Is Calisthenics Good or Bad for Your Joints and Knees? [Truth is Going to Shock You]

You are here because you you are looking to answer this simple question.

So is calisthenics good or bad for your joints and knees?

It doesn’t really matter if you are just starting out or you have some previous experience or you are just someone curious.

This article is going to provide you with all the answers you are seeking and on top of that, it’s packed with a lot of great tips and tricks you can apply straight away.

Want the quick answer?

The short and simple answer to the question above for all of you who are impatient is:

It’s really not bad but it could be…

At this point, you are probably thinking something of the sort of:

What kind of answer is that? Are you serious?

Before you close this page and continue with your day I want to explain to you why is the short answer like this.

Doing calisthenics can be both a good or a bad thing for your knees and other joints depending on a lot of different factors and how you are using them. 

Some of them are:

  • Do you use additional weight and if yes how much?
  • How often do you workout?
  • What type of equipment do you use?
  • What is your form during the exercises?
  • Do you take the time to stretch and warm-up?
  • Do you recover enough?
  • Do you have current problems with joints and knee pain?
  • etc.

As you can see the list is huge and there are many other things I haven’t simply included. 

Doing calisthenics the right way can be very beneficial and can even help your knees and other joints. But if you are not training smart and properly calisthenics could become your joints’ worst nightmare causing additional pain and discomfort. 

In order to help you get a clear understanding of what to do and what not to do in order to preserve your joints I recommend you to read the entire article (don’t worry it’s not too long).

Below I will share with you what are the most common calisthenics mistakes people make that are the main reason for pain and inflammation in the knees and other common places.

And of course, you will learn how to avoid them and get the exact opposite results. 

After that, we are going to learn how can calisthenics be helpful for your body and joints. 

Finally, we are going to wrap things with me giving you some great tips on how you can protect them before, during and after your workouts. 

I’ll meet you at the end. 

Ready? Let’s go!

5 Common Mistakes Your Knees and Joints Won’t Like

Doing calisthenics the right way can be a very good thing for your knees and other joints.

On the other hand, if you are not doing some things properly bodyweight training could be a really bad thing causing you additional pain and discomfort. 

Let’s see what are the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

[#1] – Not working out regularly 

When should I start…?

Many people have a physically inactive and sedentary way of life. That is not good for your health and can have negative effects on your joints. 

In order to keep the inner part of your body healthy and functioning scientists recommend to work out and be physically active for at least 150 minutes every week, which is about 30 minutes per day (if you train 5 days per week).

This is exactly the time that is usually required to start and finish a proper calisthenics workout. 

Don’t forget that 150 minutes is just the minimum amount of workout time and it is going to be a lot better if you do way more than that. 

So in order to have healthy joints, it is recommended for you to work out at least 5 times per week in around 30 minutes per session. 

Being consistent with your workouts will also improve self-confidence and will get you better and faster results. 

Here’s my recommended calisthenics training routine you can follow if you like. Feel free to change it as you feel pleased.

Good Workout Routine

  • Monday: Workout (Explosive) 40 mins
  • Tuesday: Workout (Regular Exercises) 40 mins
  • Wednesday: Workout (Static holds) 30 mins
  • Thursday: Workout (Whole body bands workout) 40 mins
  • Friday: Workout (Explosive) 40 mins
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest 

If you follow the exact workout formula you are going to get about 190 minutes of active physical activity per week which is going to be enough to keep you healthy and well-motivated to continue. 

Of course, if you are doing everything correctly you are going to get bigger and stronger without sacrificing your knees and other risky areas to the process.

[#2] – Overexerting in your workouts

Yes, I’m pretty aware that from time to time it’s important to push our limits to the max in order to break plateaus and conquer fears but like many other things if we overdo it could potentially turn against us.

Pushing your physical limits way too often during your calisthenic workouts may actually be bad for your joints. 

One more rep…

This is especially true if you haven’t trained for a while and you suddenly start doing massive amounts of volume or use too much additional weight

That problem can be easily avoided if you instead gradually increase the intensity, workout volume or weight over a long period of time. 

