How to start calisthenics: Calisthenics, a dynamic form of strength training utilizing your body weight, is gaining global popularity, and the Netherlands is no exception with a growing community of dedicated enthusiasts. The allure of calisthenics lies in its ability to build strength, muscle mass, and endurance through bodyweight exercises. In this comprehensive blog post, discover the myriad benefits of calisthenics and gain insights into how this sport has captured the enthusiasm of individuals worldwide. And for those ready to dive in immediately, don’t miss out on our downloadable calisthenics beginner’s guide to kickstart your journey with confidence
Calisthenics is a powerful form of strength training that harnesses your own body weight to develop strength, muscle mass, and endurance.
Now, let’s delve into the origin of the name. Where does the word calisthenics come from? It’s a fusion of two Greek words: Kalos and Sthenos. Translated, these words together mean ‘beautiful strength,’ referencing both physical and mental prowess.
Exploring the expansive world of calisthenics reveals a diverse range of exercises, all centered around using your body weight as the primary resistance. From the fundamental pull-up to the dynamic burpee and the explosive sprint, calisthenics encompasses a broad spectrum of movements that cater to various fitness levels and goals.
Within the calisthenics realm, there’s a distinct focus on specific exercises that capture the essence of this discipline. These targeted movements go beyond mere physical exertion; they embody the synergy of strength, control, and flexibility. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at these key calisthenics exercises, dissecting their mechanics and unraveling the unique benefits they bring to your fitness journey.
Embarking on this exploration will not only broaden your understanding of calisthenics but also inspire you to incorporate these foundational exercises into your routine. Whether you’re a beginner navigating the basics or an experienced practitioner seeking to refine your skills, this deeper dive into calisthenics exercises promises insights that elevate your training to new heights.
Push & pull exercises in calisthenics
Most calisthenics exercises are essentially compound exercises, meaning they engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
To refine your focus on specific movements, the majority of these exercises are categorized into subgroups known as push and pull.
During push exercises, you’re exerting force to push weight away— in this context, your body weight. Logical examples include push-ups or dips. Surprisingly, even the squat falls under the category of push exercises.
Conversely, in pull exercises, the emphasis is on drawing the weight towards you. Think of classics like the pull-up or a row. For those with more advanced skills, exercises like the front lever fall into the realm of pull movements.
Understanding the dynamics of push and pull in calisthenics not only refines your training approach but also opens the door to a spectrum of exercises that cater to different muscle groups and skill levels. Whether you’re pushing the boundaries with a powerful dip or pulling yourself to new heights with a challenging pull-up, the push and pull elements in calisthenics add a dynamic and comprehensive dimension to your workout routine.
Vertical & horizontal exercises in calisthenics
In addition to the push and pull categorization, there’s a second distinction in exercises: whether the movement is executed vertically or horizontally. This differentiation plays a crucial role in targeting specific muscle groups.
Vertical exercises involve movements where the force is directed upward or downward, engaging muscles in a different plane. Classic examples of vertical exercises include pull-ups, where you pull your body upward, and dips, where you push your body away from a horizontal surface.
On the other hand, horizontal exercises focus on movements along the same plane, typically involving pushing or pulling in a parallel direction to the ground. A classic horizontal push exercise is the push-up, while rows and bodyweight exercises like the Australian pull-up are representative of horizontal pulls.
Understanding the distinction between vertical and horizontal exercises in calisthenics provides a nuanced approach to muscle engagement. It not only broadens the range of exercises you can incorporate into your routine but also allows for a more comprehensive and balanced development of muscle strength and endurance.
How to start Calisthenics beginner exercises
How to start Advanced calisthenics exercises
After mastering the basics, a number of advanced exercises awaits you in the world of calisthenics. These exercises can be broadly classified into two categories: dynamic and static movements.
Dynamic exercises involve movements where your muscles change length due to bending your joints. Examples include the one-arm pull-up, the handstand push-up, and the planche push-up.
On the other hand, static exercises, also known as isometric exercises, require you to maintain a constant muscle length. You engage your entire body to hold a specific pose, as seen in exercises like the back lever, front lever, human flag, and planche.
