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Calisthenics – Fitness Trend Taking the World by Storm

Calisthenics is a bodyweight style type of fitness training. It’s become hugely popular all around the world due to the relatively low barriers of entry. Very little equipment if any is needed to start calisthenics, and with the rise of outdoor fitness stations, athletes have a ton of options.

The goal of calisthenics, unlike many related strength disciplines, is to master the body – whether this be through strength or skills. Aesthetics take a second seat to being able to accomplish feats of magnificent body control. This is perhaps why it has become so popular – everyone that encounters it becomes infatuated with what the athletes can do.

Although originally inspired by bodyweight exercises movements and artistic mens gymnastics, calisthenics has since evolved under the influence of street exercise culture – and can be easily discerned through its unique training methodology and skillset.

The main building blocks of calisthenics

Calisthenics can be roughly divided into 3 distinct paths: fundamentals, statics and freestyle. Fundamentals are the traditional bodyweight exercises completed for reps. This includes pull ups, push ups, squats and other basic bodyweight exercises designed to build strength and muscular endurance.

Statics is an advanced form of calisthenics that focuses heavily on strength. Statics are isometric holds where athletes suspend their bodies in various positions. Examples of statics are human flag, planche and front lever.

Calisthenics freestyle is the momentum aspect of calisthenics. Athletes use momentum to throw themselves around the high bar, completing awesome high-flying skills. This is also the official competitive format of calisthenics and attracts huge crowds in international competitions.

How to best start training calisthenics?

Calisthenics can be intimidating to get into. Watching competitions may leave you with a sense that calisthenics requires insane strength and skill – and it does. But everyone starts somewhere. It’s important to know that even if you’ve never exercised in your life, calisthenics can still be adapted to you.

Calisthenics fundamentals

This is where most people start training. These are traditional exercises that build strength and endurance. The sport is predominantly upper body and core focused.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that perhaps the 2 most important ones are pull ups and push ups. These will serve as a great foundation for your calisthenics journey as they develop static skills and calisthenics freestyle.

In addition to building reps in these, core is important to train as well. Both the abs and lower back need equal attention. Hollow body hold is a great exercise for the developing the abs, while superman is fantastic for the lower back. Together these 2 exercises will also teach you body tension, a necessary skill for calisthenics success.


Statics training

Statics can be classified into beginner, intermediate and advanced holds. Perhaps the best place to start is the handstand. This can be considered a beginner hold. It will prepare you in a lot of ways for other, more advanced statics. The handstand is a great way to develop core strength, body awareness and body tension. It will also get you used to being upside down and will strengthen your wrists.

Some other statics holds that you should start training are the L-sit and tuck planche. These are also beginner holds and will help build the strength necessary to progress.

Freestyle training

Freestyle is much more diverse than fundamentals and statics – and therefore there are a lot of places to start! Freestyle is typically done on the high bar, although it can also be done on the parallel bars and to some extent on the floor.

To get into freestyle you will need to get comfortable with he basic positions on the bar and techniques for generating momentum. Even more importantly, you will need to be able to switch between these positions seamlessly to gain fluidity in your freestyle sequences!

Perhaps the most iconic freestyle move is the muscle up. This is a great skill to build on as it offers a lot of options for combinations later on, and offers and fast way to get on top of the bar.

Check the video below for a quick tutorial on muscle technique:

Calisthenics community

The calisthenics community is growing everyday. There’s a ton of showmanship in calisthenics, and that hype is clear on Instagram, Youtube and in calisthenics competitions themselves. Athletes are constantly working on new skills to better their rivals – this giving distinct flavours and styles to each athlete.

The movement started in urban streets – where it is still at large – but has began to migrate to underground calisthenics gyms. In every city you will find a bustling calisthenics community willing to lend a helping hand to beginners and accept pros into their mix.

Calisthenics competition

Competitions in calisthenics are characterised by insane crowds and hype. There are several categories that athletes generally compete in, although 2 are most popular.

The first is Endurance. This category type sets a series of exercises and gives points to each depending on difficulty. Athletes are given 1 minute to do as many repetitions as possible. The scores are then tallied up, and the athlete with the most points wins.

The second, crazier and more popular competition type is the calisthenics freestyle tournament. This competition type gives athletes creative freedom to string together insane calisthenics routines on the calisthenics playground provided. Athletes are scored by 3 judges – which declare the winning athlete based on their creativity, originality, technique and difficulty of routine.

Calisthenics competition

Getting help when first starting calisthenics

Calisthenics can be tough to get started in. Poor technique can lead to injury, and a lot of advice from hobbyists is often incorrect. It’s important to get professional advice, especially if you are just starting out.

Personal trainers at Street Workout St Kilda are a fantastic choice. They are not only incredibly knowledgeable but have the experience to back it up. Their professional services can be the difference you need to succeed in calisthenics. Whether you want to improve your fundamentals, statics, freestyle, or simply want a training or diet plan, always get professional advice!

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