Have you ever been fascinated by the ripped pictures of Instagram influencers and fitness freaks all over the internet? If so, you’re probably thinking about how they fine-tune their bodies so perfectly. Haters would say, “steroids”. However, this might not always be true, some people do pull out all the stops to get into shape.
“No Pain No Gain”, as the saying goes. This applies here too. All you need is discipline and willpower to go through the pain before you can gain a perfectly ripped body. In this article, we’ll see how calisthenics can help you to get a ripped body. If you’ve never heard about it before, I recommend reading this article till the end.
We will discuss what calisthenics is, the types of calisthenics exercises you can do, recommend an exercise routine, and even address some frequently asked questions. Without further ado, let’s begin.
What is Calisthenics?
In simple words, Calisthenics are exercises that utilize your own body weight as resistance, which is otherwise done through the use of equipment. A plus point with calisthenics is that it uses minimal equipment, so you can do it at home or outdoors. This is the reason why some people refer to it as a “street workout”.
Calisthenics is known for improving your strength, agility, flexibility, coordination, and balance. It is not a new phenomenon, calisthenics has existed since the time of ancient Greeks. In fact, the term calisthenics is formed from the Greek words ‘Kallos’ which means ‘beauty’, and ‘sthenos’ which means ‘strength’.
Calisthenics vs Weights
Perhaps, you wonder which is better: calisthenics or weight exercises. Rather than comparing these two, we should see them as complements to one another. In weight exercises, we use equipment, an external mass, to put force on the body. In calisthenics, your own bodyweight works against gravity to create internal muscle tension and help you train.
Obviously, if you cannot lift your body weight then adding those external weights might not be a way forward for you. That’s because you need some foundation before you gear up and calisthenics will build that foundation. Bodyweight exercises will help you develop strength for even tougher and more challenging workouts. You can do calisthenics and use light equipment at the same time.
Talking about the outcomes, one study shows that weight training and calisthenics have the same physical results in the short term. In that research, one group of 15 men followed weight training while the other group of 17 men followed the U.S army’s calisthenics-based standardized physical training. Both these groups trained for the same duration and achieved similar physiques.
Benefits of Calisthenics
Calisthenics is a natural way to stimulate your body. It involves body movements and exercises that human beings have been doing from the very beginning, knowingly or unknowingly. Undoubtedly, it is seen as an athletes natural way to train.
Moreover, these bodyweight exercises burn calories and fats more rapidly than weight exercises. The reason is the quick recovery time in calisthenics. You can perform a large volume of reps with little rest between exercise sets. This is contrary to weight lifting which requires relatively long recovery times. This is one of the reasons why bodyweight exercises are perfect for weight loss.
To clarify, calisthenics will only burn more weight and fat when you do multiple reps with little rest. This works similar to cardio, and while it can be done with free weights too, it isn’t quite as effective or enjoyable as calisthenics.
A Natural Physique
Unlike free weights, calisthenics at its core has a limit—which is your body weight. Of course, you can hold plates and put weights on yourself while you workout, but I’m talking about raw calisthenics. Since your body weight is the upper limit, your body will only build muscle to the extent that it can carry and perform body exercises with ease.
This is especially important to note because that upper limit produces a very natural-looking physique. Contrast this with going to the gym and increasing your free weights every other week, and you can see that gymheads rake in more muscle than calisthenic athletes.
It’s also probably one of the reasons why gymnasts prefer bodyweight exercises to keep themselves fit, sleek, and ripped. Their perfectly proportioned bodies and extremely defined muscles are the outcomes of it. A beginner can make his way to a ripped body with these exercises.
Be it building functional strength or appealing six-packs, these bodyweight exercises can help you accomplish them. It puts different groups of muscles into action, which are usually active when we perform daily activities. While gym exercises are highly specialized where you have chest days, leg days, and ab days, bodyweight exercises always involve core muscles.
That’s why you are always training your abs doing these exercises. Pair your exercises with the right diet and lifestyle and you’ll see the results yourself.
Functional strength means that the workouts you do are helpful in your everyday life. Calisthenics involve quite a bit of stretching, which is great for the joints. You can lift your body up effortlessly and be generally more athletic overall, than let’s say, someone that’s just picking up a heavy object up and down.
Cost and Time Effective
These exercises are also time and cost-effective. Why? Because you need minimal equipment for it. You can save money and workout at home or by the park if you’re feeling outdoorsy.
It is time effective because it saves you the time commuting to and from your gym. Also, due to quick recovery times, you can complete your exercise sessions more quickly than an average weight lifter.
