Calisthenics uses your body weight for resistance and there are various types of calisthenics exercises to help you build strength, flexibility, and endurance without fancy gym equipment.
In this exploration, we’ll break down the basics of different calisthenics types. From classic moves like push-ups and squats targeting major muscle groups to dynamic exercises like burpees and mountain climbers for a full-body workout, calisthenics offers a wide range of options.
We’ll also dive into isometric calisthenics, which involves holding positions to strengthen specific muscle groups. So, whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or a beginner, this guide will help you understand the diverse world of calisthenics.
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What Are The Different Types Of Calisthenics You Can Do?
1. Freestyle Calisthenics
Freestyle calisthenics is similar to gymnastics, as both focus on bodyweight exercises and require strength and precision. This form of calisthenics often involves horizontal bars or parallel bars, offering an engaging and entertaining way to sculpt muscles and improve overall fitness.
However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that freestyle calisthenics poses a significant risk, particularly if you’re not adequately prepared. Building up to these calisthenic exercises gradually is essential to minimise the chances of injury. Professional coaching is often a wise choice to ensure proper form and technique, reducing the risk of accidents during calisthenics workouts.
Among the various freestyle calisthenics exercises, pull-ups and push-ups are core components. Pull-ups, such as the extreme muscle-ups and clap muscle-ups, challenge your upper body strength and control. Meanwhile, exercises like the toe touch pull-up and 360 pull-up add complexity and excitement to your routine.
Incorporating bodyweight exercises like bar transfer, switchblade, and double bar hop into your calisthenics workouts not only diversifies your routine but also enhances your overall strength and flexibility.
2. Street Workouts
Calisthenics offer the remarkable advantage of transforming the world into your personal gym. This accessible bodyweight training empowers individuals to work out anywhere, be it playgrounds or urban streets. In fact, street workouts have surged in popularity as enthusiasts proudly display their calisthenic prowess.
In the digital age, platforms like YouTube showcase street calisthenics, inspiring others to embark on their fitness journeys. Many enthusiasts create videos to share their skills, raise awareness, and guide newcomers in their calisthenics training endeavours.
Key elements of street calisthenics workouts involve exercises like pistols and shrimp squats, handstands, one-arm chin-ups, one-arm push-ups, and their variations. They also include advanced moves like back and front levers and the awe-inspiring human flag.
As street workouts are relatively new, there’s immense potential for improvement and education. This helps individuals grasp the essence of these bodyweight exercises and further their muscle-building and weight-training journeys.
3. Military Calisthenics
Military calisthenics primarily involve push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups, resembling boot camp exercises. They are straightforward and suitable for all. Begin with low repetitions and small sets before gradually progressing.
While not focused on weight loss, they maintain fitness. Combine them with other bodyweight workouts or cardio for weight loss or muscle definition. Ex-military individuals often continue these exercises as a fitness lifestyle choice.
4. Aesthetic Calisthenics
Aesthetic calisthenics, a widely practised form of calisthenics, is often pursued as a standalone regimen or in conjunction with other exercises. This approach is prevalent among solo practitioners and attracts bodybuilders and weightlifters.
The core of aesthetic calisthenics centres on calisthenics exercises that utilise one’s own body weight, encompassing a broad range of options suitable for both beginners and advanced athletes. Many individuals who engage in aesthetic calisthenics also incorporate traditional body-building activities into their routines to achieve a balanced and well-rounded physique.
The primary goal of any aesthetic calisthenics exercise is to build muscle while progressively increasing exercise intensity. This can involve incorporating weighted calisthenics, such as performing squats with added weights, effectively combining the benefits of body weight exercises with muscle-building resistance.
5. Flexible Calisthenics
Flexible calisthenics, as the name implies, enhances flexibility and mobility through specific movements. Achieving balance is paramount in these exercises, as maintaining equilibrium prevents potential injuries resulting from falls during certain positions.
Professionals in flexible calisthenics exhibit remarkable feats, such as sustaining headstands or intricate positions for extended durations due to rigorous training. Precise focus on joint alignment is a constant priority, with experts achieving impeccable alignment, even down to precise toe-pointing.
Half of the flexible calisthenics routine typically revolves around stretching, making it less ideal for individuals primarily focused on weight loss. Instead, it caters to those aiming to master intricate movements and improve their fitness levels. It can be especially beneficial for rehabilitation or injury recovery, as stretching aids muscle recovery and expedites their return to regular workouts, including strength training and isometric exercises.
