When you hear the word calisthenics, what does in conjure up for you?
Green leotards and
Maybe a bit of
prancing around a room?
Yeah, it’s not
Instead, think human
Think hanging upside
down from monkey bars.
Think handstand push
Ok, they are quite
advanced calisthenics exercises, you won’t be starting on them, you
might not even want to do them. But, if you google pictures of any of
those moves you’ll see one thing they all have in common...the
people doing them are ripped.
They have amazing
Not just strong, but
flexible, athletic and very toned.
If that’s what
you’re looking for, then it would be a good idea to add in a
calisthenics workout, or two to your fitness routine.
But, what exactly is
calisthenics training? How do you do it? And what do you need?
Don’t worry, I’ll
answer all of those questions, and more.
Let’s do this…
calisthenics actually comes from two Greek words, Kállos
meaning beauty and sthenos meaning strength.
It is thought to
have originated in ancient Greece where warriors used it in the
battle of Thermoplae.
What has that got to
do with you?
Well, not a lot
apart from showing you calisthenics has a long tradition in making
people strong, and beautiful.
But let’s get back
to what it actually is, shall we?
It’s a form of
exercise, a form of strength training to be more exact, that uses
little more than your own body weight and gravity to get you fitter,
stronger and leaner.
There may be a few
bars, gymnastic rings etc, but the main focus is on your bodyweight.
There’s a common misconception that bodyweight training isn’t enough to build great, overall strength.
It may give you an alright full-body workout, you may break a bit of a sweat, but building decent strength? Na. You need weights for that.
But, it’s just not
I’ve done some
serious weight training in the past and I consider myself to be a
pretty strong woman. I’m a personal trainer, I workout 3 times a
week and move my body everyday.
But can I do full
range push ups? Nope. I can probably do one with good form. But then
my back starts to sag and I have to drop my knees to the floor. Even
then, I can’t manage many.
can be really tough. And they can make you immensely strong.
So don’t be
Calisthenics workouts will get your heart rate pounding and your muscles pumping.
mentioned a few advanced exercises and you might be thinking that all
of the exercises are quite complicated, quite advanced. But don’t
worry, they’re not.
any bodyweight exercise is a calisthenic exercise.
squats, push ups, leg raises. They’re all calisthenics exercises.
And they can
really make you ripped?
Yep, they can. Done
in the right way and supported with a healthy balanced diet.
Want to learn more?
What other exercises
will you be doing?
Well, let’s start with one I’ve already mentioned…
If you want a
stronger and more toned upper body you have to do push ups.
Push ups are a
really hard exercise. But that means they are very effective and such
a great way to increase upper body strength, and get those arms toned
and muscular looking.
The thing with push
ups is, most people concentrate on the wrong things.
They focus on
getting their knees off the floor and up onto their feet. They focus
on getting close to the floor, but it’s usually with their faces.
Your focus should be
on keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, and getting your chest
to the floor. If you need to stay on your knees a little longer to do
that, then do that.
Do it properly.
Focus on the right things and get super strong doing it.
As muscle groups go,
your abs aren’t the largest on your body.
In fact they’re
one of the smallest. So, it might surprise you to know that when it
comes to working them, they’ve got the biggest variety of
windshield wipers, deadbugs, planks, bird dog, twists, leg raises,
hollow holds. There are tons. And when you add in all of the possible
variations to these, side planks, high planks, etc. etc. the list
would probably run into hundreds.
I think it’s
because your abs are such an important muscle group.
They keep you
upright, and your limbs moving, after all.
Quite a big job.
The key to doing any
ab exercise properly, is doing it with control.
It’s probably the
same for all of the exercises, but there are times when you’ll want
to do, say squats or push ups nice and quickly.
That should never be
the case for your abs.
It’s all about
strength when it comes to ab exercises. So slow it down.
If you do them too
quickly you’ll find you’re not actually working any of your ab
muscles. You’ll be working your legs, your arms, even your neck.
But not your abs.
Slow and with control.
If push ups are the
classic upper body exercise, then bodyweight squats have to be the
classic for the lower body.
Yes, they’re a
classic and you might even think they’re easy. But again, they’re
very effective. They work pretty much every muscle on your lower
body. Your leg muscles, your glute muscles and some in your back as
Again, people tend
to knock out the squats without giving much thought to form, or
connection with your body.
Focus on sinking
your bum back and down. Keeping your torso up.
Doing squats quickly
will increase your heart rate, but slowing the movement down, and I
mean right down, that will get your muscles working more. It will get
your muscles growing. Your strength increasing.
There are lots of
different variations of squats, split squats, Bulgarian split squats,
skater squats, and as you get stronger, there are more advanced
movements like pistol squats. Which is essentially a single legged
Whilst squats are a
classic, and many do find them easy, if you struggle with knee pain,
you won’t find them easy at all. You’ll find them painful.
