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Calisthenics: The Benefits of Bodyweight Training

Updated: Jun 20, 2023




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Calisthenics Origins

Calisthenics has a long history that dates back to ancient Greece. The word "calisthenics" itself comes from the Greek words "kalos," meaning beauty, and "sthenos," meaning strength. In ancient Greece, calisthenics was an integral part of physical education and military training, with athletes and soldiers using bodyweight exercises to build strength, agility, and endurance.


One of the most famous examples of ancient Greek calisthenics is the Olympic games, which originated in Olympia, Greece, in 776 BC. These games featured a wide range of athletic events, including running, jumping, throwing, and wrestling, all of which required a high level of physical fitness and skill.


Another important figure in the history of calisthenics is the Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates. Hippocrates believed that exercise was essential for maintaining good health, and recommended a variety of calisthenics exercises for his patients, including jumping, running, and bodyweight strength exercises.





In more recent times, calisthenics has continued to be an important part of fitness culture, with many modern athletes and fitness enthusiasts incorporating bodyweight exercises into their training routines. Today, calisthenics has evolved into a diverse and dynamic form of fitness, with practitioners around the world using bodyweight exercises to build strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. Despite its evolution, however, the connection to ancient Greece remains a testament to the enduring power and appeal of this timeless form of exercise.




Calisthenics Equipment

Calisthenics is a form of exercise that uses bodyweight to build strength and improve. Unlike traditional weightlifting, calisthenics doesn't require equipment, making it an accessible form of training for anyone who wants to get fit. However, there are a few pieces of equipment that can be useful in enhancing your calisthenics workouts. Here are some examples of equipment:

  1. Pull-Up Bar/ chin up bar: A pull-up bar is an essential piece of equipment for any calisthenics workout routine. It allows you to perform exercises like pull-ups, chin-ups, and hanging leg raises to target your upper body muscles.

  2. Dip Station/ dip bar: A dip station is another useful piece of equipment that allows you to perform exercises like dips, which target your triceps, chest, and shoulders. It can also be used for other exercises like knee raises and leg raises.

  3. Resistance Bands: Resistance bands can be used to add extra resistance to your bodyweight exercises, making them more challenging and effective and giving you a full range of motion. They're also lightweight and portable, making them easy to take with you wherever you go.

  4. Gymnastics Rings: Gymnastics rings can be used for a variety of exercises, including pull-ups, dips, and push-ups. They're also adjustable, allowing you to modify the difficulty level of your exercises.

  5. Plyometric Box: A plyometric box can be used for exercises like box jumps and step-ups, which can help improve your lower body strength and explosiveness.

  6. Jump Rope: Jumping rope is a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness and coordination. It's also an inexpensive and portable piece of equipment that you can use almost anywhere.

  7. Parallettes: Parallettes are small, portable bars that can be used for a variety of exercises, including dips, push-ups, and L-sits. They're also lightweight and easy to store, making them a great addition to any home gym.

While it's possible to perform calisthenics exercises without any equipment at all, these pieces of equipment can be helpful in adding variety and intensity to your workouts. Additionally, they're relatively inexpensive and easy to find, making them a great investment for anyone who wants to take their calisthenics/ gymnastic exercises with your own body weight to the next level.

Here are some of the key benefits of calisthenics and the best exercises for beginners.





Benefits of Calisthenics Training and Bodyweight Exercise

Helps You Maintain Proper Form

One of the biggest advantages of calisthenics training is that it can help you maintain proper form and technique while exercising. With traditional weightlifting exercises, it's easy to use too much weight and compromise your form, leading to injury or ineffective workouts. However, with calisthenics, you're using your own bodyweight as resistance, which means that you can focus on maintaining proper form and technique throughout your entire workout.



This is especially important for beginners, as they may not have the strength or coordination to perform more complex exercises with weights or machines. By starting with simple bodyweight movements and gradually progressing to more advanced movements, you can improve your form and technique while building strength and muscle mass.

In addition, calisthenics exercises often involve multiple muscle groups and joints, which can help improve your overall movement patterns and reduce the risk of injury in your everyday life. For example, performing a squat involves not just your legs, but also large muscle groups in your core, back, and hip muscles and knee joints. By practicing proper form and technique in your calisthenics workouts, you can improve your mobility and stability of knee joints in these areas, leading to better overall physical health.

Furthermore, calisthenics can provide you with the same strength training, aerobic conditioning and support you need to perform other physical activities and sports. For example, if you enjoy running or cycling, calisthenics can help improve your core strength and stability, which can improve your athletic ability and performance and reduce the risk of injury.



