‘Calisthenics’ An Addiction For Progression

Wing Chun And Rings 'Built from the ground up'

Although Advanced Calisthenics – isometric holds were pretty new to me, the idea of using ones body as weight wasn’t. I’ve many years under my belt of Martial Arts training. This starting in the late 80s studying karate and present day I’m teaching and training Wing Chun Kung Fu.


Most of my early phase of training was spent in church halls. No fancy equipment like I have the luxury of now, at the ‘London wing chun academy’. Therefore we always utilized our body weight during warms up. From bog standard ‘Press ups’ to tougher variations such as ‘archer’ ‘explosives’ and ‘tiger’. To ‘pistol squats’ ‘archer squats’, pull ups and so forth.

My apparent ‘fast’ progression into more complex holds though isn’t really down to anything more then strong fundamentals, solid basics. Something overlooked by many new keen eyes starting calisthenics. The fact is most of us have actually been training calisthenics for years without even realizing.


The word Calisthenics simply means “Gymnastic exercises to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement’. Calisthenics itself comes from the Greek word ‘Kallos’ simply meaning ‘beauty’. The practice of using ones body weight to strengthen oneself is as old as time. So although there is a current boom, or trend, Calisthenics have been around for a very long time.


The major appeal with this form of training is it can literally be done anywhere, anytime, any place. The only real piece of equipment you need is something over head to pull up to. This being said of course there are ‘key’ bits of equipment you can purchase which will aid you no end. These range from ‘Parallettes to resistances bands’ – not vital, but definitely helpful.

Another Major appeal with Calisthenics is, it’s a total body workout.

Now, obviously dependent on what you’re training

  • Press ups
  • Pull ups
  • Handstands / Levers

There will clearly be a ‘focused’ muscle group, you will also be indirectly training your whole body. This simply comes down to fact that in order to complete the above and many more movements with correct form, you are forced to activate your core and many other muscle groups in order to hold perfect posture and stability.

Take a press up opposed to a bench press. One is performed laying on a bench, the other in the reverse position, holding your body in a perfect line while pressing your body weight. Clearly though the limitations on the press up is that we can’t just add weight , however we can offset this by changing the difficulty of the press up.

I can bench press over my body weight, yet a planche press up is currently beyond me. This leads me to the next appeal. The skill factor.


I, like many others have spent years also lifting weights and to be brutally honest found it boring. With calisthenics I have found the exercises require a level of skill, balance and mobility. Personally I found this a great challenge to keep my interest. Not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with weight lifting, just for me it wasn’t really the one.

Another example of this would be say a ‘plank’ vs ‘handstand’. Both fantastic core workouts, however the ‘Handstand’ will test your:

  • Balance
  • Mobility
  • Core
  • Fear (life upside down takes some getting use to)
  • Shoulder strength
  • Wrist flexibility & forearms

So by simply swapping your plank for a handstand your going to gain so many more additions benefits. Now I know “You can’t handstand” well go and learn!!!. This is the fun part, the addictive bit. There is always a progression to get you started which you can handle whilst working towards the end aim ‘The Handstand’.

At the end of the day, it really comes down to you and how you want to train. However from personal experience of many years now, I would firmly recommend adding Calisthenics to your training regime.

For more information check us out on Youtube at ‘Inspire Through actions calisthenics https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeFfuZeKIdMcTjM0Wkclp1Q


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