Another great aspect of calisthenics is that it is good for people of all age groups. The nature of these exercises helps in regulating blood pressure, correcting posture, and improving balance, weak joints, and muscles. It also helps in reducing lower back pains and body aches. Furthermore, it is good for your joints because instead of stressing them, it improves their stability and robustness.
Calisthenics is quite popular for providing an excellent cardio workout experience and the best aerobic exercises. Quality aerobic exercises keep your heart and lungs healthy. It enhances your sleep quality and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Cardio keeps your heart rate up and helps you maintain optimal blood pressure.
With growing age, it is recommended to invest your time in cardio because heart diseases are common these days.
Luckily there is a wide variety of bodyweight exercises so you won’t get bored of a monotonous workout routine. You can pick from a diverse set of exercises to allow yourself some variation in your workout routine. With all these facts in mind, we now move to the practical stuff. In the next section, we will see how to get ripped with calisthenics.
How to Get Ripped with Calisthenics
Now comes the real question, how to get ripped with calisthenics? There are different views about this and different techniques, routines, and exercises. We will try to keep it as basic and simple as possible.
Before getting to the exercises, let’s discuss some prerequisites to calisthenics that you need to follow. Without these, you may not achieve the desired results and find yourself wasting time and effort. Therefore, it is necessary to build on these right from the beginning.
Keep Your Diet in Check
The first important prerequisite is your diet. Let’s cut to the chase, no matter how hard you train, your muscles cannot grow and repair without proteins. On the same note, carbs are like fuel because they provide you energy. Without carbs, your performance level will decline sharply.
One more thing which is worth mentioning here is your sugar intake. Remember that consuming too much added sugar is not going to help you. In fact, it does the opposite. This is evident from a study that shows the negative effects of elevated blood sugar levels on muscle signaling and workouts. Always be cautious of your sugar intake.
Tracking the number of calories is a productive way to keep a check on your diet. There are many applications out there to help you with this. The baseline is the same, your calorie intake should not exceed the rate at which your body burns the calories. Always be mindful of your diet.
Moving on to another important step that is, let’s talk about warming up before an exercise.
A little warm-up session before your calisthenics exercises will go a long way. This would include some rhythmic and light movements to get your body ready for the actual challenge. Four to five minutes of cardio would also be beneficial.
Calisthenic exercises need a lot of flexibility, so warming up will keep your body ready for full movements. This not only increases your mobility in the long-term, but also helps you avoid injuries and pulling on muscles.
Types of Exercises
Calisthenics has a wide array of exercises. We will discuss the most basic exercises that you need to start out.
Pull-ups are one of the best exercises to develop the upper back and arm muscles. It also contributes to core development. While it is a highly effective workout, it’s a difficult exercise to master.
You start by standing below a pull-up bar and hold onto the bar with your palms facing away from your body. Then lift your feet up so that you are hanging from the bar. Pull your shoulders and raise your upper body towards the bar until your chin is over the bar. Remember that you should involve your core muscles as well by putting pressure on your belly button. Also, you should not swing your legs or shrug your shoulders while performing this move.
This exercise is primarily driven by your back, so you might want to get on an assisted pull up machine and start on lower weights. Doing so will help you practice the form and correct motion, as well as the ability to engage your back muscles.
On the way down, relax your body by extending your elbows and lowering your body back to the normal hanging position. It’s okay if you are not ready to perform it straight off. Keep up with other exercises to build your strength and eventually, you’ll be able to do pull-ups.
Chin-ups are a challenging exercise. It helps to strengthen the grip and muscles that support your spine. The main difference between chin ups and pull ups is how you grip the bar.
This exercise starts with a chin-up bar above shoulder height. With an underhand grip, hold onto the chin-up bar while keeping your hands only a shoulder-width apart. Lift your body up using your upper arm strength and back. You should stop when your chin reaches above the bar. Bend your knees to evenly distribute your weight. After this, you should lower yourself in a slow and controlled motion until your arms are straight.
This exercise targets your upper back and bicep muscles. Chin-ups will require a lot of training before you master it.
Dips are an amazing exercise for the triceps, and even your pecs. We will discuss “Bench Dips” which is a popular type of dip and doesn’t need a machine.
Start by sitting on the edge of a bench, chair, or even the edge of your bed. Keep your hands a shoulder-width apart and put them on either side of your hips. Extend your legs straight and move your butt away from the edge of the bench. Your only support should be your arms that are holding you up from the bench.. Tighten your core muscles and lower your body down to the floor. Make sure this move isn’t abrupt by using your arm strength to control the movement.
