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What is Calisthenics?
With all kinds of brands for workouts and exercises in today’s world, it is impossible not to have questions like What really is calisthenics?
Although Calisthenics is not a new word, it is a common term used in fitness and exercise centers. At the first stage, i.e., entry-level, the concept is introduced.
Funny thing is: You don’t even need any equipment to get started. In fact, over-weighted persons trying to have a good shape get a chance at this.
Here, we will be discussing the fundamentals of calisthenics. Also, there would be a discussion on its core differences from modern and standard workouts.
By the end of this article, you would have learned 10 different calisthenics exercises and how to get through each of them.
One thing is for sure: Calisthenics doesn’t require membership or expensive equipment. A lot you can do without any equipment. All you need is yourself, an exercise that is great for you, and dedication to such exercise.
What Exactly Is Calisthenics?
Using one’s body weight as a useful training tool for muscle development, fat disposition, and increased strength are what Calisthenics is all about.
This exercise strikes a balance between cardiovascular exercises and muscle/strength development. Along the line, the training helps you burn unwanted fats, keeping you in good shape for other activities.
Talking about relative strength: A forty-pound weights on dumbbells means adding forty pounds of resistance to your arms. This means dumbbells weights are equivalent to the amount of resistance to arms. This bulks up the arm size.
Calisthenics uses body weight, so you cannot exceed a certain weight—you are only able to use as much as your body weighs.
Altogether, relative weight and strength are attained. This is relative to both body size and weight.
In other words, it means you can maintain a lean and chiseled physique with muscle definition in places like the abs, arms, butt, and legs, etc., with no need to bulk up or maintain a high intake of calories for the individual need of keeping up that bulky size.
Compound exercises are the main focus of Calisthenics, and they target multiple muscle groups of the body. Simply, when making use of your body weight as a basis, you tend to gain a dense muscle mess.
The effects of this exercise may not be as quick as expected, but certain people take pleasure in seeing this. Most of them believe it is a phase of building real strength; therefore, the slower, the better.
Over the last decade, Calisthenics became a thing in most parts of the world. For instance, it was used in developing strength and agility in the military force.
In contrary to exercise methods known, Calisthenics only needs your body. This means there is no equipment whatsoever required. This is also one of the reasons why it is adopted in the military.
Although, there is simple equipment that can be used alongside. Stuff like dip and pull up bars can help, but they are not really important. Check out Calisthenics Gym online, and there would hardly be equipment you’ll find.
If there is a good consolation, it is that: It is inexpensive because you don’t need money to get started.
Difference between Calisthenics and Traditional Workouts
There is a massive difference in the methods used by Calisthenics and Traditional workouts.
Take it as holding the bull by the horns but with two different parts: one for cardio training and the other for strength training.
For instance, a traditional workout like running or jogging would need essential items like running shoes, a shirt, socks, shorts, water bottles, headphones, and so on. However, Calisthenics would only need your body and nothing more. In fact, you would have to leave your clothes and shoes off.
Spending money on iron and lead weights isn’t necessary. Neither those are having a gym membership compulsory.
With all of these exciting things about Calisthenics, are you still worried if it has limitations? Absolutely not!
Also, adding to the differences, Calisthenics exposes you to less or no injury. If there is a certainty of one thing, it is that you don’t get injured because there is no equipment or tools like dumbbells to do that.
Calisthenics Vs. CrossFit
Don’t we all have a workout stage?
At a stage in our lives, we start seeing things differently and try to adopt new activities. Some of these activities are towards improving the physique and state of mind.
There aren’t so many options, but workouts and healthy meals play a big part.
Over the last decade, Calisthenics and CrossFit grew beyond more than understandable. Part of the things that contributed to their full acceptance all over the world is YouTube and top media outlets.
Friends or Enemies?
Calisthenics vs. CrossFit is similar but different exercises that have their own aims.
So, why don’t we focus on the differences between calisthenics and CrossFit? These differences are based on several factors.
Comparing Calisthenics And CrossFit Per Category
On comparison by category:
Both are strength builders.
Both help with aesthetics.
Do they seem equal?
