout of the day you can do if you’re not interested in following a structure. 

3. Comprehensive skills tutorial

If you want to learn the strength and skill techniques, you need to pay up. But don’t worry. It’s affordable and definitely helps if you’re geared towards learning a specific calisthenics skill.

Cons:

1. Beginner program too difficult

We’ve seen it and there were reports that the beginner program is too difficult for some.

Yes, pull-up is considered a basic beginner move, but a vast majority of beginner athletes cannot do a single pull-up. That’s why beginners need to start with the most basic pull-up progression that the app isn’t able to provide.

The rep and set range for the beginners might also be too much for some. 

2. Warm-ups not cohesive with workout

Doing jumping jacks isn’t the best warm-up exercise out there if you’re planning to train your pull-ups.

What you need are shoulder and back exercises to get the blood flowing to the specific parts of your body that you’re going to work.

Sadly, the ThenX doesn’t deliver the proper warm-up, individuals need to start their training.

 

CaliMove Review

General Overview

Duration: 57 Weeks +
Difficulty Level: Adaptive for all skill levels
Training Plan: 3 major programs available: 5 level complete calisthenics program, 3 course body transformation, mobility program
Calisthenics Movement Website

Calisthenics Movement or more popularly known as CaliMove is a powerhouse fitness channel on Youtube. 

There’s no doubt that owners, Sven Kohl and Alex “El Eggs” Lorenz, bring high-quality free content on the streaming platform. They also deliver high-quality content on their paid programs. Worth every cent for the investment.

Sven is a licensed physiotherapist and Alex is a degreed sports teacher with focus on nutritional science. Both have years of training and coaching experience which serve as massive credentials in our book.

Apart from the amazing content, the presentation and interface of their program is very straightforward and user-friendly. 

It’s not an app though so you need to log through your browser to access the content.

Below are their main programs and their brief summary:

Mobility program – Strength shouldn’t be your only goal in fitness. Mobility plays a huge role for overall performance, balance, health and movement. CaliMove addresses this through the program.  Increasing your flexibility and mobility which has huge transfer to strength gains, calisthenics skills training, injury prevention and  everyday movements.

Same as the other programs, this one is adaptive to all skill levels and the program could last from 8 months to a year or two, depending where you are in your mobility journey. 

It does require you a sturdy bar to hang on to.

5 Level Calisthenics program – This is the main calisthenics program of CaliMove which is divided into 5 levels.

The geist is that levels 1 and 2 are for beginners, 3 is for intermediates and levels 4 and 5 are for advanced athletes.

You can check out the requirements for each level in the table below since you can also purchase the levels individually.

The program develops your basic strength and helps you build the foundations for skill work. 

You’ll be prepared to do tons of calisthenics skills such as the planche, front and back lever, human flag, v-sit, handstands and so much more.

Expect heavy emphasis on the basic movement patterns and specific exercises to learn skills.

You will still build a good amount of muscle through this program, but it’s not optimized for that goal.

Body Transformation program – As mentioned in the earlier program description, this program is for those who are dedicated to building muscle and don’t specifically want to to learn skills for now.

Now it will still build your strength but it would have the necessary transfer requirement to skills such as a handstand which balance or to a planche which requires specific strength and mobility.

Body transformation is basically a bodybuilding program using calisthenics. It uses known and effective bodybuilding techniques to maximize muscle growth.

All of their programs include the following:

  • Access to program portal
  • Exercise video tutorials
  • PDF program routine and excel file trackers
  • Calisthenics skills training
  • Follow along warm-up routines


Pros:

1. Comprehensive scope of program

With the 5 levels of calisthenics program, you’ll be surprised with the categories and goals it will cover. 

There are tons of exercises you’ll learn with their proper progressions so you’ll surely get closer to your goals. 

It might sound a lot and intimidating but since you’ll be working on a specific level for quite some time, your body will be prepared for the demands of each level as you get stronger.

2. Complete mobility program available

Mobility is an often neglected yet highly essential aspect in fitness and health. It improves your posture, performance and prevents any aches and injuries that might be coming your way. Good thing CaliMove covers this area. 

Their mobility program is an overall routine that covers everything. You’ll also get to improve your specific mobility requirement to skills such as handstand press, v-sits and more.

3. Nutritional Services

Training with a good program will only get you so far. You need to partner it with the correct and proper diet.

CaliMove has two programs on nutrition. One is a guide on how to build your diet while the other one is a personalized nutrition program designed only for you. Of course, you’d expect the latter one to be more expensive but more effective as CaliMove will set the plan already for you.

 

Cons:

1. Program for legs focuses too much on endurance

If you want to build muscle and much strength for your lower body, then you might find your limitation soon as the leg routine will heavily touch on endurance.

