What is calisthenics?


As people are looking for ways to get or stay in shape during the lock downs and gym closings, there is a new wave of interest in the idea of using your own body weight to get fit. Calisthenics.

What is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is, in a nutshell, using your own body weight to get stronger, more fit, and increase mobility. Calisthenics is a way to master your environment gain more control.

You’ve probably seen it. People doing a pushup without their feet touching the ground and then pushing right up to a handstand. Pulling themselves up on a bar like a pull up, but then continuing on past the bar and pushing their whole torso up over the bar. These are examples of calisthenics. Extreme acts of exercise with no resistance from heavy barbells, just gravity working against your own mass.

This is calisthenics.

Why is it important?

There are several reasons for you to pay attention and maybe join in.

First, you don’t need a gym or any equipment. You just need you.

There are some things that are helpful, like a bar, or rings, or a pole. These simple things can really be useful. But if you don’t have access to anything, you can still do calisthenics.

All you need is the ability to do push ups, sit ups, pull ups, hand stands, etc.

If you have access to some simple equipment like a pull up bar, or parallel bars (many parks have simple things like this), you can accelerate your training, but to start, all you need is you.

Secondly, it’s an all encompassing workout. You are getting fit and strong all over, not just one (or a few) targeted muscle or muscle group. This is better for everyday life.

I’ve strained my back, or leg, or shoulder doing some ordinary thing like leaning over the car to scrape ice off the windshield.

Sometimes in life, you use muscles that you don’t use much and get hurt.

Calisthenics works your whole body. You use a wide range of motions that creates an overall strength for actual life.

What do I need to get started?

Here are some ways you can start.

Push ups.

Sit ups.

Pull ups.

Hand stand.

There are others, of course, and much harder versions, but this gives you an idea of the kinds of things you can do to get strong and be more mobile without going to the gym or buying expensive equipment.

Resources that can help

Although simplicity is one of the key advantages to calisthenics, there are some resources that can help a great deal.

I’ve already mentioned simple equipment. Here’s a list of some useful tools:

  • pull up bar
  • pole
  • parallel bars or pushup handles
  • weight vest
  • gymnastics rings
  • training apps


If fitness, strength, mobility, balance and/or building lean muscle are goals of yours, you should check out calisthenics.

The ease and availability of this type of exercise make it a high reward option for those at every level of skill and experience.

If you’d like to get started with a progressive calisthenics training program that starts with the beginner and takes you all the way through advanced skills, I highly recommend this one:


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