Recommended bodyweight exercises for building functional muscles | Men's Health

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Men’s Health UK

Introducing the "Holiday Training Program" devised by Faisal Abdullah, a renowned UK-based trainer and owner of Men's Health UK. This program focuses on calisthenics workouts, a form of bodyweight training aimed at improving strength and building muscles.


5 Calisthenics Exercises: Perform 5 Rounds

The training routine featured in this article consists of 5 classic calisthenics exercises: Chin-ups, Dips, Pull-ups, L-Raises, and Squats. Perform these exercises for 5 rounds.

* In a chin-up, your grip is reversed, with your palms facing towards your face.

Repetitions: 10 reps

Guide to Proper Form

  • Grasp the bar with a reverse grip, shoulder-width apart, lift your feet off the floor, and hang freely with your arms fully extended.
  • Bend your elbows and pull your body up. When your chin passes the bar, pause momentarily and slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
  • If the reverse grip chin-up is too challenging, you can reduce the load by using a beginner-friendly option such as resistance bands. Alternatively, you may jump and cling to the bar, slowly lower your body against gravity, and perform eccentric chin-ups (pull-ups from a contracted position) to exert force.
  • Number of repetitions: 10 repetitions

    Explanation of the preferred method

  • Place your palms facing inward and extend your arms straight, resting them on two parallel bars. If you are doing this exercise at home, you can use two training boxes or the backrests of two sturdy chairs... However, for safety purposes, using dip stands is recommended.
  • Ensure that your elbows do not flare outwards, and slowly lower them until they form a right angle.
  • Return your body to the starting position height and repeat.
  • ※For chin-ups, grip the bar with palms facing upward and perform the exercise by pulling up.

    Number of repetitions: 10 repetitions

    Explanation of the preferred method

  • Grip the chin-up bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width overhand grip and lift both feet off the floor, allowing your arms to hang freely and straight.
  • Bend your elbows, pull your body up, and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Once your chin passes the bar, pause momentarily, and then lower yourself back to the starting position.
  • 《Advice from Abdala》

    "You can choose to reduce the intensity by swinging your body forward and backward, similar to how I do it, or you can perform basic pull-ups in a regular form according to your abilities and preferences."

    For beginners who find chin-ups challenging (as mentioned earlier), you can lower the intensity by using resistance bands. Alternatively, you can jump and grab onto a chin-up bar, then gradually lower your body against gravity in a slow and controlled eccentric pull-up.

    Number of Repetitions:

    Explanation of the desirable technique

    • It doesn't matter whether you use parallel bars or a "dip stand" (source in Japanese), both are acceptable.
    • Grasp the bar with both hands and imagine lifting your shoulders away from your ears while engaging your core. Lift both feet off the ground until they are parallel to the floor.
    • If it's too challenging, it's okay to bend your knees to reduce the load.
    • To avoid body swinging, slow down the tempo and control your movements. Related article: How to strengthen your core and abs with the "L-sit" exercise

    Number of Repetitions:

    Explanation of the desirable technique

    Recommended article: "Expanding your back" pull-up routine | Pushing your muscles to the limit with the "drop-set method" - We suggest three pull-up routines that target your back muscles. All you need is a "pull-up bar/machine" and resistance bands. Read more

    Recommended article: How to strengthen your core and abs even more with the "L-sit" exercise

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