Training for these advanced exercises typically involves progressions. You can’t expect to perform a flawless front lever or planche right from the start.
A progression serves as a stepping stone, providing a less challenging variation of the same exercise. This gradual approach allows you to build the strength required for the full-fledged exercise over time. So, whether you’re aspiring to defy gravity with dynamic feats or showcase incredible strength in static holds, progressions become your training allies in the journey of mastering advanced calisthenics exercises.
How to start calisthenics
For newcomers to calisthenics, embarking on a journey with a dedicated beginner’s training program is a wise choice.
This specialized schedule not only imparts structure to your workouts but also maintains the essential balance between push and pull exercises.
By adhering to a well-designed program, you’ll experience accelerated progress while minimizing the risk of injuries associated with overtraining. The guidance provided by a beginner’s schedule sets the foundation for a sustainable and effective introduction to the world of calisthenics, ensuring a balanced approach to building strength and skill.
How to start Calisthenics training program
Training schedules come in various shapes and sizes, typically encompassing the following elements:
- Workout split
- Full body, upper/lower, push/pull/legs
- Number of training sessions per week
- Number of sets per exercise
- Number of reps per set
- Rest intervals between sets
Download free Calisthenics beginner plan
Disciplines within calisthenics
Within calisthenics, there are various disciplines you can focus on. Read below to discover the four main ones.
REPS & SETS
Reps&Sets centers primarily on building endurance. I’m not referring to running or cycling but, instead, to boosting the counts of pull-ups, dips, muscle-ups, and push-ups. The objective is to maximize the number of repetitions in a single set. Unlike strength-building, the emphasis here lies in muscle endurance. Each year, various competitions offer chances to gauge your performance against others within your weight class.
Static exercises, also known as isometric positions, involve holding the body in a fixed position. Many of these exercises draw inspiration from gymnastics. Here are a few examples of statics:
- Front Lever
- Back Lever
- Human Flag
In static training, the emphasis shifts from dynamic movements to maintaining precise, challenging poses that demand significant strength and stability. Each static exercise targets specific muscle groups, contributing to overall muscular development and body control.
Integrating static exercises into a calisthenics routine introduces an isometric strength dimension, enhancing overall physical prowess. The journey to mastering statics involves progressive training, gradually increasing the duration and difficulty of holds. As practitioners refine their form and endurance in these challenging positions, they cultivate not only muscular strength but also a heightened awareness of body alignment and control.
Statics in calisthenics provide a unique avenue for individuals to showcase strength in stillness, pushing the boundaries of what the human body can achieve through precision and perseverance.
Calisthenics Community & Competitions
In recent years, there has been a growing number of calisthenics events organized all around the world.
Bigger formats are created, for example the FinalRep streetlifting competition in Germany. But also on local level.
You’ll probably find a community connected to your local calisthenics park.
Don’t feel scared, and try to attend one of these meet-ups and connect with like-minded individuals. The calisthenics community is always open to new enthusiasts.
Check out the video below for an impression of a local meet up in The Netherlands.
What are the benefits of calisthenics?
How often should you train calisthenics per week?
How often you should train calisthenics depends on various factors.
Generally, for beginners, it’s recommended to train 2-3 times per week. This allows your body to gradually adapt to the new stimuli. An ideal approach is to follow a full-body routine with at least one rest day between each session.
As you gain more experience, you can increase the frequency. For instance, with an upper/lower split, you could train four times a week.
If you prefer training almost every day, consider a push/pull/legs split. This way, the trained muscle groups have at least two days of rest after each workout.
However, it’s essential to note that training so frequently is not advisable for beginners. Your body may not be ready for it. If you start experiencing joint or tendon pain or feel overall fatigue, take more rest days.
How do you get stronger with calisthenics?
You can become incredibly strong with calisthenics, but it’s crucial to train in the right way. For strength, you want to focus on specific training in the rep range of 1 – 6 reps.
Additionally, it’s important to make each training session slightly more challenging. For example, by increasing the number of reps or the weight, or by training a more difficult progression of the same exercise.
This concept of making your training progressively more challenging is called progressive overload, and it’s essential for your development as a calisthenics practitioner.