When we think of “working out” typically we think of going to a gym, or at least of lifting weights. This can be true, but not all the time. A workout can be achieved anywhere with practically anything, including: your very own bodyweight! This is where incorporating calisthenic routines into your workout plan may be appealing since you can do these workouts from the comfort of your own home. No gym, or gym equipment required. First things first; what even are calisthenics?
Any exercise that does not involve the use of added weight, and solely body weight is considered to be a “calisthenic” exercise. In a world today filled with crossfit, bodybuilding, and olympic lifting it may not seem like calisthenics may be receiving the limelight, and this is true. Many of the popular workout routines of today are not focused around solely using bodyweight. Does mean they are bad? No! They are just targeting a different form of exercise and a different exercise response. Does this mean they are the best? Not exactly. Again, it depends on what the individual is looking to achieve through a workout. If you are looking to try to bench press 2 times your bodyweight, then hitting the weight room is a great idea. If you are looking for a great workout that’s quick and easy to do, then maybe calisthenics is the right choice for you! Calisthenics can be beneficial in a variety of ways, extending beyond the benefit of being able to perform them anywhere. They can help you to improve flexibility, muscular endurance, and strength.
Benefits of Calisthenic Exercises:
Calisthenics are known as one of the oldest forms of training. They attract many people due to simply the ease of working out anywhere with no equipment needed. Below are a few additional reasons why calisthenics may be the newest addition to your fitness training.
Performing a calisthenic workout in the form of a circuit is a great way to build muscular endurance. Performing a circuit 3-5 times through with limited rest will build up your body’s resistance to fatigue, kind of like a cardiovascular exercise. Continuing to perform these types of circuits with days of rest between can challenge your body to be able to handle more rounds of repetition prior to muscular exhaustion. Implementing a routine that works the entire body can help to build a muscular endurance for all of your muscle groups, including your cardiovascular system.
A lot of the movements incorporated into a calisthenic workout requires some degree of flexibility. Take for example: the lunge. To perform this exercise, your body needs movement throughout the hip to allow for the hip extension of the leg placed behind the body. You can even experience tightness through quads and hamstrings. Tightness that you may not even know of, will become evident through the addition of calisthenics to your training. Through increasing strength, your body will become adapted to increasing its flexibility to perform the movements correctly. Having proper range of motion, allows your body to utilize the correct muscle groups to perform an exercise. Inhibited muscles due to poor flexibility can develop incorrect muscle patterns! That being said, standard stretching should not be overlooked. It should be encouraged to perform dynamic stretching prior to calisthenic workouts.
This may seem like common sense that calisthenics would build strength, but it doesn’t just apply to muscular strength! Bodyweight exercises can also help to improve bone and joint strength as well. The US Military implements the use of calisthenics in their basic training to help build strength, but to also avoid injuries. Adding calisthenics also helps to build your muscular strength without the wear and tear that weightlifting can have on your body.
Upper Body Exercises:
Some of the most commonly known exercises for your upper body include: push ups and pull ups. Though these are well known, there are various forms of these exercises that you can incorporate into a circuit. Push ups work your chest, shoulders, and tricep muscles directly. Doing various forms such as: T-Push ups, Single Arm Raise, Shoulder Tap, or Clap Push ups. These various forms can help incorporate additional muscle groups such as your abdominals. Pulls ups also help to strengthen your posterior chain (back muscles.) They also help to improve your hand grip. You can vary this exercise by either widening or narrowing your grip. Additional forms of exercises can include: planking, inclined push-ups, and tricep dips.
Lower Body Exercises:
As the push up is famously known for an upper body exercise, the squat would be the equivalent in lower body exercises. Prior to performing a squat, it is also best to ensure that you have proper muscle activation in your glutes! Performing a few bridges can help to get your glutes firing. It is also best to squat within your range and try not to push outside your limits. Performing squats can also be doing in various forms. From a standard double leg squat, to single leg squatting with stability challenges. Adding in single leg squats can help test your coordination as well as strengthen and develop lower leg muscular function and activation. Another well known lower body calisthenic would be the lunge! This exercise can help develop strength in the quads as well as the glutes!
The gym is always a great place to increase your fitness, but don’t let it confine you. Fitness and strength can be achieved anywhere and that statement has never been made more true than through the use of Calisthenics. Not only strength building, calisthenics can help increase your cardiovascular fitness as well. Finding a calisthenic routine that works for you can help develop increased strength, flexibility, and stamina.