For those in the fitness world, you may know that the battle between calisthenics and weight lifting has been raging for some time. The arguments for and against each strength building method are a source of huge debate. However, if you are anything like me, you might not actually know what calisthenics are! Let me explain.
The word calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek words kalós, meaning beauty, and sthénos, meaning strength. The word simply describes a form of strength training exercise which uses only body weight as resistance.
Weight lifting and calisthenics are both forms of strength training. The difference lies mainly in the fact that calisthenics does not generally require any equipment, and equipment is certainly not essential. Weight lifting on the other hand requires free weights, such as dumbbells or weight lifting machines in order to complete the exercises.
Calisthenics includes real body movements such as pulling, pushing, bending, jumping and swinging. The exercises can be energetic and provide the body with a cardiovascular workout at the same time.
Weight lifting involves just that, lifting weights. Various body parts are engaged to complete the lift, and the amount of weight can be controlled and changed easily, unlike calisthenics where the weight remains constant, as the weight of the body.
Calisthenics has many benefits. For one thing it is very convenient. There is no equipment to haul and it can be done anywhere that there is enough space to stretch the body. This also makes it free! It is easy to fit into a daily schedule as trips to the gym can be eliminated. For these reasons, calisthenics are frequently used in schools and military.
Calisthenic exercises work on core strength, and include the full body in a work out. This means that it is a great way to condition the whole physique.
Performing body weight exercises also reduces the risk of injury substantially compared to weight lifting. The body also recovers faster after each session, especially when heavy weights are used in the alternative.
This makes a calisthenic regime more sustainable over time. The movements are usually rhythmic and follow the body’s natural range of motion. This means that ‘real’ strength is developed, the kind of strength that is useful in daily life. Muscular development is also more natural looking, with long, lean muscles.
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