How To Start Calisthenics - Complete Guide (Beginners)



The complete guide to calisthenics

What is calisthenics?

The term calisthenics comes from the Greek words “Kalos” meaning beauty and “Stenos” which translates as strength.

Originally, calisthenics was a method of promoting health, “and thus securing beauty and strength”, in school children, but it’s evolved into a training method that shares a lot in common with gymnastics. Unlike gymnastics, though, it can be practised outdoors and is known as a ‘street workout’.

Most people discover calisthenics by seeing someone doing an advanced version of it. For many of its current practitioners, the man they saw was probably Hannibal Lanham, also known as Hannibal for King, whose version of calisthenics, which he practised in parks around Queens, New York, brought the discipline to the attention of millions.

(Related: Crush this classic 20-minute bodyweight workout)

For Gallarzo though, his inspiration was much more local. “Prior to getting involved in calisthenics I was already into fitness, I was a personal trainer at a big corporate-style gym, so doing the traditional type of lifting,” says Gallarzo. “There was one guy that used to come in and do some muscle ups, and I'd never seen that before. I started researching it and saw it on YouTube and was amazed, and that started my transition to experimenting with bodyweight training.”

Calisthenics versus weights

As Gallarzo explains, the question isn’t whether calisthenics is better or worse for you than any other training method. Instead, think of calisthenics as the foundation for every other strength-gaining discipline, from bodybuilding to CrossFit.

“To me anyone who's out there in the gym, trying to bench press, trying to do curls, if you cannot pull your body up in a pull up, if you cannot push your body up in a press-up you have no right to try to be lifting weights,” says Gallarzo.

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That’s not to say that using weights and adding bulk aren’t allowed in calisthenics. Weights can be used, as long as your body is following natural movement patterns. Gallarzo has been practising weighted calisthenics movements for the past few years and has seen his body increase in size as a result.

(Related: Fire-up your fitness with this bodyweight workout)

“I feel like my size over the last couple of years has increased, but then again I do a lot of strenuous work,” says Gallarzo. “I'll do weighted dips to add more of that bulk, along with high-volume repetitions, which is also going to add bulk.” 

What does research say about calisthenics

But you don’t just have to take Gallarzo’s word for it, science has also concluded that there are real benefits to be had from training calisthenics. The 2019 study, ‘The effects of a calisthenics training intervention on posture, strength and body composition’, by scientists from the Sport and Exercise Sciences Research unit at the University of Palermo, Italy, found that calisthenics training is a “feasible and effective training solution to improve posture, strength and body composition without the use of any major training equipment”.

(Related: 3 moves to boost your bodyweight game with calisthenics)

The study took 28 men and divided them into two groups. One group practised calisthenics for eight weeks, while the other group continued with their normal workout routines. After eight weeks all of the participants underwent a body composition analysis, a postural assessment, a handgrip test and a press-up and pull-up test.

The results were convincing. The men who trained calisthenics had improved their posture and , while the number of press-ups and pull-ups they were able to do had increased, even though their calisthenics training didn’t include these specific exercises. In contrast, the group who continued with their normal training routines didn’t really improve on what they could do before they eight weeks had begun.  

Calisthenics for beginners

When you first walk into a gym, you don’t immediately start benching 100kg and it’s the exact same with calisthenics, so leave the muscle-ups to more experienced practitioners, for now.

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You need to start with basic exercises, and with calisthenics the most basic, but also one of the most important moves is the humble press-up, but even the press-up can be broken down into beginner and advanced versions. If you’re not able to do a press-up, then Gallarzo advises you begin by doing an incline press-up. To do that put your hands on a bench, or anything that’s a similar height and can hold your bodyweight, and with your feet on the ground just work on going through the press-up movement and building proper form.

Once you’ve mastered an incline press-up, you’re ready to move on to doing regular press-ups, where you’ll be controlling more of your bodyweight. If you can do 20 of those then you’re ready to move onto doing dips, but be warned you have to be able to control 100 per cent of your own body to do those.

(Related: The British Army press-up routine)

Gallarzo advises that as a beginner you should also be working on bodyweight movements like squats, lunges and planks, as well as trying some basic pull exercises like rows. To do a row, grab onto a bar and fall backwards. Making sure your feet are always touching the ground, pull your chest toward the bar. The more parallel you are to the ground the harder this is to going to get, and that’s your progression.

Calisthenics workout for beginners

Once you've tested out the beginner's exercises and are happy with them, put them into a complete routine with this calisthenics workout for beginners.

Perform 2 to 3 rounds of the following exercises, and take 2 minutes of rest in between rounds.

Press-ups 

Between 5 and 20 reps depending on your ability. If you can do more than 20 move onto the intermediate workout below.

Set up with your weight supported on your toes and hands beneath your shoulders, body straight. Take care to keep you core locked so a straight line forms between your head, glutes and heels. Lower your body until your chest is an inch from the ground then explosively drive up by fully extending your arms.