Keep your head and body straight while lowering your body until your elbows make 90 degrees. Hold this position for one to two seconds before pushing back up. You can go for a slightly difficult variant by raising your feet off the ground as well. That’s up to you.
This exercise puts a lot of stress on elbows and shoulders. Therefore, if you have joint pain, you should consider alternatives like push-ups for the triceps and chest.
Push-ups have many variations. We will focus on what is known as “military push-ups”. Keep in mind that a slight change in arm angles and overall body alignment can target different muscles than what you are trying to focus on.
Military push-ups are simple to perform. Start in a standard push-up position keeping your feet together, arms straight, and your hands flat on the floor. Your hand should only be a shoulder-width apart and your elbows tucked into the side of your torso. Inhale and lower your chest until it is below your bent elbow. Now exhale and push yourself back to the starting position.
This variation targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
The crunch is a popular abdominal exercise. It’s a static exercise that focuses on form and gives your six pack a run for its money. Crunches are not complicated to perform but they do require enough endurance as they can be difficult for beginners.
Start by lying down on your back, bend your knees and keep your arms across your chest. While keeping your neck and head relaxed, inhale and then try to lift your upper body by contracting your abs. After this, exhale and return to your starting position.
Quite simple, yet effective. This exercise primarily targets the abdomen muscles. It is also beneficial for the lower back, pelvis, and hips.
Professional trainers express mixed views about this exercise. However, we are not going to get into that debate. We will focus on the brighter side, and that is the benefits of it.
A burpee is a combination of a push up, jump, and a squat. Start by standing straight with your feet set shoulders wide apart. Then bend your knees to lower yourself in a squatting position. Make sure your arms are close to your body. Now, place your hands on the floor so that they are directly under your shoulders. After this, kick your feet back to form a push-up position.
Once in a push-up position, perform a single push-up. Then press up with your arms and jump your feet forward to come back to a squatting position. Finally, jump straight upward to finish.
This exercise involves movement of the lower body to improve flexibility and reduce stress. It’s a great cardio workout and also helpful in fat loss.
Jump squats are easy to perform. They are highly effective exercises that target the lower body muscles. Now, exercises don’t need to be overly complicated to be profoundly beneficial. If your body weight is on the heavier side, I suggest just starting out with normal squats so you can take it easy on your knees.
Begin by standing straight with your feet placed hip-width apart. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then press your feet down to jump. When you land, make sure you drop back to a squat position and then repeat the entire squatting movement.
Make sure that you are standing on a stable flat surface to avoid slipping while performing this exercise.
Generally, it is recommended to build your own exercise routine that could match your schedule and goals. However, we have decided to share an exercise routine that is beginner-friendly and yields good results.
First of all, each of the above exercises can be performed in sets of
- 10 pull-ups
- 10 chin-ups
- 20 dips
- 20 push-ups
- 50 crunches
- 25 jump squat
- 10 burpees
A 30 to 40 second break should be taken between each set of exercises. Once you complete the circuit, take a three to four minute break. I recommend completing three circuits before calling it a day. If you’re not a fan of circuits, feel free to just go through every set of exercises one at a time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Building Muscle With Calisthenics
Let’s see what are some of the most frequently asked questions about this topic.
Can I get massive muscles with calisthenics?
Calisthenics does help you build muscles. However, there is a certain limit. If you want a huge muscle mass then you need to put on some weights. For beginners and fitness enthusiasts, bodyweight exercises will suffice.
How long will it take me to get ripped with calisthenics?
It depends on where you stand now. Getting ripped is a matter of being at a lower body fat percentage while having a lot of muscle. The rule of thumb for losing weight is 1-2 pounds a week and gaining muscle is about 1-3 pounds a month.
How long should I work out?
This depends on your workout plan. We suggest that you focus on progression rather than time. Progressions mean that you are able to transition into harder variations, adding more reps or performing more circuits. You’re on the right track if progression happens.
Does age matter in calisthenics?
Age does not matter in calisthenics, but always protect yourself from injuries by practicing proper form. You can do a variety of exercises. The only limit is your own strength and will. However, younger people would make gains quicker than older folks.
A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle
Calisthenics is a great way to workout without having to mess with free weights. Considering that the majority of the world is still in lockdown, Calisthenics is a perfect home-alternative to conventional weightlifting and gym exercises.
While your diet does play a huge part in losing weight and getting ripped, working out is the only way to grow muscle. Calisthenics is a great choice for athletic blokes that prefer functional strength over aesthetic bodybuilding.