Dumbbells, barbells, weight machines and the rest. We always see images of weightlifters giving the highest of praise to such workout equipment. But many tend to overlook the purest and most important form of training of them all: calisthenics. There’s no doubt it’s become a buzzword in the world of fitness – and yet this often misunderstood term has always been around.
Put simply: calisthenics is any exercise that uses your body weight for strength gains. Pumping iron isn’t the only way to get stronger – calisthenics is arguably more useful in bumping up the muscular volume while shaping your body for optimal athleticism at the same time.
Bodies weren’t designed just to move backwards and forwards. It’s the reason EVO personal trainers encourage members to eschew that one-plane-of-motion mindset and twist, rotate, push, pull, squat, jump and move side-to-side. Performing calisthenics at a slow to moderate rate requires more muscle use, in turn helping to build muscle. Train at a faster rate, and you can burn more calories than many cardio workouts, due to the high levels of muscle engagement.
Slimmer, fitter, stronger – the benefits of calisthenics are plentiful. Here are just a few of them:
Most calisthenics exercises require zero equipment. No need to wait for machines at the gym or travel to group classes to get a full-body workout – once you practice bodyweight training you can do it in your home, at the park, on the beach. Of course, there is equipment that’ll boost your calisthenic training tenfold. At EVO we have our very own playground – a dedicated space for freestyle training. Think gymnastic rings, Swedish ladders, Octagon functional frame and a textured traverse wall. Basically a bodyweight buff’s paradise.
With increased strength, calorie torching, power and endorphin euphoria comes a toned, flexible and strong body. Just look at Al Kavadlo’s physique – one of the world’s leading experts in calisthenics and bodyweight training is awe-inspiringly shredded. By working multiple muscle groups at once (for example, an explosive push-up works out the chest, arms, abs and spine), you’re training the body in a way that looks more proportionate. ‘Skipping leg day’ no longer becomes a subject of concern as unnatural bodybuilding physiques will be overturned for useful, natural and tantalisingly toned muscles.
Calisthenics creates total body awareness. Most exercisers are so used to repetitive workouts, but constantly switching up your routine will keep your brain switched on and prevent the dreaded fitness plateau. Muscles will grow back stronger, so in turn you seek new challenges – progress is infinite with calisthenics.
It’s harder to ‘overtrain’ one particular muscle group in calisthenics. As a result, injuries are less common. Those who suffer from joint pain from repetitive exercise and lifting heavy metal will find this type of training more natural and less demanding. They’re called ‘bodyweight’ exercises for a reason – our bodies were quite literally designed to do them. Stick to the original blueprints and adapt to the environment around you and you can’t go wrong.