What Is Calisthenics?

At Iron Fit in San Antonio, TX, we focus on clients and ways to help them get fitter faster. One type of exercise that’s often used requires no equipment, but it does require knowing the proper form and how to organize the workouts to be the most effective. It’s the ancient art of calisthenics. Between 600 and 400 BC, Spartan soldiers used calisthenics. The word calisthenics is derived from two Greek words that mean beauty and strength. Around 550 BC, Chinese Shaolin Monks began practicing it to develop the strength to fight off looters and robbers. It has a long history in major military training.

Calisthenics doesn’t require equipment, since it uses body weight and gravity.

Building muscle tissue with calisthenics is not different than lifting weights, which also use the force of gravity. However, the weight you are lifting is your body weight. Building muscle requires three things, a stimulus to build muscle, recovery and adaptation. The stimulus in this case is the resistance against gravity. You also need a recovery time to allow muscle microtears to heal and when it heals, the muscle becomes stronger and adapts. At that point, you need to find a new stimulus to boost strength and muscle-building further.

Like any form of exercise, consistency is the key.

If you only do bodyweight, or any other type of exercise, once in a while, you won’t see any progress. You can’t catch up on the missed sessions and try to do three hour-long sessions at once. You could be setting yourself up for an injury if you push too hard. You also need to find the number of repetitions that will challenge you, but won’t be so hard you can’t finish. For people just starting an exercise program, the number will vary, but many find that 6-12 repetitions hard to do.

Your body should be getting stronger.

As you continue to work out and get stronger, you’ll also find your bodyweight workouts are getting easier. It isn’t because of weight loss that makes you lighter, but due to increased strength. That’s when you switch up your workout and increase repetitions and sets. No matter what type of calisthenics or other forms of exercise you do, before starting, first check with your healthcare professional.

  • To get the maximum benefit from any workout, use compound calisthenic exercises. Compound exercises work several muscles and joints on a variety of different planes.
  • Eating healthy and getting adequate calories and macronutrients is also important when building muscle tissue. A pre and post-workout snack consisting of protein and carbs aids muscle-building and speeds recovery.
  • Focus on allowing your muscles to heal between sessions. Healing requires between 48 and 72 hours. You can still do calisthenics between 3 and 5 times a week, as long as you vary your workout to different areas of the body and rest the muscles you worked a day or two previously.
  • Always warm up before doing any workout. While some bodyweight exercises improve flexibility, including specific flexibility workouts can improve your workout. Doing circuit training adds cardio.

For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio

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