11 Benefits of Calisthenics Training

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Research shows that calisthenics benefits not only strength, endurance and flexibility but can also improve mental wellbeing for those who perform this style of exercise. 

However, it is often considered less effective than weightlifting as a form of resistance training and therefore the health benefits of calisthenics are overlooked when designing fitness programmes.

In this article, we will look at calisthenics in detail, including both calisthenics health benefits and mental benefits, as well as the pros and cons of calisthenics as a method of resistance training. We will also explore the following topics:

1) What is Calisthenics Training?

2) Benefits of Calisthenics

3) Drawbacks of Calisthenics

4) How to Get Started in Calisthenics

5) How to Progress in Calisthenics

6) How Does Calisthenics Compare with Weightlifting?

Before you jump in, do you think you have what it takes to become a certified personal trainer? Check out OriGym’s range of REPS and CIMSPA accredited personal training packages, or download our FREE course prospectus for more information on our CPDs and specialist courses as well.

What is Calisthenics Training?

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Calisthenics is a form of resistance training that predominantly uses body weight and therefore requires minimal equipment. Some of the health benefits of calisthenics include improved endurance, strength, flexibility, coordination and aerobic conditioning. 

Resistance training is simply any exercise where you push or pull against a form of resistance, such as resistance bands. In calisthenics, the resistance is your own body weight as opposed to any equipment you would use in the gym, such as free weights or a cable machine. 

Calisthenics was developed in Ancient Greece and originates from the words Kalos, meaning ‘Beauty’, and Sthenos, meaning ‘Strength.’ It is therefore considered by many to be both the science and the art of beautiful movement.

A popular form of calisthenics, sometimes referred to as ‘urban’ or ‘street’ calisthenics because of where it takes place, is now a competitive sport performed all over the world. The sport combines elements of gymnastics and acrobatics with strength and conditioning, and competitors perform advanced movements such as muscle-ups and the ‘Human Flag’. 

Despite its popularity in the world of competitive sports today, calisthenics is often viewed as a classic or old-fashioned form of exercise due to its more formal use in the military, or by gymnasts as a form of training. 

However, calisthenics training is not only designed for competitive athletes; calisthenics benefits anyone who includes this form of training in their exercise routine. 

We will now explore the benefits of calisthenics and show how easily calisthenics exercises can be performed by the average person.

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What are the Benefits of Calisthenics?

#1 Builds Muscle Mass

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As with any form of resistance training, one of the benefits of calisthenics training is that it allows the user to build muscle mass as long as the correct conditions are created for hypertrophy to occur.

Muscle hypertrophy describes the process during which the muscle cells grow as a result of exercise. For this to transpire, the muscle fibres must be provided with enough tension or resistance during a workout to become damaged. After the workout is complete and the muscles are in a state of rest, new muscle fibres are built in place of the damaged fibres, and this triggers muscle growth. 

The brain cannot differentiate whether the resistance applied to the muscles comes from free weights or calisthenics exercises; it can only tell if the resistance used provides enough tension for the muscle to overcome. Therefore, when the resistance created through calisthenics training is high enough, hypertrophy begins and muscle mass can be built.

To trigger hypertrophy, perform 8-12 reps of a calisthenics exercise, such as pull-ups, for 3 sets, ensuring that you rest for 60 seconds after each set.

As more muscle is built through calisthenic exercises, the resistance the body needs to overcome in order to continue building muscle becomes higher. This is when the exercises can be adapted to add more resistance.

For instance, once you have mastered the push-up, a fundamental calisthenics exercise, you could increase the difficulty of the movement by performing a decline push-up instead. This can be done by elevating the feet on a platform, such as a bench or a chair, which takes the weight off the feet and places more stress onto the arm muscles.

Alternatively, you could perform the exercise more slowly during the eccentric (lengthening or lowering) contraction phase. In contrast to the concentric (shortening) contraction phase of an exercise, studies have shown that eccentric movements have the greatest effect on muscle development. 

This is because performing the exercise with a focus on time under tension increases the stress placed upon muscle fibres. 

