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Calisthenics: What is it Benefits and Exercises

by | Apr 14, 2021 | Bodybuilding | 0 comments

  1. What is it?
  2. What Is It for?
  3. Benefits
  4. Lose Weight
  5. Negative Aspects
  6. How To Do
  7. Where To Exercise
  8. Exercises
  9. Advanced exercises by Calisthenics

What is calisthenic?

Calisthenics is the art of using one’s body weight as resistance to training and developing physique. “Calisthenic” is the qualifying adjective that refers to the now known method or system of training based on free body gymnastics or to a specific exercise or workout.

The term calisthenics is an abbreviation of exercises. This adjective’s etymology, frequently used as a noun – abbreviation of calisthenic training/workout. Which means beauty (to emphasize the aesthetic pleasure that comes from the perfection of the human body), and “stenosis,” which means strength (great mental strength, courage, strength, and determination). In a sense, it encapsulates the essence of Calisthenics itself.

Calisthenics' practice was documented in use already in ancient Greece, for example, the armies of Alexander the Great or the Spartans in the battle of the Thermopylae.

More precisely, calisthenic includes all those rhythmic exercises designed to develop the beauty, strength of the movements’ figure, and elegance.

In the Anglo-Saxon world, Calisthenics refers to:

  • Heating movements carried out with free body such as alternately throwing your arms up, surrounding them, jumping your arms and leg opposite, etc
  • Exercises performed with a natural overload of your body, such as folding on your arms, sit-ups, bar tractions, etc.

What is Calisthenics for?

Calisthenics aims to increase pure force, flexibility, and joint mobility under stress, lactic acid production, tolerance, and short-lived specific strength. Functional capacity to exercise power and improve overall physical shape (body composition and performance) through movements such as:

  • pull
  • push
  • bend
  • jump and swing
  • using your unique weight resistance.

Note: advanced Calisthenics focuses on increasing specific capabilities such as muscle-ups, particular levels, and various freestyle movements such as rotations and turns.

Sports teams and military units often perform piloted group calisthenics as a form of synchronized physical training to increase cohesion and group discipline. Also, colleges use Calisthenics as a means of “physical education”.

In addition to general physical fitness, calisthenics exercises are essential physical evaluations for military organizations worldwide. Two examples are the U.S. Army’s physical fitness test and the U.S.M.C. Physical fitness test.

How it born?

The calisthenics system was born or instead rises from the memory of the years. When body-building gyms and isotonic machines were rare or even impossible, at that time, calypso was necessary.

From a simple understanding – though not always easy to follow – the calisthenics method used in the athletic preparation of young athletes with excellent functional targets; He offered fewer results in the search for hypertrophy. In the past, this is the correct organization of exercises according to planning and planning, which provided for the fundamental variables of intensity, density, and volume, i.e., the workout load concept. The most frequent mistake was constantly performing the same routines, every day, for the maximum number of possible repetitions and without curing the power.

With current knowledge of training methodology and athletic nutrition, Calisthenics can structure productive and effective workouts in all situations. A few years ago, calisthenics training replaced resistance training with dumbbells, balers, and isotonic machines. Suppose it was impossible to train in the gym – due to time, money, closures, etc. Today, however, many prefer this system to traditional weight training.

Benefits of Calisthenics

Calisthenics provides the following benefits:

  • Full body or total body muscle conditioning specifically:
  • Pure force, elastic force, explosive force, resistant force, and sometimes fast force
  • Hypertrophic Level Discretion – Functional Hypertrophy (see below)
  • Short resistance, activating all energy metabolisms – depending on the type of workout – with more interest than anaerobic ones
  • Significant enhancement of the core
  • Moderate central conditioning, proportional to the amount of aerobic exercise inserted.
  • Functional properties, therefore, train the capacities in the context of natural movements. For example, the jump is functional because it optimizes the ability to perform a physiological activity. increase the strength of quadriceps by using a leg-extension, however effective or useful in other ways, does not allow to “directly” increase any natural movement.
  • Ensures a continuous increase in the stimulus in all respects
  • dramatically improves psychomotor skills such as balance, agility, and coordination.
  • It will acquire when enables many motor schemes.
  • increases energy expenditure and produces E.P.O.C. (an acronym for “Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption,” which translating as “Excess Oxygen Consumption post-training.” Is the rate of measuring the increase in oxygen consumption due to physical activity that intends to meet the body’s “oxygen debt.” E.P.O.C. is close to workload, and therefore to intensity and volume; therefore, the typical high intensity of Calisthenics, combined with the right volume and density, can significantly increase this parameter
  • It improves the metabolism of metabolism, with particular reference to glucose – to which glycemia and triglyceridemia are closely related.
  • Ease of application in training for people of developing age
  • Affordability, especially in the form of home fitness and street workout.

