What comes to mind when you think about calisthenics? Children doing their morning exercises at school? Military men performing boring exercises in their fatigue uniforms? Jumping jacks and sit-ups are old school movements that most people don’t have much enthusiasm to do.
But, when they were included in the boot camps, obstacle race training, and Crossfit, people became more interested and excited to perform calisthenics. This can be attributed to the more improved packaging and marketing that convince people to try them.
What is Calisthenics?
Calisthenics comes from two Greek words: “Kalos” which means beauty and “Sthenos” which means strength. Calisthenics has been re-branded to body weight training. It uses little to no equipment to shape and sculpt your body through natural movements. This form of exercise allows you to train without weights anytime and anywhere you like. The most basic body weight exercises include pull ups, push ups, chin ups, dips, squats, jumps, lunges, leg raises, and more.
For all kind of sports, this is a good strength training that helps in losing weight and a good foundation for those who wants to bodybuild in the future.
Calisthenics versus Weights
Comparing calisthenics and weights, each has their own set of pros and cons. Selecting your exercise type depends on your fitness goals, the results that you want to achieve, and the manner by which you want to get them. Calisthenics can be as effective as weight training because what you can do with weights, you can also perform them using body weight.
You can achieve lean, ripped, and athletic body with calisthenics but if you want to bulk up like bodybuilders then you have to lift weights. Learning the advantages and disadvantages of calisthenics and weight training will help you decide what’s best for you.
The Pros and Cons of Calisthenics and Weights
Weight training is a faster way of bulking up muscles, but it can be hard on the joints due to the extra pressure. Meanwhile, calisthenics when properly performed is better on the joints, but it will not build muscles fast.
- Perfect for beginners because no advanced skills required.
- It improves the range of motion and flexibility.
- There is a low risk of injury.
- No gym membership required.
- Exercises can be done anytime, anywhere.
- Slower muscle growth than weight training.
- Lifting huge weights is not possible.
- You cannot build up huge muscle mass.
- There will be less range of motion and flexibility.
- Can be expensive because you will need lots of expensive weights and equipment.
- Need to buy costly machines and weights or pay for a membership in a gym that provides all equipment that you’ll need.
- The heavier the weight that you lift, the higher the risk of injury.
- You need to consult a personal trainer due to the high risk of injury.
- You can build muscles faster.
- It will make you strong enough to pick up heavy weights.
- This is the only way to gain a bodybuilder physique.
How to Begin with Calisthenics?
Calisthenics is not difficult to start. You have to choose a program that is very simple and easy, follow the specified set routine, and perform them for a specific period. Stick to pre-planned workouts for beginners until you have acquired the muscle memory and skills before you shift to intermediate workouts and later on, to advanced routines.
But first, you should assess your starting position before starting out the routine. People have different capabilities and limitations. Some can do the bodyweight squat, and some cannot. Simple push up may not be a problem with others, but you cannot do it. Choose a workout plan that does not include the exercises that you cannot possibly perform, or your effort will be wasted. The most basic bodyweight exercises are standard push up, knee and leg raise, bodyweight squat, ab crunch, and bodyweight lunge.
After you have made this assessment then you do the following steps:
Define your goals. The type of workout that you choose will largely depend on your goals. Do you want to achieve weight loss? Do you want to gain strength and muscle mass? Or do you want to improve your stamina and endurance?
Determine your availability. People fail to achieve the results that they want because they were not able to establish how much time they can spend on exercising per week. The ideal time for beginners would be 30 minutes to one hour of exercise for at least three times a week.
Identify the equipment that you’ll use if you want more remarkable results. Although calisthenics can be done without any equipment, adding a pull-up bar or an ab wheel can make a big difference. These equipment are not expensive, but they are just optional with bodyweight training.
Four Sets of Calisthenics Workout for Beginners
At home calisthenics workout
This 3-set routine will let you exercise during commercial breaks of your favourite TV show.
- Do ten reps of pushups
- Using a sturdy ottoman or chair, do ten dips
- Do a plank and hold for 30 seconds
- Lie on your back and do ten reps of leg raises
- Do ten reps of squats
The Playground Calisthenics Routine
With the help of a pull-up bar or park bench, do three sets of 10 of the following exercises:
- Squat jumps
- Calf raises
Hotel Calisthenics Exercises
Traveling will not disrupt your calisthenics routine. You can do three sets of each in your hotel room or the lobby gym:
- 10 reps of lateral lunge in each side
- 10 reps of squats
- 10 pushups
- 20 reps of crunches
- 1 minute plank
Playing and exercising in the sand is more fun yet very physically challenging. This 3-set exercises will not be very difficult to execute as beach volleyball.
- Do ten reps of Burpees
- Squat ten times
- Do walking lunges for ten times
- Do ten reps of jumping jacks
- Mountain climb for ten reps
Calisthenics is easy to follow and will be less risky for beginners. It will help you achieve a leaner and ripped physique without spending much. You cannot skip it even when you’re travelling because you can do it anytime in any place. If done correctly, you can experience results in just a few months.
Bodyweight training takes patience, commitment, and discipline. If you are on the heavy side, it is best that you shed some pounds first with diet and cardio training before doing calisthenics.
And most of all, never give up!