Real progress is made with really small increments meaning it’s better for you to be patient and persistent than take more than you can chew which is eventually going to end up bad for you. 

So next time you want to do something extreme, plan ahead, progress slowly towards it and take your time. 

Trust me, your knees and other important joints will thank you later.

[#3] – No stretching before working out

Most people (including me a while back) find stretching something not that important so they just decide to skip it instead of taking a few minutes to do it. 

That on it’s own is a very big mistake and taking the few extra minutes to stretch properly could bring you a ton of benefits on your joints, muscles and overall body

In time some of our muscles become tight and stiff while usually the opposite ones become weaker because of that. Take for example biceps and triceps, chest and back, etc. 

When you stretch your body you help to relax the tight muscles and return them back to their original form making all muscles equally tight.

That way when you move around your joints can move more freely in all directions. That, of course, is going to result in less stress and healthier joints.

Having bigger joints freedom of movement does help with your range of motion.

That way you can move around more freely without any constraints and limitations. This is going to help you with a ton of different exercises in your calisthenics routine. 

Proper stretching can also reduce the risk of injury and pain.

The main reason behind this is that while you stretch you also raise your body temperature making it somewhat more difficult to injure yourself.

Colder tendons and muscles are more likely to sprain or strain when they are exposed to sudden explosive movements.

Another benefit you get from stretching is that you do improve your blood flow and circulation.

That is going to help you increase the levels of oxygen and help with better physical performance and recovery.

Here’s a good stretching routine you can easily follow if you don’t have an idea from where to start:

[#4] – No warming up

I know that it’s a lot easier to just go right into the workout itself and start doing high amounts of reps or use big resistance (bands, weighted vests, a backpack full of things, etc.) but it’s important not to skip this step.

In order to prepare your body for what’s coming, it’s highly recommended to do a quick warm-up right after you have finished with the stretching. 

That can be done by doing 1-2 sets with a smaller number of reps of what you are going to do next. Or simply use a lighter weight or resistance band to do the most basic version of the exercise.

Doing this will gradually increase your heart rate, breathing and will prepare your muscles and joints ready for your upcoming workout.

That way you are eliminating any additional shock your body could face and make sure your muscles, tendons, and joints are warmed up and ready for what’s coming next.

With the help of proper warming routine, you are severely lowering the chance of getting the common joint pain people usually have in their wrists, elbows, knees, and shoulders.

Here’s a quick example of a warm-up routine you can do if you don’t know where to start. Of course, it’s not really necessary to do all those exercises but it could give you an idea of what you can do for your routine.

Here’s the video:

[#5] – Using too much weight

We all know that our ego can be the biggest enemy in certain situations and that could be fatal for your joint’s health even during calisthenics.

In time you will become bigger and stronger and using only your body weight is not going to provide you with enough resistance.

That’s why it’s recommended to gradually start using additional resistance also known as weighted calisthenics in order to keep up with your growing power. 

Be careful with it because it can easily turn against you and that could potentially be the downfall of your joints.

This problem mainly occurs when you are trying to use too much weight for certain exercises resulting in bad form and lost control. 

Improper use of additional weight can cause unnecessary micro-traumas on your joints which in time may have a negative impact on your health. 

You might not feel it today but if you continue to repeat the same mistake for a long period of time eventually you will start seeing the bad results you want to keep away.

It is actually proven that you don’t need to use super heavy weights in order to build good amount of size and strength. 

You can achieve the same results you seek only with the help of lighter weights or even better – resistance bands. 

That is achieved by using good form, technique, and the right tempo. 

And the best thing about this is that you can continue to progress while keeping your joints safe.

[#6] – Not using proper form

Speaking of exercise form this is another big reason why many people have problems with their joints and have pain in certain areas.

Only if I knew this earlier…

If you get only one thing from the whole article I want it to be this:

Using proper form is for more important than weight, number of reps or ego.

No matter what type of training you are doing remember to not lose your form no matter the circumstances.

