Callisthenics is basically a fancy term for body weight exercises. It describes the functional movements we can do with minimal, if any, equipment. Super simple.
Callisthenics have probably been making up a large majority of your workouts over the past few months. We’ve all been trying to figure out how to use our own body weight to create a workout routine that tests us in the same way the gym would.
Callisthenics is a pretty broad term and involves exercises that aim to develop all kinds of fitness. Cardio, strength, flexibility, mobility. Tending to them all. Think running, jumping, push-ups, squats, sit ups, burpees.
But before abandoning them in favour of the fancy gym equipment again, we’re going to make a case for why we should all keep callisthenics a part of our workouts.
What exactly is Callisthenics?
It’s all about mastering your own body weight. And moving in functional and natural ways.
Callisthenics strips back all the complex kit and equipment the modern fitness world can bring with it. It’s grounded in the fact that you should train your body to serve you in the most natural way, meaning you don’t really need anything other than your body itself to do so.
Outdoor gyms and parks often come to mind when thinking about callisthenics. People using only bars and poles to perform strength and endurance focused movements that look almost impossible. It’s kind of that. But there’s more to it as well.
Functional body movements include running, bending, pulling, pushing, swinging. Everything humans are built to do. Callisthenic aims to increase and develop strength and endurance in these movements as well as nurturing mobility and flexibility to improve overall physical fitness.
On top of this, it improves balance, agility, and coordination. Meaning you’re giving your skill related fitness some attention too.
Lots happening with one simple form of training.
Why is Callisthenics beneficial to your body?
There’s a lot of different reasons people opt for the Callisthenics life.
It’s for everyone.
Mastering your bodyweight sounds like it only really suits beginners getting used to building strength and endurance. And it can be. But it’s also a type of training that presents constant challenges for even the most elite of athletes. Moves like handstand push-ups, flags, and planches will take a lot of time and strength to get right. Callisthenics allows to progression and a challenge or goal to work towards regardless of your current fitness levels.
It looks after your flexibility and your mobility.
One of the issues with gym equipment and weight training is that there’s lots of opportunity for injury. This can happen as a result of lifting too much in the incorrect form, continually limiting your range of movement, and not looking after your muscles. Callisthenics often uses wide range of movements within exercises, meaning it looks after your mobility. Simply put, it’s joint and muscle friendly. It also encompasses flexibility training meaning our muscles are receiving all rounded support rather than just being bombarded at the squat rack.
It’s compound in nature.
Callisthenics is a notoriously efficient and effective way of working out the body. A big reason for this is because it focuses on compound exercises. Ones that work and engage more than one muscle group at a time. Squats, push-ups, pull ups. All these exercises don’t just recruit one muscle group, they recruit many. Meaning your efforts are going much further for full body fitness than with isolated exercises.
It’s got some big mental health benefits.
Due to its challenging nature, the sense of reward and achievement that comes from mastering bodyweight and intense exercise is huge. Progressing in any way is going to give your mental health a big boost. Not the mention all the other endorphins that are released whenever you exercise.
Our favourite Callisthenic exercises.
We all know about the squat, the burpee, the push-up, the pull-up, and the handstand. They’re well known and for good reason. A brilliant way to work out the body.
But what about some of the more impressive callisthenic exercises that you could work towards doing one day? Here’s a run down of our favourites.
The human flag:
The handstand push up:
One arm pull up:
Back level hold:
So whilst we’re all eager to get back to the gym and start fitting fitness in again, there’s always room for callisthenics on top of our usually workout routines.
Variety is key to maintaining well rounded physical fitness. Use the bench one day, and your body the next.
Better yet, Hussle. And make your fitness lifestyle even more flexible.