Not at all.
Compound and complex muscle development are the forte of Calisthenics. This means it targets muscles for thorough and in-depth exercise.
On the other hand, CrossFit, progress is measured based on a time attack mentality (a place where CrossFit pitfalls come from). Thus, muscle is built with form and definitely not with speed.
So many people can tell about the number of push-ups they do; even you are guilty
The clear truth is: the push-ups may never have been done correctly.
The entire gym is your body weight is Calisthenics. This means you only depend on your weight and not on gym equipment.
However, equipment for workouts is vital with CrossFit. Still, the exercises do not match Calisthenics in muscle building and development. Resistance is also different (whether it’s from objects like ropes or tires); on the contrary, there is consistency with body weight.
The form makes a difference in this category.
An important thing is for an exercise to be beginner-friendly, which Calisthenics has carefully considered. It takes a sole interest in helping train at a pace as well as enhance movements that are in rhythm with both body and abilities.
Although the process is slow, Calisthenics still develop more muscles.
This touches every core and the inner part, unlike CrossFit, that only works around the externals. There are bound to be perceptions about the aesthetics of each exercise.
CrossFit may be easy to work around with as well as drop off any time, and Calisthenics may also be simple, but complexities are surrounding it.
It may not be easy as you think when you compare it with CrossFit.
At least, in a gym, someone could help you discover exercises that would work in CrossFit. Still, Calisthenics, you are left to figure out yourself.
It all starts with simple, natural movements until it gradually becomes robust and complex. For instance, you will be open to doing things you haven’t always tried out before.
To be honest, they are great exercises that would help you out in the long run, but they can’t be compared to CrossFit. Those ones are easy to pick up.
The two exercises reach a universal standpoint at a particular stage – the entry-level. Here, both exercises are simple and easy. As time goes by, Calisthenics begins to introduce new exercises that may be complex at first.
Also, equipment not being available to it gives more reasons why it is complicated. CrossFit has equipment in different sizes that would suit you in various ways. You may decide to push yourself hard or not to depend on how much you can handle.
In essence, it should be understood that both exercises are simple at an early stage. Still, Calisthenics becomes more complex as time goes by.
With no equipment in view, Calisthenics is the safest way out.
No forces are working outside gravity, all you need to do is right there.
All the exercises in Calisthenics have been designed so that your body can support it. So, if your body can’t handle any yet, it means it isn’t ready. There are others for you to try out.
However, CrossFit has equipment that makes you vulnerable to injuries.
It is also about speed. This means you would be ready to get additional reps done, increase the number of push-ups, and work faster rope swings within a particular time you have set for yourself.
Scissors so you to injury. Now, we don’t advise against them but do not run with them because it could be dangerous. You should walk with them.
Taking baby steps is very important because if you don’t, you are likely to get seriously injured. Being fit doesn’t mean you can’t get hurt, especially when you rush things you shouldn’t.
As much as you would or wouldn’t like to hear it: CrossFit doesn’t guarantee you safety more than Calisthenics.
Balance isn’t as natural as you think if you have to choose.
Calisthenics makes sure compound muscles and core movements are achieved at all costs. This because they help to improve balance regardless of the skill level.
Still, if I were to choose, Calisthenics should have Balanced. You are literally working your way out from the inside.
This build is at a slower pace, but different muscle-based skills are being built (of which, balance is one), all working simultaneously.
Just to mention, Muscles control balance, but they are not responsible for the way you balance.
Big News! What the eyes are what it tells the brain – that is what responsible. Additionally, control is aided by both the ears and the vestibular system.
What is the impact of the muscles?
What the muscle does is to initiate reflexes before the vestibular system becomes active and alive
For instance, if you trick yourself into thinking you lost balance based on what you see, Calisthenics has a role to play so that you maintain your balance. This means it trains your muscles so well that you don’t end up falling or tripping.
Between Calisthenics and CrossFit, the rate is an extensive variable.
With no doubt, CrossFit has a better speed than Calisthenics.
Here is a shocking fact!
Calisthenics takes time, but it is aimed at a long-term goal. CrossFit, on the other hand, is fast, but a relapse means you start all over again.
