I basically feel that gym memberships are a huge cash grab! Those fancy pieces of equipment and gigantic mirrors are just to lure you in. Come on, let’s be honest here! You pay for an annual gym membership, how many days do you actually go to the gym? The first month is usually fine, you hit the gym for 6 days and then rest on Sunday. By the end of the month, all your motivation is over. I am sure you will agree with me.
You ask me what the solution is. Here you go!
I realized that I am doing nothing other than wasting my money when I pay for gym memberships, so I found out this amazing fitness regime, which involves no equipment! From the ancient Greek empire comes Calisthenics, the incredible bodyweight training. It has been around for hundreds of years and is still a big hit.
So, what is Calisthenics?
We all have practiced calisthenics at one point of our time. Don’t believe me? When you were in school, do you remember doing sit-ups, jumping jacks and push-ups during the gym period? That’s exactly what calisthenics is.
Properly defined, calisthenics is a workout regime where you will be using your bodyweight and gravity to perform exercises. Gymnastics, Pilates, squats, lunges, crunches, jumping, running and walking all fall under this category.
The best part about calisthenics is that, you do not require any kind of external equipment to perform this workout. It can also be combined with other workout regimes to give you extraordinary results. If you are a fitness freak, you can combine calisthenics with High Interval Intensity Training and make sure that you give a good workout to all the muscles in your body.
A Little Bit of History
When I read that Calisthenics has its roots in ancient Greece, I was curious to know about the history. It all started during the reign of the Spartans between 600 and 400 BC, where soldiers were trained to master in various combat exercises such as wrestling, boxing, and javelin. Lunges, squats, crunches, pull-ups, and push-ups were all a regular part of their training program
Next to Greeks, the Chinese warriors were also masters of calisthenics. Remember the movie, ‘The Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon’, where people used to fly and fight? It was all calisthenics. The Shaolin monks started practicing Calisthenics to protect their monasteries from looters.
This workout regime is currently being used in Army training programs. The U.S army conducts a physical fitness test to check the cardiovascular endurance of the soldiers, and the test is loosely based on calisthenics.
Calisthenics for Body and Mind
The best part about calisthenics is that there are workout moves for every group of muscles.
You must be wondering how calisthenics can train your mind. The brain can act like a muscle, and it can be trained just like any other group of muscle in the body.
The best exercise to build your upper body is push-ups. This exercise can work your pectorals, triceps, and deltoids. The efficiency of push-ups depends on your rep-range.
You can improve the workout by adding external weight, like asking someone to push down your back as you do the workout.
Chest dips are another move which can work your pectorals and triceps. I did say that you will not need any equipment for calisthenics, but to master this workout you might need dip bars.
You can also try doing this workout using two couches as support, but it may lead to injury if the setup is not safe.
Pull-ups completely concentrate on building your lats. The exercise is usually done with a shoulder-width apart pronated grip. The width isolates the lats and takes away the emphasis from the biceps. This way your back gets a good workout.
You can master this workout with the help of pull-up bars. Before you buy one, check out this post on GGP about the best wall and ceiling mounted pull-up bars of 2017.
An exercise which can give your back and bicep a fantastic workout is chin-ups. This workout in addition to your back also works your shoulder and biceps. You can also perform chin-ups with an underhand grip.
This workout can be done using pull-up bars as well.
Undoubtedly the best exercise to work your quadriceps is squats. You can improve the workout by going all the way deep and back up. Ask a friend to hold your shoulders and apply pressure downwards, when you feel like you need some resistance.
Squats and lunges can train your quadriceps more than any other workout. The success rate of lunges depends on how low you can get while performing the exercise and how high your repetitions can be.
The topic of calisthenics, training the mind has been heavily debated. I am here to tell you how brain power can be improved by training the body.
In calisthenics, a different group of muscles works together to overcome a challenge. Since there are many muscle groups involved, there is an extensive recruitment of the brain and the nervous system. As you train your body to execute similar challenges, the brain becomes smarter and begins to act efficiently to achieve the goal.
In calisthenics, you are constantly learning new movement patterns. When you try to learn a new movement pattern, it opens up new pathways in the brain, and from there it moves to the muscles. Your brain acts as the trigger here.
As you engage your body in learning a new skill, your brain is learning new motor firing patterns and muscle activation. Various studies also show that when you practice calisthenics, there is a novel, complex and cognitively challenging simulation within the brain.
Calisthenics is often related with mindfulness. A state of complete self-awareness and consciousness. Calisthenics requires you to be mindful of your actions as you don’t use any kind of external weight. You will be using your bodyweight and gravity, and hence your focus and attention get multiplied many folds.
Ready for the super-saver fitness?
Calisthenics is the super-saver when it comes to fitness. It ensures both physical and mental fitness at absolutely no cost. Get ready to be ripped!