What is Calisthenics?

Like any other industry, sports and fitness have their own trends emerging. A set of exercises being popularized – though the overwhelming majority of them are widely known – called calisthenics claims to offer a lot of benefits. One of its advantages is that it enables one to keep fit without having to purchase gym membership: all you need to exercise is your body.

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Like any other industry, sports and fitness have their own trends emerging. A set of exercises being popularized – though the overwhelming majority of them are widely known – called calisthenics claims to offer a lot of benefits. One of its advantages is that it enables one to keep fit without having to purchase gym membership: all you need to exercise is your body.

Cali-what?

Calisthenics is a word that is comprised of two words of Greek origin, namely kallos (“good”) and sthenos (“strength”). The term denotes a set of exercises aimed at developing physique by means of using an athlete’s own body weight. That’s right – no gym, no equipment.

Probably the most economical way of staying in shape, calisthenics exercises can vary in rhythm and intensity. Since there is no special equipment used, the key motions are squats, push-ups, stretching, bending, chin-ups, jumping, and the like. The trend dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, when it was promoted by the German “father of gymnastics” Friedrich Ludwig Jahn and a gymnast Adolf Spiess.

Common calisthenics exercises

Another name for calisthenics is body-weight training, as no added weight is used. There are exercises for all training levels, from beginners to experienced athletes.

  • Upper-body exercises. There are two key calisthenic exercises of this kind, namely pull-ups and push-ups. Push-ups are a good way to build triceps muscles, as well as muscles in shoulders and chest. Besides, you can improve muscular endurance and build core muscles. Pull-ups, the bane of many a young man, are good for biceps and the back. Some calisthenics proponents use medicine balls to combine them with push-ups: it can be a challenge even for advanced sportsmen. One might argue that pull-ups violate the no-equipment rule, but you can use a tree branch (make sure you don’t break it – the exercises must be tree-friendly!). To make exercising more convenient, buy a pull-up bar to be able to do it even in winter.
  • Lower-body exercises. Squats are a good way of increasing lower-body strength. If you find common squats rather boring (are you sure you are doing it right?), try pistols. No, no guns please – it’s one-legged squats that put your strength to the test. Another calisthenic exercise that belongs to this category is lunges.

Other exercises may include front and back levers, dips, hyperextensions, leg raises, planks, etc.

What are the benefits of calisthenics?

Well, these exercises are beneficial for health in that they help maintain a certain level of physical activity without focusing on a particular body part. Besides, it does not require any investments. You can exercise anywhere, including your home.

Not only does it increase strength, but it also contributes to body coordination, flexibility, and muscular control. Even beginners can do it, and in most cases it is rather safe.

How can I find calisthenics programs?

There is a wide range of calisthenics websites and YouTube channels. Calisthenics Academy offers different programs, an app for exercising, and other things to find out more about the trend. Note that their services are not for free.

School of Calisthenics and THENX are alternative resources with workout programs. For those who want something to try calisthenics, there are many YouTube videos, like those by Al Kavadlo.

Before you try calisthenics, make sure you do not suffer from any disease that may be exacerbated by exercising. Consult your doctor first to find out whether it’s a good way of increasing physical strength in your particular case.

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