For a faster workout, CrossFit is highly recommended; for a proper exercise with long-term effects, Calisthenics is your way out.
So, here you have to choose.
Do you want to go for something fast but temporary or slow but permanent?
Truth be told, CrossFit makes you do super-incredible things, but all that is within a short time. The effects may not last as long as you expect. With Compound and Complex Calisthenics, you may need to take your time to end up with something worthwhile.
All the same, long-term exercises may not be the way to go.
Training Calisthenics and CrossFit Simultaneously; Possible or Not?
You can train both, but be sure you’ll get damn tired at the end.
CrossFit puts you into making use of group mentality as it also helps to enhance motivation. It focuses on muscle building even though several means are deployed. Also, Cardio is involved.
Calisthenics, on the other hand, takes an interest in body weight and anchor usage of one’s self. The exercise can be performed anywhere.
Both are highly recommended. However, it depends on what you want. Either of them should work if you’re trying to reduce weight; both are low-barrier entry.
If CrossFit is your thing, a new complex, compound muscle exercises should be added. On the contrary, if Calisthenics is your choice, do some cardio along with the exercise because it helps in aiding weight loss.
Calisthenics Vs. Weight Lifting?
There is a vast difference between Calisthenics and Weight Lifting, unlike those with CrossFit with similarities but little differences.
Both exercises are about strength, but they take different perspectives, including terminologies and gym structure.
Weightlifting helps you build your core muscles, so you look like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but Calisthenics keeps you fit like Tom Cruise.
The former makes use of external weight and resistance, or external forces, to help build muscles of the body, bringing it to a maximum strength potential. Just to be clear, maximum strength and relative strength are not the same.
The latter is what calisthenics offer, whereby the body weight is used to train your muscles. Your total muscle gain and strength is relative to your size/weight.
Having both exercises is helpful, but some differences are out in the open, making them useful for different purposes.
Why not dive into each of these exercises, and see how extreme their differences are, starting from nutrition.
Nutritional Differences – Calisthenics Vs. Weightlifting
There is the need to bulk up if you want to be a bodybuilder or you want to have chiseled abs and muscular biceps.
And for this to happen, that means you need to consume more calories and not just ordinary foods. Many foods are just junks that contain a little number of calories. Consuming more calories daily allows you to bulk up and have strong muscles.
On the other hand, there isn’t so much problem as regard Calisthenics because you can get big and bulky by controlling what you eat. This means nutrition is more comfortable to control, and there are bound to be results eventually.
Simply, a bodybuilding goal where you want to be healthy and muscular. A calisthenics goal where you want to be lean, but chiseled means different nutritional requirements. Your diets cannot be the same; they have to be (slightly) different.
Either they would be at different costs. In fact, there is a time factor to get you what you want.
Fundamental Differences Between Weightlifting And Calisthenics
Here are the known differences:
Weightlifting literally means lifting weights. First, you start making use of your body to build mass, but there would be a time where you would have to depend on equipment to make that possible.
Calisthenics, on the other hand, doesn’t even need you to spend money in some gym with facilities and equipment. It is something you can do in your room because it is flexible. Hence, you only make use of your body weight and nothing else.
On a more straightforward note, Calisthenics is more flexible than Weightlifting.
In all kinds of exercises, endurance as a role to play on progress.
Weightlifting requires endurance, but it depends on specific parameters to measure endurability. These parameters include; how many sets you can take, how many hours you can go, and so on.
The truth about this is: you always crave to do more as a part of endurance. For instance, if you can lift 40-pound dumbbells today, you would want to add more as time goes on. That is the test for endurance.
Calisthenics does things differently.
Endurance doesn’t depend on parameters because all you need is yourself. You continue your workouts and add a little more if you want to, but the most important thing is for you to see changes. However, the changes are gradual.
Without an unreasonable doubt, weightlifting would increase your physical strength, making you bulkier and beefier. This is an edge it has over Calisthenics.
But there are limitations. For one, weightlifting makes you lose balance as well as agility. Unlike Calisthenics, it doesn’t focus on dense muscles, only core muscles.
