What is Calisthenics And Why You Should Be Doing it

What is Calisthenics? Everything you need to know to make your body strong, flexible and RIPPED.

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When you hear the word calisthenics, what does in conjure up for you?

Green leotards and leg warmers?

Maybe a bit of prancing around a room?

Yeah, it’s not that.

Instead, think human flag.

Think hanging upside down from monkey bars.

Think handstand push ups.

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 bodies.

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…

What is calisthenics and why you should be doing it

What is Calisthenics?

The word 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 the case.

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.

Bodyweight exercises can be really tough. And they can make you immensely strong.

So don’t be fooled.

Calisthenics workouts will get your heart rate pounding and your muscles pumping.

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What is Calisthenics: Calisthenics Exercises

Examples of calisthenics exercises

I’ve already 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.

Because essentially any bodyweight exercise is a calisthenic exercise.

Yep, bodyweight 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…


Just a gentle reminder, as with any of the exercises or workouts on Mamas that Move please make sure you can do these with proper form before putting them into a workout.

If you’re in doubt, the best way to check you’ve got correct form is to get in touch with a personal trainer. If you can’t, or don’t want to see any one locally the do get in touch with me. I’ll be happy to check your form.

What is Calisthenics: Calisthenics Arm Exercises

Do you want strong toned arms? Here are the 3 calisthenics arm exercises you should be doing...

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.

What is Calisthenics: Calisthenics Abs Exercise

Calisthenics Abs Exercises: The best moves to get a strong core.

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 exercises.

Knee raises, 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.

What is Calisthenics: Calisthenics Leg Exercises

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 well.

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 squat.

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.

What is Calisthenics: Calisthenics Shoulder Exercises

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, struggle with.

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.

What is Calisthenics? The Benefits of Calisthenics

What are the benefits of calisthenics? They'll make you stronger. You can do them anywhere. They'll help you lose fat and build muscle. Anyone can do them.

So why exactly should you do calisthenics? We know they’re a great way to look good, but are there any other benefits?


1. You’ll Be Stronger.

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.

Puberty. Pregnancy. Child birth. Lugging around our babies, in car seats, whilst carrying bags full of shopping.

Then carrying toddlers. Perhaps while you’re pregnant, or carrying a baby. Or another toddler.

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 world’.

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.

2. You can do it Anywhere

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 garden.

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, pull-up bar.

But none of that is necessary.

You need your body and a bit of room. That is it.

3. You’ll look amazing

I may have said this already, but it’s an important point so I think it’s worth repeating.

Calisthenics 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 look.

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.

Secondly, you’re 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.

Calisthenics 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.

4. Anyone Can Do It

The last thing I’ll say about how great calisthenic training is, anyone can do it and see results.

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.

Whatever your 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.

What is Calisthenics: The Workouts

What is Calisthenics: Core Workouts Calisthenics

Calisthenics Bicep Workout: Say Hello to Strong, Toned Arms

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…

What is Calisthenics: Core Workouts Calisthenics

Core Workouts Calisthenics: Three workouts to sculpt and strengthen your core

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 your core.


Let’s do this….

What is Calisthenics? Calisthenics Leg Workouts

Calisthenics leg workouts to get your legs strong and toned all with bodyweight exercises. No equipment required.

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.

What Is Calisthenics? Ready to Give it a Try?

Calisthenics will 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. 

If you want to be the first to know when calisthenic workouts are added, then sign up for my newsletter. 

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