Cali-what? Sounding more like something you might study at college than sweat over in a gym, calisthenics has actually been a hot buzz word in certain exercise circles for some time now. This article explains what calisthenics is and even gives you some tips to get started on your very own calisthenics workout in the comfort of your own home.
So, what does calisthenics mean?
Time for the dictionary definition. Calisthenics comes from the Greek words, kalos and sthenos, meaning beauty and strength. The Greeks were pretty keen on admiring the perfection of the human form, as many an ancient statue will attest.
Yes, ok – but what does calisthenics mean for me?
In terms of your workout, calisthenics refers to a workout that builds real muscle strength and tone using only the weight of your own body for resistance. That’s right, no dumbbells, kettlebells, or machines in sight.
Some calisthenics exercises for you to try
Chances are, you will already be familiar with several of the following moves. The key is to build them into a routine to work all the muscles of the body. To create your very own calisthenics workout, pick four to six exercises, and repeat each of them eight to ten times. Try to repeat the whole cycle of exercises and reps at least twice, building up to four cycles over time. As you get stronger, you will find you are able to hold positions for longer or complete more repetitions, and even add new and more challenging exercises to your repertoire!
- Pushups: basic, but a perfect example of a calisthenics exercise. The strength of your arms lifts the weight of your body off the floor, supported by your toes (or lift just your upper body supported by your knees if you need a gentler option).
- Leg raises: lying on one side, raise the top leg up to form the widest ‘V’ you can and hold briefly, before lowering in a controlled fashion. Perform on both sides.
- Squats: feet shoulder-width apart, sit your backside back and keep thighs parallel to the floor. Raise. Repeat. Read also: How to do a proper squat.
- Planks: side or forward planks – hold until you feel the burn. Aim for longer each time.
- Sit ups
- Crunches: just curl your upper over to get your shoulders off the floor
- Triceps dips: use a chair, low wall, park bench…
- Pull ups: palms facing away from you. Your local park may have a bar you can use to pull your body up off the ground.
- Chin ups: palms facing towards you.