Check out our guide on strength training if you want to learn more about building muscle mass and muscle endurance.

#2 Develops Functional Strength

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Calisthenics consists of functional exercises, which are those that mimic the movement patterns we follow on an everyday basis, such as pushing, pulling and jumping. Therefore, a key calisthenics benefit is that it can help to enhance your performance of everyday tasks, such as carrying heavy shopping bags or pushing a trolley.

Like ‘real life’ movement patterns, calisthenics training involves compound movements, which are exercises that engage many different muscle groups at the same time. 

Another effective type of training that has similar benefits is kettlebell training!

For example, push-ups not only engage muscles within the chest, shoulders and arms but also engage the abs and help to build core strength. Similarly, pull-ups engage muscles within the back, arms and shoulders, but also improve grip strength. 

Having good grip is crucial for everyday tasks, such as opening that really tight jar in your cupboard!

The compound nature of calisthenics has been shown to improve strength in a way that is often harder to achieve through lifting weights. For instance, a gym-goer may be able to bench press a relatively heavy weight, but can they perform a set of single-arm push-ups, or pull themselves into a ‘Human Flag’?

This can be supported by the findings of a 2018 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which compared calisthenic push-up training (PUSH) with traditional bench press training (BENCH) as a technique for increasing strength. The study randomly assigned twenty-three subjects to PUSH and BENCH groups and they trained 3 days per week for 4 weeks. 

The results of the study found that though both groups significantly increased their 1RM (one rep maximum) and push-up progression (PUP), where the increase in PUP for the PUSH group was significantly greater. 

If your goal is to improve functional strength, these results highlight the significant benefits of calisthenics as a training method.

#3 Lower Risk of Injury

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As well as developing functional strength, another key health benefit of calisthenics training is that it helps to build strength and mobility in your joints and unstable areas, such as the knees, shoulders and hips. 

Having good joint mobility means that you are able to perform exercises with the correct form and are less likely to become injured.

Knowing how to engage your core will also help reduce the risk of injury.

As we have discussed, the majority of calisthenics exercises are compound movements. They are also mostly Closed Kinetic Chain exercises, which is where the hand or foot stays in constant contact with a fixed object. For instance, when performing a bodyweight squat the feet stay in contact with the ground, or during a pull-up where the hands maintain contact with the bar.

In contrast, Open Kinetic Chain exercises such as leg curls allow the foot or hand to move whilst being performed. Physiotherapists often favour Closed Kinetic Chain exercises as they share the load across many muscles rather than isolating a single muscle, meaning increased joint stability and less chance of an injury whilst exercising. 

Furthermore, as previously discussed, compound movements are effective in building functional strength. Having a good level of functional strength means that you are less likely to get injured whilst performing everyday tasks.

One of the main benefits of calisthenics in comparison to weightlifting is the risk of injury. A 2017 study showed that 2 in 5 people in the UK have injured themselves whilst training in the gym, whilst 1 in 20 surveyed was never shown how to properly use the equipment provided. 

This highlights how often incorrect handling of gym equipment can lead to injury, from smaller cases such as ankle sprain to more serious injuries such as muscle and joint damage.

Calisthenics involves only bodyweight exercises and uses minimal equipment, so lowers this risk significantly. 

#4 Aids Sports Performance

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Although calisthenics training is a great form of exercise for the average person wanting to enhance performance, there are many benefits of calisthenics for those involved in sports and athletics.

As a training method, calisthenics benefits athletes by giving them an edge over others in their field. This is because it improves functional strength, endurance and cardiovascular fitness, all of which are crucial to those performing competitively. 

Not only do calisthenics mimic our everyday functional movement patterns, but also movements that athletes and sports people use, such as boxing, kicking a football and swimming. 

This is highlighted by the findings of a 2019 study, which investigated the effect of calisthenics exercise on the body fat percentage and performance of 30 swimmers. The swimmers were divided into 3 groups: one which performed calisthenics exercise on stable ground alongside swimming training, another which performed calisthenics exercise on unstable ground alongside swimming training, and the final which only performed swimming training. 