It could still be improved by using bodybuilding techniques and different squat variations, hinges and lunges to maximize leg muscle growth.

No one likes to have chicken legs.

 

Freeletics Review

General Overview

Duration: 6 Weeks +
Difficulty Level: Adaptive for all skill levels
Training Plan: Workout programs divided into 4 general categories based on goals. Each program lasts from 6 weeks to 12 weeks.

  • Gain muscle
  • Lose weight
  • Running 
  • Get fit – general fitness
  • Limited edition sport specific workouts – (football or mixed martial arts specific for example)

Freeletics Website

Freeletics is a very popular workout app that covers both bodyweight training and weighted training. But we’ll focus only on the bodyweight program for this discussion.

It focuses on the principle of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), which is basically short bursts of high intensity workout followed by a short amount of rest or it can be done as a circuit. 

The app has a very user-friendly interface and is visually clean. You’ll find it easy to navigate finding and doing your workout.

There are 4 general categories for the workout:

Build muscle – Obviously the main aspect is to build muscle. For beginners, you will also be able to build strength as well.

Lose weight – This type of program uses metabolic conditioning to make you lose fat without losing your lean muscles.

Running – In case you’re into this type of workout, freeletics also provides a program in order for you to build your running endurance and help you lose fat.

Get fit – This is their general fitness workout. Basically, it covers all the aspects you need for an overall strong and healthy body.

Pros:

1. Variety of workouts

For each workout category, there are a number of workout programs to choose from. After completing a workout, the app adapts to your skill level based on your performance for your following workout to be just challenging enough to stimulate.

You will not run out of programs to choose from on the app and you’ll not get bored doing calisthenics through the app.

Add that there are limited edition workout programs that are available from time to time which are sport specific.

2. Community news feed

Similar to your social media apps such as facebook and instagram, Freeletics has a news feed dedicated for its members.

You can post your regular training and people following you be your accountability partner as you train. This allows you to stay motivated and determined to train regularly as you build a stronger workout habit.

 

Cons:

1. Focus on endurance and high rep range

The app-generated rep range is too high even if you set your goal to build muscle and strength. 

Even though the workout programs are categorized into each goal, the general nature of the routines generated (either strength, fat loss) tends to become high rep which will build your muscle and help you lose fat but only to a certain extent.

It is still better to build strength and muscle in a lower rep range as supported by research.

You will also no longer build strength with high rep ranges but build your muscle endurance instead.

2. Not for specific goals

Overall, the app is pretty good if you’re looking to improve your general fitness with bodyweight. But if you’re interested in building strength, focus on muscle or learn calisthenic skills, then this isn’t the app for you. 

You can build muscle and you will lose fat but the programs aren’t optimized for certain goals. 

 

Fitness FAQs Review

General Overview

Duration: 48 Weeks +
Difficulty Level: Adaptive for all skill levels
Training Plan: There are 6 major programs available, 5 of which are upper body programs. These are : Planche Pro, Lever Pro, Begin Bodyweight and Body by Rings. There’s one lower body program, Limitless Legs.
FitnessFAQs Website

Daniel Vadnal, owner, director and face of FitnessFAQs has also marked his name in fitness through his youtube channel.

Having 10 years of training under his belt and backed up with academic credentials (BS in sports science and Masters in Physiotherapy), Daniel produced a sound set of programs that’s very goal oriented.

Here’s a quick summary of each of the programs:

Begin Bodyweight – Obviously the program choice of beginners. This is an 8 week program that consists of 6 levels for every level of beginner. Main focus of the program is to build muscle and strength for the upper body basic movement patterns: pull-ups, dips, bodyweight rows, push-ups and handstand.  

For maximum and safe gains, you’d need a pull-up bar, dip station and some alternative where you can do bodyweight rows.  

If you don’t have any of these, you need to buy them or find alternatives. Check out our article on creative calisthenics equipment alternatives.

Body by Rings – The more intermediate to advanced muscle and strength building program that maximizes the potential of gymnastics rings to stimulate growth. Surprisingly demanding and humbling and very effective for the goal. Even if you’re strong in weight lifting, wait till you experience the instability of the rings.

Obvious requirement is gymnastics rings. You would also need to be able to do at least 5 pull-ups and 5 dips with perfect form before trying out the program so you can progress faster with it.

Planche Pro – Very straight forward program helping you gain your straddle planche. All exercises geared towards learning and developing the strength, skill and mobility for the planche. 

It’s best if you could do at least 10 push-ups if you want to progress better. Resistance bands are recommended but not mandatory.

Lever Pro – The lever pro has the same concept of Planche Pro, but instead of focusing on planche, it focuses on the levers namely: front and back lever. 