When I go out to the public street fitness equipment it really hurts me to see people doing basic exercises totally wrong. If they continue to do so it will eventually have a negative impact on their health.

I know that none of us is born perfect and packed full of knowledge about everything.

If you don’t want to be like the majority please take the time and learn how to do certain moves/exercises correctly using proper form and technique.

Doing that is going to remove extra stress from your knees, wrists, ankles, and shoulders. And as a bonus at the same time is going to help you skyrocket your results.

Here are a few tips on how to learn proper form and technique:

  • Watch Youtube videos.
  • Read articles and books.
  • Ask somebody better than you to teach you.
  • Film yourself doing it and compare your form to one of the more advanced people and see what you can improve.
  • Be eager to learn and try new things constantly.

Even if you do believe you are using good form you won’t lose a thing to consult with other people and see what are their opinions and knowledge on that matter. 

You never know what you can find.

[#7] Locking the joints

When you lock your joint during a particular movement you are transferring all the weight and stress from the surrounding muscles to the that joint connect them.

As you can probably tell doing that is not really helping you a thing and it may cause future problems such as pain and discomfort in the affected area.

In order to lower the risk of that happening try not to lock your joints especially if you are using additional weight.

Yes, I’m very aware that many calisthenics moves require you to lock joints but if you are doing them only with your bodyweight it won’t really have such negative effects compared to doing the same thing using regular weights.

That is one reason why calisthenics is better than weightlifting when it comes to the health of your joints.

If you keep the tension and stress the majority of time on your muscles you are more easily going to build size and strength because of the better time under tension you are going to achieve.

So not locking your joints during calisthenics workouts it’s a win-win for both your muscles and targeted inner parts.

4 Reasons Why Calisthenics Can be Good for Your Knees & Other Joints

As I have already mentioned earlier doing calisthenics can be very beneficial for your joints and knees if you are doing it correctly. 

Here are 4 good reasons why you should incorporate bodyweight exercises into your workout routine.

1- Help with Stress 

It is very well known that having an extra amount of stress can have many negative effects on your life and health.

Believe it or not, science has proven that having too much stress can actually cause in a way your joints to hurt. 

One of the best ways to deal with stress and anxiety is to simply exercise. And doing calisthenics on a regular basis can achieve exactly that. 

Don’t worry, be happy!

When you workout you simply forget about all your problems and focus entirely on your breathing and movements.

You also can release all your anger and frustration in the right direction and use them to your advantage during your workouts. 

So yes, doing calisthenics could actually help to deal with stress and be beneficial for your health and wellbeing.

2 – Increase Flexibility 

As you probably already know calisthenics does build a lot of strength which is proven to help a lot with your joint flexibility.

Having more flexible joints can also reduce pain and stiffness caused by arthritis and other similar problems. 

This can also help with the overall range of motion you can have for certain movements.

3 – Build Muscle Around the Joints 

Not only does calisthenics make the surrounding muscles bigger and stronger but it also does the same thing for a lot of inner parts of your body such as tendons and ligaments

When everything is equally well developed your body can more easily support and absorb the shock your joints take which of course is going to help a lot with common pain and swelling. 

That’s why it’s always a good thing to take the needed time and do a couple of bodyweight exercises on a daily basis. 

4 – Better Lubrication 

Like the car, the engine needs oil to run so does our joints. Their oil is called synovial fluid.

With the help of regular exercising aka doing calisthenics, you increase the circulation of the fluid making your joints movement easier and smoother resulting in less pain and discomfort. 

5 Ways to Protect Your Joints During Calisthenic Workouts

After you know how to avoid the most common mistakes people make and know why it’s good for you to do calisthenics there is still one more thing we have to do before we call it a day. 

There are actually a few very good ways I want to share with you that you can use daily to lower the chance of getting future problems with knees and other common places.

Let’s check them out!

[#1] – Wear wrist wraps or use workout gloves with wraps

Wearing a good set of wrist wraps or a pair of workout gloves with built-in wraps is essential gear every person who is serious about calisthenics should have.