Calisthenics makes sure your whole-body system is in harmony with each other. The dense muscles are awakened to increase agility and strength. This is why strength here is relative.
Weightlifting makes you get the body physique, but Calisthenics helps in improving the body anatomy.
Chances are that Calisthenics could make you stronger when you take on Calisthenics, and another person takes on bodybuilding, you might look better and bulkier at first. But as time goes on, the body won’t get used to building weight and gaining physical strength but instead improving physique. With a lot of build and rebuild, the other person could look stronger in the end.
In simple terms, Calisthenics takes the lead at first but ends with Weightlifting winning.
The afterburn effect is still a thing where the muscles produce heat and recovers from lactation. This is something weightlifting would instead get you into than Calisthenics.
While lifting, the body burns up calories, and this continues for as long as 36 hours until the body can no longer.
For instance, an hour workout means nothing less than a 36-hour drop-off.
In Calisthenics, it is only after your exercise that you burn calories and nothing by the hour. In this case, you don’t have to go for long hours before anything happens, at least not like weightlifting.
Several differences are yet to be pointed out. Now, you can either lift weights for less time and still burn calories or do nothing at all.
If you do the former, chances are that your body can be put in a state of rest until the next exercise session.
You don’t necessarily have to skip days in Calisthenics exercises. In fact, the body gets the rest it needs that day, and it is ready for the next.
Therefore, Calisthenics is a good alternative for you if you are fond of not keeping up with routines. However, you can decide to go for both, i.e., weightlifting on other days and Calisthenics daily.
Having said all that, it is easier to put that weightlifting burns more calories than calisthenics.
Aesthetics is another factor that strikes the difference between weightlifting and calisthenics. So, it depends on what you want aesthetically – bulky or lean?
You can have a herculean body and still be bulky, or a shredded core without having extra meat on the bones. Either it speaks on the level of aesthetics of both exercises.
As earlier said, Calisthenics is all about relative strength and noting more. This means the only thing it worries about is training your body muscles in response to the weight it comes across (meaning, the bodyweight).
Maintaining a lean and chiseled body is goals with Calisthenics exercises. Still, if you need to look stronger or hulk-like, you need to pay attention to weightlifting.
From here on out, it is your responsibility to discover which of the exercises will appeal to your aesthetically. Nothing is suggested because everyone has a choice to make – you have an opportunity to make. Whatever the outcome is, that is aesthetics to you, and that could be different for anyone else.
Finally, Mass is a vital factor in classifying weightlifting and calisthenics.
There are few questions before choosing a side that wins:
A massive or a chiseled, lean body, what do you choose?
Choosing either of these is going to mean a lot. However, there are cases where people exercise with Calisthenics with weightlifting. This goes against what calisthenics stand for, but if there is anything, it is that there would be results at the end.
As much as calisthenics athletes believe so much in the power of their exercises, they also consider weightlifting important too. Hence, no rivalry between both since they offer benefits.
In the same vein, there are people who are into weightlifting, and as an additional plan, they add calisthenics to it. This means while using an external weight to become bulkier and beefier, they make use of their own body weight as natural resistance. Together, the body can take great shape.
It may be difficult to reach a compromise on which is better because they can be used simultaneously. However, you should understand easily that the more weightlifting exercise alongside good nutrition, the bigger you become, and; the more calisthenics exercises, the leaner and chiseled you become.
Which Is Right For You?
To be honest, Calisthenics is more complex than you think because you don’t know what to expect, but weightlifting has given you a clue – external weights you can handle.
However, it is impossible to choose which is going to work for you; but you would have to stick with whatever is comfortable by you. For you, it could be calisthenics, and for another, it could be weightlifting.
When you have successfully chosen what is okay by you, then you need to consider important factors like nutrition in order to increase or reduce calorie intake. Whatever you chose, it is going to make your life a better one.
The first stage of Calisthenic Workouts
To get started, you need to learn baby steps for calisthenics workouts.
Based on the exercise structure, there are eight exercises you need to practice to get started. These exercises are fundamental, and they determine your progress. At most, a pull-up and dip bar is needed.
