Confused about Calisthenics, the Benefits of Bodyweight Training, What is a Compound exercise? What is a functional exercise? Here is all you need to know.

What is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a word used for bodyweight training. The word calisthenics comes from the Greek words “kallos” meaning beauty and “thenos” which means strength. The term describes a range of exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups and squats. It also encompasses more advanced bodyweight exercises such as muscle ups, levers, human flag, and single arm pull ups; all which develop strength, muscular endurance, core strength and neuromuscular efficiency.

What makes training functional?

Calisthenics or bodyweight training is often described as functional. But what differentiates some training from being functional, and other training not being functional? At its core, functional training means that it is relevant to movements in real life; using compound (or many muscle group) exercises, rather than isolation (one muscle group).

What is a Compound exercise?…. and what is an Isolation exercise?

The Tricep Push Down is an example of an isolation exercise for the Triceps, where the elbow stays locked against the body and only the lower arm moves. This exercise can be seen as non-functional as such an isolated movement is unlikely to be replicated outside of the gym.

The functional exercise equivalent could be the Close Grip Chest Press using a Suspension trainer, requiring balance, strength and control and using the Triceps, Chest, Shoulder and some of the Back muscles too. This exercise utilises more muscle groups and translates better into day-to-day movements, for example pushing a door open. Real world movements rarely use a singular muscle group, instead use a combination of proximal (close, think core) muscles and distal (far away, think fingers and forearms) muscles to perform tasks.

What are the benefits of bodyweight training?

Bodyweight training and Calisthenics workouts are highly functional and very beneficial as they use multiple planes of motion (left and right, up and down, forward and backwards), many different muscle groups per exercise, and practical, real world movements, that translate more readily to day-to-day life. By training with your bodyweight you will build up strong joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles without the need for additional, potentially damaging, weight.

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