Regular exercise is the foundation for great health. In today’s busy schedules, keeping fit paves the way for overall success. With the ongoing medical research, many forms of exercises have evolved, each promising their benefits. While it may not be suitable or feasible for each individual to pursue each variety of physical exertion, an awareness helps.
Calisthenics is one such flavor of a workout which emphasizes using the person’s body weight as a load. The exercises are so designed that by tackling against one’s weight, the body becomes stronger and adjusted to the routine. Although the workout utilities are basic and minimal like a ring or skipping rope, the benefits are plenty.
Calisthenics – An Overview
Calisthenics is not significantly different from other forms of workout in the sense that it too encompasses repeats and sets. The exercises in calisthenics are generally performed with varying intensity. Some of these exertions may make use of light handheld tools. The goal of calisthenic exercises is to build strength, flexibility, and endurance.
The winning aspect about calisthenics workouts is that it is suited for personnel of different interests. It provides a framework for bodybuilding that goes beyond targeting specific muscles and offers an all-round workout for every part of the body. The minimal equipment has helped calisthenics rise into a popular form of street workout, which involves exercises being carried out in public or urban spaces.
Calisthenics originated in ancient Greece and captured attention in the 19th century. Today people from all walks of life involve themselves in at least a basic type of workout. Military personnel, law enforcement agencies, athletes, or even common people may indulge in calisthenics to warm up or build energy.
Also Read: No Weights? No Bench? No Problem.
Calisthenics for a Beginner
As with other exercises, calisthenics has been divided into levels ranging from beginner to advanced. As a beginner, you must exercise caution to not over-exert yourself in just a couple of days. The process of adapting to calisthenics is organic, and your body has to adjust itself to the growing stress and strain each exercise introduces.
A beginner’s entry into calisthenics starts with about eight forms of workout. If you feel you need assistance, it is advised to head to a calisthenics gym. You will be introduced to a calisthenics program in a gym. However, if you are confident, feel free to choose the venue of your choice.
The typical schedule starts with push-ups, crunches, burpees, pullups, chin-ups, skipping, dips, and jump squats. The number of repetitions may vary on an individual’s stamina, but it is advisable, to begin with ten repetitions. The number of sets should start with three with a thirty-second break between each set.
Begin pushups by getting into a plank position wherein you extend your legs and hold your body with your arms. Take care to not let your back sag. Lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest almost touches the ground. Pause when you are in the lower position and then quickly push back to the starting position.
Crunches involve laying on the ground flat and bending your knees up to an angle 90-degrees to your body. With your hands crossed in support to your head, push yourself up until your chest almost touches your knee. Go back and repeat; you can even work on your breathing to add benefit to your exercise.
Burpees are strenuous and foster immense stamina. While standing, extend your feet shoulder length. While bringing your hands together, bend down into a squat. Support your body with your hands and throw your legs back to reach a plank position. Lower your body and then while pushing back, quickly pull back your legs, get back to squat. As you rise, keep your hands midway and finish with a quick jump.
Pull-Ups make use of an exercise bar. Stand facing an exercise bar and grasp the bar upward, slightly more than shoulder length. Pull yourself up to such that you raise your head over the bar. Chin-ups work in an almost similar way wherein you grasp the bar from beneath at a slightly more than shoulder length. Pull yourself up using your biceps.
You will need a skipping rope which you hold such that the rope stays behind you. As you spin the rope towards the front, clear it by jumping and land on your toes. Dips require a dip bar. Stand inside a dip bar and with your hands over the bar handles, hoist yourself up and down. You can even keep your legs crossed in the process.
Finally, jump squats require you to stand straight with your feet slightly apart. Keep your fists folded, and your hands clasped together in front of your face. Bend towards a squat position. While coming back, take a quick jump and land on your feet.
The Practical Benefits of Calisthenics
The benefits of any form of exercise are not instant. You will feel the gain as you practice daily. Research has shown that calisthenics has been beneficial to reduce the effects of conditions like obesity. The immediate use of a calisthenics workout routine is for building muscle. Moderate bodybuilders can build muscles without the rigor of lifting heavyweights.
The other obvious benefit of calisthenics is increasing flexibility. As you become stronger, you tend to become more flexible. This is evident in the fact that when a weak muscle contracts, it is not used to it and reports strain. In this way, calisthenics helps you build muscle tone.
Often the emphasis given to exercises is to burn fat and lose weight. Calisthenics has been proven to be handy in losing weight also. With the rigorous set of exercises, you increase your metabolic rate and burn excessive calories. With the strenuous repetitions, your heart rate increases a little bit which further fosters a slim physique.
Another significant gain of calisthenics is in building endurance. Endurance is your ability to bear pressure without getting tired. The endurance factor is a key winning item for professional athletes. Calisthenics helps build endurance with the repetition of sets. As you advance in your training and your ability to do more sets, your endurance increases.
Perhaps everybody would appreciate the fact that calisthenics helps promote sound mental health. While this is true of any exercise, the compound benefits of calisthenics would help anyone getting adjusted to a fitness lifestyle.
Studies have indicated calisthenics being effective in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). With such a vast array of health boosters, calisthenics should be an exercise regimen of the masses.
Basic Calisthenics Equipment
To reiterate, calisthenics is made more effective with a basic set of tools. These tools could be like but not limited to – pull up bar, dip bar, resistance bands, gymnastic rings, jumping rope, workout mat, chalk, parallettes, and push-up bars. The mentioned tools serve well for a basic workout and can be scaled to an advanced schedule also.
When doing calisthenics, gymnastic rings are also commonly used. They can be used when doing row exercises, for example. Gymnastic rings of good quality are needed for performing such exercises as safety is the key.
Also Read: Benefits of Healthy Eating and Exercise
There are no hard or fast rules regarding a diet plan to be followed when undertaking calisthenics. There are some recommendations like focussing on whole foods like lean protein, fresh produce like fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy. Proteins should generally include meat, fish, seafood, and eggs.
A calisthenics enthusiast must minimize junk food and processed food. Such foods could include but not limited to – sweets, cakes, pastries, chips, soft drinks, juices high in sugar, processed foods, sugary cereals, cookies, white rice and pasta, white bread. It is recommended to eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible, to fill up the body with needed vitamins.
Another popular advice is to reduce the eating window. This implies that having strict times during which one should eat and not randomly. Studies have indicated that by following such discipline, you tend to eat only nutrient-rich foods at the right time.
Some supplements could be suggested to help you in your endeavor for a fruitful calisthenics workout. Such supplements include BCAA (branched-chain amino acids), which helps build more muscle. Another supplement is creatine, which helps recovery and in building muscle mass.
If you are on the lookout for a quick and easy way to keep yourselves fit, calisthenics should be on the top of your list. You are spared from obvious drawbacks like muscle tear associated with heavyweights. With the plainest infrastructure required to get started, calisthenics helps you save money and time required to set up a venue.
The wise words of general recommendation are never to overdo anything and keep alert of your health. If you feel uneasy while executing any exercise, you must immediately stop and consider getting medical advice. Age factor may also matter with exercises that involve vigor to be generally avoided by older people.