Calisthenics Explained Are Bodyweight Exercises Good For Building Muscle
Exercises that uses only the weight of yourbody as resistance are known as calisthenics. And, just as any other quot;resistancequot; training,the goal in performing calisthenics is to promote muscle growth and strength. Originatingfrom the Greek words quot;kalo,quot; which means quot;beautyquot;, and quot;sthenosquot;, which means quot;strength,quot; calisthenicsrose into prominence in the 19th century by the quot;father of gymnasticsquot; Freidrich LudwigJahn, and fitting enough, there's nothing really that is a better embodiment of quot;beautyquot;and quot;strengthquot; than gymnastics. Since calisthenics uses your body's weightas resistance, it's also known as bodyweight exercises. And the big question about bodyweightexercises is how effective it is for building
muscle and strength, or if it's as effectiveas lifting weights. To understand this, we need to understandhow our muscles grow and get stronger. Muscular and strength adaptation occur when a stimulus,or resistance, is applied to the corresponding muscle at a high enough intensity to invokemuscle overload. Simply put, the more weight you move with your muscles, the more yourmuscles adapt and become bigger and stronger. But it doesn't mean that any type of weightmovement will work. Take jogging, for example, although can be very taxing on the heart musclesand promote cardiac muscle growth, it will not promote much skeletal muscle growth, noteven in your legs. The problem here is that
the stimulus is not strong enough to targetall the leg's muscle fibers. If you've watched the muscle fibers tutorial before, you will understandthat we have three different muscle fiber types, one of which is used for endurance,known as type I, and the other two are used to provide great amounts of force, known astype 2 fibers. Since running doesn't require large amounts of force from your legs, type2 fibers are hardly fatigued and not a lot of muscle growth occurs. It's also the reasonwhy many do not consider jogging as a calisthenics exercise even though it only utilizes yourbody's weight. But other calisthenics exercises do, in fact, illicit high enough of a demandto hit those larger muscle fibers. Take a
pullup, for example, where on average, peoplecan hardly even do 5, the movement demands all fiber types to fire and eventually exhaust,thus promoting muscle growth. Pushups is another good example of a calisthenicsexercise that can illicit muscle growth, especially for beginners that struggle to do even 10.But eventually you will run into the problem of not having enough resistance. As toughas it may be to get to your first 10 pushups, eventually 10 will be just an easy warmup.When you start hitting 20, 25, or 30 pushups easily, then we run into the same problemas we saw with running. Of course, you can definitely modify the pushup to make it tougher,such as elevating your feet on a platform,
but ultimately you're not changing the amountof demand on the muscle groups involved in a standard pushup, instead you begin shiftingthe muscles involved in the movement. With feetelevated pushups, you anterior shouldersbegin taking the brunt of the resistance instead of your chest. So if you wanted to build yourchest, you won't have enough resistance. And you might be thinking, quot;Why not just add someweight on your backéquot; Well, at that point, it's no longer just bodyweight, thus no longercalisthenics. The next natural progression is using weights.As great as calisthenics can be, there will a point where certain muscle groups, especiallythe strong muscle groups such as your chest,
legs, and hips, will eventually need greaterresistance. Also, since calisthenics require you using multiple muscle groups to performan exercise, which isn't a bad thing at all in terms of natural and functional development,but it does make it tough to isolate certain muscles. Now, that's not to say that calisthenicscannot build an aesthetically appealing body. After all, you have guys looking like thisfrom performing just bodyweight exercises, but when you compare them to this, there'sa clear difference in muscle growth between the two regimens. Heck, even Olympic gymnastshave to use weights to push their maximum potential.