January 8, 2024

Calisthenics: What it is and benefits for beginners

 In this blog post, we will talk about the different calisthenics exercises and workouts, mention some of its health benefits and also give a guide on how you can perform more commonly known ‘calisthenics drills’ or routines. It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner or advanced, as calisthenics can be approached in an individualized manner to provide the fitness goals of your choice and help you obtain fitter and more toned body.

TL;DR – Aaron’s Summary

  • Calisthenics is a type of exercise using bodyweight movement
  • Enhances fitness levels and muscle mass
  • Good way of keeping fit without having to go for expensive gym memberships or external weights.

1. Introduction to Calisthenics Workouts

Calisthenics workouts refer to exercises where certain muscle groups are addressed through the use of bodyweight movements and overall fitness level is enhanced. Unlike other forms of weightlifting, calisthenics does not use anything else but a person’s own body mass as resistance to their muscles which makes it the most versatile and available form or training for people from different ages and fitness levels.

Aaron doing a pull-up at a gym pull-up bar - step 1

Aaron doing a pull-up at a gym pull-up bar - step 1

2. Health Benefits of Calisthenics

Some of the key benefits include:

1. Improved Muscle Strength: In calisthenics exercises, many muscle groups are targeted and it leads to improved strength and endurance of the muscles.

2. Weight Loss: Calisthenics workouts are an efficient approach to reducing the fat and burning calories, especially with proper nutrition plan.

3. Increased Flexibility: The wide range of motion involved in many calisthenics movements also helps improve your flexibility and joint mobility.

4. Enhanced Cardiovascular Health: Cardiovascular health and endurance can be significantly improved by calisthenics workouts, which frequently include high-intensity movements.

5. Functional Strength: If calisthenics exercises are performed, they resemble everyday activities and enhance overall functional strength making performing daily tasks easier.

3. Common Misconceptions About Calisthenics

Bodyweight Training, also known as Calisthenics, has come to be very popular within the recent past. Nonetheless, a lot of popular myths about calisthenics also need to be dispelled like any other form of sport. In this chapter, we are going to clarify these myths and give you the true facts about calisthenics.

Misconception 1: True calisthenics is only for beginners or those people which aren’t able to afford a fitness club membership.

Truth: This program is appropriate for people with any fitness levels, ranging from beginners to advanced athletes. It does not apply only to those people who cannot afford a gym membership. Actually, many professional athletes use calisthenics in their training regimens to increase strength, the flexibility of joints and improve overall performance.

Misconception 2: Weightlifting is much more effective than calisthenics for growing muscles.

Truth: Unlike traditional weightlifting, calisthenics is just as good for building muscle. Alternatives like bodyweight exercises do boost functional strength as they train several muscle groups at once. Additionally, calisthenics gives a wider range of movement which facilitates better muscle activation and growth.

Misconception 3: Experienced weightlifters are not challenged by calisthenics.

Truth: Calisthenics can be a real challenge even for experienced weightlifters. Calisthenics movements like muscle-ups, planches and handstand push ups require a lot of strength, balance coordination. These movements can stress even the strongest weightlifters.

Misconception 4: Calisthenics does not involve the use of equipment.

Truth: Speaking of calisthenics, although this method mostly uses bodyweight exercises there is some equipment that can boost your training. In a regular calisthenics routine, the use of pull-up bars , parallel bars , resistance bands and gymnastic rings is common as these can add variety to workout routines or make them more challenging. However, it is noted that these equipment are not essential for beginners and they can be added slowly as you advance.

Aaron doing a pull-up at a gym pull-up bar - step 2

Aaron doing a pull-up at a gym pull-up bar - step 2

4. The Most Common Calisthenics Exercises Explained

4.1 Pull-up Bar Exercises

Pulling up on a bar is one of the popular training methods for calisthenics. Pull-up bar training works the upper body, specifically the back, arms and shoulders. Some common pull-up bar exercises include:

- Pull-ups: Grab the bar with an overhand grip, your hands being shoulder-width apart from one another and pull up yourself towards it until your chin is above the bar. Bring yourself back to the initial position.

- Chin-ups: They are like pull-ups but underhand grip. This exercise mainly focuses on biceps.

4.2 Compound Movements

Compound movements include several muscle groups and are a great way to strengthen the entire body including muscles. Some compound movements commonly performed in calisthenics include:

- Push-ups: Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Drop your body down until your chest nearly touches the ground, then push back to first position.

- Squats: feet hip width apart toes slightly turned out. Bend and push your hips back to lower your body, then straighten up again.

4.3 Exercises with Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are a multipurpose equipment which can be used to augment extra resistance in calisthenics exercises. Some exercises that can be performed with resistance bands include:

- Mountain climbers: Place the resistance band around your ankles and stand in a plank position. Alternatively try to pull up your knees towards you simulating climbing actions.