Limitless Legs – Leg training is sold separately. Here’s how you build your lower half with pure calisthenics. No other requirement.

All of their programs include the following:

  • Access to program portal
  • Exercise video tutorials
  • E-book
  • PDF program routine and excel file trackers

 

Pros:

1. E-book provision

FitnessFAQs’ ebook is nothing to sleep about. For me, it’s the heart and content of the program as it will not only guide you on how to execute the routine, but will also drop the knowledge on concepts applied to the whole program.

This makes the program even more valuable as you will see and understand how and why the program is structured as it is. This will also help you construct your own program in the future when you feel like moving on to the next one.

2. Specific exercise list direct towards goal

There aren’t hundreds or thousands of exercises in the program. There are just enough for you to reach your goal and address any weaknesses that could be hindering your growth.

The philosophy of the company is less is more. Getting things done with the least number, but most effective exercises available.

3. Scalable program

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, you can use all of FitnessFAQs’ programs (except for Body by Rings which requires you a base level of strength).

All levels of beginners can use Begin Bodyweight and Limitless Legs.

For the other programs, beginners can still start with it but you might find bigger and faster progress if you already have a good foundation to begin with.

The programs are designed to be scalable for all levels that even the beginner programs can be scaled for an advanced athlete.

Expect a year or two or even a lifetime to outgrow FitnessFAQs programs. A very good investment option, too in our book.

 

Cons:

1. One-time fee

While you’ll get immediate lifetime access to the program upon purchase, FitnessFAQs only offers a one-time payment. So it might be difficult for some to attain the amount.

 

The Movement Athlete Academy

General Overview

Duration: Self-paced
Difficulty Level: Adaptive for all skill levels
Training Plan: Master first the 9 basic fundamental movements before moving to more advanced skills and exercises. Mobility, strength, endurance and muscle building concepts included all together.

The 9 basic fundamentals are:

  • Pull-ups
  • Dips
  • Push-ups
  • Squats
  • Handstand
  • Abs
  • Bodyline
  • Back (core)
  • Side (core)

The Movement Athlete Website

If you’re highly interested in learning calisthenics skills, we highly recommend this app as it’s progression based. Progression is the key to ‘progressing’ in calisthenics as obvious it is in the name.

The Movement Athlete provides a wide range of exercise and exercise progressions that bridges all skill levels. So no matter how much of a beginner you are, you can work your way towards doing a proper push-up without the sudden jumps of difficulty in your routine.

App-wise, it’s easy to access, navigate and to understand. It’s complete with timers and you can play your music from your mobile device while using the app.

Through the app, you can also track your progress and watch the tutorials of the exercises in the app itself. 

All you need for your training is your phone and yourself.

 

Pros:

1. 😀 Adaptive and Personalized workout routine

When first trying out The Movement Athlete app, you will start out with an assessment so the app’s powerful Artificial Intelligence can generate a workout perfect for your current skill level.

As you do your workout, the app evaluates your performance so it can adjust the program to you accordingly. This way, you’ll get just the right amount of stimulation to promote progress in every session.

2. 😀 No equipment requirement

The Movement Athlete encourages you to use what’s available in your surroundings. For example, for pull-up bars you can use a sturdy tree branch near you or a rigid support beam in your house.

If those are not an option, not to worry because you can adjust the available equipment to you before generating a workout. Naturally, if you can procure any pull-up bar alternative, then you can’t workout directly with your pull-ups.

3. 😀 Works on different aspects of fitness

It’s isn’t all about building muscle and losing fat.

While the app helps you reach these goals, it’s main goal is for you to have a balanced, strong, mobility body that’s built for longevity. Which is great for the long term.

 

Cons:

1. No timeline and strict structure to follow

Since the app provides adaptive and personalized program structuring, it can come with a drawback.

Even though it can motivate you to train whenever you want because of the personalization, the lack of a strict timeline could also sometimes make you lose motivation or make you feel complacent.

The app, however, addresses this issue by formatting your “timeline” in a percentage format.  

For example, you’re trying to master the planche, you’ll get a GAME-LIKE starting point at 0% until you make your way up to 100% which is the mastery of a full planche. 

In the end, the effort and time you put into the app will reflect the results and progress you will be gaining.

Overall:

To answer the question: what is the best calisthenics program?

The simple answer is the one that gets you moving, motivated and consistent with your training.

We’ve simply gathered a list and lay the general overview of each program. The perfect program would be the one you can stick to so I highly recommend testing out programs.

The program will help you stick to your workout then you would still have good quality rest and proper nutrition to maximize your training benefits.

We’ll be including more to our list so stay tuned!

What is the best calisthenics program for you? Let me know us in the comment section below.

 

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