Calisthenics is the in-trend fitness craze..and it has major health benefits!
Updated: Sep 22, 2021
Calisthenics has been around for centuries being practiced worldwide since its humble beginnings from Ancient Greece and China. It’s popularity dropped though as the bodybuilding era started to take precedence over the fitness industry, and although bodybuilding is still hugely practiced around the world, the art of Calisthenics and controlling ones body weight has started to make a strong comeback within the mainstream fitness arena.
So why has Calisthenics started to make a comeback?
Like all fitness trends different types of training tend to come and go as popularity rises and falls and marketers make strong, emotive messages to peak interest within the public eye for a certain mode of training - rightly or wrongly. Calisthenics is now on an upward trajectory with people quickly recognising and feeling the amazing benefits that using your own body weight as the resistance against gravity brings to body and mind.
The fundamental underpinnings of calisthenics is to be able to control and hold your body weight with total control and Precision. The increased physical attributes you get from performing calisthenics on a regular basis is sought after and many fitness enthusiasts no longer want that bulky, puffy bodybuilding type physique.
Calisthenics builds lean, strong endurable muscles that have the ability to hold, push, pull and balance in multiple planes is the perfect environment for muscles to flourish and body fat to reduce as a result. The gymnastic type physique although on the extreme side is now much closer to the majority of peoples perfect body shape than the body building or powerlifting one, and it’s this change in attitude that is driving the calisthenics revolution once again.
So what are the main benefits of using Calisthenics in a training program?
We have already touched on some of the overall benefits of calisthenics, but here are 10 more specific and most common adaptations your body and mind will go through after a period of body weight calisthenics training:
Total body control and increased proprioception
Full body linkage strength and motor control enhancements
Spine stability through improved core strength
Increased joint range of motion and muscle elasticity
Increase in fat fuel being metabolised by the body
Positive energy and reduction in anxiety feelings
Increased self-esteem by achieving challenging long-term skills
I am a beginner, can I still start a calisthenics program and/or join a class?
The great thing about calisthenics is that its your own frame and body weight that produces the resistance and the challenge within all exercises, meaning all levels can start a program or join a calisthenics class, all be it with some caution. Beginners would start by using the very fundamentals of body weight training before eventually progressing onto the more traditional calisthenics skills like handstands, muscle ups etc. Like any new training program or class you should also ensure you fill out a PAR-Q before starting to ensure you are safe and ready to begin.
What skills and milestones can I expect to achieve in my first year of training?
This all depends on your past training age/history, frequency of training, genetics, injury status, motivation plus other factors. But taking a mean across all these factors the average person who trained 1-2 x per week using calisthenics over a year could expect to achieve; 20-30sec x handstand balance, 1-5 x ring muscle up, 10-20sec tuck front lever, 30-45sec L-sit, 10 x pull ups, 15-20 push ups. There are obviously hundreds more skills and progressions to add to this but this should give a feel about what an average person can achieve over a 12 month period.
How many sessions do I need to attend until I start to see and feel some of the benefits?
Attending 1-2 x per week training sessions consistently should allow you to start seeing some benefits after a period of 6-8 weeks. But as discussed above, the progression you feel will be different for everyone and very much depend on many other factors not just frequency of training.
I play a lot of sports, will calisthenics benefit my performance or hinder it?
Again this depends on the sports you play but in general calisthenics will be beneficial to overall performance, whether that is helping to increase body awareness or building better whole body stability, calisthenics will improve your ability to control your body weight, which is fundamental to sports performance across all sports. The only time it may hinder your sporting performance is if you get injured from calisthenics training, which does happen but this can also happen at any time during any other activity too.
I have a list of injuries that have caused me issues in the past, can I still benefit from calisthenics training?
Again it depends. It depends on the severity of the injury, the type, the body part in question, the duration of injury etc. Saying that, most people have had some sort of injury record in the past and even when this list is long and complex, a good coach will understand your pain triggers and adapt and progress your calisthenics program to suit your needs. This is not easily done in a class environment but is easily adapted in a more 1-1 style coaching session.
Who is contraindicated - who is calisthenics not right for?
People who are heavily overweight and obese can struggle with calisthenics as the body weight is too much of a challenge and an injury risk, therefore it is best to be at a healthy weight before starting a calisthenics class or program. If you are unsure of your risks then speak with a coach who will point you in the right direction and build a plan.
Also people with a current shoulder or lower back injury would be best suited to a rehabilitation program first before starting a calisthenics program. The stresses on these areas of the body can be difficult to avoid during certain movements and ultimately put them at risk during a calisthenics session. If you need a rehabilitation program to solve some injury issues then please contact your coach for guidance and a suitable plan.
Until next time,
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