- Reverse lunges with resistance band: Take your right foot backward and bend both knees, lowering the body. To get back to the starting position, drive through your left foot.

4.4 Exercises with Free Weights:

While calisthenics primarily works with your own body weight, the addition of free weights can ramp up your exercise sessions. Some exercises that can be performed with free weights include:

- Single-leg squats with dumbbells: Hold a dumbbell in both hands and elevate your right foot off the floor. Then lower your body into a squat position on this left leg returning again to the starting step.

- Front lever with a barbell: Grasp barbell with an overhand grip, your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Hang from the bar and pull up your body until it is level with the ground while contracting your core and back muscles.

4.5 Exercises with Own Bodyweight

Calisthenics is beautiful because it allows one to use their own body weight as resistance. Some common bodyweight exercises include:

- Push-ups: As previously stated, push-ups are commonly incorporated in calisthenics routines and they focus on the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

- Pull-ups: Pull-ups are to work on the back, biceps and shoulders bar.

5. Calisthenics Versus Weights

One of the main controversial issues in fitness circle is calisthenics vs weightlifting . Both types of exercise also have their own distinct advantages, and the decision to opt for one form over another relies on your purposes as well as personal choice. This chapter will discuss the distinctions between calisthenics and weights in order to assist you with making a good choice.

5.1. Benefits of Calisthenics

  1. Convenience: In that view, the activity of calisthenics can be performed in any place at any time without requiring special equipment or belong to a gym. This makes it a very convenient form of exercise, especially for those who do not have enough past time or facilities to keep fit.
  2. Functional Strength: Calisthenics is based on increasing functional strength meaning that performance of real movements and activities is being enhanced. By training with your bodyweight, you build strength that is relevant to daily activities such as lifting objects, walking up a staircase and keeping stability.
  3. Increased Flexibility: Many of the calisthenics activities demand a wide range-of motion and contribute to flexibility as well. Practicing movements, such as squats, lunges and bridges regularly can help in enhancing the flexibility of joints thus preventing injuries.
  4. Core Strength: Since core muscles are constantly stabilizing the body during exercise, they’re heavily engaged in calisthenics. Strong core improves posture, balance and overall athletic performance.

5.2. Benefits of Weightlifting

  1. Muscle Hypertrophy: Weightlifting, more so with the concept of progressive overload is a very good way to build muscle. Through the use of external weights, you can focus on a specific muscle group to stimulate muscle development.
  2. Strength Gains: Weightlifting is an activity in which you can steadily intensify the mass lifted, and therefore develop strength endlessly. This is especially good for people who want to enhance their maximal strength and power.
  3. Bone Density: Weightlifting enhances bone density, thus mitigating the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Weightlifting puts stress on the bones, and this stimulates bone growth and remodeling.
  4. Metabolic Boost: Weightlifting is an intensive activity that increases your metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories even hours after completing your workout. This is helpful for those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy body composition.
Aaron doing a pull-up at a gym pull-up bar - step 3

Aaron doing a pull-up at a gym pull-up bar - step 3

6.  Progression Calisthenics Workout

Progression in calisthenics means the constant upgrading of exercise difficulty as you get stronger and better. This chapter will take you through a beginner-to-intermediate progression calisthenics workout.

6.1. Warm-up

1. Joint Rotations: Gently rotate your neck, shoulders, wrists hips knees and ankles to warm up the joints and increase mobility.

2. Dynamic Stretches: Do dynamic stretches like leg swings, arm circles and torso rotations to warm up the muscles before work- out.

6.2. Workout

1. Push-ups:

- Beginner: Begin with knee pushups , body straight and lower your chest to the ground.

- Intermediate: Go to standard push-ups, where there’s a straight line from head to toes and when lowering your chest try touching the ground with it.

2. Squats:

- Beginner: Start using assisted squats where you hold onto a stable object to help maintain balance. Bring your hips back and down while keeping the knees tracking over toes.

- Intermediate: Graduate to bodyweight squats where you perform the movement on your own. Focus on having a good posture and developing deeper breathing.

3. Pull-ups:

- Beginner: Start with an assisted pullup using a resistance band or by jumping to get the movement started. Try to bring your chest closer to the bar.

- Intermediate: This eccentric movement builds strength.

4. Planks:

- Beginner: Start with forearm planks- resting on your forearms and toes while maintaining a straight line body.

- Intermediate: Continue to full planks-supporting your entire body on hands and toes. Bring your core into play and have a straight line from head to toes

5. Lunges:

- Beginner: Start with the static lunges where you step forward on one leg and then lower your back knee to toward ground level. Alternate between legs.