The study concluded that there were significant differences in the flexibility, 30 meters speed, agility, back and leg strength, crunch, push-up and plank values for those swimmers involved in calisthenics training. It suggested that implementing regular calisthenics exercise 3 times a week, for 60 minutes at a time, provides benefits in terms of health and performance gain. 

This study, therefore, highlights the significant health benefits of calisthenics for those wishing to boost their sports or athletic performance.

Similarly, investing in one of the best pre workout supplements in our article can help boost performance too. 

#5 Assists Weight Loss

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One of the most notable health benefits of calisthenics training is the role that it can play in weight management. As we have already discussed, calisthenics benefits those trying to increase muscle mass, and increased muscle mass boosts metabolism. 

Metabolism describes the processes whereby molecules in the body are broken down to obtain energy for vital processes, such as growing, moving, repairing cells, digesting food and even thinking. 

BMR, Basal Metabolic Rate, is the minimum amount of energy needed for these processes and varies from person to person depending on factors such as weight, height, gender and age. 

Those with a higher muscle to fat ratio tend to have a higher BMR, meaning they are able to burn more calories at rest. This is because the body uses these calories to repair damage to muscle fibres sustained during resistance training.  Therefore, it is easier for people with a higher muscle mass to control their weight, without a huge focus on restricting caloric intake.

As well as increasing muscle, performing continuous calisthenics can be a form of cardiovascular exercise, which is one of the most effective ways to burn fat. Read up on the benefits and risks of cardio exercises in another one of our recent blog posts.

Whilst performing calisthenics exercises the heart rate rises, which allows oxygen to reach muscle cells quickly and consequently uses more energy. 

To perform continuous calisthenics, choose 4-6 exercises, each one targeting a different muscle group, and carry them out in a circuit (one after another). Take a short rest (30 seconds to 1 minute), then repeat another 3-4 times.

A 2015 study found that workers who performed calisthenics exercises increased their heart rate more than those participants who stood or walked on a treadmill during their break time. The study, therefore, concluded that calisthenics training benefits cardiovascular health and assists in weight management.

Download OriGym's FREE 16 Week Strength Training Programme to start your fitness journey today!

#6 Increases Muscular Endurance

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As a form of resistance training, calisthenics benefits those whose goal is to build endurance or stamina.

Whilst building strength allows you to lift heavier, having a good level of endurance allows you to perform for a longer period of time before becoming fatigued. 

Not only can this ease the difficulty of strenuous activity carried out over a long period of time, such as carrying heavy bags whilst walking home or spending the day gardening, having strong endurance levels can limit the number of injuries sustained from the exertion of the muscles during these activities. 

Muscular endurance is a measure of the muscle’s ability to produce contractions against a form of tension or resistance for a period of time. In terms of calisthenics, the more muscular endurance you build through training, the more repetitions you will be able to perform before fatigue is reached.

Whilst fast-twitch muscle fibres determine muscle strength and power, slow-twitch muscle fibres are responsible for muscle endurance. When these slow-twitch muscle fibres are recruited through endurance training, the muscles become better equipped to use the oxygen supplied to them by the heart. 

This allows the muscles to perform for a longer period before becoming fatigued.

For instance, you may be able to perform one more push-up than in your last session, or hold a plank position for 10 seconds longer before your muscles are completely fatigued. Training until failure is a great way to increase muscular endurance, which is another one of the key health benefits of calisthenics.

Did you know that one of the benefits of beta-alanine is that it can boost endurance?

#7 Improves Long-Term Health

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Not only is endurance useful in the gym, but also for everyday life; you’ll be able to walk further, climb that set of stairs more easily, or run for the bus without totally losing your breath!

 This type of exercise is a measure of your cardiovascular fitness, which, in scientific terms, is an individual’s physical work capacity, in the form of the amount of oxygen capacity per kilogram of body weight over time. Put simply, it is a measure of how efficiently the cardiovascular system (heart, lungs and vessels) is able to circulate blood throughout the body as a source of energy for movement.

As previously discussed, calisthenics can be a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness when performed continuously in a circuit-style session. Having good cardiovascular fitness not only makes it easier to lose weight, but can benefit your long-term health too. 

