There is a reason this is called the hardest calisthenics workout! If you’re thinking “I can do something a bit more advanced than that” then you’ve come to the right place!
The below exercises require strength, stamina and a lot of will power. When performing highly demanding exercises as these, it’s less about the girth of your upper arm and more about you knowing your limits and pushing yourself.
If you are overweight or haven’t exercised ever or for a while – be extra careful. Maybe consider building up some basic level of strength before you try out hardcore calisthenics. Having good cardiovascular health helps.
1. Muscle Ups:
Muscles worked: pulling motion – lats , biceps, shoulders, pushing motion – triceps, core
Sets/Reps: do two sets of six reps
Muscle-ups are here to make pull-ups, much, much harder. Muscle-ups are a combination of pulls ups and push-ups. You work your back, your biceps and your triceps, all in one – supposedly – smooth movement.
- You start off as you would if you did pull-ups, so hanging from the bar, hands a bit more than shoulder-width apart, core engaged.
- You pull your weight up and as you get to the highest point of the pull-up, you move your grip in a twisting motion so you can push yourself over the bar.
- On the way down, be extra careful not to hit your chin in the bar.
- Due to the nature of the movement, you are most likely to perform it slow which is perfect for elongated muscle activation.
Want it even harder? Get a dipping belt to add some extra weights to your muscle-ups.
2. Korean Dips:
Muscles worked: Triceps, shoulders, upper back muscles, core
Sets/reps: do two sets of eight reps
The main difference between a run-of-the-mill bodyweight dip and a Korean dip is that with the latter, you hold on to one bar and the bar is behind you. Your palms are facing forward and arms extended (not locked, though).
- Lower yourself down as far as you can without forcing your elbows in unnatural angels then push yourself back up.
- With Korean dips, your legs will naturally go behind you in the lowest position of the movement as you balance your body on the bar.
- This makes these tips more difficult because not only your arms are in a more jerked position, you also have to push yourself up and forward as you extend your arms back up.
Want it even harder? If you want to go crazy, you can try doing ring dips. That’ll sort you out.
3. Hanging Leg Raises:
Muscles worked: abs, core
Sets/Reps: do three sets of 12 reps
Abs exercise doesn’t get much harder than this. We already covered hanging leg raises and dubbed it the hardest abs exercise for a good reason. The hanging leg raise is pretty self-explanatory exercise, but a couple of things worth mentioning nevertheless.
- Try to raise and lower your legs slowly as you perform hanging leg raises.
- Not only will this activate the muscles for longer, but it will also help you not to swing.
- It’s not called swinging leg raises.
- Also, in order to work your biceps a bit more and help you stabilise your body more efficiently, you can bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
- Like how you would have them if you were performing a chin up and stopped halfway.
Want it even harder? Try hanging windscreen wipers. That will work all your upper body for stabilisation and kill your obliques in the process, too.
4. Pistol Squats:
Muscle areas activated: quads, abs, glutes
Sets/Reps: do two sets of ten reps
You’ll need strong quads to perform even just one rep of pistol squat. With this exercise, you will literally have to push your whole body weight with one leg, and mainly your quads/glutes. If you haven’t got any equipment but want to give your quads a beating, definitely do pistol squats.
- To perform a pistol squat, lift your arms up so they point forward and away from your body.
- You will also need to lift off one of your legs off the ground, with this leg being straight as you bend the other.
- The actual movement is quite straightforward: you bend the weight-bearing leg until your bum touches your heel on the floor then extend back up.
- The leg off the floor should stay off the floor and straight throughout the movement.
- Arms should point forward all the way through for added balance.
Want it even harder? Try doing shrimp squats. It is also a one-legged variation, but in this case, you hold one leg behind you with the other arm extended in front of you.
5. Decline Diamond Push-Ups:
Muscle areas activated: chest, triceps, delts
Sets/Reps: do two sets of 12 reps
And to box off the hardest calisthenics workout list, decline diamond push-ups are great to bomb those chest muscles, with added pressure on the triceps.
- Legs should be elevated, the higher the elevation, the more push-ups work the shoulders (and less the chests).
- With diamond push-ups, your hands should be closer to each other than with regular push-ups.
- In fact, your index fingers and thumbs should touch to form a diamond shape.
- As you do a push-up, concentrate on maximum muscle activation and keep your elbows tucked in as much as you can. Otherwise, standard push-up rules apply.
Want it even harder? Get a weight vest to add apply more pressure on the pecs. And try doing it on a medicine ball.