In order to choose the best calisthenics workout, it is important to first identify the purpose of the exercise and your beginning fitness level. Most calisthenics workouts improve either muscle strength or muscle endurance, so you must first know which of those two things you desire. Also, a calisthenics workout usually uses the body's weight to provide resistance, so knowing your initial fitness level will go a long way toward determining exactly what type of workout each exercise will provide. It also is important to know what areas of your body you want to work out, because different calisthenic exercises will work different muscles groups.
There are several common calisthenics exercises that can benefit a variety of athletes. Lunges, squats and calf raises are excellent exercises for athletes who want to focus on the lower body. Push-ups, pull-ups and dips are excellent upper-body exercises. Sit-ups and crunches provide a good workout for the midsection. Combining these exercises can provide a very effective total body calisthenics workout.
The most fundamental question that you must ask before choosing deciding which exercises to include in the best calisthenics workout is what your primary goals are. Calisthenic exercises tend either to increase the overall strength of the muscle or to improve the muscles' endurance. Any exercise will have some benefits for both aspects of muscle development but will provide more of a benefit to one or the other. For instance, if you are able to perform more than 12 repetitions of an exercise, then that exercise will primarily benefit muscle endurance. If the athlete can perform fewer than 12 repetitions, the exercise will benefit muscle endurance the most.
It is important to keep in mind that the type of benefit a calisthenics workout provides can change as your overall fitness changes. If you are able to do only five pull-ups, for instance, then that exercise would be primarily a strengthening exercise. However, as you gain strength, you will be able to do more pull-ups. Eventually, you might reach the point when you can do 15 pull-ups, at which point the exercise would be primarily benefiting muscle endurance.
For this reason, it is important to be aware of methods for increasing the resistance in certain calisthenics exercises. During pull-ups and dips, you can wear a backpack full of heavy objects or weights. This also can be effective during all of the lower-body calisthenic exercises, although during these exercises, it is possible to simply hold the extra weight in your hands. You can increase the resistance for push-ups either by placing weight on your back or by switching to one-handed push-ups.