The Benefits of Calisthenics and Bodyweight Exercises – 8 Reasons to Add Them to Your Training


The Spartan warriors were known for their military and physical supremacy. The Greek historian Plutarch even testified that these warriors were trained primarily through athletics and body-weight/calisthenics exercises, as there weren’t a lot of options back then and a gym membership was not an option at the time.

According to the annual survey of the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), body-weight training is in the second place in the trends that are expected to lead in 2017.

Why Calisthenics?

As a long time athlete, I’m a big proponent of calisthenics. I believe body-weight exercises are an integral part of a healthy workout program. However, it seems that many people have forgotten about the importance of these exercises and the many benefits inherent in them.

If you’re still not incorporating body-weight training into your routine, you’re missing out a lot.

Here are eight different reasons to start doing so:

1. Price

Calisthenics is cheap, it does not require a gym membership and there’s no need for equipment, the only thing needed is your own body, some space, and a set of exercises you are about to perform.

Free for all

In almost all cases you could find a park with a nearby playground where you can do the exercises. If you can’t find one, or if you’re simply too lazy to go outside, you could always get a pull-up bar for under less than $20 and install it at your home.

In other words, money is not an excuse!

2. Availability


Most of us know how stuff like traveling, holidays and vacation can sometimes throw us off-course with our training, and when the time comes to go back and return to our regular training routine, all of a sudden it’s much harder.

A healthy lifestyle is based on consistency and perseverance.

Luckily, the availability of body-weight training and the fact that you can do it virtually anywhere, allows us to maintain the training sequence relatively easily.

So if you’re planning on traveling for some time, or going on a long vacation, again remember, there are no excuses!

3. Functionality

body-weight exercises require the activation of multiple muscles and joints at the same time, thus improving the coordination between these muscles, balance, muscle endurance, and even flexibility.

These exercises help us with movements and activities that we do on a daily basis, and they do so in a healthy, comfortable and regular manner. Therefore, body-weight training actually helps to improve day-to-day physical function.

4. Improving Flexibility

Most body-weight exercises require performing at a full range of motion. This allows us to maintain and even develop the range of movement of those joints and thus improve the body’s flexibility.

5. Reducing the Risk of Injury

This one is especially important for us basketball players.

Injuries are the main reason people stop training, so it’s best to avoid injuries in the first place. The chances of getting injured from body-weight exercises are very low.

Furthermore, strengthening the muscles through body-weight exercises can help prevent future injuries because of the compound nature of the movements which reduces muscle imbalances.

Iman Shumpert doing single-leg (pistol) squats

6. Developing Strength and Building Muscle

For some reason, there is a myth that it’s impossible to develop muscle mass through body-weight exercises.

This is totally untrue!

With the right training, coupled with proper nutrition, you can develop strength, explosiveness and even muscle mass.

For those who want an example of the results you can achieve with just body-weight exercises, just do a search on YouTube for street workouts and go through some of the videos.

You’ll be impressed by the physique these athletes possess and the things they can do. The Bar Brothers results are a great example of that.

7. Strengthening Core Muscles

It’s no surprise that basketball players and all professional athletes dedicate a big part of their training to their core. Everything begins from the core!

The core muscles are critical for preventing injuries. They include not only the abdominal muscles, but there are actually more than 29 core muscles that make up the torso. With body-weight training we can recruit them all and thus strengthen them thoroughly.

8. Burn Calories

body-weight exercises are compound exercises (two joints or more work simultaneously), and for that reason, when training with high loads, many calories can be burned because more muscles work at the same time and this requires a lot of energy.

Bottom Line

Start with the simple exercises first

Bodyweight training is one of the best ways to working out your body. There are many different styles and ways you could do it and it offers a variety of different exercises at varying levels of difficulty that you could use.

If you’re a beginner, it’s usually best to start with the simple and most common exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, crunches and planks, and not overload yourself too much in the beginning.

Either way, calisthenics and bodyweight workouts are an excellent way of strengthening your body and they provide a solid alternative to working out in the gym.