You’ve seen the gravity-defying feats of strength displayed by calisthenic inspired street workouts and decided it’s your turn to look cool AF pulling off the perfect human flag for the gram. Well… not so fast calisthenics newbie; these moves take some serious practise, luckily the experts at Gravity Fitness are on hand to show you how to get started.
All the gear
It’s not obligatory to buy equipment to start out on your calisthenics journey; a local playground should provide all the tools required to get going, however, having daily access to specially designed equipment from the comfort of your home will put you in good stead. A good quality set of parallettes and a pull-up bar is a good place to start.
Forget the bro science
If you’re a gym regular looking to improve functionality you need to forget the bro science and start with a fresh approach. Calisthenics are compound movements, making traditional bodybuilding splits obsolete. The traditional chin-up for example, works your biceps, back and shoulders so your gym game just got a major shakeup. The best way to structure your new routine is into broader movement groups i.e. push/ pull. Try dips, handstands and push-ups one day and pull-ups, chin-ups and rows the next.
Practise makes perfect
Calisthenics is no easy skill to perfect, it will require some determination and hard graft to pull off a polished routine but just remember we all start somewhere. With lots of repetition and progression you will find yourself mastering new tricks whilst gaining strength and stripping fat.
Start with the basics
Leave the advanced skills to the YouTube aficionados to begin with and concentrate on mastering the basics. You will need to develop strength and balance in order to progress onto more complex routines. These 5 basic exercises should provide the foundations for all calisthenic moves, perfect these and the coveted world of muscle-ups and human flags is within your grasp…
Not only the staple of any worthwhile calisthenics programme, but a functional compound move that should be incorporated to everyone’s training regimen. Push-ups work a wide array of muscles and develop great core strength. Keep your back straight and core engaged with hands shoulder-width apart. Position wrists, elbows and shoulders in a straight line and lower to the floor, allowing the elbows to come in. Master the basic move and then increase difficulty by raising the feet, widening and narrowing the hands and eventually including some explosive moves like hand claps.
Another classic functional move this time targeting the triceps. Select a sturdy bench or box, sit on the edge and place your hands on the edge, either side of your hips. Extend your legs and slide your glutes off the bench so that your bodyweight is now supported by your hands. Bend the elbows to lower the body and straighten to raise. Repeat
This is where s**t gets real. You need to be proficient at the standard pull-up in order to even think about broaching anything tricky. Find a pull-up bar and grab with a shoulder-width grip, palms down. Hang with straight arms, legs off the floor. Pull yourself up by pulling the elbows down to the floor until your chin passes above the bar. Lower with control until your arms are straight. Eliminate momentum to build strength. Repeat.
Pistol squats are no easy feat and are the ultimate measure of balance and core strength, not to mention a supreme leg strength builder. Stand in front of a pole or sturdy vertical object that allows you to reach your leg around it. Firmly grasp with your hands and lower into a pistol position with one leg in a squat position, heel on the floor and other leg stretched out straight, parallel to the floor. Using your arms as much as necessary, pull yourself back up and repeat. As your leg strength improves, you will find reliance on your upper body decreases.
Start in a push-up position with your feet against the wall. Begin walking your feet up the wall with hands coming closer into the wall with each movement, until you achieve a full handstand position. Hold for as long as possible to improve strength. If you can’t reach full handstand position at first; go as far in as you can, it’s great for the shoulders.