Squats

15 to 20 reps

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Start the movement by bending your knees and sitting back with your hips. Go down as far as you can and quickly reverse the motion back to the starting position. Keep your head up and back straight throughout the move.

Plank

30 to 45 seconds depending on your ability

Get in a press-up position but rest on your forearms rather than your hands. Make sure your back is straight and tense your abs and your glutes. Hold without allowing your hips to sag.

Close grip inverted row

Between 5 and 20 reps

Set up a bar in the squat rack and grab it with an underhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. Pull your body up until your chest almost touchest the bar, keeping your body straignt from neck to ankles throughout. Pause, then lower yourself back down to the start position.

Walking lunges

10 to 15 on each leg

Lunge forward as far as you can with your right leg, bending your trailing knee so it almost brushes the floor. Use the heel of your right foot to push yourself off into the next lunge, this time leading with your left leg.

Side plank

30 seconds on each side

Lie on your left side with your knees straight and prop your upper body up to take its weight on your forearm. Brace your core and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line. Hold this position while breathing deeply. Then roll over and repeat on the other side.

Calisthenics equipment

The beautiful thing about calisthenics is you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started, and you certainly don’t need to pay a monthly subscription to get involved. Most of the equipment you need is probably available for free in a park, but there are some pieces of equipment you can buy to practise calisthenics at home.

(Related: The world's most dangerous calisthenics)

The four bits of equipment that Gallarzo believes it’s worth investing in if you’re serious about calisthenics are: a home pull-up bar, some gymnastics rings, parralettes to practise dips on and perhaps some resistance bands, and these pieces of equipment will serve you well whether you’re a beginner or very experienced.

“The more tools you have, the more variations of things you can do, but as far as the essentials, if I have a client I can train them with some rings, a pull-up bar and a dip bar. if I'm training myself at an advanced level, I can train myself with some rings, a pull up bar and a dip bar,” says Gallarzo.

Calisthenics exercises

We’ve already discussed the kinds of calisthenics exercises you should be looking to do if you’re a beginner, but if you’re more advanced then there are some different exercises for you to try.

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Wide-grip pull-ups – Grab the bar with your palms facing away from you and your arms fully extended. Your hands should be as wide as you can comfortably get them. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, exhale and drive your elbows towards your hips to bring your chin above the bar. Lower under control back to the start position.

Dips – Grab the bars of a dip station with your palms facing inward and your arms straight. Slowly lower until your elbows are at right angles, ensuring they stay tucked against your body and don't flare out. Drive yourself back up to the top and repeat.

(Related: Step away from you desk and try this bodyweight workout)

Superman plank – Position yourself in the normal plank position, so holding your body in a straight line supported by your forearms and toes. Next, slowly lift and extend one arm and the opposite leg, hold for five seconds or for as long as feels comfortable. Bring both your arm and leg back to the starting position and raise the opposite arm and leg. Once you’ve mastered the movement you can extend the amount of time you spend in the superman position.

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Handstand press-ups – Place your hands on the floor in front of a wall. Kick yourself up against the wall and straighten your arms. Keep legs and body as straight as you can. With the back of your head parallel to the wall, bend your arms. Exhale at the bottom and push up.

(Related: The no-gym full-body calisthenics workout)

Pistol squats – Stand with your feet in a narrow stance and lift one leg off the floor. Bend your standing knee to squat down as low as you can while keeping your back straight. Push back up to the start position through your heel, then switch legs and repeat. That's one rep.

Progression calisthenics workout

Perform 2 to 3 rounds of the following exercises, but shorten the rest period from 2 minutes down to 1 minute in between rounds.

Wide-grip pull-ups

5 to 20 reps

Grab the bar with your palms facing away from you and your arms fully extended. Your hands should be as wide as you can comfortably get them. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, exhale and drive your elbows towards your hips to bring your chin above the bar. Lower under control back to the start position.

Squat jumps

10 to 15 reps

Squat down, keeping your back straight, until your thighs are parallel with the floor and your bum is about level with your knees. Explode upwards into a jump, and go straight into the next squat.

Arms extended plank

30 to 45 seconds

Get in a press-up position but with your arms as far in front of your head as you can reach. Hold yourself there with your arms fully extended. Make sure your back is straight and hold for the alloted time.

Dips

5 to 20 reps

Grab the bars of a dip station with your palms facing inward and your arms straight. Slowly lower until your elbows are at right angles, ensuring they stay tucked against your body and don't flare out. Drive yourself back up to the top and repeat.

Jumping lunges

10 to 15 reps on each leg

Lunge forward until your rear knee is almost touching the ground. Jump into the air, bringing your rear foot forward and the front foot back. Land in a lunge and repeat.

Hanging leg raises

10 to 15 reps

Grab a pull-up bar and lower yourself into a dead hang. Let your legs straighten and pull your pelvis back slightly. Tense your core and raise your legs until your thighs are perpendicular to your torso. Hold then lower slowly back to the starting position.






Video: How to Start Calisthenics | Beginner Guide

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Date: 07.12.2018, 19:55 / Views: 85334