The Relevance of Sparta and the Benefits of Calisthenics
When you consider the many benefits of calisthenics, the popularity of this form of exercise is entirely unsurprising. After all, this simple and creative approach seems increasingly relevant and accessible in such a fast-moving world. In fact, recent studies suggest this popularity is set to continue with the number of participants in calisthenics rising at an incredible rate over the past five years.
At the same time, while the statistics are no less than significant, these are merely numbers and indicative of an emerging trend in the modern world. That is to say; it would now seem that calisthenics is not only an alternative to a gym membership or expensive equipment but also a convenient solution for people with complex and busy lives.
A Brief History of Calisthenics
Many centuries ago, a famous historian known as Herotodus depicted the battle of Thermopylae which provided the grounds for a recent movie in Hollywood called “300”. Inevitably, this battle was won by an immense Persian army, but stories of the courageous Greek warriors who faced them are still the focus of this legend. With limited resources and an incredibly small army, the vastly outnumbered Spartans were able to withstand more than seven days of continuous battle.
However, in spite of such admirable courage, the Spartan method of preparation is also an insightful reference for modern training practices. Herotodus accounted for many aspects of this primitive lifestyle including the ancient methods which were used as a means of preparation for war. In short, calisthenics was the foundation for this training and the main focus for the Spartans in their effort to reach the highest possible level of fitness, physique, and athleticism.
Naturally, the use of bodyweight to develop strength seemed far more relevant in a time when gym membership and weightlifting equipment was absent. For this reason, calisthenics was evident in various cultures throughout the world, from yoga and the Hindu squat in India to the strict routines of Shaolin monks in China. Most importantly, these same rituals, training, and methods are still in practice to this day and just as common in every corner of the world.
Calisthenics in the Modern Era
As you might expect, the rising popularity of calisthenics has little to do with the Spartans and more to do with the simplistic nature of these training exercises. While expensive gyms and major brands are quick to associate with muscle definition and weight loss, calisthenics offers a more affordable alternative which provides the very same benefits.
In case you might be asking yourself, calisthenics increases flexibility, endurance, and strength while retaining the very same potential as weight lifting for lean muscle growth. Furthermore, the accessible nature of this particular technique is often a much more realistic option for people with limited time and even little motivation to exercise.
From press ups and sit ups to burpees and jumping jacks, these exercises require little experience and people can perform them at any-time, any-where. With this in mind, let us take a look at just a few of the main benefits of calisthenics.
Some Benefits of Calisthenics
Conducive to Weight Loss
Weight loss is often the main motivation for exercise and calisthenics is extremely effective for this particular process. When the heart rate is high for an extended period, this also increases the rate at which you can burn fat and calories. In spite of the seemingly short bursts, calisthenics is known to spike the heart rate which is beneficial when it comes to weight loss.
While many calisthenics impact multiple muscle groups, exercises such as squats and jumping jacks are reasonably easy to perform for long periods. That being said, burpees are arguably the best example of an effective calisthenic, for they are more demanding and quicken the pulse which is crucial for burning fat and calories.
Same Results, Low Cost
As already mentioned, you do not need a gym membership or expensive machinery to improve physique. Simply put, you need to challenge muscles on a continuous basis to encourage growth and calisthenics are designed to cater to this very requirement. As illustrated through the Spartans preparation, the same results are possible without specific resources, and with this in mind, bodyweight is the only resource needed to develop lean muscle growth.
The truth is one of the great benefits of calisthenics is the low cost of performing sit-ups, press ups, jumping jacks and more.
Along with strength and cardiovascular training, flexibility is one of the most important aspects of fitness. In fact, scientific sports studies show that flexibility enables the body to attain the highest levels of fitness which can then reduce the risk of injury and even stave off serious illness. As with yoga, calisthenics requires a great deal of flexibility, and this will also nurture the circulation of blood flow throughout the muscles.
Simplicity and Time
Another of the most notable benefits of calisthenics is simplicity, for the process is less demanding in almost every way. Although the absence of cost is enticing, the convenience of calisthenics is often the main reason for which most people make it the focus of their training routine. Calisthenics can be performed anywhere, anytime and the little time these exercises demand ensures a very convenient process overall. In many ways, this quick and simplistic characteristic can make calisthenics a much more realistic option for people who are short on time.
Establishing a Calisthenic-friendly Diet
Calisthenics is a remarkably straightforward solution to exercise, and this same approach can be extended to diet. While resisting the temptation for junk food is important, chemicals, in general, are very detrimental to a healthy diet. For this reason, the best way to initiate a diet to accompany calisthenics is to make a habit of reading the labels on food products. As a rule, the fewer ingredients in one product, the healthier this product is likely to be. At the same time, organic produce such as fresh fruit and vegetable is always central to a healthy diet and should feature regularly. Lastly, while protein is essential, the quality of this protein is often more important, and when the cost allows, it is best to choose high-quality meat and produce originating from plants.
Nurturing Physique with Ancient Calisthenics
In case you might be asking yourself, the objective of calisthenics is not to mimic the life of a Spartan, for this was the only option in such a primitive environment with limited resources. However, the simplicity of this lifestyle is still an insight into the benefits of calisthenics and the incredible results that can be achieved without the major brands and memberships.
Indeed, calisthenics is a very natural form of exercise that works on multiple muscle groups at the one time. Furthermore, this process exemplifies the principles of bodyweight training and demonstrates how they can nurture lean muscle growth and the ideal physique. In fact, we could keep referring to statistics and the many more benefits of calisthenics, but the truth is, we may have moved on from the times of Sparta, but these ancient techniques are clearly just as relevant in such a fast-moving world.