Does Calisthenics lose weight?

Training in Calisthenics, it is possible to consume many calories. However, as with all other activities, this does not necessarily have a slimming effect.

Wasting results from a negative energy balance, i.e., the arithmetic result of [energy in – energy out]; means that the calories taken with the diet should be lower than those consumed with training.

By practicing Calisthenics, it is possible to increase – in a generally significant way – calorie expenditure. However, weight loss only occurs when the diet remains the same as when you were sedentary. However, it increases insignificantly. This may seem obvious to most readers, but, indeed, it is far from obvious.

Exercise, of course, leads to a greater appetite; this is due to the reduction of blood glucose and the depletion of glycogen reserves – especially liver disease. So, while sport can help us consume more, it can also boost appetite and hunger. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a certain degree of self-control without overestimating what may have been “burned” during the session. If this is the case, a dietitian might be the key to the dietitian’s work, who will organize the food plan by differentiating unworkable days from training days.

Calisthenics is a very intensive activity

During stress, the overall consumption is carbohydrates versus fat, with high anaerobic lactic metabolism involvement. Therefore, the slimming effect can be achieved directly through E.P.O.C. (oxygen debt) and indirectly through a higher tolerance to food carbohydrates (increased insulin sensitivity and muscle greed).

In Calisthenics and other activities of equal metabolic involvement, direct weight loss is achieved mainly thanks to E.P.O.C., i.e., based on lipid oxidation. After stopping training, the higher a load of training (volume + intensity), the higher the oxygen debt and basal post-workout metabolism. Indirect weight loss, which has the most significant capacity to metabolize food carbohydrates, is supported by two independent conditions:

  • The first is acute, post-exercise, EPOC-linked, and it’s called the “anabolic window.” It uses the most incredible muscle greed to carbohydrates (and not only that), which is even insulin-independent in the first minutes (15′) after training. The 45% that followed used the conventional insulin – glut4 system but with a very high affinity. As time goes on, the condition decreases more and more until it reaches baseline.
  • The second, baseline, is greater efficiency in overall glucose metabolism, thanks to constant and practical training.

However, to achieve an E.P.O.C. and an anabolic window sufficient, you will need to gain a very high training level. Which only occurs after many weeks or months from the start of the activity. Weight loss is, therefore, a chronologically secondary objective, also influencing overall muscular and metabolic conditioning.

Negative Aspects

Criticism of Calisthenics

Let us immediately specify that a good part of the calisthenics executions is not for all; in general, these exercises are very hard and strenuous. Being able to lift one’s body requires a high degree of strength, which, unfortunately, not many have.

Paradoxically, in Calisthenics, it insists on a high frequency of injuries, especially ligamentous and tendon to the shoulder joint. In addition to these, contractures, stretching, tearing, and spraying of the ankle or knee are on the agenda – the latter especially in explosive executions, jumps, or freestyle.

However, by changing the body lever, the distance between support/traction and endurance – for example, by pushing-ups on the knees rather than on the feet – exercises can be performed more efficiently.

In addition to this, various means of reducing the natural load are now known, some deriving from transversal disciplines such as T.R.X.. In contrast, others use the action of instruments such as elastics.

Contraindications of Calisthenics

Calisthenics training is not recommended for:

  • Large Obesity
  • Severe underweight, especially with D.C.A. – typical of anorexia nervosa (AN)
  • Anyone with a high risk of ischemic cardiovascular and cerebral disease – potentially life-threatening or disabling – is still the medical doctor who assesses whether motor activities are relevant or not.
  • C.O.P.D. (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is uncompensated or difficult to control
  • Severe diseases of the spine and other joint pathologies, such as the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, hip, knee, ankle, and foot. Typical examples are dystrophies, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis in the jacuzzi, joint instability, ligaments laxity, flat foot, carpal tunnel suffering, epicondylitis and epitrocleitis, pubalgia of various kinds, etc
  • Functional and anatomical postural imbalances: complicated hyperlordosis, scoliosis, etc
  • Chronic or acute tendon diseases; may also limit the CrossFit practice of certain severe shoulder discomfort.
  • Bone fractures or muscle or tendon or joint injuries are still being healed.

