Today, we’re going to be discussing the benefits of calisthenics.
When people think of exercising and getting in shape, they often assume that you need the fanciest gyms and the most technologically advanced equipment to really have a productive workout, when in reality that is simply not true.
While it is true that gyms and CrossFit boxes across the nation are now more advanced than ever before, the simple truth of the matter is that you do not need to be using equipment that costs several thousands of dollars to get in shape with.
In reality, if push came to shove, all you’d need would be your own body weight for resistance.
This is where the benefits really come into play.
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Calisthenics has Greek origins, as it was a method of training utilized by the Ancient Greek soldiers to help prepare them for battle.
In fact, the word is derived from the words ‘Kalos’ which meant beauty, and ‘Sthenos’ which meant strength.
In basic terms, calisthenics is a form of training in which you use your own body as the gym, performing various bodyweight exercises and movements, although some basic equipment can be used.
Now it’s time for us to take a look at several key benefits:
Whereas there’s absolutely nothing wrong with training at a gym or any other fitness facility, sometimes it’s nice to go back to basics and keep things simple.
Calisthenics is an exercise in its most basic form.
It is a relaxing way of training that takes us back centuries and helps to liberate the mind.
All you need is a little open space and some free time on your hands and you can exercise at your own pace, any time, anywhere.
It really is a great way to liberate the mind.
Another reason why calisthenics training has been so popular for so many centuries is that it works!
When we exercise, one of the main objectives is to burn fat, and calisthenics certainly helps us to do exactly that.
Calisthenics is very physically demanding because you are using so many different parts of your body, and subsequently, you’ll find that you burn off several hundred calories per workout.
If you want to get lean, calisthenics is ideal.
For some people, being lean just isn’t enough.
Some also want to have ripped and toned physiques, which is why calisthenics is so beneficial.
The exercise not only provides cardiovascular benefits but as it is resistance based, you’ll also find that you are using various muscles in your body, which all benefit and become more toned and defined the longer you do it.
If you want to look lean and ripped, make sure you do plenty of calisthenics.
For some people, gyms are not fun places to exercise.
For others, it simply is not feasible to train at a gym, be it due to financial restrictions, timing issues, distance, transport, or anything else for that matter.
If you are unable to train at a gym, calisthenics is a fantastic way to exercise as you certainly do not need to visit a gym to exercise.
You can go through a calisthenics workout at home, at work, in the garden, at the park, or anywhere else for that matter.
Fitness is not a cheap affair nowadays, and while you can’t put a price on your health, you certainly don’t need to be splashing out hundreds of bucks each month on various fitness gadgets and gizmos.
Remember, the Roman Army was performing calisthenics workouts all of those years ago, and many militaries across the globe still emphasize calisthenics as part of their training regimes.
These certainly don’t spend hundreds of dollars on working out, and you don’t need to either.
With calisthenics training, you can do it anywhere, at any time, using nothing but your own body weight for resistance, thereby saving you money on gym membership fees, travel, fitness accessories, and so on.
Are you sick and tired of going through the same boring and monotonous workouts week in and week out?
If so, you need to switch things up and try something new.
This is where calisthenics proves to be so beneficial.
Calisthenics training is fun because it’s different, and you can switch things up to do things on your own terms.
By being in control of your workouts you get to make them fun and exciting.
If you’re having fun, you’ll likely work harder when training too, which is a real bonus.
Thought that you needed heavy barbells, atlas stones, Viking press machines, and squat racks to get big and strong?
It turns out that, while free weights are certainly beneficial when it comes to increasing your strength, they aren’t the be-all and end-all of strength training.
It turns out, that in order to increase your strength, all you need is your own body weight for resistance.
Many of the exercises you perform during calisthenics will help to activate fibers in your muscles responsible for strength and power while helping you to lift your own body weight, and strengthening your core in the process.
The end result is significant increases in overall strength and power, without the need to use free weights at all.
On the subject of strength increases, you may notice how some fitness experts and enthusiasts like to mention ‘functional strength’, but what exactly is that?
Well, functional strength and fitness is strength and fitness that can be carried over into everyday life.
For example, if you can bicep curl 100lb dumbbells, but struggle to carry a piece of furniture more than a few feet at a time, your bicep curling strength isn’t that functional.
Calisthenics is great because it works muscles in the body that are used on a daily basis, for daily activities that will help you in everyday life.
