This is Your Quick Training Tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can get right to your workout.
If the term “calisthenics” brings to mind uninspired workouts prescribed by high school PE teachers and old-timey drill sergeants, we understand. The badassery of this ancient, athletic brand of minimalist training has long been subverted by institutionalized instructors hellbent on making lives miserable (or at least very boring). But modern-day street athletes and forward-thinking trainers are putting it back in the spotlight.
In its purest essence, calisthenics is bodyweight training. If you’ve ever seen someone perform a human flag or muscleup, or witnessed a gravity-defying playground workout, you’ve seen calisthenics in action. (And if you’ve every sweated through a no-equipment circuit routine yourself, you’ve experienced the power of it firsthand.)
Derived from the Greek term “kalos sthenos” (meaning “beautiful strength”), calisthenics has been used for millennia by elite military units from the Spartans to Navy SEALs to prepare for the rigors of combat. The training style’s beauty comes from its simplicity. In the absence of weights, bands, and cable machines, your body becomes your barbell. Gravity provides your resistance. And if you have any doubt about the effectiveness of bodyweight-only workouts, you need only look at gymnasts, who are among the strongest athletes in the world pound-for-pound.
The key, of course, is learning how to elevate calisthenics from a “plan B”—something you do when you don’t have access to a gym or equipment—to a standalone strength-training modality that delivers ripped results.
Your move: Once or twice a week, make bodyweight training the focus of your workout. If you’re worried about having to perform high reps to see results, don’t be—you can make almost any bodyweight move difficult enough to make 8 to 12 reps challenging. Don’t believe me? Drop and give me just six post pushups with good form.
Now that you understand how tough calisthenics can be, it’s time to add it to your program. Here’s a no-equipment EMOM routine to get you started.
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