Using them is going to help a lot in a few important areas. 

Using wraps is going to provide your wrists and wrist joints with additional support which is going to protect you from possible wrist injuries

They also help reduce a big chunk of the additional stress your wrist get and at the same protect you against excessive back extension during certain exercises.

Such products exist in order to help your wrist stay healthy and painless during and after your workouts.

If you are interested to see some good, tested and proved wrist wraps check our complete article from here.

We also have another complete guide talking about the importance of wearing workout gloves and which ones are the best. Click here to take a look if you like.

[#2] – Wear ankle, knee or elbow sleeves

I know that many people don’t like wearing them but if you decide to do so you are going to get a ton of very good benefits.

These types of products are designed to help you with stability, pain, and stiffness. 

They deal with that by providing you with additional compression, extra support for your joints and increased blood circulation for better performance. 

Using them can actually help you improve your form and doing that is going to lower the chance of you getting injured. 

Wearing sleeves can also provide you with protection against scratches and impact if you accidentally fall down.

We all know that our elbows and knees are usually the first body parts that get hurt from the impact.

If you are interested and want to find out more about protection sleeves and braces I recommend you to check out our latest article you can find here.

[#3] Use resistance bands instead of weights

Buying a set of resistance bands can be one of the best investments in workout equipment you can possibly do. 

My new best friends!

Bands are famous for a lot of things and one of the most important from them is that training with bands results in far less pressure and wear on your joints compared to traditional weights. 

That’s why this is an excellent option for people who have current knee or overall joint problems or are just looking for a way to preserve them for the future.

But that’s not the only reason why there are on our list.

Bands are also very lightweight and compact making them easily portable and the ideal option for outdoor calisthenics.

You can hang them anywhere you like and you are ready to train literally everything you can think of. 

Also, they are quite affordable and multifunctional. They can be used for both the regular strength type of training or can help with recovery and mobility.

Resistance bands are also a great way to provide yourself with additional assistance in many exercises when is needed. That way with their help you can progress faster. 

Here’s a quick video showing you how you can use them as your advantage in calisthenics

And one of my favorite things about them is that you can easily train every muscle of your whole body anywhere you want.

They are a great option for both indoors and outdoors.

If you want to check out some very good affordable options I recommend you to take a look at our latest article. 

[#4] Wear the right type of workout shoes 

Even if this doesn’t impact the upper part of your body it’s still very important about your feet, ankles, and knees.

Wearing a good workout shoe is like a house foundation – you can’t build a house without one. The same thing applies to shoes and your lower body.

A good pair of workout shoes should provide you with enough cushioning and proper stability which is going to be very important for your lower body’s joints.

That’s why you should go for a model that has a shock-absorbing sole.

That way you are going to limit the amount of stress you get on your feet while doing explosive type of movements.

The shoe design should be high enough to provide your feet with enough protection and support.

They should also be comfortable to wear and having them on your feet for a long period of time shouldn’t cause any calluses, aching heels, shin splints, etc.

I know that all this information is probably a little overwhelming. That’s why focus only on the things you find important

Quick Tip:

It’s good to visit an orthopedist or podiatrist to find out what is the exact height of your arches – low, normal or high. After you know that use it to buy the right type of shoes for your specific needs.

If you don’t know which shoes are good and you are looking for a new pair feel free to check out our article about the best shoes for calisthenics.

I believe you are going to find it useful.

[#5] Have a proper recovery

We are going to end up our list with one of the most important things you should do – have a nice and proper recovery process. 

Not having one will lead to overtraining which is going to have a negative impact on your joints, muscles, health, and results.

A good basic recovery is made in a combination with these few things:

  • Post-workout stretch
  • Good nutrition plan
  • Proper sleep
  • Rest days
  • Supplements

Let’s take a quick glance at each one of them and see why it’s important.

Post-workout stretch

Doing a short post-workout stretch after you have finished your workout can be helpful in a few ways. 