- Intermediate: Switch to walking lunges, where you step forward and bend down your back knee towards the ground. Concentration should be on keeping balance and control.

6.3. Cool-down:

1. Static Stretches: Use the major muscle groups involved in your workout and perform 20-30 second static stretching. Focus on the chest, shoulders, hips quadriceps hamstrings and calves.

Remember, practicing calisthenics is tailored to the individual and you should only move onto a different level when it feels comfortable for you with your current exercises. Always listen to your body and place the emphasis on good form and technique first rather than in going faster or stronger.

7. How To Start As A Complete Calisthenics Beginner

Taking the first step in embarking on a new fitness journey may seem daunting, but once you embrace and adapt to the calisthenics process it can turn out exciting. In this chapter, we will take you through the initial stages of starting calisthenics.

1. Assess Your Fitness Level: Before beginning with calisthenics, you should evaluate your present level of fitness. Identify your stretching, strength and cardiovascular endurance to see where you measure. This will allow you to establish achievable objectives and monitor improvements.

2. Set Clear Goals: Set meaningful and concrete objectives you wish to achieve through calisthenics. An objective direction whether it be for increasing strength, improving flexibility or mastering specific advanced movements will keep you motivated and focused.

3. Learn Proper Technique: The right technique can help avoid injuries and get the most out of your workouts. Spend some time to learn the right method for each snowball exercise, paying attention not only to how your body is aligned but also what muscles should be involved and when you need to use specific breathing techniques. Try to work with an experienced trainer or use the internet resources as a source of advice.

4. Start with the Basics: Start your calisthenics with basic exercises that involve large muscle groups. Push-ups, squats, lunges , planks and assisted pull ups are great base. Mastering these exercises will provide a good foundation for more advanced movements.

5. Establish a Routine: Consistency is key in calisthenics. Develop a training plan that fits your lifestyle and stick to it. Attempt to perform at least three or four sessions per week, ensuring that sufficient time for rest is given after workouts.

6. Track Your Progress: Write down your workouts. Record the exercises, sets, reps and any changes or advancements made during them. This will allow you to monitor your progress and find areas where improvement is needed. Additionally, take pictures or measurements at regular intervals to visually monitor your physique changes.

7. Listen to Your Body: When training, listen to your body. You should also change the exercise or go to a specialist in case you feel pain or discomfort. Rest and recovery are as important, so listen to your body’s demand for rest days in order not to overstrain it or get injured.

8. Stay Motivated: Training using calisthenics can sometimes be difficult, but being persistent and keeping motivated is important for a long-term result. Finding a training partner or joining an encouraging environment to share your process with. Celebrate small wins, set new objectives and enjoy the journey of constant improvement.

Aaron doing a pull-up at a gym pull-up bar - step 4

Aaron doing a pull-up at a gym pull-up bar - step 4

8. Get Started Today: 10 Best Bodyweight Workouts for Everybody

  1. Squats: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, toes turned out slightly. Raise your body by bending the knees and pushing your hips back, then straighten up.
  2. Push-ups: Start with your hands shoulder-width apart in a plank position. Bring your body down so that the chest close touches the ground, and then back up to a starting point.
  3. Lunges: Make your right foot step forward and bend down so that the upper part of your thigh is parallel with the ground. Press through your right heel to start at the original position and repeat it on the left side.
  4. Plank: Assume a push-up position with your forearms instead of hands on the ground. This will engage your core; hold for as long you can.
  5. Mountain climbers: Assume a plank position and pretend to climb the knees towards your chest.
  6. Burpees: So begin by standing and squatting down, putting your hands on the ground. Bring your feet back into push-up position, do a push-up and then jump up with your feet towards the hands while standing.
  7. Jumping jacks: Begin with both your feet together and hands just by you. Leap your feet wide apart with extending arms above the head, and jump back to position zero.
  8. Plank leg lifts: Lie in a plank pose and raise one leg off the floor with it being straight. Hold for a while, and then place the leg down again and repeat with your other foot.
  9. Bicycle crunches: Lie down on your back with each hand behind the head of you and both legs raised from ground. Bring your right elbow to the left knee and extend out your right leg, now switch sides.
  10. Superman: Lie prone with your arm outstretched overhead and legs straight. Lift your arms, chest and legs off the ground while helping with back muscles. 5 seconds hold, back to lower and repeat.

9. Conclusion

Calisthenics is a very diverse technique of increasing the level of fitness and muscle mass using only your own body weight. Everyone, irrespective of their prowess in calisthenics workouts can reach to any attainable goal. Based on a set of calisthenics exercises like pull-up bar work, compound movements, resistive bands and free weights training as wells bodyweight activities you can prepare an effective workout regime.

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