DITCH THE WEIGHTS
You don’t need weights to build strength, as conditioning expert Tye Sets explains
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.
RAISE THE BAR
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