#1 LEG RAISE
First, lie on your back and keep a fixed position. Then, keep your arms by your side and slowly, raise a leg high.
Hold the leg in the air for about a few seconds and slowly return it back to its original position.
While doing that, keep the muscles of the leg engaged and don’t hit the leg too hard on the floor.
In doing this, minimal pain is felt – this is exactly the aim of the exercise. This pain shows the response.
#2 DIAMOND PUSH UP
The only limitation with push-ups is the lack of pec engagement. That changes when Diamond Push-up is introduced.
Lay with your chest facing the ground, and keep your hands close together.
While you do this, separate your fingers and keep your thumbs as well as index finger close together. This forms an oblong diamond.
Doing this would even be a lot more difficult than the usual push-up, but pec engagement is enhanced. Also, the shoulders get a feel of what you have done.
#3 RUSSIAN TWIST
Russian twists are the simplest.
They mainly help the upper abdomen and, at the same time, work on obliques and every other muscle of the body.
What you have to do is tilt the torso at an angle of forty-five degrees, keeping your knees up like a crunch. Once you do this, put your hands together and move the balled-up hand from left to right.
Continue doing this for as long as you can.
Calisthenics takes a very important interest in dreaded ab crunch.
What you know about ab crunch may not be the only thing that you should know. In fact, you should prepare to learn something different from whatever you have been taught.
Tugging at your neck and limiting blood circulation to the brain, calling that crushing yourself, is not an exercise.
In fact, that is torture because a crunch shouldn’t feel that way. You have had it all wrong all this time. What you need is core engagement and not pulling/tugging your neck.
While you keep the knees bent, and logs close, you are exercising and engaging your core muscles. That is the correct ab crunch.
It doesn’t matter if you could only go above three inches of the ground, as long as those muscles are engaged, it is fine.
Take as many shots as possible, but avoid flailing your feet around. Along the line, it would become easier for you to do.
#5 JUMP SQUAT
There are good reasons why you should do squats. For instance, they are great at helping you flex abdominals, glutes, and thighs, unlike any other exercise.
While it is cardio in nature, you are involving multiple muscle groups. Now, in addition to other exercises, the effects can only go so well.
Pull-ups are also vital parts of calisthenics.
They simply involve a pull-up bar either at the gym or at home.
The interesting thing about pull-ups is that: You are making use of your own body weight and engaging your muscles. This is everything you would ever want from a Calisthenics exercise.
However, the only limitation is that: when done in bad shape, it is useless and ineffective.
If you are trying so hard to get your Calisthenics game strong, pull-ups in good shape are advised.
You need to engage every muscle of the body actively without leaving one out, and that involves; the pecs, biceps, triceps, abdominal muscles, an on.
On average, about 25% will be missing when practicing pull-ups in bad shape.
#7 LOW PLANKS
Planks are alternative push up form.
Both Planks and Push-ups take the same position, but the actions are different.
In Planks, what you do is stretch your body out nice and straight and make your arms your support. However, push-ups require you to move your body up and down.
Low Planks are great in Calisthenics because with your arms and toes, you should be able to keep your body straight out.
Doing low planks, you need to hold out for about ten seconds before returning back to a stable position to rest for about three seconds and then repeat consistently.
Dips and Pull-ups are almost similar.
The difference between both is that pull-ups require one bar while dips require two.
Simply, you balance yourself in the middle of two dip bars, i.e., grab onto one bar with one hand, and the second bar with the other hand, while having your body positioned in the middle.
As you hold yourself up in–between these two bars, you are ready for a dip. What you then do is take yourself up and then take a dip down. This is a full dip.
This exercise works in such a way that: the longer you extend those arms, the deeper the dip you would take. A deeper dip means a denser effect.
Calisthenics Exercises And How To Start
With all the basics, you should be ready to get started on Calisthenics exercises.
It looks easy, but there is more to it.
Now, you must have understood your body weight is needed for Calisthenics, and with all equipment in place, there shouldn’t be a problem.
First, you need an exercise area, specifically four by six feet.
