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Getting to Know the Health Benefits of Calisthenics Exercise
Who would have thought that the perfect calisthenics exercise would be as simple as jumping up and down? Calisthenics will never go out of style because they are cheap and they can be done anywhere — at home or on vacation.
Since its Greek origins — the name calisthenics combines the words kalos (beauty) and sthénos (strength) — the acceptance of the public regarding this artful form of light gymnastics has remained mixed. While some people think of calisthenics as too strenuous, other people think it isn’t vigorous enough and therefore, not something worth doing. Both extreme perceptions are wrong. Calisthenics are simple movements that should be performed to one’s own ability and at one’s own pace to help you progress to a higher level of fitness.
The Health Benefits of Calisthenics
Before your eyes glaze over at the idea of doing calisthenics exercise, keep in mind that it takes just a few short sessions each week to improve overall conditioning. These bodyweight-bearing exercises help to increase metabolism while you build lean muscle — which turns your body into a fat burning machine.
Toning your muscles is essential if you want to achieve an ideal weight on your frame since a pound of muscle requires about 30 to 50 calories per day just to support itself, while fat cells don’t burn up a thing. A person with a high percentage of muscle fiber, and a low percentage of body fat, will look leaner than a person of the exact same weight who has a lot of body fat yet little muscle development.
Doing calisthenics workouts will allow you to tap into other health benefits too including: lower blood pressure, increased bone density, stronger muscle endurance, improved heart rate, better posture, even less back pain. By following a training routine of bodyweight calisthenics, over time you’ll find you have the ability to do everyday tasks and chores with greater ease. Though not quite as effective as Yoga or Pilates, a system of calisthenics will even help you develop flexibility and limberness you never knew you had.
Calisthenics: Body Weight Exercises
By definition, theses exercises have referred to any type of simple or compound movement that soles uses the weight of body for resistance, and excludes the use of weights and machines. Most people recognize bodyweight routines they had to do during torturous PE classes such as sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, burpees and more. They were the ideal workout to use in schools since they didn’t cost anything, and they also provided a great deal of cardio if they were done without resting.
A Typical Calisthenics Training Program
The following is a sample of primary Calisthenics workouts as well as some workout tips:
Push-ups have several variations but they all target the chest, shoulders, and tricep muscles. When doing push-ups, keep your head tilted up and your back straight. If you place your hands at a wider stance, you will recruit more muscle from the outer part of the chest. Draw your hands closer together to target the inner chest.
Crunches have replaced sit-ups for most people since they are easier to do correctly and they place less strain on the neck. These are abdominal exercises that can be done with the feet raised or placed on the floor, while the knees are bent. Instead of lifting your head and torso off the floors as you would with sit-ups, use a more restricted movement, lifting only the shoulder blades off the floor while tightening the abs.
Pulls-ups are considered a calisthenics exercise even though they require a piece of equipment — in this case, a chin-up bar in a doorway or an overhead station on a multi gym system. They can be done underhanded, overhanded, or one-handed, with legs hanging or bent. If you place your hands further apart you’ll hit the upper lats in your back while a narrower grip hits the lower lats.
Squats (or Deep Knee Bends) are done standing with the feet about shoulder width apart. With your back straight and looking forward, lower your torso as far as possible and raise your arms straight out in front of you to keep your balance. Closed your foot stance and you will hit the outer quads, while a wider stance will hit the inner quads.
Wall sits are also squats but they are done using a wall as a back brace. To keep the strain off your knees, keep the knees slightly behind your feet. Sit as deeply as you can stand and hold the pose for 30 seconds or more. These are also great exercises for the quads.
Other calisthenics workouts include: lunges, step-ups, calf raises, hanging leg raises, jack knives and leg lifts (while lying down), toe touches, air bikes, kickbacks, parallel bar dips, and standing broad jumps, as well as all variations of the exercises above such as one-legged squats.
Still more advanced calisthenics workouts use simple inexpensive tools such as resistance bands, jump ropes, and exercise balls. This is a natural progression of a strength training program since you will need to use either weights or some form of resistance if your goal is to build muscle mass. Follow a series of routines to build strength as well as develop balance, coordination, and joint stability.
About the Author:
Kevin Urban is the editor at HomeGymAdviser.com. The site offers tips on home gym workouts reviews of home exercise and fitness equipment, a buying guide and other useful home gym resources.
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