Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athlete - people just like you that are working with their own body weight to get strength, lose fat build muscle, recover from injuries and live their best lives!
How can I improve my cardiovascular endurance when calisthenics is based on building muscle strength?
You want to be lean and mean, right. Think about that for a minute from Paul Wade’s – perspective on the inside – the prisoner and the author of the legendary Convict Conditioning – the training program – our program is based on- Getting Started with Calisthenics. It’s not going to do you a lot of good to be able to slog through hours of jogging, running, or cycling, when you’re in the middle of a prison fight, or get called out to a hand-to-hand battle of strength and honour in the rec yard.
What you need is pure brute strength.
The kind of strength that gives you the confidence to take down any challenge. Stick with calisthenics and it will deliver. And when it’s all said and done, you’ll not only be the strongest badass around, you’ll also have the cardiovascular endurance to fight your way through a no-holds-barred brawl and survive, or run for your life like you’ve just escaped from San Quentin.
On the surface, calisthenics training may seem like it’s exclusively a strength training program based on the progression exercises for each of the FUNDAMENTAL 8 Exercises (one-armed push-ups, one-armed pull-ups, one-armed handstand push-ups, one-legged squats, straight leg raises, and stand-to-stand bridges). But when you put in the time to follow the program, there’s a lot more going on that just building muscle strength.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 to 60 minutes a day of moderate intensity cardiovascular activity, and at least two days of strength training exercises for best health. Most people see the strength training component of the cardio recommendation as a call to action for walking, jogging, aerobics, or spending time on a treadmill or stationary bike. And go to any gym, and you’re likely to find the bikes and treadmills full of people putting in their time on one of those hamster wheels.
But it’s not really necessary, especially with Calisthenics. One of the hallmarks of calisthenics program started by Paul Wade’s program perfected during his 19-year stint in prison is high-rep training for each of the progression exercises for the FUNDAMENTALS. This approach is perfect for building muscle strength and endurance. It’s also a safer way to go about doing it compared to lifting heavy weights, that helps you master technique and build the kind of muscle memory that makes doing the exercises a little easier with every workout.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Give the workouts your best effort, and you’ll be huffing and puffing to muscle your way through them. You’re actually getting cardiovascular benefits from calisthenics workouts, and moving through the exercises in a workout will keep your heart rate elevated long enough to strengthen your heart, lungs, and muscles. Use this heart rate calculator from the Mayo Clinic and you’ll find that a sustained CC workout will keep you in the ideal range for building cardiovascular strength and muscle endurance.
Prison-Style Cardiovascular Exercises
The calisthenics workouts provide adequate cardiovascular benefits to help you build endurance. But if you really want to step up your workouts and accelerate the amount of fat you’ll burn from week to week as you master the progressive exercises for the FUNDAMENTALS consider adding some prison-style cardiovascular exercises. If you were locked up in a cell, long runs or cycling just wouldn’t be possible. But these prison-style exercises are more challenging than traditional cardio and will leave you in a sweat-soaked puddle of your own hard work.
This exercise combines push-ups and squats that is guaranteed to leave you huffing and puffing. Get in a squatting position. Then place your hands on the ground and kick your legs back so you’re in push-up position. Then kick your legs back to squatting position, raise your hands above your head and jump as high as you can. Start with 5 or 10 and work your way up to being able to complete a set of 30.
Jacked-Up Jumping Jacks
This old-school exercise has been a staple for athletes and prison inmates for centuries. It provides some strength-building benefits to your arms and legs. But it also good for your cardiovascular health, especially if you modify the exercise to make it more difficult that the traditional move. Stand straight with your hands at your side. Quickly extend your arms out and raise them over your head vertically. At the same time, jump slightly and spread your legs. To make the exercise even more difficult, start in squat position. Then jump as high as you can while extending your arms and spreading your legs. Try to see how many you can perform in a minute and then try to break your record as you get stronger.
You don’t need a lot of space to do this bodyweight training exercise either. But it will really challenge your cardiovascular system. Get in position with your hands on the floor with one knee on the ground and the other knee bent at 90 degrees with your foot on the ground. Bring your back leg forward while moving your upright leg to kneeling position. Alternate between legs quickly and see how many you can do in 30 seconds to a minute.
Cardio Power of Calisthenics
Calisthenics is designed to build muscle strength and calisthenics endurance. You’ll burn plenty of fat as you develop more muscle tissue. And the high-rep workouts provide an effective cardiovascular workout for your heart and lungs.