BUILD STRENGTH & POWER | The 6 Best Calisthenics Exercises

December 6, 2017 by VAHVA Fitness

Bodyweight workout with explosive calisthenics exercises. Build amazing upper body strength and power!

Explosive training is great for turning the slow twitch muscle fibres into fast twitch muscle fibres and becoming an explosive athlete.

Yet, almost no one does explosive training correctly. This is why: almost no one does the exercises with the proper form because often they aren't even ready for power training.

Most people when they train power whether it is explosive push ups or anything else, use their entire body to explode. They are not really targeting any muscle, rather they are learning how to wiggle like a fish.


A post shared by Eero Westerberg (@eerowest) on

As seen in this instagram clip, if you want to develop explosiveness in your chest, shoulders and triceps, you have to keep the core and hips stable and rigid.

Otherwise you will be doing MOST of the work with your hips and spine which should not be the point. There are better exercises to develop power in the hips, such as the kettlebell swing.

The same thing applies to the explosive exercises demonstrated in this article.

In order to develop explosiveness and power in any exercise, you have to have a good exercise form with good levels of mobility as a baseline.  

You also need to keep your core tight and stable (core stability) unless you are developing power in the core itself. 

You will develop high levels of mobility and strength by following the Movement 20XX program. To develop core stability, you can learn more in this article.


explosive pull up how to

To fully target the back for power training, you should aim to keep the core stiff and rigid similar to the hollow body pull up.

If you use your legs and core to create momentum, you will take resistance off from the back muscles and make the exercise less effective.

Your form will likely look more explosive and faster when you use your core and hips to help yourself up, but the results will simply suck. It's better to look less explosive and do the exercise right than to make the movement look good for the ego.

The difference between the chin up (underhand grip) and pull up (overhand grip) is that typically the chin up will target more the latissimus dorsi and biceps, whereas the pull up will hit more the teres major, brachialis and brachioradialis. 

Explosive pull up is a high level feat when done correctly. You should first master the hollow body pull up before you are ready for proper power pull ups.


A post shared by Eero Westerberg (@eerowest) on

Tuck dip is an advanced dipping exercise where you raise the hips up to do horizontal pressing. You will be working hard the chest, shoulders and core.

The important cue is to keep the hip and body angle stable - it's easy to cheat by leaning forward and back. 

Although the tuck dip may look effective (and it is), it won't really produce much better results than the basic push up. This is because the difficulty of the exercise doesn't matter as much as the quality of your execution.

All progress happens in HOW you do the exercise (quality) and because of this principle even the easiest exercises remain effective as long as you have the skill and will to utilize them right.

If you can do the tuck dip you are a beast and keep doing them, but don't forget the basics. Easier exercise like a push up shouldn't be considered a stepping stone to another exercise. All exercises should be regarded as their own entities.


explosive p bar dips

Explosive dip is a fantastic exercise to improve the power of your triceps and anterior deltoids. To target the triceps and anterior deltoids, keep the body upright.

Before you tackle this exercise, you should master the basic dip. It's likely that your dip form is not yet as good as it should be: your core needs to be stable and you shouldn't snap the elbows. See this video for how advanced the basic dip actually is.

Once the foundations of mobility have been built to your shoulders and elbows, you will be able to perform the explosive dip safely and effectively.


inverted row bodyweight row

Inverted row is an amazing exercise for 2 reasons: it's doable for most beginners while also incredibly effective for advanced trainees.

There was a time when we used to use lots of external weights to make the inverted row harder, but this has appeared to be a very low level tactic to increase the effectiveness of the exercise.

As a beginner you should just focus on keeping the body stiff while pulling yourself up. The advanced trainees need to learn how to stabilize the scapula and keep the core stiff as a rock. This will make the inverted row challenging.



Believe it or not, the incline push up should be your best friend. It's easy to modify to target different parts of the chest.

When it comes to mastering the correct push up mechanics (mind-muscle connection, scapula/core stability), the incline push up is the king. 

This is due to the fact that the resistance is not too much and as a result you will be able to really start feeling the execution in your muscles.

People consider the incline push up one of the easiest pressing exercises you can do, but we are still utilizing it weekly in our workouts and making fantastic progress with it.


samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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