Circuit training is another type of training that has a lot of health benefits.

Public Health England suggests that 1 in 3 adults in England live with a long-term health condition, and it is this group of people who are twice as likely to be amongst the least physically active. Evidence shows that regular physical activity helps to manage, and can even prevent, many common conditions. 

These include cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. 

Furthermore, NHS Guidelines suggest that adults should undergo 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity. Moderate intensity activity should raise your heart rate, make you breathe slightly faster and feel warmer, whereas vigorous activity should make you breathe hard and fast. 

One of the health benefits of calisthenics training is that it is an easy and accessible way to comply with these guidelines, and it is suggested that this can reduce the risk of major illnesses, such as stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease by up 50%, whilst also lowering risk of early death by up to 30%.  

Read up on some of OriGym’s guides to popular calisthenics exercises and variations to get started on this training programme:

#8 Combats Negative Effects of Aging

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Another benefit of calisthenics training is that it can be performed by people of all ages, but is particularly advantageous for those who are older. 

This is because calisthenics has been shown to help manage problems that develop with age, such as poor core stability, bad posture and balance, lack of flexibility and weak joints and bones.

Good posture is beneficial for a number of reasons, it reduces back pain and can boost athletic performance, among other things.

Public Health England Guidelines highlight the importance for older adults of performing exercises that improve leg strength, balance and coordination, in order to improve muscle strength and avoid falls. 

Evidence has suggested that muscle and bone strength peak in early adulthood, then decline quickly as we grow older. The benefit of improving these elements of strength through exercise is better flexibility, which in turn means a lower risk of injury, improved posture and reduced aches and pains. 

Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones, meaning they are more likely to break. Although younger people can be affected, osteoporosis is most common among older women, as oestrogen levels fall after menopause and, consequently, loss of bone density speeds up.

Calisthenics benefits those most at risk from developing osteoporosis because it helps to strengthen bones. When a bodyweight exercise is performed, the muscle contracts and stress is placed on the bones. This stimulates bone cells to produce structural minerals and proteins and consequently improves the strength of the bones. 

The health benefits of calisthenics for older people can be demonstrated through the findings of a 2014 study, which measured the long-term effects of calisthenics on physical fitness and quality of life in older women. 45 female volunteers ranging from ages 60-80 performed calisthenics exercises 3 times a week for 4 months, with each session lasting for 40-50 minutes.

The study concluded that there was a significant improvement in musculoskeletal fitness, including flexibility, and in other areas such as bodily pain, physical functioning and general health perceptions.

#9 Improves Mental Wellbeing

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Not only did the 2014 study mentioned above find that calisthenics improved physical functioning of the volunteers, but also parameters of quality of life. These parameters were mainly focused around role limitations due to emotional problems, physical function, bodily pain, general health, social activity and general mental health. 

This significant improvement highlights the mental benefits of calisthenics, as well as the general calisthenics health benefits that we have already discussed.

NHS research suggests that physical activity can boost sleep-quality and reduce risk of stress factors which are crucial to mood, feelings of productivity and hence to good mental health. The research also shows that exercise reduces risk of depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

A healthy diet containing foods such as eggplant and blueberries can also reduce the risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s! 

Exercise is often linked to good mental wellbeing because it releases endorphins. Endorphins are a type of chemical messenger within the body which help to relieve stress or pain. 

The release of endorphins stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, which play a part in regulating mood, helping us focus and aiding with sleep and digestion, all of which are factors that can affect our mental wellbeing and reduce anxiety.

One of the mental benefits of calisthenics is that it provides the opportunity to constantly learn new techniques and set bigger goals, whether that be to achieve your first pull-up or master the ‘Human Flag’! 

Not only does this provide a physical challenge but also a challenge to the brain, which requires a sense of mindfulness and a focus of the mind. The sense of achievement when you reach a goal boosts self-esteem, and the level of focus this requires has been shown to enhance cognitive function. 

As well a focus on the self, calisthenics has encouraged the creation of a community. Sport England’s Sport Outcomes Evidence Review sets out how sport and physical activity can contribute to the UK Government’s Sporting Future Strategy outcomes. 

