What are calisthenics exercises?
You have probably been doing calisthenics exercises without even knowing that what they are formally known as. Think squats, lunges, crunches, and push-ups. These are all forms of calisthenics workouts.
But what exactly calisthenics are and how do they support your fitness and health?
Calisthenics are a group of strength training exercises that rely on a person’s body weight and gravity to build fitness and endurance levels.
The term calisthenics comes from ancient Greek where ‘kallos’ means beauty and ‘sthenos’ means strength and determination. This translates to using one’s strength to develop aesthetics in the human body.
Calisthenics exercises find a mention in ancient Greek and Chinese records. They regained popularity in the 1960s. Today, they are regularly used for training athletes and army personnel and in their fitness tests.
Which are some of the best calisthenics exercises for beginners?
Here are some of the best calisthenics for beginners. In this calisthenics exercise list, we have included exercises that are simple to learn, fun, and beginner-friendly:
- Calisthenics leg workout: As the name suggests, calisthenics leg workouts help make your legs stronger and muscular. They work on your glutes, quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings and help reduce pains and stiffness too. Here are some workouts to try:
- Squats: The classic calisthenics for legs, it strengthens the largest muscle groups in your legs and improves hip and ankle mobility.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your back flat, bend your hips and knees to mimic a sitting position.
- Hold the pose for 10-12 seconds.
- Return to the starting position while squeezing your glutes.
- Lunges: This is a great exercise to strengthen your glutes and improve your split strength.
- Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your torso straight and core engaged.
- Take a wide step with your right leg while putting most of your body weight on this leg.
- Keep lowering your body till your right knee is at a 90-degree angle.
- Your left leg should also form a 90-degree angle with your thigh perpendicular to the ground.
- Hold the pose for a couple of seconds and push yourself back up with your right foot.
- Repeat this calisthenics workout on the other side.
- Calisthenics chest workout: Calisthenics chest workouts target your pecs to build the strength and mass of your chest. This lends stability to your upper body and improves functionality. Here are some great beginner calisthenics workouts for the chest:
- Pushups: This is a great calisthenics chest exercise beneficial for not just strengthening your pecs but also for building up your lower back and core. This also works as an effective calisthenics arm workout and makes your arms stronger.
- Lie on your chest and stomach on the floor keeping your legs straight.
- Keep your palms at chest level with arms bent at an angle of 45-degrees.
- Exhale and push from your hands and heels together to bring your chest, torso, and thighs off the ground into the plank position.
- Hold the pose for 5-8 seconds and lower back to the starting position.
- Dips: This is a great compound calisthenics chest exercise that builds more muscle strength and burns calories faster. They are also an effective calisthenics arm workout that improves your posture and reduces the risk of injuries.
- Grab the parallel bars and hoist yourself up swiftly. Keep your abs tight and gaze ahead.
- Lower yourself by keeping your elbows at your side till your triceps are parallel to the ground.
- Hold the pose for 5-6 seconds and repeat.
- Calisthenics shoulder workout: Calisthenics shoulder workouts improve your functional strength and reduce shoulder pain and stiffness. Here are some great shoulder exercises to try:
- Wall walks: This calisthenics shoulder exercise builds your shoulder strength and overall balance.
- Get into a high plank position with your feet up on a wall. Your soles should touch the surface of the wall.
- Bring your body closer to the wall and start walking up it.
- Try to get yourself into a headstand position.
- Return to the start position.
- Crab walk: This is an effective calisthenics shoulder exercise that improves your agility and strengthens the core.
- Sit on the floor with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your arms behind you.
- Tighten your abs and lift your hips off the floor.
- Begin the walking movement by moving your left hand followed by the right foot and vice versa.
You can add more to your calisthenics exercise list to keep yourself challenged and motivated.
What are the benefits of calisthenics exercises?
Here are some of the most important calisthenics benefits:
- An important calisthenics benefit is that these exercises mimic your daily movement patterns. This helps in improving your functionality and range of motion.
- These exercises build a great amount of strength. This improves your posture, reduces muscular pain and stiffness, and reduces the risk of injury.
- Since almost all full-body calisthenics workouts include compound movements, they help you in losing weight. This tones up your body and reduces the risk of serious chronic diseases.
- Calisthenics for beginners can be done with little or no equipment. These exercises require minimal set-up and space.
- Beginner calisthenics workouts can be started without investing in gym memberships. These exercises are easy and can be included in your workout at home.
- Calisthenics workouts help in building endurance and mobility in your joints and reduce pain and inflammation.
How to do calisthenics exercises safely?
Here are certain things that beginners need to keep in mind before starting calisthenics:
- Check with your doctor before starting any workout regime, especially when you suffer from some medical conditions.
- Learn the exercise techniques to maintain the correct form and avoid injuries.
- Listen to your body and stop exercising if you feel pain or dizziness.
- Always incorporate a warm-up and cool-down session.
- Set realistic goals and build your practice gradually.
The key to gaining the benefits of calisthenics lies in consistency. This is especially important for beginners who have just started exercising. A great way to keep yourself motivated is to enjoy your exercise routine and don’t let yourself get bored. Be creative and challenge yourself.