Calisthenics – bodyweight training for functional strength

Calisthenics, also known as street workout, is an art form that originated in Eastern Europe but has since made its way all over the world. Calisthenics, in its most rudimentary form, is a bodyweight regiment. However, as time passed and the discipline evolved, it evolved into the flashy high-flying sport it is today.

Calisthenics takes many elements from other disciplines such as gymnastics and break dance – but ultimately is its own sport, with many new, never before seen elements giving it fresh life. Athletes use traditionally gymnastics equipment – the high bar and parallel bars to compete in calisthenics freestyle competitions.

These competitions have reached the world stage. They are styled in a round robin, where athletes compete their routines to judges and large crowds of spectators. They’re judged based on uniqueness, skill, difficulty and overall crowd-pleasing spectacle!

Why calisthenics over traditional fitness?

Calisthenics is not only a fantastic way to stay fit, but it has a ton of benefits over orthodox training methodologies.

Calisthenics is perhaps the most functional type of training there is. The movement patterns in calisthenics are the same used in day to day life. This is the great advantage of bodyweight training – we load the body in natural movement patterns that translate to functional strength.

Unlike orthodox training, calisthenics never gets old. There is always something new to learn – a new skill or more difficult variation. In traditional training you are confined to increasing the weight that you use – but results quickly plateau and boredom sets in. Calisthenics remains exciting as the objective always changes.

Another advantage of calisthenics is that you need very minimal equipment if any. Calisthenics parks are everywhere and forego the need to buy gym memberships. Training outside has a number of benefits and can be a good excuse to get away from the busy cacophony of city life.

Who can start training calisthenics?

Although calisthenics freestyle and statics might remain out of reach for some time, there are no prerequisites to training calisthenics. Anyone of any skill level can start training without any prior strength training. This is because every exercise in calisthenics can be adjusted. Just as weightlifting can be made easier by reducing the weight, calisthenics can be made easier by changing angles, lever lengths and elevation of the exercise in question.

Changing something as seemingly innocuous as the grip used or the number of anchor points on the ground can dramatically change the difficulty of an exercise. Calisthenics athletes can also make use of resistance bands to make exercises more accessible. For instance, pull ups can be made easier by changing the grip (into reverse grip) and using a resistance band to support one’s bodyweight.

How do I start training calisthenics ?

There are some basic movement patterns that you need to master to become proficient at calisthenics. All of these movement patterns are associated with specific exercises.  Here is an example of a beginner calisthenics program:

  • Vertical pull – pull ups
  • Horizontal pull – inverted rows or resistance band rows
  • Vertical push – pike push ups
  • Horizontal push – push ups
  • Core – hollow body hold + superman hold
  • Legs – jumping squats

These exercises will help you build a sound strength foundation for tackling statics and calisthenics freestyle in due time.

Moving beyond calisthenics basics

Once you have established a foundation in basic movement patterns it’s time to spice things up with statics and calisthenics freestyle. These are much more technical aspects of calisthenics and will require a lot more time to perfect.

The best way to train both statics and calisthenics freestyle is to do it. Training must be specific to be effective. There are many skills that are accessible to beginners, and its important to progress gradually rather than to skip ahead.

Although you can try statics and calisthenics freestyle by yourself, there is a much higher risk of something going wrong. The fact is, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can end up with a serious injury. That’s why it’s always recommended that you find a professional who can help guide you.

Melbourne calisthenics personal trainers can assist you both in person and online to help you achieve your statics and calisthenics freestyle goals.