The review found that sport and physical activity can lead to social development through building stronger communities, which brings together people from different backgrounds. 

From the calisthenics competitions across the world, to the sharing of street calisthenics on social media sites, one of the key mental benefits of calisthenics is that it connects people in communities across the world. This encourages a sense of belonging for the people within these communities, which in turn creates feelings of purpose and contentment, all of which are important factors for good mental wellbeing. 

For more information on the benefits of group exercise check out OriGym’s guide and case studies!

#10 Minimal Equipment Required

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One of the strongest benefits of calisthenics training over weightlifting is that it requires little to no equipment.

A huge barrier to fitness for the average person is the cost. To be able to participate in fitness, it is often wrongly assumed that you need to invest in expensive workout clothes or equipment.  

However, this is not true for those who choose calisthenics as their preferred method of training. Simple exercises such as push-ups, planks and lunges require no equipment, and even when exercises require equipment, such as top rated pull-up bars, these can be sourced cheaply online.  

Alternatively, there are many outdoor gyms available, which can typically be found in parks and have equipment such as monkey bars and pull-up bars that can be used for free. 

As little equipment is required, calisthenics can be performed anywhere, whether you prefer to train outdoors, on the go, or from the comfort of your own home. 

Calisthenics training does not require you to purchase a gym membership or travel to a particular place to exercise, meaning that both time and money can be saved whilst allowing you to remain active and healthy.

This can be supported by the findings of a 2017 study, which looked at the benefits of calisthenics training on posture, strength and body composition. 28 male participants were divided into 2 groups, a calisthenics-based intervention group (SG) and a control group (CG). The SG exercised using calisthenics training for 8 weeks and at the end of the study each participant underwent a body composition analysis, a postural assessment, a handgrip test, and a push-up and pull-up test.

It was found that the SG improved their strength significantly, with their push-up test results increasing by 16.4% from the first week, and the pull-up results increasing by 39.2%. The study concluded that calisthenics training is an effective solution to improve posture, strength and body composition without the need for any major training equipment. 

For those who are worried that keeping fit is expensive or takes too much time, this highlights the low barrier of entry for calisthenics as a method of resistance training and shows that calisthenics health benefits can be experienced by everyone.

#11 Accessible to Everyone

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The fact that it requires minimal equipment shows that calisthenics benefits can be experienced by anyone, no matter their financial situation, strength, or fitness ability. 

Every Active, Every Day is the UK national physical activity framework for addressing the physical inactivity epidemic. Approximately 1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men in England are damaging their health through inactivity, which Public Health England states is the fourth largest cause of disease and disability in the UK. 

The framework sets out that if we want everyone to be active every day, then physical activity needs to be fun, easy and affordable, and should be made available in every community.

Unlike weightlifting, calisthenics has a low barrier to entry as it does not require guidance from someone with more experience. In order to experience the health benefits of calisthenics and avoid injury, it is important for someone just starting out to pay close attention to their form. 

One of the benefits of calisthenics is that this can easily be done by following examples online, or filming yourself to look back on your form when performing particular exercises. 

Another form of training with similar benefits and is easily accessible is TRX training. Read up on some TRX exercises for beginners and advanced before you start!

Calisthenics training offers many regressions which make it easier for beginners to perform, such as on the knee or incline push-ups rather than full strict push-ups. It also offers many routes of progression for those at a more advanced level, which we will explore in the next section. 

It is these low barriers to entry that makes calisthenics a beneficial method of training for anyone wanting to improve their levels of health and fitness. 

Drawbacks of Calisthenics

As with any form of resistance training, it is important to be aware of calisthenics pros and cons before including it in your fitness programme. When comparing calisthenics to other types of exercise, such as weightlifting, here are some of the potential drawbacks that you should consider:

It Can Be Hard to Measure Progression. 

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As we have already discussed, it is important to apply a form of progressive resistance in order to stimulate muscle growth. This progression is easily measurable when weight training, as you can simply ensure that you add more weight to the bar, or lift heavier dumbbells each session. 

