Calisthenics training has been around for thousands of years and has truly passed the test of time. You can probably attest for this yourself. Just think about it. How many different exercise programs have you seen come and go? You know, all those high intensity DVD’s that “promise” results in their commercials. Let’s not even get started on diet fads. My point here is that unlike the many different exercise protocols that have come and went throughout time, calisthenics training has proven itself to be not only highly effective, but highly relevant as well.
So, how has calisthenics training managed to avoid the horrific fate that countless of other training methods have been unable to overcome? There’s no secret here. See, it all goes back to the basics. Calisthenics training requires NO specialized equipment, NO fancy gym membership, and you’re going to like this one… it costs NOTHING to get started. This is due to the fact that virtually every calisthenics exercise can be done outside or at the comfort of your own home.
Exercises like pushups, pull ups, crunches, body weight lunges, and jumping jacks are all well-known calisthenics exercises. They require nothing more than your own body weight and the will to push forward. To no surprise, most people perform some type of calisthenics here and there in their daily exercise routines. If you’re using nothing but your own body weight to perform an exercise, then that’s calisthenics. As with virtually all other training protocols, there’s a spectrum of difficulty in relation to the complexity of each individual exercise. So, you can easily manipulate how challenging you chose to make your calisthenics workouts.
Now that you know more about calisthenics training, let’s get into how it can greatly aid in taking your body to the next level. Besides the versatility that calisthenics allows for (i.e., being able to train virtually anywhere), it’s very unique in the sense that it encompasses the three main types of fitness: Power, Endurance, and Hypertrophy (muscle growth). Let’s explore deeper to see how calisthenics makes this happen.
Can calisthenics really build power?
The definition of calisthenics is that it is comprised of a multitude of gymnastics exercises, among many other types of movements. If you’re unaware, gymnasts must exercise a high degree of power in order to perform their routines. You may be scratching your head right now. Possibly thinking, “How can those skinny guys be powerful?” Well, if this happens to be you, I then encourage you to watch some Olympic footage of the best gymnasts in the world. I can assure you that you’ll change your tune.
Power is the combination of speed and strength. Calisthenics exercises like the push up clap and the infamous muscle-up are the epitome of power. What’s even more impressive about these difficult movements? Well, there’s no extra weight added! Be that as it may, most people cannot even perform one repetition of these two exercises. But fear not! Like virtually every difficult calisthenics exercise that exists, they carry within themselves an array of much easier movements (i.e., progressions) that you can take on before trying the difficult stuff right away.
Increasing your muscular endurance
A lot of calisthenics training involves isometric movements. Isometric exercises are those where there is no concentric (positive) or eccentric (negative) portion of the repetition. Instead, there is only a stagnant hold by which your muscles remain contracted. This type of training greatly builds muscular endurance, especially if the time-under-tension in increased to a more than comfortable duration. Increasing muscular endurance can aid you in a plethora of ways. Whether you need more muscular endurance to swim longer, climb higher, or to perform your lifts for more repetitions, attaining more muscular stamina is a must.
One of the most popular isometric calisthenics exercises out there is the infamous elbow plank. This exercise is the epitome of total muscular endurance. Go ahead and try it out for yourself! Try to hold this pose for 60 seconds or two minutes if you think you have the stomach for it! Isometric exercises such as these are paramount to developing a healthier, more fit physique. Muscular stamina in general is very important, especially as we age. Stay ahead of the game by trying out some isometric calisthenics exercises. Remember, NO weights required!
Using calisthenics for muscle growth
Perhaps this is the main reason as to why you clicked on this article in the first place? Either way, you’ll be comforted to know that calisthenics is incredible for muscle growth. Many fundamental bodybuilding exercises are rooted in calisthenics training. Pushups, dips, chin ups, and calf raises are all integral components necessary to attaining a well-balanced physique. You may be wondering, “I thought big weight meant big muscle? How can I get big with no added weight?” That’s a great question. Let’s me explain how this is so…
For one, if you’re new to calisthenics training then the mere fact that your body isn’t used to these movements will aid in promoting new muscle growth. This is a concept known as muscle confusion. So, with this being said, using such a training technique can help you to overcome the ever-terrifying plateau. If you find yourself performing tons of repetitions on pushups or pull ups due to high levels of strength, then you can easily make the exercise more difficult by increasing the timeunder-tension, widening your hand position, or performing more sets (i.e., high volume training). The sky is truly the limit. All it requires is for you to be creative.
Calisthenics training can indefinitely take your physique to the next level! It truly covers all three main aspects of fitness: Power, Endurance, and Hypertrophy. Power exercises like muscle ups and deep jump squats greatly aid in increasing that speed to strength ratio. Endurance exercises like elbow planks and static pull up holds help to increase your muscle’s overall stamina. And hypertrophy movements like pushups and dips help to add extra mass to your physique. However, the real beauty of this training protocol comes with the fact that it requires so little. You don’t have to waste your time driving to a gym, there’s no need to buy expensive exercise equipment, and you have the autonomy to take your workouts where you go. So, get out there and see for yourself how calisthenics can take your body to the next level!
(Image source here)