Originating from the Olympiad era, Calisthenics is derived from the Greek words kallos-sthenos, meaning beautiful strength.
What is Calisthenics?
Calisthenics is a form of strength and power training utilizing only compound bodyweight exercises. Training the muscles in isolation doesn’t teach the body how to coordinate its strength and balance through the core – calisthenics helps you to develop that through the pursuit of clean and Strict Form. The techniques learned can then be mixed with each other into routines (Freestyle Calisthenics/Street Workout), or weight can be added to the movement once strict form has been achieved to keep overloading the body.
Calisthenics strengthens the body holistically as a unit – it is incredibly useful for those who use their bodies for performance, for example in sports, martial arts, dance and yoga. Whether aiming to improve your ability to keep possession of a ball, developing your punching/kicking power, perfecting your balance or simply just to get stronger, it is an age old training system which will benefit you hugely.
Ricky Warren is an international Calisthenics coach and athlete, who has been training in bodyweight and mixed martial arts since he was 7 years old. Currently based in London, he actively competes and teaches not only the general public but also trains personal trainers and coaches from other disciplines. Ricky runs Bodyweight Gurus workshops for beginners and trainers alike – trainers also benefit from continuing professional development points from their national register (NASM/REPS) if they complete the workshop. He has competed in various finals and stages run by the World Street Workout and Calisthenics Federation (WSWCF), but is now focusing more on teaching.
“What I love most about calisthenics is that if you want to be one of the best you can never become complacent – someone is always thinking up new moves and harder variations, so the boundaries of what the human being can achieve are constantly being pushed. Personally, I love clean form. Understanding the geometry of the human body and how it can be applied to physics and biomechanics means that we can achieve movements that almost seem impossible – core levitation and hand balancing start to look like magic”.
“On the other hand, your only real opponent is yourself – developing yourself and taking yourself to higher levels in a process of continuing growth. You could train bodyweight purely to get stronger or to change your body shape, but the other side to it is of an artistic nature – there is a spiritual element involved when you begin to fully express yourself physically. My aim is to teach people that mastering your body brings with it not only great physical benefits but also an enhanced mental and spiritual connection with oneself – its effects have permeated throughout the other areas of my life and my energy is strong”.
360 pull up here
“When it comes to my diet I grew up eating meat. I mainly eat vegetarian now but still eat fish. Ethically I’m interested in veganism but I haven’t fully embraced it yet, it’s a gradual process. When it comes to supplements I simply take one multi-vitamin a day and then just eat every 2-3 hours – nuts, seeds and fruit are a favourite. I’m experimenting with hemp protein at the moment as it is renowned for it’s healing properties and immune system boost. I also use Myprotein resistance bands which I use to support harder movements I’m still learning, and a foam roller which is very important for myofascial release and trigger point therapy to speed the recovery phase”.
Stay tuned for a full beginner’s calisthenics workout program, with videos to help you through the movements!
You can follow Ricky and his latest training on Instagram @rix.official