You don’t need weights to build strength, as con­di­tion­ing ex­pert Tye Sets ex­plains

Men's Fitness - - Contents -

All there is to know about cal­is­then­ics

If your lo­cal park has dip bars, chances are you’ve seen ripped guys per­form­ing ac­ro­batic feats on them. It looks im­pres­sive but there’s noth­ing com­pli­cated about it. This is cal­is­then­ics and as a prin­ci­ple it’s very sim­ple: it’s body­weight train­ing – any­thing from the ba­sic press-up to the ad­vanced front lever. It’s what gym­nasts use to build strength across their whole body, help­ing them ex­e­cute iso­met­ric holds and dy­namic rou­tines.


The word comes from the an­cient Greek word kál­los, mean­ing beauty, and sthénos, mean­ing strength. As well as giv­ing you the strength, power, flex­i­bil­ity and car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness of gym­nasts (not to men­tion the lean, mus­cu­lar physique), it will help you use your body with grace and con­trol.

But don’t ex­pect to jump straight into an iron cross on rings. It might take a hun­dred hours of train­ing to be able to man­age a tensec­ond hold. I de­vel­oped the strength for ad­vanced moves by first go­ing to my lo­cal gym and do­ing press-ups, dips and pull-ups ev­ery day. Use grip vari­a­tions, neg­a­tive reps and static holds and you’ll build the foun­da­tions to per­form amaz­ing feats of strength.

In its mod­ern form, cal­is­then­ics is of­ten known as street work­out and it’s about more than just fit­ness. So­cial events known as bar jams are held in­doors and out, where you can en­ter pull-up or mus­cle-up compe- titions as well as freestyle con­tests. There are be­spoke classes in parks and gyms and even world cham­pi­onships or­gan­ised by the World Street Work­out & Cal­is­then­ics Fed­er­a­tion (wswcf.org). This year’s fi­nal is in Moscow in De­cem­ber, and UK qual­i­fy­ing is hosted in East­bourne in July 2015. Com­pe­ti­tion is fierce – only one will get to the fi­nal.


The best thing about cal­is­then­ics is you can do it any­where. In­vest in some par­al­lettes – you won’t re­gret it. And for in­spi­ra­tion, search for Han­ni­bal for King on YouTube. Tye Sets runs cal­is­then­ics classes in Bat­tersea Park and Pure Gym in Lon­don. You can find him on Face­book, Twit­ter, Instagram and YouTube

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