Overall, maintaining proper form and technique is essential for effective and safe workouts, and calisthenics can be a great way to develop these skills. By focusing on bodyweight exercises and gradually progressing to more advanced movements, you can improve your form, technique, and overall physical health.


It Helps You Move Better in Everyday Life

Calisthenics is a form of exercise that can help you move better in your everyday life. By incorporating exercises that mimic movements you use in your daily routine, with such exercises as pushing, pulling, and squatting, you can improve your strength and mobility in these areas and improve posture too, reducing the risk of injury and discomfort.

For example, doing weight exercises or performing push-ups can improve your upper body strength and prepare you for tasks like pushing a heavy object or carrying groceries. Squats can help improve your leg strength and mobility, making it easier to stand up from a chair or climb stairs. Pull-ups can improve your back and arm strength, helping you perform tasks like lifting heavy objects or pulling yourself up onto a ledge.

Additionally, calisthenics exercises often involve multiple muscle groups and joints, which can help improve your overall coordination, stability and standing position. This can translate to better balance and control in your everyday movements, reducing the risk of falls or other injuries.


Moreover, by incorporating calisthenics exercises into your workout routine, you're not just building muscle and improving mobility - you're also developing healthy movement patterns that can improve your overall physical health. By practicing these movements regularly, you're training your body to move in a way that's efficient and safe, reducing the risk of chronic pain or discomfort caused by poor posture or movement habits.

In conclusion, calisthenics can help you move better in your everyday life by improving your strength, mobility, coordination, and movement patterns. By incorporating these exercises into your workout routine, you can prepare yourself for the physical demands of daily life and reduce the risk of injuries caused by a lack of mobility or strength.


Works Your Whole Body with calisthenics training

Calisthenic training can easily become a full-body exercise, incorporating several upper body exercises. You must engage your core muscles during many calisthenic movements to maintain your balance and technique.




You Can Build Muscle mass with calisthenics exercises

Bodyweight exercises/ calisthenics exercises can really aid in building muscles! Like any fitness regime, it requires constant effort and results. According to Harvard Health, the study shows bodyweight exercise can increase muscular strength without exerting external forces. Several small 2016 studies confirmed muscle contraction through the whole movement without external load, a muscle size that resembled heavy-lift training.



It Makes You Stronger and helps you with optimal body composition

Calisthenic exercises help you increase your muscle mass over time and increase your strength with your strength increasing. You can also slow down or slow up exercises for a more relaxed duration and improve your muscle strength. Burn body fat through compound movements and feel great in your everyday life.




Calisthenics Exercises for Beginners

If you're new to calisthenics, it's important to start with a routine that's manageable for you. This will help you to build confidence and prevent injuries. Here are some of the best calisthenic exercises for beginners:

Bodyweight squats: Squats are a simple and efficient exercise you can try either on their own or using free weights or a resistance band located over your thighs for more of a lateral. Push-ups: Push-ups are a great way to build upper body strength, particularly in your chest and triceps. Lunges: Lunges can either be performed on the spot, moving forward or back. It's possible to increase the intensity with weights or explosiveness, for example, use jump-lunge to get more challenging. Plank: Plank is a simple but effective exercise that works your core muscles throughout your entire core, including your abs, lower back, and glutes.





Body Weight Starter Routine from an Online Personal Trainer

Once you're comfortable with these exercises using your own body weight, you can start building a functional strength training routine that works for you . Here's a simple starter physical exercise routine that you can try (If you are an absolute beginner you should maintain this routine for a minimum of eight weeks to improve your fitness level):

Functional Training Routine summary:

  • Bodyweight squats: 2 sets of 10 reps

  • Australian rows (over grip and underhand grip/ palms facing up): 2 sets of 10 reps

  • Push-up: 2 sets of 10 reps

  • Lunges: 2 sets of 10 reps (each leg)

  • Plank: 2 sets of 30-second holds If you're new to calisthenics, it's important to start with a routine that's manageable for you. This will help you build confidence, prevent injuries, and develop a consistent exercise habit. Here's a simple bodyweight starter routine that you can try:



  1. Bodyweight squats: 2 sets of 10 reps are an excellent exercise for building lower body strength and mobility. To perform a bodyweight squat, stand with your feet hip-width apart, and lower your hips towards the ground as if you were sitting in a chair. Make sure to keep your weight in your heels (feet flat), your knees aligned with your toes, and your back straight.

  2. Australian rows: 2 sets of 10 reps Australian rows are a great exercise for building upper body strength, particularly in your back and arms. To perform an Australian row, find a low bar or sturdy table, lie underneath it, and pull your chest towards the bar/table. Make sure to keep your core engaged and your elbows close to your body.

