Calisthenics

Calisthenics: What is It & How to Do It?

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Here is the literal definition of the root word and its origin.

 Definition:

Calisthenics (/kalɪsˈθɛnɪks/)
noun
plural noun: calisthenics
  1. [kal-uh s-then-iks]
    cal•is•then•ics or cal•lis•then•ics
gymnastic exercises to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement.

 

Origin:
Early 19th century: from Greek kallos ‘beauty’ + sthenos ‘strength’ + -ics

 

In Layman’s Terms:
Calisthenics is any form of exercise that uses one’s own body weight for resistance.

 

Calisthenics 101:

With Calisthenics its pretty easy to see that it has been around for some time. Let’s look at a quick sample timeline over the last 2-3,000 years. Granted this is not a precise history of Calisthenics. This is just one person’s interpretation:

Historical Timeline of Calisthenics:

2500-250 BC: The embodiment of ancient Greek civilization is the idea that “physical well-being [is] necessary for mental well-being
776 BC: According to historical records the first ancient Olympic Games can be traced to this time.
551 BC – 479 BC: Confucius is credited as the first person saying exercise is beneficial.
527 BC: Shaolin Monks are the first group of “Warriors” to use exercise to increase mental and physical performance.
550–330 BC: The Persian empire was the first organization to use physical fitness for warriors that trained in offensive tactics, and they started them at the young age of 6.
480 BC: One of the earliest mentions of calisthenics can be found in the chronicles of Herodotus on the Battle of Thermopylae.
264 BC: First gladiatorial games are held in Rome.
339 AD: The Olympic games continued for nearly 12 centuries, until Emperor Theodosius decreed that all such “pagan cults” be banned.
1700-1850: With the emerging nations of Europe, feelings of nationalism “created the atmosphere for the first modern fitness movement, which came in the form of gymnastics programs
1823 Catherine Beecher founds Hartford seminary for girls with American Style Calisthenics (early form of aerobics)
1904-1955 Georges Hébert traveled the world as a mariner & became intrigued by the agility & immaculate bodies of various indigenous tribesmen

 

Introduction to Calisthenics:
In this video you will see extreme calisthenics expert, Frank Medrano, explain:
his philosophy, main exercises, dos and dont’s and his post workout regimen.The 7 Basics according to Frank Medrano:
  1. Push ups
  2. Pull up
  3. Dips
  4. Crunches
  5. Squats
  6. Lunges
  7. Sprints: He uses High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.); he runs fast for 15 seconds and rests for 30 seconds then repeats the cycle  for 12-15 minutes. This helps to lean the body and improve recovery.Pre Workout
    1 Apple: 30 minutes before workout

Post Workout

  • Sun Warrior: Warrior Protein – 1 Scoop
  • Maca Magic:: Maca Root Powder – 1 Scoop
  • 2-3 Bananas

