Gym memberships and expensive equipment are probably the first things that come to mind when you think of getting ripped. What if there was a way to build a stronger, muscular body without the need for dumbbells or weight machines?
Calisthenics is a form of bodyweight training that doesn’t require any equipment. Although it may seem like a novel idea to use your body weight to build muscle and strength, calisthenics is not new.
Calisthenics is a timeless form of bodyweight training and has been around since ancient Greece. Calisto and stenos are Greek words that mean beauty and strength. This guide will discuss the basics of calisthenics and explain how it differs from other types. You’ll also find some calisthenics exercises that can help you improve your training program.
What Is Calisthenics?
Calisthenics can be described as bodyweight training. It uses the resistance of your body weight to build muscle and increase strength. Calisthenics can be thought of as strength training. Calisthenics sounds like a lot, but the exercises are very effective. Calisthenics is a set of basic movements that include push-ups and pull-ups as well as lunges. It can be used in any setting, from the high school gym to military training.
Although there are many trendy workouts these days, such as yogalates or high-intensity interval (HIIT), calisthenics training still holds its own weight in fitness. A 2018 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that calisthenic pushup training was more effective at improving push-up progression than bench press training.
People are incorporating calisthenics into their workouts as they become more aware of the benefits to their bodies. Some people use calisthenics to warm up or cool down, while others make it a full-body workout. Street workouts are a mix of athletics and calisthenics that are becoming more popular as people make use of playground equipment for their daily exercise.
What Is the Difference between Calisthenics and Other Types of Exercises?
Calisthenics is a form of exercise that relies on your body weight to build muscle mass and improve coordination and flexibility. It can also be very different from other types.
- You don’t need any fancy equipmentContrary to other types of exercise, which often require accessories such as dumbbells (think: weight training) and a yoga mat (i.e. Most calisthenics exercises can easily be done without any equipment, unlike pilates or yoga. Also, it is possible to reconsider renewing your expensive gym membership.
- Train Anytime, anywhereCalisthenics workouts aren’t restricted to the gym. Calisthenics training is based mainly on your body weight so you can exercise anywhere and anytime. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Military Medicine found that cadets were able to achieve similar levels of fitness by substituting calisthenics training for their regular cadet physical training. This study highlights the benefits of calisthenics training over cadet training. It is able to be performed in small spaces with minimal or no equipment. You can also do burpees or mountain climbers at home if the time is tight.
You want a change of scenery? A playground is nearby that has a lot of equipment, which makes it a great place to do solitary workouts. You can use the monkey bars to strengthen your upper body with pull-ups or chin-ups. A flawless human flag, which is a picture of someone hanging sideways from a pole while only their hands hold it in support, can be a great way to show off your skills.
- Multiple muscle groups simultaneously targetedCalisthenics is more effective than other types of exercise that target a particular muscle group. It provides a complete workout and a total body workout. A single burpee can engage almost all of your muscles. Calisthenics exercises target multiple muscle groups and help to train the entire body. This results in better flexibility, strength, coordination, and overall body strength.
Contrary to popular belief, isolation exercises such as dumbbell curls or dumbbell lateral raises are more focused on one muscle group. You don’t want to have slender arms and a show of your leg day, but you do not want them.
- You can combine it with any other workout routine
Calisthenics training can also be combined with other workout programs. You can combine calisthenics with other cardio forms, such as running or swimming, to create a concurrent training program.
Calisthenics can also be used as a warm-up or cool-down to weight training programs. It not only increases strength and blood flow but also promotes a more balanced body and better mobility. It is also worth noting that some training programs, such as Crossfit and bodyweight circuit training, already include calisthenics into their workouts. Calisthenics can be considered a foundation for a holistic fitness program.
Common Calisthenics Exercises to Increase Body Strength and Muscle Mass
Are you ready to give calisthenics a try? Here are some common calisthenics moves. There are exercises to suit everyone’s ability, from beginner to expert.
Target Muscle Groups: Chest and shoulders, triceps (back), abdominals, glutes, quads, and back. Push-ups are one of the most basic exercises in calisthenics that anyone can do. However, simplicity is not necessarily ineffective when it comes to building muscle mass. If done correctly, it will take your upper body strength up to the next level.
Keep your spine straight and your hips pointed towards the ground to maintain your proper form. To ensure a solid base, your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width, just below your armpits.
The incline push-up is a great way to strengthen your chest muscles. It involves a push-up in which your upper body is elevated on a bench. A declined push-up can be done by elevating your feet from the platform.
Target Muscle Groups: Hip flexors, hip flexors, and abdominals. The sit-up, which is similar to the push-up in calisthenics, is another common exercise. The correct form can help reduce strain on the neck and back.
Place your knees bent on the ground and lie down on your back. Place your feet on the ground or ask a partner to help you. Your body should be lifted to your knees, then slowly return to the ground. Sit-ups on a stability or medicine ball can be done if you feel it is too easy.
Note: You can also exercise at home by placing your feet underneath a couch or bed frame close to the ground. This will help you keep your feet on the ground during the exercise.
The Leg Raise
Target Muscle Groups: Hip flexors and abdominals. Leg raises are a great way to strengthen your core muscles. It works your hip and abdominal muscles without causing extra strain. This reduces the chance of injury.
