Many people who swear by their gym workouts will say that you need to lift heavy weights, either through free weightlifting or through machines, in order to get stronger.
However, have you ever noticed that it is those same gym-goers whose bodies never seem to really transform much? Sure, they look strong, and they absolutely have some muscle definition, but they always look the same.
In reality, you don’t actually need to lift weights to be strong or get stronger. In fact, using your own body weight is all you need. Here, we’ll discuss just what calisthenics and Calisthenics Unity can do for your fitness.
What Is Calisthenics?
If you aren’t really sure what calisthenics is, what you can be sure of is that you have seen it before—you just didn’t know its official name. You’ve likely seen it at the gym, at the beach, or in the park. That is because calisthenics is a combination of exercises that can be done literally anywhere.
The reason they are so mobile is that they require absolutely no gym equipment to be effective. This means that you can do them in a hotel room while on a business trip, in your bedroom after the kids have gone to bed, or in between business meetings while at the office.
All of that is to say that one of the biggest benefits of calisthenics is that you don’t need to waste time driving back and forth to the gym. Instead, you can do them on your own time and in the increment of time you currently have available to you.
With calisthenics, you use your body weight as resistance; you don’t need additional weight. Some really common calisthenic exercises include things like the bodyweight squat or a standard push-up. While the moves are basic, as you get better at them, you can continue to make them more advanced, building your overall strength as you go.
Calisthenics Unity is a movement that surrounds calisthenics. It is a group of people collected together in a positive community that revolves around calisthenics.
Just about anyone can join Calisthenics Unity, provided you practice calisthenics on your own. Those who become official members end up representing Calisthenics Unity in their area.
To be an official member, you need to be able to complete the entry requirement and send in a video showing your ability to do so. You must be able to complete it in four minutes or less.
The workout that needs to be completed is as follows:
- 10 dips
- Five muscle-ups
- Five pistol squats on each leg
- 12 diamond push-ups
- Five wide pull-ups and five regular pull-ups
- Eight-second tucked planche
- 10-second L-sit hold
If you are interested in performing these exercises, we are going to highlight just how to do that below. These descriptions include what is required by Calisthenics Unity. However, you may need to start off with a less challenging version of each exercise and work your way toward the more advanced versions.
A dip is one of the most crucial exercises when it comes to training with just your body weight as resistance. They can be challenging but are great for improving your overall strength.
To perform a dip, you need to be able to move your full body up vertically on parallel bars. It doesn’t look that hard, but it is harder than it appears. This is largely due to the fact that it is easy to lose proper form.
You need to keep your elbows close to your body to ensure you have a natural range of motion of the joints. You also want to make sure your pelvis is tipped back to prevent your back from hollowing out. Finally, you need to keep your legs straight so that your spine is stable.
You can train to perform the perfect dip at nearly any calisthenics park. You just need a parallel bar. As mentioned, you will need to perform 10 of these for Calisthenics Unity.
This is one of the most advanced calisthenics exercises out there. It is elusive for many, but with progressions and modifications, it is totally possible to master a muscle-up.
To do this exercise, you start with your arms up above your head. Grip a hold in the overhand pull-up position. You can grip either gymnastic rings or a chin-up bar. Many parks have what you need. Otherwise, you can use the bar in a gym.
Next, you pull your body up by the arms, rather explosively, in a radial pull-up. You do this much quicker than you would with a traditional pull-up.
Once the bar approaches your upper chest, you quickly flex your wrists to get your forearms above the bar. Lean your body forward, keeping your elbows straight by using your tricep muscles.
You’ve completed the exercise when the bar is at your waist’s level and your arms are completely straight. You will need to do five of these for Calisthenics Unity.
Pistol squats are great for increasing both your balance and leg strength. To do one properly, start by standing on just one leg. Have your toes pointing either slightly turned outward or forward.
Keep your front leg flexed. Distribute your weight on the foot that is on the ground and slowly sit back into a squat. You will be basically squatting on just one leg. Make sure that your torso is leaning slightly forward.
You will need to perform these on both legs, and you will likely find, if you haven’t already, that one of your legs is stronger than the other. This just means that one will likely need more practice.
A diamond push-up is really just a more challenging standard push-up. The exercise helps to target your triceps even more so than a regular push-up.
Start by getting on all fours, keeping your hands together right under your chest. Put your index fingers and thumbs in a position where they are touching to form a diamond shape. Then, extend your arms so that your body is elevated. This should form a straight line from your feet all the way to your head.
Lower your chest right down toward your hands. Do not flare your elbows out; they should stay close to your body. You also should maintain a flat back. Stop before your chest touches the floor and push yourself back up to your starting position.
Wide pull-ups are really just a variation of traditional ones. Here, you just need to keep your grip wider. This will improve strength in your shoulders, biceps, and back. This exercise puts focus on the back and lessens the resistance on the forearms and biceps.
A pull-up is often intimidating for many people, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can break down the pull-up into three individual phases: the bottom, the halfway up point, and the top.
When at the bottom, your arms should be fully straightened out, but you should not just be hanging there. You want to keep tension in your back and across your shoulders. If you allow yourself just to hang there, you are putting a lot of unnecessary strain on your rotator cuffs, tendons, and biceps.
When you are at the halfway point, you don’t want just to use your arms. Rather, you need to make sure you are also using your shoulder blades. This will not only help you with improving the health of your shoulders but will also lead to a better pull-up overall.
When you reach the top, do not stop pulling. You want to squeeze your shoulder blades back. Basically, you want to make a double-chin for yourself. Have in your mind that you are still pulling up, even if you aren’t actually moving up anymore.
While doing this, remember to also try and maintain tension in your glutes and abs. Don’t allow your shoulders to move forward of the bar, though a little lean backward is okay.
This exercise is basically a horizontal handstand. You press up while keeping your feet on the floor. Then, you will find that you are holding yourself up using just your hands. This exercise is super difficult, but you can get there over time with a good amount of training and patience.
The L-Sit hold is exactly as it sounds; you support your body using just your arms while you hold your legs out straight in front of you. There is no joint movement involved in this exercise at all.
If you want to be part of Calisthenics Unity, you will need to perform all of the exercises highlighted above. These exercises are quite difficult, but it is entirely possible to master them with deliberate training and some patience.
What is great about each of these moves is that there are plenty of modifications available to perform before you get to the final required exercise. For example, there are a series of push-ups that you can do before moving to a diamond push-up. The same applies to many of the other exercises.
As your body strengthens, you will move toward being able to perform each of these in the reps and time required to be part of Calisthenics Unity. You can get started with beginner workouts right at home.