Calisthenics’ risks increase exponentially if one or more of the above factors are present; it is therefore always essential to consult a sports doctor or obtain a competitive certificate.

How to train in Calisthenics?

An effective protocol for the execution of Calisthenics must respect the essential criteria of any training. They are necessary: annual planning, cycle differentiation, and session schedule – of course, power cannot be translated.

Each training should be considered the sum of multiple stimuli on different muscle groups, districts, or areas. For this reason, responsible movements, intensity, density, and overall volume must be selected for each workout. This will determine the final workload – different according to the cycle, i. e., the year’s period, respectively.

Example of a calisthenics training organization

We could briefly summarize a session of Calisthenics as follows:

  • General muscle heating; running is suitable outdoors, while indoor is ideal for rope leap

Then for each movement:

  • Activation or approach with medium difficulty exercise
  • A challenging exercise to perform explosively for many series and few repeats
  • An average difficulty is running a single series for 15 repetitions and beyond the exhaustion for lactic acid.

Where to train for Calisthenics?

Today, both courses, respectively performed in gyms at a cross-fit (Crossfit, functional training, T.R.X., boot camp, etc.) and pure calisthenics gyms are widespread. A good number of practitioners, however, like to carry out the activity of urban Calisthenics.

Urban Calisthenics is the name of a street workout (street workout) where groups of athletes perform their usual outdoor calisthenics routines.

Fitness training areas are currently expanding worldwide, as are the outdoor gyms for urban Calisthenics. Some of them are specifically designed for this discipline. Most of them are totally free and open to the public.

Calisthenics parks are equipped with basic equipment such as pull-up bars, monkey bars, parallels, and box stunts. Their location is shown in easily accessible online maps.

There are also various calisthenics competitions in which a jury assesses execution, number of repetitions, and running time.
The World Street Workout & Calisthenics Federation (W.S.W.C.F.) is based in Riga, Latvia, and organizes annual national championships and hosts the world championships to ensure that all samples can compete in a competition.
The World Calisthenics Organization in Los Angeles (W.C.O.) is organizing a series of competitions known globally as the "Battle of the Bars." The W.C.O. has created the first set of rules for formal contests, including weight classes, time-based timetables, original evaluation criteria, and a 10-point system - giving an increasing number of athletes worldwide the opportunity to compete. 


Calisthenics Basic Exercises

In compliance with the above, a basic session of Calisthenics could include the following movements – divided by district, area, or muscle group:

Calisthenics tests for thighs and buttocks

Jumps: from the starting position to jump explosively as high as possible, with a platinum movement, relaxing the legs and landing, blocking in the starting position

Box jumps: It is a jumps with two different movements: the first to rise above a plyometric box/box jump, the second to fall.

Pistol squat: lift up with one leg on an elevator – such as a step – or even directly from the ground. Your ballast leg can be held up in front of you or completely relaxed, even side by side. Perform close to a wall or close to a base so as not to lose balance

Sissy squat:

  1. Never perform as the first exercise; it can be dangerous for your knees.
  2. Move the center forward to kneel slowly, curtailing with the thighs’ force, and immediately rise again.
  3. When you climb up, don’t help with the bust.

Calisthenics exercise base for calves

Monopodalic extensions calf: with the wipe placed on an elevator – such as a step – push and lift up as high as possible to return to the position by getting the heel down to the ground. The hand in support serves only for balance.

Calisthenics based exercise for high back and biceps

Reverse bent over row: homemade variant, with the same objective as the barbel row with bar or handlebars. Keep your body healthy throughout the movement. He is the precursor to a very hard callisthenic exercise to be carried out in the bar, resulting from artistic gymnastics. Easily, it “runs” in the prone position on the ground, putting a metal or wooden bar leaning between two supports at the right height – just above the length of the arms.

Biceps curl: it simulates the movement of the curl with sitting balance. Place a leg above a bar, a bar, or a stick, then perform the flexural motion.