This is how it’s done: Lay flat on the ground or on a mat, with your legs extended. Your arms should be straight at your sides. Your legs should be raised towards the ceiling. Keep your lower back flat on the ground. Slowly lower your legs to the ground.
Target Muscle Groups: Lower back, abdomen, glutes, and hips. Hamstrings, quads, and calves are all targets. Do you want stronger rear and leg muscles? The squat, which targets almost all of your lower body muscles, is the best calisthenics exercise for increasing lower body strength.
Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly outwards. Push your hips backward as you squat. Keep your knees in line with your feet. Continue squatting until you feel your hips below your knees. Pause for a while. Next, press your heels into the ground with your feet and then return to your original position.
The pistol squat is a great alternative to the standard squat. This is a more advanced version of the standard squat. You place your entire body weight on one leg. Stand straight on one leg and point at the other. Slowly lower into a deep, squat position while placing your entire body weight on the leg connected to the ground. Then, use the strength of one leg to push yourself back into the original position. When standing up, keep your core tight.
Target Muscle Groups: Chest and shoulders, triceps and biceps, upper back, and triceps. The pull-up is a great core exercise to improve your chest, back and arms. You will need a pull-up bar to do this. One can install it at home (look out for one that fits over a door frame), or use one at the gym.
Target Muscle Groups: Chest and shoulders, arms, upper back, and arms. The chin-up, which is a slightly modified version of the pull-up, works the same muscles but to a different degree. The chin-up strengthens your biceps better than a pull-up. The chin-up uses a shoulder-width, underhand grip, while the pull-up uses an overhand grip slightly wider than the shoulder.
Target Muscle Groups: Chest and shoulders, arms, backs, stomachs, glutes, abdomens, back, abs, and arms. The dip, which is basically a workout that uses your entire body weight for upper body exercises, is one of the most challenging.
You will notice an improvement in your upper body strength and flexibility if you do dips correctly. This makes it much easier to do other upper-body exercises, such as pull-ups or muscle-ups.
Let’s see what you can do: Stand on two parallel bars and raise your arms straight up. To lower your body, lean forward and bend your elbows. At this point, ensure your triceps remain parallel to the ground. Finally, lift yourself up by straightening your arms. But be careful not to hyperextend your elbows.
Dips can also be done at home using two chairs’ arms as “dip bars”, one on each side. You can also use a sofa arm to support your hands. To elevate your feet, you can use a chair or another elevated surface.
Target Muscle Groups: Back and arm, shoulder, abdomen, glutes, and shoulder. After mastering the pull-ups and dips, you can move on to the muscle-up. This is a more difficult, gymnastic-like move that emphasizes explosive power. Try performing muscle-ups on a bar instead of using rings if you are a beginner.
Here’s how you can do a muscle-up with the bar:
- Grab the bar with both your hands and jump up. Use a false grip to grab it (your wrists should be at an angle).
- Swing back and forth on the bar to create momentum. Once you feel ready, quickly bring your knees up to your chest and raise your chin toward the bar.
- By bending your arms forward and rolling your upper body slightly above the bar, you can also bend your arms. To gain enough momentum, you can kick your legs out to move your chest above the bar.
- Next, place your hands on the bar and extend your arms straight out. Keep in mind to switch from a false grip to an actual grip.
Although the muscle-up can be difficult to master, it will help you build your upper body strength as well as explosiveness.
Target Muscle Groups: Upper (shoulder, triceps, and back) and Lower (quads and hamstrings). The mountain climber mimics the movements of real climbers and gives your body a serious workout. This calisthenics exercise engages key muscle groups from the top to the bottom. It is an efficient, full-body workout that builds strength and agility, as well as coordination.
Avoid injury by straightening your back and engaging your core during the exercise. You should keep your body balanced so that you don’t bounce on your toes. Your shoulders should rest directly above your wrists. Start slow. Once you have perfected the form, speed up for a great sweat.
Target Muscle Groups: Upper (triceps and shoulder, chest, back, and abdominals) as well as lower (hips and quads), (hamstrings and glutes). Burpees are one of the most effective calisthenics exercises. They increase your heart rate, which can lead to better metabolism and endurance. You can add it to your next workout if you are looking for a total-body workout.
Is Calisthenics Training Right for You?
Calisthenics workouts are suitable for all fitness levels due to their difficulty and intensity. For beginners who are just starting a fitness program, you can try the jumping jack to increase your heart rate.
A burpee or mountain climbing can be a great way to get a complete workout for an experienced athlete. You can take on more challenging forms like the planche and the handstand pushup if you are up for the challenge.
However, calisthenics might not be the right choice if you are looking to target a particular muscle group. A bodybuilding program may be better suited for you if your goal is to gain muscle mass and strength with specific compound exercises like deadlifts and barbell squats.
Calisthenics workouts are a great option for your next exercise session. Calisthenics is making a comeback. This age-old method of bodyweight training is easy to use, affordable, and highly effective. Many of the above-mentioned workouts can be done at home without the need to have a personal trainer, a gym membership or exercise equipment. Calisthenics might be the best training program.