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Calisthenics – The Lost art of Strength Building
The Spartans, known for being the world’s toughest and most ferocious warriors, brought fear to their enemies eyes as depicted in the film ‘300’. However, we forget that these men didn’t have gyms, steroids, weights, protein bars or many of the other simple conveniences associated with modern day gym culture. Their physiques – which are natural, controlling and dominant – are seen to be far more impressive than one developed at a modern day gym. The Spartan warriors had no weights, no steroids. Nothing. What they had was the ability to control their own bodies, to unleash power, to become the ultimate symbol of strength, to be unchallenged; that is true power and strength. This is bodyweight training.
There has never been as much convenience or efficiency in the way we can get our daily workouts; never as much excitement over the latest innovative technologies or trends which dominate the fitness culture. Yet despite all this, do we obtain the most efficient results? The answer is likely to be no. Does the modern day gym junky, bodybuilder, built up on protein shakes depict strength in the same way as the early Spartans? Many would also agree no – that such types look clumsy and slow in comparison. Modern society has been McDonaldised where results are expected to be fast, efficient, calculable and predictable; but this method of losing weight and bulking up misses out the crucial stages that are necessary for long term results and the core development which protects the body from injuries now and in the future.
Bodyweight training, also known as Calisthenics, originated from Ancient Greece[/tweet_box] and its definition derives from a combination of terms – beauty and strength. Nowadays, calisthenics commonly makes up the basis of physical education, warm ups and conditioning programmes for sports teams due to the exercises not taking up a lot of space and can be performed quickly with no equipment whilst being simple and easy to understand. This regime still makes up the basis of many individuals training programmes but few know the true potential from progressive calisthenics as this article discusses and even fewer have enough knowledge of bodyweight training to know how to progress – the reason why many turn to weight and gym innovations. This however, unnaturally focuses on single muscle groups which unbalances the body inducing the possibility of injury.
Calisthenics is tremendously effective in developing raw strength as bodyweight trainers focus on conditioning the entire body evenly, supporting the nervous system, balance, co-ordination and muscle strength. Furthermore, bodyweight workouts regulate body fat levels, supports the avoidance of back problems both now and in the future and also functionality training which can help improve one’s athletic abilities. The physique of a bodyweight trainer is truly special, bodyweight enthusiasts’ develop a look that is fiercely conditioned to the extent that their appearance not only portrays strength but a powerful inner strength. Body weight training is one of the most effective methods of developing your mind and body to reach amazing levels of strength, power, coordination, flexibility and body awareness.
That said, this article does not wish to criticise anyone who is motivated to get off the couch and go to the gym. The gym can be a fantastic place where communities and relations can be built, a sanctuary for oneself. What this article is saying though, is that there could be a more efficient training method for those looking for their bodies to be in the best shape possible through being knowledgeable about the most accessible type of exercise in the world and to understand that real strength does not come from ‘lifting’, ‘posing’ or drinking protein shakes. Instead, real strength comes from training day by day, week by week, year by year progressing and training on the same principles that the great warriors and ancient figures of the past used themselves. Nowadays, we can look at the bodies of gymnasts and combat sport athletes; they train with their bodyweight, exerting both control and strength to unleash a forceful power.
For certain, spending hours in the gym, ‘pumping the guns’, lifting dead weights and tirelessly running on a treadmill definitely is effective for training the body. It just isn’t always necessary. The new way is the old way. And what’s best … it’s free, productive and far better for your joints and muscles. To drive this point, considering modern work outs, for example, the pull down is a workout which has replaced the pull up. Despite working the same muscle groups, the difference is that the pull up requires the individual to be more coordinated whilst retaining stability; also the individual is challenged by their own bodyweight. The difference in pulling down a fixed object compared to pulling yourself towards an object in a fixed position is huge.
Not convinced…I challenge you to incorporate Bodyweight training into your daily workout and if done right, I promise the results will be rewarding. Unleash you inner strength.
If you are new we strongly recommend that you check out the Getting Started With Calisthenics Training Program
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