Do you want to be lean and strong? What about fit and flexible? Or maybe, just maybe, you want strength that appears superhuman? I have one word for you: calisthenics.
Calisthenics, quite simply, are gymnastic movements that display strength, pliability, and grace. It’s one thing to deadlift 500lbs, it’s another entirely to execute a perfect press-handstand.
Obviously, the power, technical skill, and strength needed to conquer movements like the back lever, front planche, and triple clap pushup are unquestionable. The biggest question beginners have to ask is: “Is calisthenics right for me?”
The answer is not a simple one. The nature of these movements requires superior flexibility and connective tissue. Some movements, for example, are not something just anyone can jump into and perform (unless detrimentally injuring themselves), but just like anything else certain steps must be taken. For example, you wouldn’t hop into a back lever unless you’ve built up enough connective tissue in the shoulders and strength in the biceps.
If longevity is top of mind (like it is with me), the important thing is that you understand that each move has a progression for different skill levels to begin at. In the case of the back lever, being able to hold a german hang for 30 secs is the first step into progressing (assuming you have the shoulder flexibility).
The first reason you don’t see a lot of people tackling calisthenics exercises is due to the demand of flexibility. People see pliability training as an inconvenience or the less exciting side of training. They would rather focus on the fun, sexy lifts that give short term satisfaction as opposed to building up to a calisthenics move. Irony is, if I showed you a picture of a gymnast, 9 out of 10 of you would be like “Wow, I’d kill for a body like that.”
Second reason: PATIENCE! We live in a society where we always want to be the best as quickly as we pick up our newest thing. The problem people have with calisthenics is that you have to suck for a while (like a really long while). What you should focus on is that why you’re dreadful now, one day you won’t. One day, you’ll make that perfect mind-muscle connection and with one small tweak you’ll nail the movement on command.
That takes a lot of dedication and a lot of work. Quite frankly, most aren’t willing to put in the work (especially for something that may take a year or so to perfect). That being said, that’s why calisthenics is so great: It’s not for everybody. Although everyone could do it, few will pursue it.
So, are calisthenics right for you?
Depends. Are you willing to focus on flexibility and range of motion (ROM) first? Are you willing to set aside your ego and put in the work? Will you push through when you’re humbled by a movement?
If you said yes to all of these, then great. Now show me.
**If you’re interested in integrating calisthenics into your regimen, I HIGHLY recommend you consider grabbing “Complete Calisthenics” in our resource section under “fitness”