What is Calisthenics?
What is Calisthenics?
If you do a Google images search of calisthenics, you’re probably going to see a whole array of pictures of people holding wild positions like this:
This might seem a little bit daunting, but the truth is, at its core, calisthenics is just a form of strength training that uses your bodyweight as resistance to perform movement patterns. These movements include pushing, pulling and static holds. It’s a great way of building strength, endurance, mobility and coordination in the body, and since you’re only using your bodyweight, it’s actually a great form of exercise for seasoned gym goers and beginners alike.
Milos’ Calisthenics Journey
Hogarth personal trainer Milos has a huge interest in calisthenics since trying it for the first time just over 2 years ago.
“The mixture of strength development from the exercises as well as the difficulty of the skills I have learnt and that I am currently still learning is what drives me,” shared Milos when we asked him why he’s stuck with calisthenics over the past two years.
If you’re someone who enjoys working towards goals like Milos, calisthenics is a great choice because you’ll consistently be working towards acing the next skill.
Milos reflects, “Some exercises or skills have taken me a few weeks to learn whereas others have taken months. In some way, it is the slow process that makes the eventual success feel that extra bit sweeter!”
History of Calisthenics
Calisthenics is said to have originated in Ancient Greece during the Spartans era. It then reached countries such as China and the USA in the late 19th century and was used to train soldiers for military preparation.
Eventually, it reached Russia in the 20th century where the popularity of calisthenics grew rapidly. Since then, calisthenics has been continuously growing in popularity, especially when social media platforms exploded onto the scene in the 21st century.
Platforms such as YouTube now have thousands of videos dedicated to calisthenics, you may have even seen some without realising that’s what they were!
Have you ever seen a video of someone working out in the street? There’s a very high possibility there were some calisthenics exercises in there!You might be surprised at the number of calisthenics exercises you’ve already tried!
Key calisthenics movements
- Pull ups
- Push ups
- Squats (squat jumps, pistol squat)
- Sit ups
- Leg raises
Advanced calisthenics movements
- Hanging leg raises
- Muscle up
- Handstand (handstand push ups)
- Front lever
- Human flag
What are the benefits of Calisthenics?
Calisthenics doesn’t just look like a lot of fun, it also has lots of benefits too. These include:
- Little to no equipment needed to perform calisthenics
- Helps to develop functional strength and endurance in and out of the gym
- Uses compound exercises which help engage multiple muscles at the same time during the movements. (This will help you burn more calories in a shorter period of time, as well as strengthening multiple muscles at once).
- Improves balance and flexibility
- Can help to improve overall posture. Great if you work at a desk!
What’s the difference between calisthenics and weight training?
Both calisthenics and weight training are a form of strength training, however, calisthenics uses your bodyweight as its form of resistance when performing an exercise, whereas weight training uses external weight like free weights (e.g. dumbbells and barbells) and resistance machines to perform an exercise. There are benefits to both styles of training and there is no right or wrong choice! Which one you want to focus on will depend on what your fitness goals are.
It’s also worth noting that calisthenics and weight training complement each other fantastically, so if you’re not sure which one to try, we’d recommend experiencing the best of both worlds!
Interested in calisthenics?
I’m interested but I find pull ups so difficult! You’re not alone! Before you avoid calisthenics forever, let’s dive into why pull ups are as challenging as they are.
One of the main reasons is because it’s not a movement we generally perform day to day. Think about how many times you’ve had to pull yourself to get up somewhere. Unless you’re a superhero, it’s probably not that often. Even if you have a really strong upper body, pull ups might still feel challenging if it’s something you’re not doing regularly.
The great thing about calisthenics is you’ll be trying pull ups and similar movements much more regularly, which means achieving your first proper pull up is closer than you realise!
How to start your calisthenics journey
So you’re ready to jump start your calisthenics journey? Well, you’re in luck! Our very own Milos is running a calisthenics workshop on the 24th January 2024! With both a beginners and advanced workshop running, there are options and exercises suitable for everyone.
If you’re not available on the 24th January, don’t worry! Let us know you’re interested via email, at receptioon, or with your PT, and we’ll keep it in mind when planning future workshops.