When your form of resistance is bodyweight rather than a number in front of you, it can be harder to gage progress.

Tracking your workouts and fitness progress with one of OriGym’s best fitness journals can be helpful in this situation though.

You Could Reach a Plateau. 

Although there are several calisthenics health benefits, including allowing users to build muscle, there are limits to consider.

Unlike weightlifting, where progressive overload can easily be applied, the resistance used during calisthenics training is your body. 

As discussed, this is harder to measure, meaning that progress could slow down once you have mastered lifting your own bodyweight. However, there are progressions that can be made, which we will discuss later on in this article.

It is Harder to Isolate Muscle Groups. 

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Calisthenics exercises are very compound heavy, meaning that they work several muscles at once. Although this can be considered a benefit of calisthenics as discussed, it can make it harder for muscles to be isolated.

Isolation training can be advantageous in targeting a specifically weak muscle, or as a form of rehabilitation for an injury. 

Being unable to isolate weaker muscles can create muscular imbalances, where one side is stronger than the other. Muscular imbalance can cause pain, limited mobility and prevent normal movement, which leads to a greater risk of injury. 

Don't forget to download your FREE 16 Week Training Programme!

How to Get Started in Calisthenics

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If you have never practiced calisthenics before, it can seem overwhelming to see someone perform a succession of pull-ups or pull themselves into a ‘Human Flag’ position, but it’s important to remember that everyone starts somewhere. 

It is also important to know that advanced calisthenics exercises have their foundations in the simpler movements and that these basics techniques should be worked on before progressing if you hope to reap the benefits of calisthenics training. 

As a beginner, you should start with easily accessible exercises such as squats, lunges and planks, so that you can learn how to execute the basic movement patterns of calisthenics without risk of injury. 

To ensure that you are maintaining the correct form you could film yourself performing the exercises, or ask someone with more knowledge to watch whilst you train.

Also, most exercises have regressions if you are struggling to perform a specific one. For instance, if you are struggling to perform a full military-style push-up, you could begin by performing it on your knees rather than on your toes, or use a platform to try incline push-ups instead.  

For more ideas about choosing effective bodyweight exercises, check out our home workout guide here

Another point to consider as a beginner is the importance of rest days. Rest days are crucial to progress for any type of fitness programme, as this is when muscles are given the chance to recover and grow.

When you train, tiny tears are created in your muscles. When you rest, your body takes this time to recover and adapt to these new tears, so that the muscle can grow back stronger. 

Furthermore, if you fail to take rest days, these microscopic tears can progress into real injuries, which, in the long-term, could prevent you from being able to exercise at all. 

The number of rest days to take is usually specific to the individual, depending on how fatigued you feel after a workout. However, as a beginner, it is usually advisable to take at least one rest day after each session, to ensure that your body has enough time to recover and so that you do not overtrain. 

For more information on the importance of rest days, check out our guide here

How to Progress in Calisthenics

In the drawbacks section, we discussed how it can be harder to measure progression numerically with calisthenics training than with weightlifting. 

However, once you’ve nailed the basics there are a few simple ways to increase the intensity of your calisthenics sessions and ensure that you are experiencing the full benefits of calisthenics training. 

For instance, you could:

Add an Angle

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In a similar way to the push-up regression we suggested as a beginner exercise, you could use a platform to, for example, perform decline push-ups once you have mastered normal push-ups. 

As previously discussed, adding elevation to a push-up takes weight off the feet and forces more tension onto the upper body muscles.

Add Weight

Though not crucial, weights can be added to some calisthenics exercises to increase their difficulty. For example, adding a weighted belt when performing tricep dips.

Check out our reviews on 14 dip belts here to find one suitable for you.

Be Mindful of Tempo

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You could slow down the eccentric or lowering phase of an exercise such as a squat so that it takes 3-4 seconds, or add a pause at the bottom of the movement. 

This increases muscle time under tension and therefore the difficulty of more simple exercises.

Perform Harder Exercises

Some calisthenics exercises have a higher barrier to entry and can therefore only be performed once you have reached a certain level of strength. Some of these exercises include pull-ups and pistol squats. 