Calisthenics based exercise for pectoral, triceps, and forelimbs

Push-up: in a prone position, with an open belly, lay the hands’ palms with shoulders and slightly wider. The traditional version is to spread the arms by holding the trunk and legs tightness, leaning to the ground only on the wipe. Less strenuous versions, however, include using the knees as a lower base.

Calisthenics exercise based on lumbar square and large buttock

Hyperextension: in the prone position, raise both bust and legs at the same time, holding the position for a few seconds, return and repeat. The arms can be stretched along the hips, open sideways, or stretched forward to increase difficulty.

Abdominal based exercise calisthenics

  • Crunch: from the prone position with the thighs and knees flex, perform maximum abdominal contraction by removing shoulders and back from the ground, in the direction of the legs; in order of increasing difficulty, the arms can be stretched forward, crossed to the chest or stretched over the head.
  • Sit-ups: similar to crunch but, in addition to abdominal contraction, with a total rise of bust on the thighs
  • Reverse Crunch: from the prone position with the thighs and knees flex, stretch the arms above the head by leaning against the floor, then flexibly the pelvis on the trunk, taking care to rotate the hip; legs and thighs remain with the same joint openings from beginning to end.
  • Mountain climber: starting from a push-up position, you push forward, into your chin, one leg at a time (alternately), by flushing your knee. More significantly, it is also transverse and oblique, especially if the legs are stretched diagonally towards the opposite shoulder.

Boat Pose: raise your legs balanced with a bust tilted back. Stay in a static position on the coccyx – between the sacred bone and the buttocks.

Pull-in: keeping the back of the pelvis, partly stretching the legs, and then collecting them in the chest. The legs can be collected and spread instead of simultaneously, even alternately.

Advanced exercises by Calisthenics

Calisthenics’ advanced exercises cannot be clearly divided into muscle groups. They also significantly stimulate many stabilizers and the heart. Let’s see some:

Upper body

  • Pull-up: it is carried out by grasping a bar (chin-up bar) across the shoulder and lifting the body up with wide elbows. The chin has to stand up to the bar, and the back has to stay straight. It slowly returns to its initial position in a controlled and slow way. This trains mainly the muscles in the back, especially the large dorsal, as well as the supinator and biceps.
  • Chin-up: It’s a change of grip, with narrow elbows, which involves the big roundabout and biceps more than the great dorsal and the suppression
  • Muscle-ups: It’s one of the basic calisthenics routines. Performed by a routine combination of a pull-up (traction) followed by a dip (distension), it can be carried out on bars or pull-up rings.
  • Front lever: he pulldown and stretches his arms down to keep his body parallel to the ground, with the front of his body facing upwards. It can be done on rings or a pull bar. Especially stimulating
  • Back lever: is like the previous but later; the arms are wider than the shoulders, and the body remains in a horizontal position with the torso facing down. It starts from a loop or bar reversed position.
  • Handstand: It is vertical on the arms, which is the act of holding the body perpendicular to the floor while balancing on the hands. The body is held straight with completely stretched arms and legs, hands spaced about the shoulders’ width.
  • Dips: it is executed between parallel or trapezoidal bars, with one hand grip; legs cross. The starting position is with tight arms. Then you slowly fall down, flushing your elbows and, coming down to your “joint possibility,” you spread your arms back to the initial position. It trains mainly the chest, triceps, and deltoids, especially on the front.

Cardio and legs

  • Hyperextension: he performs in a standing position on the ground, lifting his legs, arms, and trunk from the ground
  • Legs: hanging on rings or a bar, the pelvis is turned towards the abdomen on the knees and thighs flushed to 90°. It relieves the abdominal.
  • Planks: consists of keeping the push-up position relaxed for long periods. The primary muscle involved in this exercise is the rectum of the abdomen.
  • Shuttle runs: It consists of a forward and back run between two points, typically separated by 5-40 meters, as fast as possible, performing a touchdown. The emphasis should be on stopping, rotating back, and accelerating as quickly as possible.
  • Burpees: affects the entire body and consists of combining a push-up, a bilateral mountain climber, and an upwards stretched arm
  • L-sit: The L-sit is an acrobatic position in which all bodyweight rests. On hands – leaning down on two parallels or attached to two bars or rings up – with the bust held in a slightly forward tilt, horizontal legs forming a right corner with the bust. The right angle causes the body to shape to “L,” from which the name. It allows you to work significantly on the core and muscle flexibility of the risk-body.

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