Defying Gravity with Calisthenics

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Darryl Taylor, OwlFeed Opinion Reporter

I’m sure you have seen the videos of people doing the “Human Flag” (The picture used for this article). This is a calisthenics exercise, along with ones like the L-sit, pullups, handstand pushups, regular pushups, and any similar exercise.

Calisthenics are those videos you have seen of people pretty much defying gravity. But what is Calisthenics exactly? An article from Lauren Mazzo from, Why Everyone Should Be Doing Calisthenics Workouts, says, “It’s designed to improve strength, flexibility, agility, balance, coordination, and aerobic conditioning — just about every skill you need to be a fit human being…It is an art form of using your own body weight as a means to maximize human power and athletic ability” Calisthenics is a form of art.

Calisthenics is gaining control over lifting and supporting your own body weight. You’d be surprised how weak your wrists are. Often at the beginning of your Calisthenics journey, you will feel a lot of strain on your wrists and shoulders due to not being used to putting stress on the muscles.

It also isn’t just targeting specific muscle groups, it’s your entire body’s muscles. This is the true test of strength. For example, when you are doing a bicep curl, you are targeting your biceps and maybe developing some strength in your arm. However, with almost every Calisthenic exercise, you strain various muscle groups throughout your body, which is why most calisthenic exercises are so difficult. Because you haven’t trained the muscle groups needed to perform the exercise.

Also, performing some of the more advanced exercises are very impressive and will boost confidence.

While weight lifting is a good method of burning calories, calisthenics is even better since it requires more movement. An written by James Roland from, Calisthenics vs. Weightlifting: Which One Is Best for You?, says, “It requires a high amount of movement, allowing you to burn a lot of calories in a short period of time. The result is lower body fat, which increases muscle definition. It gives the body a chiseled, lean look with visibly toned muscles.” You use more energy to burn calories when shifting your entire body than just a specific muscle.

Some benefits of Calisthenics include Little to no equipment required, meaning you can do it pretty much anywhere. Second, it builds a lot of strength (and not only in targeted muscle groups). Lastly, Calisthenics helps your “brain-body connection” or mind-muscle connection. Coordination, flexibility, balance, and agility are a few skills that will be improved with Calisthenics.

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For example, you can see how hard it is to keep your balance when attempting an elbow lever. Or doing an L-sit, you can see how weak your lower back muscles are.

Having the ability to complete these exercises successfully is a great feeling and accomplishment.

But a lot of Calisthenic exercises are difficult when you’re starting out, but it’s good that the exercises are very easy to modify. You can start on your knees if you are having trouble doing a few push-ups. There is no shame, it’s simply progress. But you can also challenge yourself. For example, if you have mastered the pushup, you can do archer push-ups or wide-arm push-ups. (Photo #1)

An article from Men’sHealth written by Daniel Davies, Build Mass Using Just Your Bodyweight with Our Complete Guide to Calisthenics, says “The study took 28 men and divided them into two groups. One group practiced calisthenics for eight weeks, while the other group continued with their normal workout routines” It further states, “The researchers discovered that the men who trained calisthenics had improved their posture and lowered their fat mass” Calisthenics have many benefits and when compared to normal weight lifting left the participants with a more aesthetic body, better posture and better performance and progress in their workouts.