  3. Push-ups: 2 sets of 10 reps are a classic exercise that targets your chest, tricep muscles, and shoulders. To perform a push-up, start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your body in a straight line. Lower your chest towards the ground, keeping your elbows close to your body, and then push back up to the starting position.

  4. Lunges: 2 sets of 10 reps (each leg) Lunges are an excellent exercise for building lower body strength and stability. To perform a lunge, step forward with one leg, bending your knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Make sure to keep your weight in your front heel, your back knee off the ground, and your back straight. Alternate legs for each set.

  5. Plank: 2 sets of 30-second holds Planks are a great exercise for building core strength and stability. To perform a plank, start in a push-up position and lower yourself onto your forearms. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels, and hold for 30 seconds.



Remember to take breaks as needed and listen to your body. As you become more comfortable with these exercises, you can gradually increase the number of sets, reps, and difficulty level. By starting with a simple routine and gradually progressing, you can build strength, mobility, and confidence in your calisthenics practice.


Advanced calisthenics exercises

If you're looking to take your calisthenics practice to the next level, there are many advanced exercises and calisthenics movements that you can work towards. These exercises require a high level of strength, balance, and coordination, and can provide a new level of challenge and fulfillment in your training. Here are some advanced calisthenics exercises that you can work towards:

  1. Planche (Tuck planche, advanced tuck planche, straddle planche, full planche) The planche is a challenging exercise that involves holding your body parallel to the ground with your hands on the floor. There are several progressions to work towards the full planche, including tuck, advanced tuck, and straddle variations.

  2. Handstand and 1 Arm handstand The handstand is a classic gymnastics exercise that requires balance and strength. Once you've mastered the basic handstand, you can work towards a one-arm handstand, which requires even more control and stability.

  3. Front lever (Tuck frontlever, advanced tuck front lever, straddle front lever, full front lever) The front lever is another challenging exercise that involves holding your body parallel to the ground, this time with your hands overhead. Progressions include tuck, advanced tuck, and straddle variations.

  4. Human flag The human flag is a striking exercise that involves holding your body perpendicular to a vertical pole or bar, with your arms and legs extended horizontally.

  5. Muscle-ups Muscle-ups are a combination of a pull-up and a dip, requiring explosive strength and coordination. Once you've mastered the basic muscle-up, you can work towards weighted variations for even more challenge.

  6. Pistol squats, nordic curls, sissy squats. These focus on building strength and mobility in your legs and lower body. Pistol squat involve lowering yourself onto one leg while keeping the other leg extended, while Nordic curls and sissy squats target your hamstrings and quads, respectively.

  7. Weighted calisthenics (weighted muscle ups, weighted dips, weighted pull ups, weighted handstand push ups) If you're looking to increase the difficulty of your calisthenics exercises, you can add weight using a weighted vest, belt, or other equipment. This can help you build even more strength and muscle mass.



Remember to always prioritize proper form and technique, and to progress gradually to avoid injury. With consistent practice and dedication, these exercises can provide a new level of challenge and fulfilment in your training and fitness goals.


Conclusion

Calisthenics is an excellent form of resistance training, for anyone looking to build strength and improve their overall fitness. Not only is it accessible to anyone with limited equipment, but it also teaches proper form and technique, works your whole body, and can help you build muscle and increase your strength. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced fitness enthusiast, incorporating calisthenics exercises into your workout routine can provide a benefits for your body and your overall health. So why not give it a try and see the difference it can make in your fitness journey?


Online Calisthenics Coaching

An online calisthenics coach can be a valuable resource for anyone looking to get started with calisthenics or improve their technique and overall fitness level. With the guidance of a knowledgeable coach, you can receive personalized advice and support to help you reach your fitness goals more quickly and efficiently.



One of the key benefits of working with an calisthenics coach is the ability to receive individualized attention and feedback. A coach can help you identify areas of weakness and develop a training program tailored specifically to your needs and fitness level. They can also provide ongoing support and motivation, helping you stay accountable and on track as you work towards your goals.

In addition to personalized coaching, there are also a variety of calisthenics training programs available online that can help you get started or take your training to the next level.

These programs typically include a range of bodyweight exercises and routines designed to improve strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. Many also offer video demonstrations and detailed instructions to help you learn proper form and technique.



Whether you choose to work with an online coach or follow a calisthenics training program on your own, the key to success with calisthenics is consistency and dedication. By incorporating bodyweight exercises into your regular fitness routine and gradually increasing the difficulty and intensity of your workouts, you can build strength, improve your overall fitness level, and achieve your fitness goals.





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