So what is calisthenics? It is essentially body weight training. It uses a range of motor movements such as running, standing, and grasping. The aim is to improve body strength, fitness and flexibility by pulling, pushing, jumping and swinging. It works on all of the components of fitness, with exercises such as push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges and sit ups.
One the great things about calisthenics is that you do not need to go to the gym and routines can be carried out at home with simple equipment. The list of exercises is extensive, all of which can help you build bigger muscles and improve your muscle endurance. It provides a great platform for all types of sports and can help with weight loss.
It really is a brilliant form of exercise, but like any fitness plan, it is important to start sensibly and not try the more demanding exercises until you have mastered the basics.
What are the basic calisthenics exercises?
Push ups, building strong muscles in the chest and triceps, with emphasis on the shoulders to a lesser degree.
Squats, working on the large muscle groups in the legs and engaging core muscles as stabilisers. Squats can be carried out in a range of directions and with weights to add further resistance.
Dips, in a number of variations. This strengthens the whole upper body and can utilise the core for stability and leg raising variations.
Pull ups, there are many variations. These will train muscles in the back, core, arms, shoulders and chest. The upper back does the most work in the basic pull up form but other areas can be trained harder with variations in form.
Abdominal exercises, having a strong core is essential for body weight exercises and there are a number of abdominal exercise variations in calisthenics.
This video has had over 1 million views and is a great guide for beginners.
Common calisthenics mistakes to avoid for beginners
Patience and perseverance
Don’t give up, show some patience, results can take time. If you need to, carry out very low repetitions to begin with. Train with the most basic exercises first, for example if a push up is tough, start by resting on your knees. If you find a pull up hard, start with an Australian pull up.
There may be a body part that you feel is letting you down. Find a way to concentrate on and train that body part and bring it into line with the rest of your physique.
Remember that the people you see pulling off the cool looking moves had to start somewhere, and that the biggest factor ti becoming good at anything is time and perseverance.
Many beginners gain satisfaction from carrying out a high number of repetitions at the expense of maintaining correct form. The when they do not see quick results they give up.
If you do not carry out the exercises properly then you will not see the true benefits from them. It is better to do 5 good pull ups than 20 improper ones. It is crucial to control the speed and go through the whole range of motion. Lying to yourself will not help you build strong muscles, it is an exercise in vanity!
These are body weight exercises. If your body weight is higher than you would like it to be, then the exercise will naturally be harder to perform. Concentrate on doing exercises that will bring your body weight down and eat well. Once you have dropped a few pounds then body weight exercises will become easier to perform. It will become a virtuous circle, when you are lighter you can exercise more and more unwanted weight will come off.
It is very easy to get carried away and push yourself too hard when you are starting out. Over-training will lead to injury and injury will prevent you from training. It’s better to keep training within your limits than to push yourself, get hurt and have to take time off.
Warming up before and cooling down after exercise are important to preventing injury. Dynamic stretches before training and static stretches afterwards are a great way to do this. These have the added benefit in improving flexibility which in turn will improve your performance.
If you are unsure on the exercises and number of reps when you first get started the video below has a good work out. However don’t risk using the door for pull ups has Francis has here!
Some more calisthenics videos
Once you are comfortable with basic level exercises you can move up to more challenging ones. The video below demonstrates some intermediate level training moves.
It will be quite some while before you progress to the moves in the next video. It’s here though to give you somewhere to aim for. Imagine how impressed people will be once you graduate to this level of body weight exercise!
The wrap up
Calisthenics are a great way to get a full body work out, building on muscle strength and endurance, balance, coordination and flexibility. It will take time to progress, but once you have mastered body weight exercise you will be incredibility fit and strong. Plus its a great way to show off your prowess to other people!
p.s. if you found this guide interesting and useful please like or share so others can find it more easily. Thanks!