I’ve heard of this, but what is it?
Calisthenics is exercise that only uses the weight of your own body to build muscle. Examples are push ups, pull ups, squats or sit ups. Calisthenic exercises can be done anywhere, at any time with no expensive gym membership or expensive equipment. They also build lean, strong muscle and promote fat loss.
Why use my body weight instead of actual weights?
For most people starting out on their fitness journey, or those looking for lean toned muscle over mass, your body weight is more than enough resistance. If you consistently do the same machined weights at a gym you will get very strong at that particular movement, but overall strength, mobility and stability will not improve. By using your body weight as resistance and having to stabilise your body, you are working many more muscle groups at the same time.
Proper calisthenics training will promote the growth of lean muscle mass, and increase your strength, mobility, flexibility, agility, and endurance. Proper strength training via weight lifting routine will promote the growth of muscle mass and strength. Both options are great, but have different results, so it really depends on your aims. Many people may start out with calisthenics training, build a strong, lean, healthy body, and consider moving on to weight lifting to build additional mass.
What are some good beginner calisthenic exercises?
As mentioned at the beginning, some of the classic calisthenic exercises are :
By doing these exercises regularly you are working all the major muscle groups. These exercises are also used regularly in HIT (high intensity training), HIIT (high intensity interval training), MRT (metabolic resistance training). The reason? Because they work! If you’d like to check out some of these exercises, we have them on our blog, just click here.
Think you will get bored of these 4 exercises? Wrong. There are literally hundred of variations of these exercises. Simply Google ‘press up variations’ and you will see countless articles, with anywhere from 5 to 82 different variations, and that’s just push ups! Below we list a few of these so that you can spice them up a little, and even create your own mini daily routine. By adding just 3 reps of one variation of each of these 4 calisthenic exercises to your daily routine, you will see your body shape change over time as your build muscle and burn fat through increased calorie burn.
Push up variations:
- Traditional push up
- Close hand push up (hands touching)
- One legged push up (alternate leg)
- Push up with T rotation (reach one hand up to the sky at the top of the push up)
- Burpee push up (push up, then jump to feet and jump into the air, then back down for next push up)
- Downward dog push up (bring your feet closer to where your knees would normally be, keep back straight and bend at the hip)
Pull up variations:
- Traditional pull up (hands at shoulder width)
- Wide grip pull up (hands further apart to work shoulders and lats more)
- Close grip pull up (hand touching to wrok biceps more)
- One handed pull up (this is for the stronger athlete!)
- Knee raise pull up (traditional pull up with a knee raise when in the lifted position)
- Standard squat (legs shoulder width apart with fee facing forward, back straight, hips should drop to knee level when squatting)
- Wide squat (as above but with feet wider apart, and dip lower when in the squat)
- Squat jumps (Same as standard squat but incorporate a squat jump as you rise back up)
Sit up variations:
- Traditional sit up (feet on floor, lets bend, back flat on floor, raise body up towards knees)
- V sits (bum on floor, legs straight, raised from the floor, back also just off the floor, bring knees and chest together above waist, and slowly release and repeat)
- Toe touch sit up (legs in the air, crunch your body upwards and try and touch your toes)
- Leg raises (back flat on floor, legs straight, raise legs up to be vertical then lower back down, try not to let your feet touch the floor, repeat)
And there you have it, Calisthenics in a nutshell! Keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page for upcoming explainer videos too.