Flexible calisthenics thus offers a unique approach to enhancing overall fitness and flexibility without the primary goal of shedding pounds.
6. Static Calisthenics
Static calisthenics, a unique discipline within bodyweight training, focuses on holding specific positions or movements for extended durations. Practitioners of static calisthenics often possess impressive strength while maintaining a lean physique, making them appear slender rather than heavily muscular. This form of training is accessible to individuals of varying fitness levels, making it suitable for beginners.
Starting with shorter holds and repetitions, beginners gradually extend their duration as they develop better balance and control. Prominent static calisthenics movements include the challenging planche and the front lever.
What sets static calisthenics apart is its distinct muscle engagement, as it involves keeping muscles at a fixed length throughout the exercise. This is in contrast to traditional exercises that employ both eccentric and concentric muscle phases.
The sustained muscle tension in static calisthenics makes it demanding, building endurance over time. However, listening to your body and discontinuing any position if you experience pain is crucial. Beginners should avoid pushing themselves excessively.
Static Calisthenics Challenges
A. Few Contact Points
Static holds rely on limited contact points with the ground or equipment, necessitating good posture and balance.
B. Increased Muscle Fiber Engagement
These exercises predominantly engage Type II muscle fibres, which can fatigue quickly, demanding substantial strength and balance to maintain poses.
C. Extended Tension Time
Muscles experience continuous tension without the typical lengthening and shortening seen in dynamic exercises, making it essential to work up gradually to longer durations for static holds. Static calisthenics offers a distinct approach to bodyweight training that enhances strength and endurance, making it an attractive option for individuals of varying fitness levels pursuing their fitness goals.
Flashy Calisthenics – What Is It?
Flashy calisthenics, often showcased on platforms like Instagram, revolves around eye-catching exercises aimed at flaunting one’s fitness level and amassing social media followers. Professional athletes demonstrate visually striking movements, including incline push-ups and pull-ups, but anyone can partake with the right training and endurance.
It’s essential to note that flashy calisthenics isn’t a comprehensive workout. Instead, individuals often perform these positions solely for photo or video content. To maintain calorie burning and overall fitness, it’s crucial to intersperse these attention-grabbing moves with continued movements.
The training regimen for flashy calisthenics guarantees fitness upkeep, featuring explosive, plyometric exercises that engage the entire body. These captivating manoeuvres, which include back-flips, diving, behind-the-back clasps, specific jumps, and superman push-ups, serve to create a fan base and generate awareness.
At the same time, they provide a dynamic and exhilarating twist to traditional bodyweight workouts, weight training, and full-body workouts.
Selecting The Right Type Of Calisthenics
Selecting the right calisthenics training is crucial for safe progression and achieving your fitness goals. Regardless of your choice, begin with small repetitions and shorter circuits to prevent injury. Thoroughly research the best calisthenics exercises for your needs, watch instructional videos, and consider seeking guidance from a trainer or friend to ensure proper form.
If you aim to improve flexibility, start with static exercises. Additionally, vary your calisthenics type based on your goals and the exercises you plan to incorporate. This approach will help you build muscle, improve posture, and excel in your bodyweight workouts safely and effectively.
Calisthenics For Beginners
Most calisthenics can be equipment-free, with some requiring minimal support for stability. Common equipment-free exercises include planks, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, squats, leg raises, close grip push-ups, wide grip push-ups, decline push-ups, sit-ups, tricep exercises, and handstand push-ups. For beginners, mastering basics, such as a standard push-up or an explosive pull-up, is vital to progress effectively.
Focus on building strength, balance, and endurance through circuit movements, pushing near failure for optimal muscle gain. Strategic short rests, around a minute or two between exercises and up to three minutes between circuits, aid recovery without slowing progress. Solidify the fundamentals before exploring advanced calisthenics variations.
In the diverse world of calisthenics, where bodyweight workouts reign supreme, we find many options tailored to various fitness goals. From the humble standard push-ups and pull-ups to the graceful static movements, calisthenics offers a path to building muscle, honing strength and achieving improved posture.
The key lies in selecting the right type, progressing gradually, and focusing on proper form. Whether you aim for explosive, flashy calisthenics or methodical static calisthenics, the journey towards enhanced fitness begins with a deliberate choice that aligns with your objectives.
Embrace the versatility of calisthenics, and watch your body transform through the power of bodyweight training!
Founder of www.calisthenics-101.co.uk. Training calisthenics since 2012.
Currently working on: 30 second one-arm handstand, muscle-up 360, straddle planche.