You might have heard of Callisthenics if you are into exercise and fitness. Wikipedia defines Calisthenics as a form of exercise incorporating motor movements that involve a large group of muscles, such as pushing, grasping, running, etc. These exercises are termed as “bodyweight exercise” since these exercises are done with minimal use of the equipment and your own body weight is used for providing resistance to your muscles. Bodyweight exercises or callisthenics are usually aimed at an increase in muscle strength, flexibility and fitness. Callisthenics is also a source of muscular and aerobic conditioning along with improving psychomotor skills such as agility, mind to body coordination and balance.
Callisthenics are the best and simple beginner exercises to build up your daily exercise routine so you can start with it if you are looking to hit the gym at a later stage. It is widely accepted by fitness gurus and physical health professionals that simple exercises involving muscle and joint movements contribute significantly to your physical health.
A lot of research has been done on the effects of callisthenics or bodyweight exercises and all have concluded that this form of workout is immensely beneficial for physical health. According to a study conducted in Italy in 2017 and published in Isokinetics and exercise science, callisthenics proved effective for improvement in postural sway, muscle strength, endurance and also showed significant positive results for reduction in body fat mass. This study further concluded that such activity is easy to practice and accessible to everyone.
Another study published in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation 2012 examining “effects of Calisthenics and Pilates exercises on coordination and proprioception in adult women”, concluded that bodyweight exercises are more likely to improve coordination of the lower extremity as compared to Pilates exercises and further suggested that Calisthenics may be useful for individuals struggling with coordination.
Why bodyweight training is so effective? Callisthenics is a compound of tons of exercises each of which may be able to affect different parts of your body at the same time. So it has everything you require to focus on such as mobility, flexibility, core strength, gain in muscle mass, and cardiovascular endurance. Bodyweight training is recommended by many fitness professionals for resistance training and cardio since it helps you build lean muscle while shedding fat simultaneously. Another factor which contributes to the effectiveness of bodyweight training is its progressive nature. You start with simple and easy exercises and your body gradually adapts to your exercise routine and its intensity making you push to advanced levels over time. Apart from four basic exercises: push-ups, pull-ups, dip and squats, Calisthenics comprise a whole bunch of bodyweight exercises that provide an extreme challenge to muscles especially your body core.
Callisthenics is also effective for gaining benefits of exercise in a way that it does not require any specific setting or expensive equipment. You don’t need to go to a gym or even to an open space to do it. You can do it at your home at any time. This freedom alone is enough to motivate you to go for your fitness-related goals. Getting yourself in shape naturally and gradually is the key in bodyweight training and that is also the main reason for its effectiveness. It does not have any side- effects since your body transforms 100% naturally just from simple body movements.
Types and Benefits of Calisthenics
Some of the important exercise in Callisthenics is push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, trunk-twists, planks, lunges, jumping jacks and chin-ups.
Push-ups are beneficial for building upper body strength since they are focused on your triceps, pectoral muscles and shoulders. You also gain strength in lower back and core of your body by engaging your abdominal muscles.
Pull-ups are effective in many different ways for your body. Pull-ups strengthen the arm and shoulder muscles, improve strength in your grip and also increase strength in your core muscles which increases your endurance.
Sit-ups are mainly focused on your core or abdominal and lower back muscles. This exercise helps to strengthen your core muscles which contribute to improvement in flexibility and balance. It also helps to improve your balance and posture and reduces the risk of back pain and stiffness.
Trunk-twists are also aimed at improving your core strength and flexibility. Apart from core strength it also increases your range of motion and boosts your reflexes, relieves stiffness and tension in back muscles and decreases the risk of injury.
Plank is one of the exercises that engage almost all of your body, from legs to the pelvic region as well as your back and shoulders. The plank increases strength in your spine and improves your core and abdominal muscles which naturally maintains your posture.
Lunges are widely recommended by fitness enthusiasts for its ability to strengthen back, hips and legs. It helps you improve mobility and stability. Lunges are also very effective for fat loss and gain in lean muscle mass. There is a whole set of variations in lunges which aim at different groups of muscles in your body and hence can have a significant impact on your overall physical fitness.
Jumping jacks is the best and easiest approach to the cardiovascular benefits of Callisthenics. There is a long list of health benefits associated with this form of exercise ranging from improved heart rate, efficient blood circulation in the body and better control on blood pressure to improvement in cholesterol levels leading to a reduced risk of stroke and heart attack.
Chin-ups also have multi-dimensional benefits since it involves different muscle and spine. It improves strength in your grip, biceps, shoulders and spine joints which in turn helps you maintain your posture and reduces the risk of back pains and injury.