About a month ago, we hired a calisthenics coach at RxFIT. Jefferson Albright has almost twenty years of training gymnastics experience and is great fit with our staff at RxFIT.
For the next couple of days, I’d like to share some of his thoughts on calisthenics. He has inspired me to become fitter in body-weight fitness and I believe he has valuable knowledge that we can all benefit from.
Below are the pros and cons of training calisthenics in Jefferson’s words.
What is Calisthenics and Why Should I Care?
Calisthenics simply put is body weight exercise meaning that added weight is not generally used in calisthenic training, only the weight of your body. Gymnastics, climbing, and yoga are some examples of calisthenic disciplines.
So why in the world should I care about calisthenics?
It’s totally free. The great thing about calisthenics is that it doesn’t require any big purchases like weight lifting does because all you really need is your body weight. That being said though, there are some purchases that can enhance your calisthenics training, such as Olympic rings, but it is far less costly than buying different weight sets and other equipment.
It’s easy on your joints! Body weight movements are less strenuous on your joints and with a combination of stretching and endurance training it builds strong tendon and ligament strength that protect your joints from injury.
You can do it ANYWHERE. Using only your body weight for exercise means that you already have everything you need! Paul Wade wrote a book called “Convict Conditioning” in which he explains his fitness journey. He was in prison when he discovered the world of calisthenics and began training it in his prison cell. As long as you still have a body, you can train calisthenics no matter where you are.
Multiple qualities are targeted at once. Calisthenics uses many muscle groups all at once to perform the movements. For example, when performing a push-up your arms are pushing your body up and away from the ground but that’s not all, your core is also engaged to keep your body in a strong plank position along with other muscle groups that contribute to the different aspects of the skill. Training multiple muscle groups together like this has a great side effect, your muscles learn how to coordinate movements in unison. They become more balanced and your body control improves drastically. Other qualities that improve with calisthenic training include flexibility and kinesthetic awareness.
More creativity and cool skills! Using only your body weight as resistance sort of forces you to get more creative with your training. Exercises are more than just pushing or pulling a perpetually heavier weight. You need to engage your creativity muscles as well! This can lead to exciting and flashy new moves. An example would be the back flip which works your legs, core, and cardio or the handstand, working your arms and core. You need to find creative ways to challenge yourself.
As we’ve already discussed, calisthenics trains multiple muscle groups at a time. A downside to this is the difficulty in targeting specific muscles. Weight training is more ideal in this aspect. So you need to have your personal fitness goals clear in your mind.
You may find difficulty working your legs in body weight exercise. Calisthenic exercises focus most on core and upper body strength so you may need to get extra creative on leg day. Movements such as the air squat and lunges are good exercises but only go so far so start thinking outside the box.
Calisthenics is very technical. Form is very important when lifting heavy weights but the movements are generally easier to understand than gymnastic movements. This is one big reason why it is very important to have a trainer who can guide you safely through the movements and help you progress to more advanced skills.
Above all, you need to know what your fitness goals are. Calisthenics has so many benefits to it but understanding what your goals are is paramount in reaching them.