9 Reasons Why You Should Add Calisthenics to Your Workouts

Calisthenics is one of those old-fashioned words that, for many people, dredges up unpleasant high school memories of being forced to struggle through sets of jumping jacks and push-ups alongside 30 other sweaty teenagers.

Calisthenics, though, has undergone a 21st-century make-over. It’s been led by such massively popular forces as the 300 work-out (based on the equally popular movie of the same name), the CrossFit phenom, and the Street Workout movement. Suddenly, calisthenics, or bodyweight training, has become cool.

The Greek term calisthenics is a contraction of the words kalos (beauty) and sthenos (strength). You can perform this strength training using only your body weight and the occasional piece of additional equipment, such as a pullup bar.

Although you can definitely grow muscle with calisthenics, it is not a hypertrophy (muscle building) oriented kind of exercise. Instead, calisthenics training focuses on increasing strength, flexibility, and speed.

Additionally, calisthenics will burn calories, assisting in the reduction of body fat. This is particularly true if you do your calisthenics in a circuit-training style.

Many people believe that calisthenics is similar to riding a bike with training wheels. It is what you do before moving on to "serious" training with barbells and dumbbells.

The truth is that calisthenics go well beyond serving as a basic introduction to weight resistance training. It is a valid, comprehensive, and useful form of exercise that enables you to reach almost any fitness objective, including gaining lean muscle mass.

1. Inexpensive

The cost advantages of training with your body weight are obvious. For a start, it is the most inexpensive way to get in shape. You may have to invest in a pull-up bar to fit between your doorway but, apart from that thirty or so dollar investment, there will be no cost at all.

When it comes to safety, calisthenics has a lot of advantages. When you exercise with weight plates, there is the constant danger of dropping heavy things and injuring yourself. On some gym moves, like squats and bench presses, you can seriously hurt yourself if you have to bail out on an exercise. But, when you are doing bodyweight exercise, you don’t have this issue.

Another huge advantage that calisthenics has over virtually every other form of working out is that it can be done anywhere, anytime. All you need is enough space to get down on the floor and you are away. That means that your workout is always with you. And that means that the most important factor in your training success – consistency – is never a problem.

You can even get in a very effective calisthenics workout during the 2-3 minutes that the advertisements are on during your favorite TV show.

Here’s a workout program you should try:

Working out with conventional resistance forms like barbells and dumbbells can be hard work on your joints. That’s hardly a surprise when you’re dealing with heavy iron. The problem is exacerbated when guys don’t properly warm up and use bad form. Yet, calisthenics is amazingly joint friendly.

Rarely will you be using more than your body weight, which your joints are accustomed to supporting already. That means that, even if you do perform an exercise incorrectly, your joints will not be put under excess strain.

In contrast to other forms of exercise, calisthenics is also an ideal exercise form for doing a type of exercise known as circuit training. Circuit training involves doing a series of exercises with no rest between them in a circuit for a number of rounds.

Try to do this in a gym with conventional weight training equipment and you’ll find the equipment for your next exercise being used by another gym member, which will slow you down and defeat the cardio-boosting benefits of the workout. With traditional equipment, it also takes time to change the setup of the equipment between exercises.

Contrast all of this to bodyweight circuit training where all you need to go from one exercise to the next is to get down on the floor or spring to your feet.

Share it

Calisthenics training will allow you to get a great core-centric workout. The core is not only the center of your body – it is the center of your power. Keeping it tight and strong will allow you to be more balanced, more flexible, more powerful and more athletic. In contrast, most exercise machines that you find at the gym lock you into a position that isolates a working muscle group and does not, therefore, involve the core.

When you do any calisthenics exercise, however, you have to use your core – the abs, intercostals, obliques and erector spinae – to stabilize your body.This occurs on everything from push-ups to bodyweight squats. The result is that you effectively get a double whammy on every exercise – you are working your core along with the target muscle group of the actual movement.

Calisthenics exercises are non-threatening to perform. This is in contrast to a large number of conventional gym type exercises which have a rather steep learning curve.

For example, the weighted back squat may seem easy enough, but there is a lot that you need to remember to get it right – and if you don’t you could suffer some serious problems. That is very different from calisthenics moves, which anyone can do at any time. That makes the workout far more accessible – which means that you will be far more likely to do it!

Calisthenics training is a great vehicle for mixing up bodyweight resistance training with cardio or plyometric training. As a result, you are able to exercise the aerobic and the anaerobic systems at the same time. That means that you will be burning maximum calories as you get bigger and stronger. The circuit program that you’ll find in the next section combines cardio with calisthenics.

A final benefit of calisthenics training is that it allows you to get more done in less time. Your workouts will be faster, more efficient, and more hassle-free. That means that it will be easier to fit your training into your busy lifestyle. And that means that you will be more likely to stick with it!

Calisthenics is the most accessible form of exercise that exists. All it requires is your body, gravity and the willingness to get off your butt. As we’ve seen in this article, calisthenics is an effective form of exercise that can help you get stronger, leaner and fitter - all in the comfort of your own home.

Need some extra motivation to get started on a calisthenics program? Check out what the calisthenics kings are able to do with their bodies.

Share it
Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.

Weekly knowledge exclusively for people who want to improve their health, fitness and mindset.

First name