Just a quick note
here, squats aren’t the cause of knee pain. They can exacerbate an
existing problem, but if you’re doing them properly they won’t
cause your knees to hurt.
If you do suffer with your knees, you might want to start with something like leg raises. They will help strengthen your legs enough so you can eventually move on to squats.
Push ups are a great
exercise for your whole upper body, including your shoulders, but you
will want to balance them out with a pulling movement.
Enter the pull up.
Another toughie. And
another one that most people, in fact even some very fit people,
But don’t worry.
There are ways to get stronger with the pull up without actually
doing a pull up.
The bodyweight row.
You will need a
sturdy table or a towel and a door for this one.
If you have a table,
lie underneath and grab onto the top of the table with your finger
tips. Your feet should remain on the ground and your body should be
in a diagonal line.
Pull yourself up so
your chest is almost to the table top and then lower back down.
If you haven’t do
a table sturdy enough then a towel shut in a door would work as well.
It’s important to balance both movements because that way you’ll make sure that all of your muscles are being worked.
So why exactly
should you do calisthenics? We know they’re a great way to look
good, but are there any other benefits?
Listen, you might
think that being strong is a man’s game. Men want to be the
strongest don’t they. They want to show off how much they can lift.
How much they can curl.
But I would argue
it’s much more important for us women to be strong.
Think of everything
we have to go through in our lives.
Child birth. Lugging around our babies, in car seats, whilst carrying
bags full of shopping.
toddlers. Perhaps while you’re pregnant, or carrying a baby. Or
And even if you’ve
decided not to have kids. Your body goes through so many changes,
much more then men. And all that while trying to compete in a ‘man’s
The pressure is
definitely on for us ladies.
We’ve got to be
strong. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally.
Strength training, however you’ve decided to do it, really does help with that. It’s not just about the physical. It seeps into every area of your life and you start to believe in yourself just that little bit more.
And...when you get to show off how strong you are, like helping your husband lift a 700 kilo motorbike because he’s dropped it, again, it’s really satisfying. Jaws drop. Ha.
It’s a great feeling.
The beauty of
calisthenics is that you don’t need any fancy equipment. You don’t
need much equipment at all.
You just need your
body and a bit of room.
You could do your
workout in your living room if you wanted to. Or the park. Maybe your
If you do happen to
have a gym membership then I’m sure they’ll have room, and maybe
a bit of equipment, like resistance bands, suspension trainers,
But none of that is
You need your body and a bit of room. That is it.
I may have said this
already, but it’s an important point so I think it’s worth
movements are great for changing your body composition. It’s not
just about weight loss, or fat loss. It’s more than that, it’s
about changing your entire body.
Obviously you need
to pair these workouts with a healthy, balanced diet to get these
kind of results, but they do have a phenomenal effect on how you
And how you feel.
They are great for
building muscle mass, and before you freak out about getting bulky
like a man...it just wouldn’t happen.
Firstly, because you
are only using your body weight, no extra weight, there’s not the
stimulus for your muscles to grow that large.
not a man, unless you are in which case you might not be so worried
about looking like a man, you don’t have the testosterone levels needed to build big, large, bulky muscles.
workouts are great for piece of mind, if you’re really not sure
about weight training and lifting big heavy weight.
You’ll get the muscle without the worry.
The last thing I’ll
say about how great calisthenic training is, anyone can do it and see
Whether you’re a
seasoned athlete looking to improve your performance. Or whether
you’ve never exercised a day in your life and don’t really know
how to do squats.
current fitness level and whatever your fitness goals. There is
something for you to gain.
Basic exercises like
squats can be easily regressed if you’re struggling, leg raises,
but just as easily progressed if you’re at a more advanced level.
It really doesn’t matter where you are on your fitness journey. There will be something for you to gain from calisthenics training.
If you want strong, toned arms, you'll need more than just a list of exercises.
You'll need workouts.
Workouts that will keep you challenged. Workouts that will keep you moving towards your goal.
If you want stop hiding your arms, check out my Calisthenics Bicep Workout.
Let’s do this…
Do you want a flatter belly?
Lose the baby belly?
The mum tum? The mommy pooch?
It’s one of the
biggest goals that my clients come to me with.
Some used to have a
flat belly, pre-baby, and want it back. For others, like me, they’ve
never really had a flat belly and desperately want one.
It’s a massive
driver for people to get healthy.
Well, these core workouts
will help. You will have to supplement these workouts with general
cardio and a healthy diet, but they will help you tone and strengthen
Let’s do this….
Do you want a workout that will send you weak at the knees?
Probably not. Ha!
What if I said a workout that would give you super strong legs?
Getting a little more interesting?
How about, will help you get more defined legs?
Well, I’ve got workouts that are all three.
How about it? Up for the challenge?
Check out my Calisthenics Leg Workouts.
I take no responsibility for you not being able to walk for a few days.
give you a very effective workout. And you won’t need to buy any
expensive equipment for it.
Hang tight for workouts, they're coming soon.
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