UNLEASH THE POWER FROM DEEP INSIDE. If strength is your end goal, then calisthenics is the way to go. Paul Eugene Lee expounds on the benefits of this particular exercise
After many years of training with free weights, I was never able to feel completely in control of my body and mind. After switching to an all calisthenics routine, I’ve felt many profound changes throughout my days. These are the biggest changes that I’ve noticed.
“With every second that passes, every repetition I do, I can feel more and more blood pumping into the muscles that I’m putting to work”
Free weights used to zap my energy, but with calisthenics my energy seems to increase at a steady rate. I’m sure the energy levels will plateau eventually, but when would that be? The energy I have now is tremendous; any more energy and I may get misdiagnosed with ADHD. How can one contribute the increased energy levels to calisthenics? Think about this, when you lift weights you are putting extra weight and stress on your body, but with calisthenics you are only using your body weight. Okay, take push-ups and the bench press. With push-ups you are simply pushing yourself up; you are not putting any stressful weight on your body in a negative way. With bench presses you are lying on a bench with your body weight resting mostly on your back then you are adding more weight on top of that 50, 100, 150kg. That’s a lot of extra weight which compromises your joints. As you increase the amount of stress on your body, you will naturally increase the amount of recovery you need. Free weights put the body under more stress than necessary to build muscle and strength, which leads to depleted energy levels, because your body is working overtime to recover.
The power increases I have noticed come from inside me. It all starts with the core where calisthenics truly are king. In my day-to-day life I feel much stronger using calisthenics than I did when I was using free weights. The other day I was able to lift the back of my Honda Civic off the ground! I could never do that when I was lifting weights. Who says calisthenics don’t build power? I have seen many people that do strictly callisthenic routines jump on the bench and out-press big guys who only train free weights, then when those free weight guys try to do push-ups they look pathetic. Why is this? The strength and power come from within; it takes total control of your body to properly perform calisthenics.
The biggest change I’ve noticed is the ability to focus on proper breathing, and the movement of the muscles being worked. When you do almost 50 squats in a row it is very important that you’re breathing correctly. Breathe in on the way down for two seconds, and out on the way up one second. Breathing correctly will supply your body the oxygen it needs to perform the exercise to complete failure, not failure due to lack of oxygen. I know you’ve probably heard of the old prank about putting a potato, or some other fruit or vegetable, in the tailpipe of someone’s car. It prevents the car from releasing the exhaust, which basically suffocates the engine. So, don’t suffocate yourself. By breathing correctly during an exercise I am able to focus on the movement of my muscles. Many people tend to use explosive movements when they lift weights, they don’t focus on the muscles themselves.
When I do pull-ups mentally it starts with my hands. I grip the pull-up bar in the most comfortable way for my hands. As I begin to pull-up I feel my forearms tense, than my biceps begin to tighten. All of the sudden my back locks up nice and tight. As I pull myself up I squeeze my shoulder blades together feeling the blood rush into my traps. When I reach the top my back feels 5kg heavier from all the blood, and then I lower myself slowly, feeling the blood from my heart pumping at an incredible rate. The blood begins to flow from my back up through my shoulders and arms. With every second that passes, every repetition I do, I can feel more and more blood pumping into the muscles that I’m putting to work.
“The strength and power come from within; it takes total control of your body to properly perform calisthenics”
Even doing normal everyday tasks I have more focus and concentration. For example, I feel I am doing a much better job for writing articles. There’s no doubt that part of the reason for my increased concentration is due to better breathing. Doing calisthenics you really have to breathe properly, then by way of habit it’s passed on to your daily life.
I know that everyone of us has power hidden somewhere within us. If you can figure out how to tap into that natural resource you have which will improve your life, I promise you will discover hidden potential.
Paul Eugene Lee is a fitness trainer with more than 20 years of experience