For starters it can help increase flexibility, improve blood circulation and eliminate lactic acid which is responsible for making your muscles sore and fatigued after you have finished your workout.

It also helps with the next day’s soreness and protects your joints from pain.

Good nutrition plan

The best way to eat healthy is to meal prep!

Following a healthy and consistent meal plan is an essential part of every good recovery process.

It is well known that the most important meal for your workout is the one that you eat right after your workout has finished. 

Click here to see what are the 3 easiest meals you can eat as a post-workout meal.

Eating healthy can have a direct impact on your joints.

It’s proven that some foods do bring more health benefits to the table than others and can help you with chronic pain and inflammation.

Adding them to your day to day meals can help a lot. 

Some of them are:

  • Fatty fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon, etc. It is also a very lean and good source of protein)
  • Garlic (not the tastiest but it has amazing health benefits)
  • Walnuts (hard to get open but delicious and useful)
  • Spinach (it works amazing with rice)
  • Grapes (great and tasty addition for your meal plan)
  • And many more…

Proper sleep

Proper rest means nothing if you are lacking a regular good night’s sleep.

It is very well known by all that sleep is an essential part of a good recovery process. 

What are you looking at?

Remove it from the occasion and you are easily going to see what is the main reason why you don’t see any progress and have poor physical performance during your workouts. 

It is also in a big way responsible for your joints health.

So even as it seems very hard for some of you try to focus on improving your sleep by building a few little habits that could be a real game-changer in the long term.

4 Good Habits to Help you Sleep Better

  • Get in bed at the same time every night.
  • Turn off and stay away from your phone, PC or TV 1 hour before you go sleeping. Read a book instead!
  • Remove any distractions from your room that may cause you to forget to get into bed.
  • Try to get enough sleep every night (the amount needed is individual).

If you decide to try to build one of those habits you will see that in no time you will feel well-rested, full of energy and ready to start your day.

Rest days

Don’t forget to have at least 1 or 2 rest days every week.

Give your body time to heal and prepare for the next upcoming workouts.

Giving yourself a break is also helpful for the nervous system, muscle tissue, and joints.

Doing that is giving your body time to rest, recover and be fresh and ready for what’s to come.

Now that’s how to properly rest!

I know that for some of you resting may seem like being unproductive and lazy but that’s far from the truth.

We all do burn out after a while which does have the exact opposite effects of what you want.

Burning off usually comes with a lack of energy, anxiety, depression, sleepiness, hard time concentrating, etc.

At the end of the day, we are all human and we all need to rest from time to time in order to fill up our batteries and continue the fight against life with new waves of power.

Supplements

I have left them as the last thing on this list because even if they do work they are not really required to take in order to see results. 

But if you do have the budget and you want to speed up the recovery process you can take recovery drinks, BCAAs, protein powder, creatine, fish oil or even a protein bar once a while. 

I do believe supplements play a great role in recovery and if you can afford them you should definitely give them a try.

Final Words

So at this point, I truly hope I managed to help you find out if calisthenics is good or bad for your joints and knees. 

Now after you have read everything you see that the answer to this question really depends on you and how well are you training, sleeping, eating, recovering, etc. 

Please use all the provided tips and information in order to get only the benefits of calisthenics because it is truly one amazing way to get into shape and learn a ton of useful things.

I learned how to do a muscle up bro!

That way you are going to see fast results and keep your knees and other joints healthy for many years ahead.

If you liked this article and want to learn more about calisthenics I would recommend you take a quick look into our Equipment and Guides category pages.

In there you can find a lot more useful information on that topic.

Feel free to take a look.

Thank you very much for reading this article.

If you like it and want to support us please share it with your friends and leave a comment below.

And keep working hard for your goals!

See you again,

– Bozhidar

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Bozhidar Karailiev
Bozhidar Karailiev
Hey there, my name is Bozhidar and I have created this site to share with you my experiences and knowledge from over 7 years of training using my home gym, public gym and calisthenics. I have some experience into gymnastics too. Hope my articles are useful to you!

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