Calisthenic Movement | How and Why You Should Do it
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Calisthenics For Athletes
At its plainest and most simple, calisthenics is essentially using bodyweight to stimulate some form of adaptation. Calisthenics is great for when athletes have a lack of time, can’t get to the weight room, or don’t want to go to the weight room. Maybe athletes just want to improve their body control to enhance their body awareness through calisthenics. Just using calisthenics can enhance athletes' body awareness to help them be more athletic and coordinated.
Let’s take a look at seven calisthenic exercises that can help improve athleticism.
1. Bulgarian Split Squat
At Garage Strength, we call the Bulgarian split squat a single-leg squat. There is nothing Bulgarian about the split squat.
The single-leg squat is a great exercise to improve stability and hip mobility, and to cheat-code and isolate the posterior chain. We like to do the single-leg movement with a slow eccentric, as an unbroken movement or do the single-leg squat with a little hop on the forward leg.
The great thing about the single-leg squat is it can be done at home with a chair or couch.
2. Handstand Push Up
Every time I travel, I do this movement in hotel rooms. I recommend using a balance pad for a target for the head. In the gym, we can even stack up bumper plates or use parallettes to get a greater range of motion with the movement.
Unless your free handstand is elite, a wall is helpful in creating balance to perform handstand push-ups. The handstand push-up increases shoulder strength, drastically improves the military press, and is easy to do at home.
One way to make the movement simpler is to use a bench, couch, or box to lessen the load of the inverted press. The goal is to slowly progress to the point where the feet are put on the wall.
3. Explosive Push Up
Think of clapping push-ups but done like a box jump. Explosive push-ups will blow up an athlete’s bench press. I recommend doing 50 explosive push-ups a day until capable of benching 350 lbs. That is right. The explosive push-up is one of the best workout spices to increase an athlete’s bench pressing capability.
The easiest way to do explosive push-ups is to perform the movement on two parallel boxes. Don’t have two boxes? Two chairs of equal height suffice just fine.
4. Paused V Up
The paused v up is a great exercise to improve dynamic trunk control. A lot of people do v-ups where their lower back is more in an L position. We want to shift up to our butts and pause in a V position. The movement is incredibly challenging in my opinion. Our butt is the point of contact, not our lower back.
Do sets of 17 to 20 reps and an athlete’s core will be LIT UP.
5. Jumping Lunges
Jumping lunges not only develop unilateral strength, but do a heck of a job preparing an athlete for open-skill sports. The alternating movements not only allow for explosive endurance to be targeted, but develop the power output that comes from the glutes, a very large group of muscles tantamount to speed and strength in the gym and within competition.
Jumping lunges are a simple plyometric movement that require no equipment to perform. Besides the low cost entry fee, the exercise kills it on the return investment.
6. Pistol Squat
I like to use a box to do a pistol squat because it doesn’t require me to use my abs as much to keep my non-squatting leg from touching the ground and still reap the rewards of performing the pistol squat.
The pistol squat lights up the quads, helps with the hip and ankle mobility and will help with any structural problems and asymmetries within an athlete’s body.
If not able to perform on flat ground and do not have access to a box, using steps is an adequate manner to gauge depths and scale the movement. Also, don’t be scared to use a bench or couch to perform a pistol squat to strengthen the legs.
7. Pull Up
My mom always said I was husky. I always struggled to do a pull-up. I started my journey to doing a pull-up by jumping up on a tree limb and doing a slow eccentric. Of course, having access to a bar is great. The pull-up is a great calisthenic exercise that stimulates growth in the lats and biceps.
Get creative and use all of these calisthenic movements to stimulate an adaptation that gets the body stronger, more coordinated, and, in the end, more athletic.
Yo, It's Dane
Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!
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