Advantages:
  1. FREE: No gym memberships, no long lines, no crowds, no expensive exercise equipment. Only the use of your own body weight.
  2. It’s FUN: What is life if you can’t have a little fun. There are different movements and you feel like a kid in a playground. What could be better than that?
  3. Potential: All of us have an unlimited amount of human potential, it is our choice whether we choose to live the life of our dreams. With Calisthenics you have a sense of positive well-being in knowing that you are creating and sculpting the body you want on your own. Of course a better body also translates to better health which is a great consequence of reaching your potential.
  4. Self Confidence: Believing in one self, more so confiding or talk to & trust in one self is probably one of the greatest values a person can have, and Calisthenics affords one this possibility. When you workout and train you begin to feel good about yourself which directly and affects your
  5. Self Esteem: How you value yourself and what you have done and are doing is invaluable. With body weight training AKA Calisthenics, you begin to value yourself in a way that was not possible before because you are doing something positive for yourself which begins to show inwardly and outwardly in everything you do.
  6. Connection: Calisthenics gives you the wonderful opportunity to connect with others and the world as you train. You can choose to train indoors or outdoors, alone and or you can choose to workout with others in a group. I love working out in nature at the local park. Contact with nature and others that might be also their training gives me a sense of connection.
  7. Self Discipline: Working out and training day in and day out, begins to create a sense of determined focus and spills over into other aspects of your life. As you train you and stick with it, you begin to notice that same drive and intensity to train regularly helps you to focus on other areas of your life.
  8. Natural movements/More muscles are engaged: The movements such as push ups, pull ups, and dips are more fluid in motion and as such engage many muscle groups at the same time thus growth is proportional.
  9. Easy to learn: The exercises are relatively easy to do and can be varied to adapt to each person’s strengths and weaknesses.
  10. Flexible & On the go: The exercises can be done when and wherever you want.
  11. Breaking down stereotypes: Calisthenics is a one size fits all and is one of the few exercise that just about anyone can do, it does not matter your age, race, height, weight, sex, income level, religion. The exercises are can be adapted for any lifestyle.
Disadvantages:
  1. Time:  Of course I need to stay as objective as possible, and this one is a bit of a stretch but it goes without saying that working out requires time that could otherwise be used for something else. (However I see no better use of time than to spend with one self and being active.) Also time to be patient and stick with the exercises day in and day out could also be construed as a negative.
  2. Humility: Like anything in life, as a beginner you need  to start from ground zero and for many that sense of being comfortable being uncomfortable is just too unbearable. That is probably the main reason many quit before they even get started. You have to start where you are and not where others are.
  3. Learning Curve: Practice makes perfect and learning the different moves can be somewhat intimidating at first. Just stick with it.
  4. Improper form: Like all exercise and pretty much anything in life. If you don’t do the exercises properly it can lead to injury.
  5. Repetition: The movements can seem repetitive in nature after a while and some like to incorporate other forms of exercise like yoga, martial arts, weight lifting, core training.
  6. Isolation of muscle groups: As they say there are advantages and disadvantages to just about everything, and the advantage of being able to work many muscle groups at the same time could pose a challenge for those wanting to isolate just one muscle group.

In conclusion, Calisthenics, is a form of exercise that can benefit just about anyone. It really all begins with just that first decision to just do it.

Before Calisthenics, I use to go to the gym, and often there were days when quite frankly I just did not feel like working out, but I remember hearing a saying, that 50% of working out is just showing up at the gym. I can say from personal experience that although a bit trite it is true.

I will slightly alter this phrase for the purposes of this post, and state, that 50% of Calisthenics is just doing it, You can start with something as small as push ups or alternatives like doing pushes assisted on your knees if you can’t do them. There are a ton of ways to modify the movements for your level.

So give it a try, and prove me wrong.

About Bronson Tang

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8 Comments

  1. KEVIN MCLAURIN

    December 4, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    I REALLY LOVE THE INFORMATION PROVIDED. DO YOU HAVE A PRINTED VERSION OF THIS MAGAZINE?

    • Bronson Tang

      December 16, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for your comment. At the moment we do not have a printed version however we will be offering in the future.

      Thanks again

      Bronson

  2. Rich

    March 27, 2015 at 12:07 am

    Hey Bronson,

    First of all great post!

    I definitely have to agree on the humulity part ;), it takes a shitload of practice to get some of the most difficult exercises. But then again without a challenge would anything be fun?

    With regard to proper form I have a question, I have recently come across exercises that make use of improper from on purpose, like doing push ups on your wrists (street workout), to make the joints less fragile when improper form actually happens. So by training for injury you prevent injury. What are your views on this? Do you think you should also incorporate improper form training routines? Or would you always advise to do proper form?

    Thanks in advance,

    Rich

    • Bronson Tang

      March 31, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      Hi Rich,

      To be honest that is the first time that I have heard of this type of training. Unfortunately I think the vast majority are already performing with improper form without having to really make an effort. I really truly believe that to try to always do proper form in the end will help prevent injury. There are those who are genetically gifted and just do perfect form without even giving it a second thought, but for us mere mortals, I focus on perfect form because has reduced my own personal risk of injury. On days when I am not focused I tend to pay the piper….just one guy’s opinion….hope that helps…

      • Reinaldo

        February 18, 2016 at 1:01 pm

        I started doing this exeisrce for the last two weeks and dramatic results for my upper abdominal area of my stomach. My stomach is going in and it is noticed by many people. Thanks mate for the upload!

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    August 30, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on calisthenics.

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  4. Dan taylor

    June 10, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    I would subscribe to your magazine, hurry up!

    • Bronson Tang

      November 1, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      Thanks Dan

      Working on it soon, I will keep you posted, but for now you can enjoy our online magazine. Thanks again Take care