This is enough room to perform all kinds of activities, including complex ones.
The lovely thing about calisthenics is that it is applicable to all skill levels. This is why regardless of where you belong, you don’t need high-impact exercises like one-bar pull to get started.
What you need are low-impact exercises such as leg raises, low planks, Russian twists, and crunches. Neither of these exercises requires moving a major part of your body.
There is a beginner’s guide to help you through these exercises. For one, you need to do each of these exercises for at least three times, and stay true to yourself.
Keep your focus on the fact that you are using your body weight, and every exercise you do requires that. There is certainly going to be a response from either of them.
What makes Calisthenics different from others is that it focuses on quality and not quantity. You don’t get changes from the number of push-ups or pull-ups you do, but how well you do them. For one, I specified how you need to be in good shape, taking pull-up exercises.
Being in a perfect form means no injuries and active engagement of body muscles.
What Age Can A Person Start Calisthenic Training?
Not only for Calisthenics but for other types of exercises.
Age group doesn’t matter when it comes to exercises, especially when there is a lot of good coming from it.
There has been a lot of rumor and reports about the dangers of exercises like weightlifting to children, but they aren’t as bad as they painted them to be.
For kids, it’s understandable that they could be careless and drop them anyhow, but with adult supervision, they are good to go.
Some of these reports include articles on growth plate disruption and muscle damage, which isn’t true.
Staying fit is important, and that includes every age. Just that for kids, supervision is very important.
And for kids who don’t lift weights, there are other kinds of exercises that would interest them. For instance, they could really love running. They are young, agile, and would love to flex their little muscles.
Back to where we were: Is Calisthenic training bad for kids?
There’s no harm in it.
Calisthenic training can be likened to standing up from a couch or getting out of bed. If kids can do this on their own, then they just participated in a Calisthenic training. That is all that this is about – using your body weight to exercise.
The difference between kids Calisthenics and adults is that ours is an extension. We do more without the risks involved.
Chris Heria is a demi-God in the calisthenics scene, and there is just so much to learn about his son.
His son (at the age of five or six) enlisted in a calisthenics program through his studio and gym.
Of course, there is adult supervision while his son practiced his exercises.
Everyone should try to work out whatever they can because it helps.
Lack of supervision and not staying in form could be the only reason why Calisthenics is dangerous – once you take care of that, it’s safe.
Equipment That Helps Calisthenics
By now, you must have understood more about Calisthenics and its rivals.
Quite an expose!
Still not contradicting what we said earlier about no equipment required for Calisthenics; however, there is other equipment, not so necessary that can be used alongside.
No doubt, everyone needs extra traction.
For some exercises like the Russian twist, you shouldn’t be using the bare floor, especially when they are made of tiles or wood.
Floor mats would help in positioning when doing in-depth but complex movements.
Parkour pants are almost traditional because of their usage.
They are baggy pants that have two remarkable features – fitted waist and tight ankles.
Compound movements are easy with the baggy pants of this pant so that when you start working out, they do not slide or get too attached to your skin. If they had been tight, it could get easily destroyed during this movement.
Also, you would have to be performing Calisthenics shirtless; hence, it is the best piece of clothing that would come in handy at that moment. Besides, you would have your privacy.
A FAN FOR YOUR GYM
Staying comfortable is a must while working out. It wouldn’t hurt adding a fan to your gym on a list of simple equipment.
PUSH UP STANDS
Quite a number of people have difficulties with push-ups.
With Push up stands, it would be easy to lay nicely and straight.
These stands have been designed to do keep the arms straight at the start and then give extra traction (since there are rubber strips or padding at the ends).
There are lots of ways to start your Calisthenics journey.
What you need is the utmost determination and dedication to what you want to do. All of these are need when you are into relative weight training.
Ever had a plan to start a workout session? This is what you need to do.
Get a space, turn it to your gym and get basic equipment to get you started. If possible, add music to spice things up.
There are recommendations above that you could consider. They should help you start with your Calisthenic training.
Also, to do even better, get a pull bar or even a power tower, so that you do pull-ups and dips easily without stress.