What is Calisthenics and Why You Should Care!

We'll be real... Calisthenics is something we didn't know a whole heap about but noticed people were showing more and more interest in. So, we've linked up with Vic, the founder Street Workout St Kilda, who's written this wicked article about this growing workout trend!

What is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is an all-encompassing bodyweight discipline that is influenced by gymnastics, breakdancing and yoga; having deep roots throughout history. Coming from humble beginnings, it started off as just very basic exercises. However, as society has changed, calisthenics has began drawing from other disciplines, evolving into the modernised practice it is today.

More recently it has attracted attention through calisthenics freestyle, a relatively new aspect that adds a flair of excitement. Calisthenics freestyle incorporates elements of impromptu gymnastics and unique calisthenics skills into a competitive ‘battle’ format, driving hype and international recognition for the sport.

Triceps extension hold

How Calisthenics compares to other sports

Calisthenics is a unique sport that helps keep you super fit. It’s great for strength, endurance, body awareness and balance. One of the biggest things that makes it stand out, is that training is centred around ‘skills’ and not ‘exercises’.

In weightlifting for example, you are training to squat. This is the exercise, but it doesn’t transfer to anything. In other words, the exercise is the skill - there is no other end goal other than to squat with a heavier weight. Sometimes there are progressions and variations but often these are not substantially different from the original exercise.

In calisthenics on the other hand, you are not training the pull up to get better at pull ups. Well maybe you are, but that is not the end goal. The end goal is to take that strength you’ve gained from the thousands of pull ups you’ve done over the years, and apply it to muscle ups, pull overs and other skills.

It goes even deeper than that. In more advanced calisthenics, the training becomes even more skill orientated. While practicing handstands for example, the core is put to work, the shoulders start to slump with fatigue, all while practicing balance and body awareness.

The way calisthenics seamlessly integrates skills into training makes it really fun. It's like play in a sense. Imagine working on a handstand for months on end and finally hitting the perfect one. You gain such a sense of accomplishment.

Neurologically, this also activates reward pathways. This is why calisthenics is so addictive. There’s always something new to learn - always a harder skill or combination to strive for. Motivation often plateaus in fitness, but in calisthenics practitioners only get more ambitious.

Superman hold in Calisthenics

How to start Calisthenics

The best place to start your calisthenics journey is to build a solid foundation in bodyweight strength. Build strength in all of the basic movements, including horizontal and vertical push, horizontal and vertical pull, core and squats. Once you’ve built enough strength you can start working on some freestyle elements and statics.

Calisthenics is fun, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Always ask for help. There are personal trainers out there that specialise in calisthenics, so reach out and get the help you need! 

I hope you guys learnt just as much as we did from this insightful blog! If you have anymore questions, you can always reach out to Vic!

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