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Top 10 Benefits of Calisthenics

Calisthenics is one of the easiest, cheapest, most effective types of exercise out there. Let's see why.

If you want to build a beautiful body without spending a dime or even leaving your house, you should try calisthenics. The origin of the word literally comes from a word combination containing the word “beauty.” Its origin comes from the Greek word for beauty, “kallos,” and the word for strength, “sthenos.” Calisthenics is any type of exercise in which you use your body-weight to build new muscle mass and strengthen existing muscles. You use the resistance of your body-weight to incinerate calories, develop muscle, and boost your flexibility. Examples include pull-ups, push-ups, squats, crunches, lunges, sit-ups, calf raises, burpees, bridges, planks, triceps dips, leg lifts, jumping jacks, wall sits — the list goes on and on. Most calisthenics are simple, quick, and can be done practically anywhere. Let’s take a look at why calisthenics should be a regular part of your exercise routine.

Tones Your Core and All Those Small Muscles

With calisthenics, a variety of muscle groups are targeted with a single exercise. Many types of gym equipment limit what muscle groups are targeted and they mainly target large muscle groups, whereas calisthenics develops smaller muscle groups that are often overlooked with stationary gym equipment. Also, since they engage numerous muscle groups all at once, you develop proprioceptive awareness, also known as muscle memory. Calisthenics exercises also require core strength. You might be surprised to learn that your core houses 29 small muscles, all of which are engaged and strengthened through calisthenics.

Calisthenics Can Be Done Practically Anywhere

You don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to perform calisthenics exercises. You can even do them while you watch television. Calisthenics can also be done at the park, at the airport, at the beach, at a hotel — you could even do some simple calf raises while you’re waiting in line at the bank or DMV.

Calisthenics Provide a Total-Body Workout

Most types of calisthenic movements are compound exercises, meaning several of your muscle groups have to work together to accurately complete the motion. This allows you to exercise multiple muscles all at one time. A perfect example: pull-ups utilize and strengthen the muscles in your abs, lower back, and arms. Calisthenics improves stability, balance, endurance, flexibility, and speed through the movements, which require a full range of motion.

Calisthenics Don’t Require an Expensive Gym Membership or Fancy Equipment

Purchasing clunky equipment not only requires a lot of space in your home, it can also be really expensive, especially if you go for higher-quality equipment that comes with all the bells and whistles. On the same note, gym memberships and their associated costs, such as personal trainer fees, renewal fees, class fees, and cancellation fees can add up, particularly if you are already on a tight budget. Frugal fitness guru bonus: when you workout at home you don’t have to be bothered with purchasing overpriced “workout clothes” or spend money on gas or public transportation to get to the gym.

It Torches Calories

The School of Public Health at Harvard University states that “vigorous calisthenics burn more calories than many common cardio workouts” because your body requires you to engage more muscles to perform these exercises.

You Always Have Your Gym “Equipment” with You

There's no need to put on new workout clothes, spend money on gasoline, or wait in traffic to get to the gym or to purchase expensive exercise equipment. You already have everything you need on you at all times — your body — to perform calisthenics.

Calisthenics Build Coordination

Calisthenics builds what is called functional strength, meaning it helps you complete routine tasks, also termed “activities of daily living” (ADLs) more easily. Making routine physical activity easier increases the likelihood that you’ll become more physically active throughout the day.

Calisthenics Increase Flexibility

Flexibility is one key aspect of physical fitness that often gets overlooked. By incorporating certain movements that fully extend your body, calisthenics significantly improve your flexibility.

It Boosts Your Metabolism

Calisthenics increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR) by developing both your aerobic stamina and muscular endurance. A higher RMR translates to more calories burned throughout the day, even while you are at rest.

It Helps Prevent Injury

All too often people injure themselves when the use exercise equipment that either forces the body to move in unnatural way or they use the equipment incorrectly. Because there is usually no exercise equipment involved with calisthenics, there is a reduction in risks for injuries. Additionally, since your body can more naturally go through fluid, complete range of motion movements, calisthenics are easier on your joints and tendons. In fact, research has shown that calisthenics cause less stress on your joints than weight-lifting does.

Calisthenics Are Applicable for Any Fitness Level

Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or just an able-bodied amateur, calisthenics are appropriate for all fitness levels and all ages. You can steadily advance your movements, increase the duration of your exercise session, add wrist or ankle weights to up the intensity, or do a circuit of a series of calisthenics moves for a complete aerobic, muscle-building workout.


[Image via Shutterstock]

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