Put simply, the strength and fitness increases you build via calisthenics are not simply just for stroking your ego at the gym.
Ever find yourself chomping at the bit to get to the gym to train, only to find that your boss has asked you to stay late, or you’ve had to go to the store for groceries or to pick the kids up from their friend’s?
When you want to train at the gym, everyday life can often get in the way.
One of the many benefits, though, is the fact that you can do it anywhere, at any time.
If you’re at work and know you’ve errands to run when you finish, a gym session is out of the question.
That doesn’t matter, though, because you can simply use your lunch hour, find a quiet and open space at the office, and go through a brutal calisthenics workout before returning to your desk.
The heart is one of the most important organs in the body, which is why it’s vital we look after it.
Calisthenics workouts are fantastic because, despite being resistance-based, they also provide heaps of cardiovascular benefits.
Calisthenics strengthens the heart, boosts circulation, helps reduce blood pressure, and can reduce your risk of cardiovascular issues.
Without sounding dramatic, calisthenics workouts could save your life.
On the subject of cardiovascular benefit, another of the amazing benefits is the fact that doing them helps to reduce your blood pressure.
Hypertension, AKA high blood pressure, is known as the silent killer as it can lead to a whole variety of potentially fatal health issues, and to make matters worse, it is also extremely difficult to detect.
Calisthenics, because it is such a beneficial form of exercise, helps to substantially reduce a person’s blood pressure.
When it comes to calisthenics, you don’t just need to focus on one form of training to benefit.
Many bodybuilders, athletes, CrossFitters, and strength athletes often perform calisthenics workouts as part of their everyday training sessions to help make them better at their chosen sport/activity.
Calisthenics can make you stronger, it can make you fitter, and it can make you faster.
From an athletic perspective, you couldn’t really ask for much more than that.
The thing to remember with fitness is the fact that everybody has different abilities and everybody has different levels of fitness.
We all have to start somewhere and if we stick with it, we will all get fitter the more that we do.
This is where calisthenics is so beneficial because it enables you to scale things up and to adapt as you get fitter and stronger.
You can try harder exercises, include more volume, do more sets and reps, reduce recovery time, and much more besides.
There’s nothing wrong with working out in order to look great, which is yet another reason why calisthenics is so popular.
If you are looking to build a lean, toned, and muscular body, calisthenics will allow you to do precisely that so that you look great as well as enjoy optimal health and wellness.
If time is of the essence and you need to get a productive workout in quickly, calisthenics is really beneficial.
With calisthenics, there is no need to adjust machines, load up bars, carry weight plates, alter benches, and so on.
You simply get stuck into your workout right away and move from one exercise to the next.
It is entirely possible to burn several hundred calories and really blitz your muscles during a calisthenics workout that lasts around 20 minutes or so.
For people looking to save time, this is extremely beneficial.
We’ve touched upon the core-strengthening benefits a few times already, but right now we’re going to go into more detail just to ensure that we all know how awesome it really is.
Your core is where the majority of strength, balance, and power emanates from.
If you have a strong core, generally you yourself will be a strong and athletic individual.
Many of the exercises you perform during a calisthenics workout will help to recruit core stabilizer muscles and consequently, you’ll find that your core becomes considerably stronger.
If a personal trainer was to tell a gym newbie to go through a ‘hypertrophy based workout, emphasizing time under tension’ do you honestly think that the average fitness newbie would have an idea what they were talking about?
The problem with the fitness industry nowadays is the fact that it is oversaturated with complex training methods and terminology when it really isn’t needed.
Another of the useful benefits that we’re looking at today is the fact that it can be scaled up.
If you hit a plateau and want to continue to adapt your training, you can purchase basic accessories such as resistance bands, kettlebells, and a chin-up bar if you have somewhere secure to install it.
These accessories don’t cost very much, they don’t take up much room, but they can really help you to take your calisthenics workouts to the next level.
And that brings us to the end of our look at the awesome benefits of calisthenics training.
Hopefully, the info contained within has inspired and motivated you to take up calisthenics training yourself, even if it is alongside your regular training sessions.
One thing that is for certain, is the fact that we can all benefit from it.
Reda is an ACE Certified Nutritionist, Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt and bodybuilder with 11 years of experience. He's been published on many influential websites such as lifehack.org, Wealthy Gorilla, Good Men Project and more.