By Leigh Kettle |
Calisthenics/Street Workout Athlete
For many potential fitness enthusiasts, joining the gym can be a very big and often daunting step. Not only are there the financial implications of a monthly membership fee, but also walking into a gym with little or no previous gym history, can be a very intimidating experience .
If this sounds like 2 of the excuses that maybe you yourself have used in the past as a reason not to join in on the health and fitness bandwagon, or maybe you are currently involved in a fitness regime of some sort (as I was) and you are looking at something different, then let me introduce you to what I do.
A type of fitness training known as Calisthenics ….A discipline that has not only given me a functionally stronger and more conditioned body but also helped to produce a toned and well defined physique to boot.
What is Calisthenics Training?
The word calisthenics comes from the Ancient Greek words kalos (beauty) and Sthenos (strength), giving you a little indication of what to expect from training this way. A type of fitness sometimes referred to simply as “bodyweight training”.
In basic terms, calisthenics is a way of using your own body as the resistance, instead of conventional weights found in a gym. Think push ups, pull ups and you’ll kind of get the idea . These 2 exercises alone, performed correctly, are 2 brilliant ways:
✓ Building strength.
✓ Burning fat.
✓ Creating a physique to be proud of!
…And this is only just scratching the surface. There are so many more levels to this type of training to further explore.
With the right commitment, hard work and drive you will be able to achieve some very impressive feats of strength with your body you would never have thought possible. The human flag, handstands and handstand push ups are just a few of my favourite party tricks.
…And all this gained from a training routine you can build yourself, with the right direction and willingness to put in some hard work!
The Benefits of Calisthenics Training
Another great advantage of training in calisthenics is that it can be practised and enjoyed by literally everyone, due to its simplicity in the equipment required – your own bodyweight, with no fancy gym machines or gym membership required!
It can be trained anywhere you wish; your front room, garden kitchen, literally anywhere … It can also be practiced alone which means you can train at a time to suit you and not having to rely on gym partners and time restraints, etc!
As you progress it would be beneficial to have yourself access to a pull up bar and maybe a dip station, but the majority of all the fundamental calisthenics exercises can be performed with just you and your own bodyweight.
The very basics, push ups, squats, dips and pull ups can all be performed on almost anything you may have around the house or at the local park, resulting in a very cheap but very effective fitness regime!
I personally used to practice my dips in the “V” join of my 2 kitchen worktops at home and even my kitchen table chairs.
Calisthenics | Getting Started
Begin this training by allocate yourself a few days a week at first, (nomore than an hour a day is fine at the beginning) to focus on getting in some very basic calisthenic work.
✓ Wrist stretches and circles: particularly as your wrists will be bearing the brunt of a lot of your calisthenic exercises
✓ 10/15 minute total body warm up – stretching out different body parts works great!
|Handstand practice (15 mins)||Use a wall to familiarise yourself|
|Plank holds||Working your core|
|Pull-ups||Strength: pushing plane of exercise|
|Push-ups||Strength: pulling plane of exercise|
|Bodyweight squats||Don’t neglect legs|
|Top support holds & shoulder shrugs||strength, stability & straight arm conditioning|
|Dips||Build overall upper body strength|
There are a multitude of exercises that could have been included in this beginners workout – however, these are a few that helped me in the early days of starting out in calisthenics.
Calisthenics | Working towards progression
Almost every calisthenic exercise will have a “progression” route for you to follow, starting with the most very basic form of the exercise up to the most advanced version. Each should be mastered before continuing to the next.
This is a very important and fundamental aspect of training in this way. It will help to give you a “cleaner”, stronger final outcome of the skill you are working on, and will also help to condition your bodies smaller connective tissues, that are so important in overall body function.
They can soon fatigue leading to inflammation/injury long before your larger surrounding muscles so it is imperative to proceed through your training with the up-most respect for each and every move you learn!
Form is key to every movement you do in calisthenics not only to help prevent injury, but also to best utilise your muscles working together to achieve the goal.
The calisthenics community world wide, is a very welcoming one and through social media, is full of people wanting to help you get started on what is an amazing and very enjoyable journey!
Take Home Message
Although using your own bodyweight to train is nothing new, In the mainstream and certainly in the UK in particular, calisthenics is still relatively in its infancy, but is growing daily at quite a rate and is set to become very popular in the coming years, as more and more people look at different and arguably more enjoyable ways to workout and keep fit!
As suggested earlier, calisthenics is a great way to keep fit, and build yourself a great looking and functionally strong body, at little to no cost to your bank balance. By starting off slowly and working your way up to more advanced movements and by following the correct progressions for each skill you want to achieve, you w
ill be well on the way to building yourself a strong body, capable of doing things you may have thought impossible.
With consistency and hard work, the rewards will be all yours.
Start today, you won’t regret it!