cal·is·then·ics – ˌkaləsˈTHeniks/

noun; plural noun: callisthenics

  • gymnastic exercises to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement.

Calisthenics is a time-old method to improve bodily movement, increase flexibility and become more fit. One of the biggest benefits of calisthenics is that it can be performed anywhere in the world – all without the need of an expensive gym membership. The only thing calisthenics requires is one’s body.

Pushups, lunges, squats, planks and crunches are some of the best-known calisthenics exercises. There’s more: pull-ups, dips, jumping jacks, pistol squats, burpees, mountain climbers and the list goes on! Whatever exercise that requires one’s body is a form of calisthenics.

Other Benefits

Besides improving flexibility, calisthenics also improves endurance. Working out at the gym and lifting weights requires some stamina, but unless regular cardio is performed, increases in endurance won’t be significant. Bodyweight exercises are required to be performed until exhaustion.

Calisthenics Improves Posture

By performing calisthenics, in puts the body back in balance. With proper form and stretching regularly, issues such as back pain, tightened or painful muscles and posture can be corrected. The people promoting calisthenics as the “next big thing” are usually lean, muscular and fit – all for good reason.

Sample Workouts

There’s no excuse not to workout. If the gym is closed or it’s a frigid winter day outside, give calisthenics a shot; all that’s needed is one’s own body weight. Below are three sample workouts for the traveler, the homebody and the playground/beach body regular.

1. The Traveler’s Workout

Hotel has no gym? Got 20 minutes to spare? Give this workout a go; perform three sets of each exercise until exhaustion.

  • Pushups
  • Lateral Lunges
  • Lunges
  • Plank (one minute)
  • Squats
  • Crunches

2. The Homebody

  • Pushups
  • Dips
  • Plank
  • Leg Raises
  • Squats
  • Lunges

3. Playground Regular

  • Pull-ups
  • Pushups
  • Jump Squats
  • Dips (on a bench or bar)
  • Calf Raises (on a step)
  • Crunches

4. Beach Body

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Burpees
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Squats
  • Clap Pushups
  • Plank (one minute)

There’s a whole variety of other exercises to incorporate into the above sample workouts. YouTube has a ton of calisthenics videos with exercises that seem out-of-this-world. This video shows just a little bit of what’s possible.

Be Patient and in Control

A mistake many beginners make is going all-out without watching their form and not performing the exercises properly. In calisthenics, it’s extremely important to control each motion! Five proper pull-ups is better than 10 half or quarter pull-ups. This will help to get better results – and results take time. Don’t give up and keep going.

Finally, to the advanced calisthenics protégé, if things are getting too easy, it’s time to switch it up! Increase the reps, slow the time it takes to complete a rep (three second push-ups instead of one) or vary the exercise. For example, try a diamond push-up next time .

The Diet

Bodyweight Workout Diet

One last and very important piece of advice when it comes to calisthenics: “you are what you eat.” Without a proper diet, any and all gains made from a body-weight workout routine will be diminished. Eating unprocessed, whole and natural foods will help to trim the fat, build strong, beautiful muscle and ease the body into a graceful balance.

Give calisthenics a shot – it’s a workout that can be done literally anywhere.