Calisthenics is a popular form of exercise that requires nothing more than the weight of the body.
In most cases, you can get an entire workout without using a single piece of equipment. Aside from the convenience factor, calisthenics can also promote lean muscle mass, improved flexibility, better coordination, weight loss, and agility.
These are some of the main features that make calisthenics a worthy form of exercise for you to try.
What is Calisthenics?
Calisthenics has become a popular buzzword in modern fitness trends. But, it has stuck around longer than any fad diet or passing fancy because it is so effective in getting to a level of optimal fitness.
The word “calisthenics” is derived from the Greek words “Kalos,” which means beauty, and “Stenos,” which means strength.
The concept of beauty and strength combined is already brimming with positivity. It is fun, fast, stylish and cool, and it is a popular training method fancied by many celebrities and movie stars alike.
Possibly the key element behind the success of calisthenics is that you can get a great workout without having to use any equipment.
But be aware that this doesn’t mean equipment is not needed at all.
There are some drills performed with apparatuses that help suspend the body off the ground. This enhances the effect of the exercises, and promotes an even greater effect on the muscles.
You are still technically only using the weight of the body though.
Read our Calisthenics guide to get the hang of where you should start and how!
The Far-reaching Benefits of Calisthenics
Calisthenics + Modern Lifestyle = A Perfect Match
More now than ever before, we are witnesses to a global breakdown of the conventional office workspace and the 9-to-5 workday.
These days, more people all over the world choose to work remotely. And office space is now a coffee shop with the best Wi-Fi, or even the back of a van.
This modern movement of remote workspaces, and of a working environment without centralized offices, has seen so many people set up their lives without routines.
Think about it.
Gyms and gym sessions work well with people who have rigid routines and they just book a gym session or hour with their personal trainer into their schedules. Calisthenics does not need a routine because there is no need to go to the gym.
Instead, calisthenics revolves around resistance from the body.
The very-same resistance you get from heavy weights. Yet, you do not need to hoist barbells, dumbbells and other types of free weights to get the same effect.
It is more focused on natural movement patterns that can conveniently be performed in the comfort of your home, with the distinct goal of building lean muscle mass.
But, the fun thing about calisthenics is, you CAN do workouts at the gym too. Just in case you like the atmosphere.
A further advantage of this is that you never have to wait for a machine or rack to open up. All you need is enough floor space to fit your body.
Lastly, people traveling for business and other reasons are keen advocates of a style of training that does not rely on equipment.
All you need to pack into your overnight bag is a pair of comfortable training shoes and workout clothes.
And you can even train barefoot need be. I personally, always choose barefoot over wearing shoes! Your toes and feet then get a much-needed workout that they rarely get, but always need.
Calisthenics is Goal-oriented
A goal motivates everyone. This is the encouragement that gets a salesperson to go out and push for one more sale. It’s also the incentive that gets athletes fired up to do one more set and go one more round.
What does this mean for you?
Simply put, it is way easier to set goals with bigger body-weight movements like press-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, and planks. Without free weights and machines, there is no room for confusion and discrepancies. And as mentioned, there is space to find rhythm and flow.
It is just YOUR body causing the resistance without the intervention of machines and weights. So the workout can breathe, flow and find its own cadence.
Calisthenics is obviously very personal. And without weights and machines involved, there is no competition or weight comparison against other people.
It is just your own bodyweight against your own bodyweight. So, in essence, you are only competing with yourself.
Calisthenics Targets the Large Muscle Groups
The most effective element of calisthenics is the fact that it focuses on large muscle groups. It is, therefore, the most efficient method when you are limited on time.
It then forms the best base for any other workout regime, from CrossFit to heavy gym training.
And now for the good news.
If you DO want to take calisthenics to the next level, it is a great idea to step it up, and add some home equipment to your regimen.
For more information on what you could possibly need, read our detailed guide on the best calisthenics equipment for home.
Beginner Reps and Sets Example
An example of a beginner set of calisthenics exercises could consist of:
- Push-ups 15 reps
- Squats 15 reps
- Planks 30 seconds
- Walking lunges 10 on each leg
- Side planks 30 seconds on each side
- Squat jumps 10 reps
Once you’ve perfected all of these basic exercises, then it is up to you to put them into a complete routine.
A good starter workout would be to complete all the drills in the order they appear and then repeat the series one or two more times.
Rest for about 1 minute between sets and rounds. But as you get into better shape, the goal would be to cut your rest breaks down.
Advanced Reps and Sets Example
An example of a more advanced routine would look like this: do four or five rounds with 1 minute of rest between rounds and 30 to 45 seconds of rest between exercises.
The overall goal is to develop and grow your calisthenics routines.
This will naturally happen as your fitness level improves and increases. To continue making progress, you will need to increase your reps and the amount of rounds you do.
As a quick rule of thumb, once you get to a certain number of reps that become easy, you can start to increase in increments of 3 to 5 reps.
Take push-ups, for example. When you can easily do 15 reps, increase the volume to 18 or 20. Follow this same rule with all of your other exercises as well.
Then you can decrease the rest breaks, add more rounds and add more exercises to continue making progress. Another thing you can do is use leverage to your advantage to increase the intensity of your workouts.
Alternating, single-leg push-ups would be a good example of this.
Instead of doing conventional push-ups with both feet on the floor, alternate doing them with one leg lifted. This will not only increase the challenge on your upper body, but it will also fire up more of your core.
And if you are still on the fence with the direction you want to go, we encourage you to read this comparison article on calisthenics vs weight lifting. That way you will know the benefits that each one has to offer and you can make an informed decision on what would be best for you.
Calisthenics is More than a Muscle Builder
To review, you can achieve flow with calisthenics. There is ample opportunity to find a rhythm and to beat to the tune of your own drum when getting more and more into the movement that is calisthenics.
There is more to this classical exercise form than losing weight though. And there is definitely more to it than just building muscle.
While these things happen almost immediately, calisthenics does a very good job of correcting your body.
We all get out of balance and our bodies at times become twisted and uneven. It might be from sitting in a bad chair, driving for long periods of time, or the repetitive strain of doing a sport and pastime that exerts unusual pressure on your body.
But there is a solution!
Calisthenics straightens out your body and corrects imbalances.
It helps you find physical equilibrium, and in the process, often helps to ease nagging injuries that are tied into uneven physical traits.
After a while, your body becomes efficient and effective, more centered and it becomes balanced so that it slowly heals from those distortions.
You are Part of the Tribe
Being an active calisthenics participant also puts you in a whole new world—a tribe so to speak. A tribe made up of skateboarders, snowboarders, CrossFitters and even surfers.
Calisthenics devotees recognize each other, and they can relate to each other.
They don’t have secret handshakes or use passwords (as far as we know). But they do have instant mutual respect and a wealth of knowledge from which to draw when it comes to dialogues and knowledge.
Final Verdict on Calisthenics
Calisthenics is a very unique form of exercise. And despite being very rigorous and hardcore, it has an unmistakable flow to it.
At the very least, you should try it out and see if it resonates with you.
Even if you’re a die-hard CrossFit enthusiast or prefer working out in a gym, calisthenics is a complimentary training method, and it forms a great fitness base. There is also a lot of calisthenics performed in CrossFit classes.
And here’s a comparative article all about CrossFit vs Calisthenics. Definitely check it out!
Let us know if you’re going to try it out! Or if you’re already a pro, let us in on a tip that helped you along the calisthenics journey in the comments section down below!
And if you simply have any questions on calisthenics, don’t hesitate to contact us!
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