How Does Calisthenics Compare with Weightlifting?

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Throughout this article we have examined calisthenics pros and cons and have compared them to those of weightlifting. This is because there is often a debate amongst the fitness community about whether calisthenics benefits the user more than weight training does.

A 2010 article addresses this debate, concluding that bodyweight training ‘does not produce significant gains in absolute strength.’ 

Absolute strength is the generally accepted measure of an individual’s strength and is the ability of an individual to move an ‘absolute’ load. Weightlifting is said to produce gains in absolute strength, as an individual can measure these gains in terms of a force external to their body. For instance, progressing from a 40kg to 50kg bench press would be a gain in absolute strength.

On the other hand, the article goes on to suggest that bodyweight training instead develops ‘relative strength’. 

Relative strength is a measure of strength in relation to an individual’s own bodyweight. For instance, if you can perform more pull-ups until reaching fatigue than you could during your last session, then your relative strength has improved. 

Therefore, it can be concluded that neither method of resistance training is ultimately ‘better’. Both calisthenics training and weightlifting have their benefits, and so which method an individual chooses should depend on their specific goals. 

As with any training method, studying both the pros and cons of calisthenics is crucial when designing a fitness programme. 

It is often suggested that combining both methods of training is most advantageous to a well-rounded fitness programme, whilst ensuring that this does not lead to overtraining. 

If you decide to take up weight training then be sure to go over OriGym’s guide on common weightlifting injuries to make sure you know how to exercise safely.

Before You Go!

In an era where fitness trends constantly produce more complex exercises and fancier equipment, the benefits of calisthenics are often overlooked because it is considered a boring and old-fashioned method of training.  

However, we hope to have changed your perception in this article, by taking you through the improvements to your health, the mental benefits of calisthenics, as well as by balancing the pros and cons of calisthenics. We also hope to have shown you the benefits of taking it back to basics and focusing on the power of the body.

Calisthenics can be a really useful tool for those who have a specific goal in mind, such as developing functional strength, or even for those hoping to improve their mental wellbeing through exercise.

It is clear that every individual could benefit from building at least some principles of calisthenics training into their fitness regime!

If fitness is your passion then why not impart your joy onto others? Become a personal trainer with OriGym through our REPS and CIMSPA accredited personal training courses and packages

Don’t forget to download our FREE course prospectus too.


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2) Kotarsky, Christopher J., ‘Effect of Progressive Calisthenic Push-up Training on Muscle Strength and Fitness’, in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, (March 2018, Vol. 32, Issue 3), pp.651-659, doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002345

3) ‘41% of Gym Users Have Been Injured Whilst Working Out’, Protectivity Insurance (, (

4) Bayrakdar, Akan, Demirhan, Bilal Zorba, Erdal, ‘The Effect of calisthenics Exercises of Performed on Stable and Unstable Ground on Body Fat Percentage and Performance in Swimmers’, in MANAS Journal of Social Studies, (2019, Vol.8, No.3), pp.2979-2992, doi: 10.33206/mjss.541847

5) Carter, S.E., Jones, M, Gladwell, V.F., ‘Energy Expenditure and Heart Rate Response to Breaking Up Sedentary Time With Three Different Physical Activity Interventions’, in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, An International Journal on Diabetes, Atherosclerosis and Human Nutrition, (May 2015, Vol.25, No.5), pp.503-9, doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2015.02.006

6) Public Health England, ‘Health Matters: Physical activity-prevention and management of long-term conditions’, January 2020, (

7) Pinar, Lamia, Kara, B, Kozan, O, ‘Effects of Long-term calisthenics on Physical FItness and Quality of Life in Older Women’, in Fizyoterapi Rehabilitasyon, (January 2014, Vol, 25, 2), pp.47-55

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Written by Rebecca Felton

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a first-class degree in English, Rebecca’s combined passions for fitness and writing are what brought her to OriGym. Rebecca is a keen gym-goer and specifically enjoys lifting weights. Outside of fitness and writing, Rebecca enjoys cooking, reading, and watching the football.

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