What is Calisthenics?

The word calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek words kalos (κάλλος), which means “beauty”, and sthenos (σθένος), meaning “strength”.

Longman English Dictionary defines calisthenics as “a set of physical exercises that are intended to make you strong and healthy.” Google defines it as “gymnastic exercises to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement.” Both definitions are true but there’s more specific information below.

Calisthenics is a form of strength training with compound bodyweight exercises. Beginner calisthenic exercises include push ups, sit ups, pull ups and squats. Advanced calisthenic exercises include handstands, muscle ups and levers.

Calisthenics is also known as Street Workout or Street Fitness and refers to exercising on bars, usually outdoors. Muscle ups and levers are performed on a single horizontal high bar; chest dips, L-sits and handstands on two parallel bars; and the human flag on a vertical bar or pole. Presently, calisthenics on bars has grown into an international sport and draws a lot of inspiration from gymnastics. It’s becoming common for people to practice static holds, such as the iron cross or planche, on Olympic rings hanging off a tree in the park. There are outdoor calisthenics parks in almost every big city in any country, and indoor calisthenics gyms are opening too.

Compared to traditional bodybuilding-style training, calisthenics is no better or worse. Gym training (or weight lifting) promotes muscle growth and strength, whereas calisthenics training promotes the growth of lean muscle mass and increases your strength, mobility, flexibility, agility and endurance. The former will make you look big and strong, the latter will make you truly fit, agile and able to do impressive moves with your body.

There are numerous calisthenic exercises for all levels of ability. There are tens of beginner and advanced press up variations for example. You may also end up creating your own calisthenic exercises as you progress.

Interested in trying out calisthenics? My name is Vlad and I’m a Calisthenics Personal Trainer who’d be keen on introducing you to this amazing activity. Contact me.


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