When people talk about working out, they often mean going to the gym. Unfortunately, people are missing out, there is more to working out than just going to the gym! I’m a personal fitness trainer and I’ve been doing it for 6 years now. One of the main things I tell my clients is they don’t have to wait until they come to the gym to work out.
Today I’m delighted to talk about some of the numerous benefits of calisthenics exercises compared to weights. Read on…
01. Push-Ups: The Perfect Whole Body Workout
Push ups are a great workout and there are many kinds of ways to perform them. There are several different forms of push-ups and each one works out different muscles. One of my favourite types of push-ups are incline push-ups. These work by placing your hands off the ground and working out a different angle. Two feet off the ground is fine so a chair works nicely.
These push-ups put far less stress on your elbows which is highly beneficial the older you get. The standard push-ups are the most commonly used push-up. These work out your shoulders, triceps, biceps, back, core, chest, quads, and glutes. They’re almost an entire body workout but mainly focused on arms and chest.
These can be done almost anywhere and that’s what makes calisthenics amazing! You can work out your arms without driving 15 minutes.
02. Abdominal Crunch: For The Strong Core
I often see people doing this at the gym and it almost infuriates me. Why are you paying money to come here every day and do something you could do at home for free! Just as with push-ups there are multiple variations of the abdominal crunch, each one targeted for specific muscles. This exercise is mainly done to strengthen the core or give abs (visible abdominal muscles).
How you complete a standard one is by laying on the floor flat on your back and bending your knees to where they point up to the sky. Then pulling your chest towards your knees without the use of your arms, this means the part that’s pulling your body up is your core muscles and abdominals! Avoid pulling up too far in the beginning. It is better to only be able to come up a few inches until you’re strong enough to go all the way up. Jerking up out of a perceived necessity to go all the way up is counter-productive and does not work out the abs.
Avoid straining your neck. Originate the movement in your abs, not your head. Crunches alone will not give you a flat stomach, they only work out the muscles beneath the fat and this is a common misconception. To get rid of the fat and expose the muscle one must diet and do cardio/other weight trainings.
03. Muscle isolation: To Hit More Muscles
Calisthenics can provide the same muscle isolations as weights if done properly. Squats can work out and tone your buttocks and legs along with lunges. Push-ups can work out arms and chest as well as pull-ups. Crunches can work out your core as well! Calisthenics also offer better stabilisation most times than gym machines do. Because these workouts are very targeted and used based off body weight it’s hard to do them wrong.
When you’re working out at the gym and you’re doing a bench press and you’re trying to max it out, you’re going to use the wrong muscles. Your body will lift the weights however it can, and it’ll do it the easiest way it can. This means it won’t necessarily be working out the muscles you’re trying to focus on when using gym equipment.
When doing calisthenics, you’re limited to your own body weight which is not too large to make your body feel like it must use other muscles.
Calisthenics also forces you to do different angles the longer you do it to work out more well. This means you use different leverages and will work out even more muscles and even using more weight on some muscles. For instance, push-ups are typically done with two arms, when you get stronger you could lift your entire body weight with one arm working your muscles harder.
04. Pull-ups: For Muscular Shoulders and Back
Pull ups work out your back and biceps. Pull-ups can be done at home by installing a pull-up bar, you can purchase for anywhere between $20-80. These will help your shoulders and back look good along with your biceps. This workout also improves your core strength.
This is a must have for anyone pursuing calisthenics! The proper way to do a pull up is to put your arms out to the edges of the pull-up bar and pull your body up vertically. You can space your arms differently for different degrees of difficulty and to work different muscle groups.
You can also use a pull up bar to do dips. Dips are like a pull-up except for pulling yourself up and putting your chin over the bar, the bar starts around your waist. You let yourself go down and then pull yourself back up repeatedly with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
Cons of Weight Lifting
You will need a gym membership. This costs money, and time. The time is the biggest factor for me, why would anyone drive 15-30 minutes to work out? You can do work out most of these muscle groups from the comfort of your own home, and even more stabilisers. The risk of injuries is higher, I broke a toe in the gym last year. I was clearing the bar and I was not paying attention and a 25-pound weight fell on my big toe, this would have never happened with calisthenics.
Calisthenics are a safer and more natural way of working out for your body. They are also more convenient as you can do them anywhere! The only thing you need to work out on a calisthenics program is your own body. You will save money and build more stabiliser muscles by following this workout philosophy as opposed to a traditional gym. Calisthenics can also be done with friends anywhere without the need of a gym membership, so it can make for a fun activity to do as a group!