Fitness Post – Exercise with Body Weight versus Extra Resistance

These days there is a ‘new wave’ of exercise routines called Calisthenics. Now in my belief system there is nothing new under the sun and when we were in primary school 60 years ago we used to do calisthenics outside as part of our school physical education program. But the change in these modern routines is that they use a lot of Olympic Gymnastics movements.

These routines are great and if you look at the gymnastics athletes at the Olympics you will be impressed with their muscular physiques but these routines take years to perfect and injuries are part of the sport…but what about the person in the street trying these exercises? If we compare it to commercial gym routines using barbells, dumbbells, machines and the myriad other devices doing routines without equipment have a certain appeal.

If you look at the classic Calisthenics routines they use body weight only, without extra equipment (such as what you need for a lot of Olympic Gymnastics movements). But in Eastern Europe they have these pieces of equipment outdoors within the squares in housing estates – I know this because I have used them when visiting relatives there. There were horizontal bars, parallel bars, vaulting horses etc. and lots of fun to use when there weren’t many commercial gyms to go to. Along with having these pieces of equipment the workers in nearly all factories in the Soviet Union used to do a Calisthenics routine everyday before starting work. This included marching on the spot, squatting, twisting, bending etc. and was part of their working day up until very recently.

I think this type of exercise is an important part of a resistance program in that they use more functional movements and advocate using these exercises as much as you can. You can work the whole body with these movements and if you don’t have the knowledge you can get many set routines from the Internet so that you can change the exercises around for variety. I don’t advocate using Olympic gymnastics movements unless you have had some expert advice and experience in the knowledge of doing them correctly. But if you buy a simple doorframe bar you can add chin-ups to your routine although you should also ensure that you use a complete variety of exercises to take your body through the planes of movement.

If you have the facility then you can add many other movements such as ladder climbs and the many variations of Cable Exercises without the need to use the conventional pieces of equipment in the gym such as barbells and dumbbells. You can do the variations of floor crawling movements, stair climbs, wall-bar movements…the ideas for this type of routine are endless.

The point being made here is that most exercise routines work, as long as you do? Just work within your capabilities and get expert advice and guidance when needed.

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