October 24, 2018 6 min read

With the growing consciousness about health and fitness, a lot of people have decided to turn to gyms and find a workout routine that will work for them. But what if I told you that earlier in the day, all we ever needed to bulk up and tone our bodies were simply our very own weight? Welcome to the world of calisthenics.

What Is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics, also known as Bodyweight Training, makes use of your body weight in doing workout routines that target multiple muscle groups in your body. It is usually dismissed as the warm-up before doing more strenuous workouts, the pre-workout workout. What do lunges do for you? Push ups? Burpees? They’re all just meant to warm you up and loosen your muscles for the real thing. Hold on a minute. That’s not quite true.

Calisthenics is a resistance training workout that involves your body and your body alone. No added weights, no machines. It’s literally just your body giving itself the resistance it needs to build strength and muscles. It’s also a great way of measuring just how strong you are and how much fat your body because with calisthenics, every muscle group in your entire body needs to be able to carry its own weight to execute the movements flawlessly. The more fat you have, no matter how bulky you may look, you will not be able to execute the moves properly. Your body fat will not be able to hide behind big muscles because when you do calisthenics your muscles will tend to be longer and leaner looking.

Doing handstands is a great workout for your shoulder muscles

Bulking up using machines and weights is easier to accomplish because you see the weights that you are carrying or are planning carry and the goal is to be able to lift them easily. When you’re able to carry them with ease, then you can say that you have achieved your goal for that workout and you can move on to the next. With calisthenics, you use your own strength to carry your body and to build on the strength that’s already existing within you. It’s meant to push your body not to carry weights in short and sudden bursts of energy. It’s meant to push your body to maximize its strength enough for it to carry weights equal to your own body weight for an extended period of time.

Who does Calisthenics?

Do you remember being a kid playing in the playground and in the fun house where you were hanging from one rope to another, crouching and doing all kinds of stunts that you wouldn’t even begin to dream of doing today? You don’t do them either because you think they’re too ridiculous or simply because you couldn’t anymore. Early childhood play involves a lot of calisthenics movements and remembering how fun that was and how strong that made you feel should revitalize the love for this workout form. So why isn’t it as popular as going to the gym?

Calisthenics is a geat workout to establish muscle control.

It’s because it’s not easy. Calisthenics requires you to master your own body weight and to regain your balance, coordination, and self-awareness. It practices your capability of moving with your body with strength and fluidity. That’s something you normally wouldn’t associate with working out because people usually workout to build muscle and strength, not grace. However, people are now learning more about what this workout can do and what is capable of providing that there has been a resurgence of this workout routine in the fitness community.

Building Functional Muscles

When you do a bench press, you strengthen your chest muscles and some of your arm muscles. When you do a bicep curl, your workout your biceps. When you use a kettlebell to twist and turn, you use your obliques and your core. That is how it is to workout using added weights. You focus on muscle groups that are specific to that workout. In calisthenics, you workout multiple muscle groups in one go.

When you do a pull up, you workout your shoulder and back muscles as well as your biceps. When you a do one-arm push up, you workout your calves, your core, your chest, and your arms all in one go. This means that you strengthen and build resistance on different muscle groups as you would when you’re going about your day-to-day living. All your movements affect different parts of your body which would mean that strengthening your entire body will allow you greater mobility and strength that you can use outside of the gym.

Doing pull-ups strengthens your back and shoulder muscles

Aesthetically speaking, those who workout in the gym will indeed look bulkier as compared to those who do convict conditioning because the workout repetitions pumps their muscles and makes them that - bulky. It’s great for weightlifters and bodybuilders who intend to make their bodies strong and big. With calisthenics, your muscles look leaner and more elongated compared to those of body builders. You have muscles that are elongated and strong, and muscles that are made for endurance.

Strength That Thrives

When you do calisthenics, you are limited by the weight of your body. If that’s so, how can you build up on your strength and how can you make sure that your progress does not reach a plateau? The answer is simple: Change your form, up the challenge, and you will definitely see results that will show you that you have indeed moved up your level of strength.

By increase your body's strength the more challenging the workout is.

The workout is described in length in the book Convict Conditioning: The Forgotten Art of Bodyweight Training by Paul Wade. He discusses that in order for you to move up in this workout, you need to be able to challenge your own body into doing moves that it can develop other muscle groups while maintaining the strength that you have already built up on in your previous workouts. Doing calisthenics makes your body strong, flexible, and enduring. If you were to ask somebody who has been lifting weights consistently and has included some cardio workouts to do 20 clean one arm push ups, the chances that they would be able to do that is low because they were not trained for the kind of endurance and strength that calisthenics can afford.

By moving from a wall push up, to a floor push up, to a handstand, and finally, to doing a one-arm handstand with ease is something that you can only do by rigorous practice and the determination to move up from one phase of the workout into the next.

Loving Your Body and Owning Its Strength

Calisthenics is meant to appreciate the raw strength and energy that’s waiting to be unleashed from within your body through training, through a workout routine that increases in difficulty as you progress. It’s not just a matter of adding more weight in your leg press machine or carry heavier weights while doing a deadlift, it’s about being able to move with your entire body with so much ease that carrying a 25kg sack of rice going up a mountain with a steep elevation would be a piece of cake.

In order to reap the benefits of calisthenics, it takes discipline and learning from your mistakes until you learn and continuously do the right form of exercise. The Bar Brothers is a great resource for bodyweight training. Their beginner’s workout video is an excellent introduction to this workout routine. They will show you how the workout progresses and how it can give you well-defined and functional muscles that can help you with a lot of the things you do on a regular basis.

Calisthenics is a great workout that you can do anywhere.

Calisthenics is a fun and enjoyable workout where the only limit is yourself. How you decide to move with the program, how determined you are to stick to it no matter how monotonous it may seem at one point, and wanting to see your own progress in creating a body that has clean, raw, and undeniable strength is what differentiates a person who merely wants to try it out from a person who wants to stay committed to living an active lifestyle that endures and lasts.