When most people think about exercise, thoughts of expensive workout and gym equipment come to mind. However, what most people do not realize is that gyms are not necessary to exercise; in fact, they are a very new human invention. Lack of equipment is no excuse for not working out. Whatever your fitness level, you can exercise with what is available to you for free at any time:
• Your body
• The ground
With calisthenic exercises, also called bodyweight exercises, you can finally say goodbye to the costly gym equipment and weights. All you’ll ever need is your body. Calisthenic workouts are a natural form of workout featuring a variety of simple movements using your body weight for resistance. Men, women, the elderly, and even children can benefit from these exercises. However, you shouldn’t underestimate the difficulty of some of the movements. You may actually find that some are too much for you at the beginning, but with proper techniques, calisthenic workouts can be modified to decrease or increase resistance, giving you complete control of the intensity level.
Calisthenic exercises are designed to increase body flexibility and strength using one’s body weight with simple movements such as jumping, bending, twisting, swinging, kicking, and many other movements engaging the legs, arms, back, neck, torso, and every other muscle group in your body. The results of vigorous, intense, and demanding calisthenic exercises will produce impressive results. Some of the benefits of doing calisthenic exercises include:
• Reduced risk of muscle and joint injury. The risk of injury when using weights increases as you lift heavier weights
• Reduced risk of developing a hernia from overexerting yourself
• A natural–looking body
• You don’t need to buy expensive exercise equipment
With calisthenic exercises, you will slowly learn how to have complete control over your body. In fact, you will be amazed at what your body can do. Activities such as walking, running, pilates, yoga, martial arts, and gymnastics are all forms of bodyweight workouts.
Bodyweight exercises originated in ancient Greece thousands of years ago, and have been a major component of fitness in military, athletics, daily fitness for home workouts, and law enforcement. Below are some of the best calisthenic exercises you can do in the park, your home, or anywhere else you want. You should keep the repetitions between 8 –15, depending on your exercise goals.
The Best Calisthenic Exercises
These are the mother of all workouts. When there are no machines and no weights around, you need to be creative with what you have to help you get a nice physique and build muscle. There are several variations for squats that range from simply standing up to sitting, to performing a more difficult bodyweight squat with no help. Whichever variation you choose, try an option where you will reach fatigue within 15 repetitions.
Although most people consider squats to be a leg exercise, they also promote whole–body muscle building by catalyzing an anabolic environment. They also promote balance and mobility, and are very effective when it comes to burning calories. Squats should be a part of everyone’s fitness routine.
Lunges use your body weight to strengthen your arms, legs, and stomach. As with squats, there are several variations of lunges that you can perform as well, the most basic of which is the walking lunges where you make lunges in a linear way as you move backwards or forwards. You can also perform lunges in place by stepping backwards during each repetition or doing split squats. To get the most out of this workout, you need to perform it with your butt back, or add some weight such as a heavy backpack or big rock to make it more challenging.
The inverted rows are the easiest variation of pull–ups. However, if you want to increase the difficulty, straighten your legs. Pull–ups are one of the most convenient workouts since you can do them pretty much anywhere. All you need is your body and a bar. There are many variations of this workout, and the best thing about it is that one variation doesn’t require any additional workout equipment than another version. Pull–ups are the perfect workout for strengthening your grip, back, and upper body.
Dips are another excellent bodyweight exercise. All you need to do this exercise is a bench and your body. The exercise is easier when your legs are bent; however, if you want to increase the intensity of the workout, straighten your legs. To make it even more challenging, use parallel bars and curl your knees up a bit.
If you want to build your pectorals, anterior deltoids, and triceps without using weights or other expensive gym equipment, try doing push–ups. There are so many variations that we would need a separate article to adequately explain them all. From wide push–ups, to diamond push–ups, to divebomber push-ups, to staggered pushups, there are numerous possibilities. If you are a beginner, however, start with a knee push–up, which is the easiest.
• One–legged Romanian deadlifts
This exercise strengthens the posterior chain. The hamstrings, adductor magnus, and gluteus muscles are strengthened significantly while synergistically working together to extend the hips. If you are a beginner, you can use a weighted object to lessen the intensity of the workout.
This is one of the least favorite exercises for most people. It involves a jump followed by a push–up followed by a jump, etc. this will really get your heart rate up and your blood flowing. This full body workout will virtually work every muscle in your body, which means that you can burn more calories in a shorter time.
• Squat jumps and lunge jumps
A squat jump is similar to the regular squats, except that you will have to jump. Before exploding upwards, ensure that you are pretty deep into the squat. Lunge jumps are regular lunges followed by a jump. At every jump, you will need to switch legs in the air.
These are just a few of the best calisthenic exercises. There are so many other bodyweight exercises, progressions, and variations to keep you on your toes. Keep in mind that bodyweight exercises should be performed with proper technique, form, and breathing. Failure to perform them properly may cause unnecessary strain to your joints.