New trend in functional fitness, calisthenics is a form of free body training that seems to improve speed and endurance. But how to practice it?
If in Greek “calistenia” means “beauty of strength” there will be a reason. Calisthenics is a set of free body exercises closely related to artistic gymnastics, mostly performed without tools, aimed at enhancing the body in contrast to the mere weight strength of your body. It seems to have many advantages and can be followed even by those who are not particularly trained.
Also known as street workout, calisthenic gymnastics aims to develop strength, coordination, balance and elasticity through free body movements that do not require special tools.
The basic exercises are divided according to the various muscle areas that you want to strengthen and the central part includes abdominals, back muscles and pelvic tract.
What is calisthenics?
It is part of the functional training, ie those aimed at improving strength, endurance, power and coordination skills. Calisthenics is in fact a sport to be performed using your own body weight to shape muscles and improve strength.
It involves several exercises in a series of progressive difficulties that require power and body weight control, without the use of special equipment. It includes exercises of all levels, from the simplest that can be done more or less by anyone, to those where more appropriate preparation is needed. There are, therefore, calisthenics exercises suitable for everyone’s needs.
In summary, the characteristics of calisthenics are:
- training without equipment or with bars
- compound exercises that work with body weight (basic exercises are pull-ups, planks, arm bends and squats), to be performed in repetitions, static and negative positions or freestyle mode
- correct technical execution and control in each exercise
- In principle, therefore, the calisthenics is a discipline that involves all the large muscle masses of the body, through dynamic and isometric exercises, even among those generally used in the physical preparation of any other sport.
The benefits of calisthenics
By practicing calisthenics, the body improves globally and gradually leads to an improvement in motor skills and a development of strength. Like all sports disciplines, calisthenics also helps to improve overall balance and elasticity and to increase body awareness.
In addition, calisthenics can also be used outdoors, with all the benefits that follow if you exercise in the open air.
In summary, it can be said that calistenia improves considerably:
- muscle toning
- general well-being
In addition, the functional training that is done with Calisthenics is great for burning calories and losing weight.
Calisthenics, how to practice it and what the exercises consist of
Needless to say, if you decide to go for such a discipline, you must first understand what is your athletic level, what you can do and what you want to learn.
The basic exercises of Calisthenics include pulling, bending on the arms and movements to develop the abdominals, to achieve superior skills that require and strengthen the main muscle groups.
Among the more complex exercises, however, there are the front lever, the back lever, the muscle up.
It is, therefore, a form of training that follows a gradually more complex.
In summary, we can say that the exercises can be grouped into three levels: the first involves the muscles of the upper body and among the fundamental exercises we find the push-ups (bending on the arms on the ground) and the pull-ups on the bar; the second concerns the core (abdominal center, ie the strengthening of the deep muscles of the trunk, pelvis and back) and in this context the basic exercises are sit-ups, crunches and plank; the third level touches the lower part, where the main exercise is squatting, the crunch and the plank; the third level touches the lower part, where the main exercise is the squatting. For the triceps and the Achilles tendon there is the possibility to work through a rise as it can be a step (the calf).
Exercises for beginners
The basic exercises of this type of training mainly involve pulling, bending on the arms and movements to develop the abdominals.
As for the upper body, the muscles most affected are biceps, triceps, pectorals, deltoids, forearms and cores. Among the fundamental exercises:
push-ups: these are folds on the arms on the ground that have multiple variations, depending on their strength. They can be done with legs outstretched, legs bent with the knees on the ground, with one arm or with the feet resting on a rise. In any case, the pelvis, trunk and nape must be aligned, the hands on the ground must be at the shoulder width.
pull-ups: these are pull-ups to be done for the first time with a supine grip (palm inwards) at a width slightly wider than that of the shoulders. Only afterwards, you can afford the prone grip
dips to the parallels: place yourself in the middle of the parallel bars and with your arms outstretched vertically to extended elbows keep your body in suspense).
For the lower part of the body, the exercises are
- squat: open the feet to the width of the shoulders with the tips outwards. With your arms forward, go down as if you wanted to sit down, keeping your back straight and moving your pelvis slightly back. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then ascend to the starting position with your heel always on the ground.
- bending with momentum: from the upright position with your arms outstretched forward and your feet slightly apart, squat down, bending your legs and lifting your heels slightly. Then make a vertical jump trying to get as high as possible and then come back with your legs bent.
- calf: start from the upright position, place one foot on one step with the tip, while lifting the other leg and carrying it back. Raise yourself above the line of the step, then go down bringing the heel of the supporting foot below the line of the step.
For the core, that is, the basic exercises are generally:
- sit-up: supine with bent legs, bring the trunk as close as possible to the legs
- сrunch: Lying on your back with your legs bent, lift only the top of your trunk off the ground
- plank: frontal or lateral, the abdominals work in isometry, i.e. when stationary. In the frontal position, the starting position is that of the bending, which is suspended, however, on the elbows resting on the ground. Try to assume the most horizontal posture possible between head, back and buttocks and heels, contracting abdominals and buttocks. In the lateral variant, you place your elbow on the ground and you lift from the ground laterally
Remember that the basic rule if you start training is never to overdo it.
Below is a video for beginners of calisthenics starring Frank Medrano, one of the most famous practitioners of this discipline.