If you’ve been around fitness circles for some time it is likely that you have heard of the term ‘calisthenics’ at some point. It is growing to become a popular form of exercise for many people, and many enjoy its benefits. So, what is calisthenics? Simply put, calisthenics is a form of exercise that consists of a variety of movements that are performed with little to no equipment. It involves the use of your own body weight in order to carry out different kinds of exercises. These exercises make full use of your motor skills. Some examples are pulling, bending, pushing or swinging the body in various ways to achieve specific body forms.
Thinking of it this way, there are many kinds of exercises that can be described as calisthenics. Pull-ups, push-ups, lunges, squats, dips and planks are well-known examples. Within a proper calisthenics program, they come in different variations, each targeting a different muscle group in the body.
In essence, calisthenics is a form of exercise that makes full use of your own weight to help you work out different parts of your body.
Calisthenics is Ancient!
Step into a gym today and the first thing that you will notice is the countless machines waiting for you to get started. It is great these machine are available and make workout routines easier. But how did people manage before these workout machines existed?
Before modern-day gyms, people relied on what they had: their own bodies. Some of the earliest known instances of calisthenics date back to around 400 B.C., when Greek soldiers would build body strength with calisthenics exercises.
While earliest practices were noted in Greece, it was far from the only country to apply the principles of calisthenics. Shaolin monks in China back in 500 B.C. used the principle to strengthen their bodies, allowing them to ward off intruders if all peaceful resolutions failed. Calisthenics is, in fact, one of the oldest known types of training.
The word ‘calisthenics’ is actually derived from the Greek words ‘kalos’ and ‘sthenos’. ‘Kalos’ means ‘beautiful’ and refers to the pleasing aesthetic nature of the human body. The Greeks were fascinated with the human body. This can be seen in a lot of their scientific and artistic depictions of the perfect form. ‘Sthenos’ translates to ‘strength’ and refers to mental courage, strength and determination. Together, these two words describe calisthenics perfectly as the art of building your physique by mastering your own bodyweight.
The 4 Greatest Benefits
So what do people gain from a proper calisthenics training routine? There are a number of reasons why calisthenics is a preferred way to exercise.
1. Increased body strength and endurance
Every time you train, you use the weight of your own body to exercise specific muscle groups. This makes the muscle groups stronger, and better able to support your body weight in return. It is a kind of resistance training. And numerous studies have found this to increase average energy expenditure.
The stronger your muscles get, the longer you will be able to hold certain positions and the more reps or sets you can perform. It builds your overall endurance, allowing you to further your calisthenics training each time.
2. Improved biomechanics of the body
Calisthenics teaches the body to be more balanced and better coordinated. Even your posture improves in the process. It is a form of gymnastics that needs you to balance to support various postures. Countless studies link this form of exercise to better motor coordination and body balance.
3. Better mental health
The best thing about calisthenics is the fact that it doesn’t benefit only your body. Your mind benefits from it as well. Because once you become aware of what your body can do, it leads to an enlightening and confidence-boosting feeling. In addition, this form of exercise has also been linked to reducing symptoms of depression since it can uplift your mood drastically. A good calisthenics workout causes the body to release endorphins that fight the effects of stress.
4. Very affordable
You really don’t need any expensive machinery to get the most out of your calisthenics exercises. All you need is your body and a place for you to exercise. And that is all. It is a very affordable way to get your body fit without breaking the bank. That is why we do not sell unnecessarily expensive calisthenics equipment but only the items that are really useful.
How to Get Into Calisthenics
Knowing everything that you do about calisthenics, it is understandable that you want to know where to start. Fortunately, getting into calisthenics is very easy. The following pointers will get you ready to start.
- Find a place to do your exercises
Since you don’t need any heavy machinery for a workout, you can really exercise anywhere. A lot of calisthenics parks are on the rise and many of them could be a great location to get started. You could even do it in your backyard and still get the same benefits.
- Craft a simple beginner plan
Start with a simple routine that includes a limited set of exercises that can be carried out over a short period of time. Exercises like squats, planks, push-ups, lunges, mountain climbers, leg raises, crunches and sit-ups are great beginner exercises. Have about 3 or 4 cycles of 8 to 10 reps of about 5 or 6 different kinds of exercises before resting. During your training you can increase the intensity of each exercise and incorporate even more complex exercises in your routine.
Calisthenics is a tried and tested type of exercise that has served man for centuries. And you can enjoy it just as much as the ancient Greeks did! Put together a simple calisthenics workout routine and get started on your fitness journey today!