CALISTHENICS VS STREET WORKOUT VS GYMNASTICS

Hello guys! Welcome to another article of Caliathletics.com!

Today, I wanna take a bit of your time to talk about the differences that effectively are when referring indistinctively to Calisthenics as to Street Workout and then with a little bracket that will be opened in regards of gymnastics.

Ok here is the very first thing worth to emphasize…Calisthenics IS NOT Gymnastics and IS NOT Street Workout.

CALISTHENICS

As we all know thanks to internet and mainly thanks to YouTube, nowadays we are coming across a lot (loads) of videos that are showing athletes of every age performing incredible movements on bars, on parallettes, on rings, on floor and wherever the body is able to find a balance or to hang (also a tree, on rocks etc.)

Well, when we talk about Calisthenics according to one of the most reliable internet fonts that is Wikipedia, gives the following definition:

The word calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek words kalos (κάλλος), which means “beauty” (to emphasize the aesthetic pleasure that causes the perfection of the human body), and sthenos (σθένος), meaning “strength”(great mental strength, courage, strength and determination). It is the art of using one’s body weight and qualities of inertia as a means to develop one’s physique.

Now, given the above definition, we can all understand that Calisthenics represents the most natural way of training by using your own bodyweight and by combining different movements in order to achieve a sculpted body, lean and strong.

Nowadays, the ways of training Calisthenics are more methodical than their predecessors, because you cannot reason in terms of muscle groups like for instance in Bodybuilding.

Just because it is a way of training that uses your own bodyweight (and so in every exercise, all muscles are involved and not isolated), you cannot think of working out on a single muscle at every workout.

In Calisthenics the most effective method applied, works instead on constance, perseverance, a lot of patience and ultimately modesty.

If you wanna make sure to achieve incredible levels of strength, no matter the age (within certain limits of course), you gotta dedicate yourself to train with the aim to achieve the goals with the proper time and not thinking of showing off what you are made of, to other people.

In order to do so, the training method applied for this discipline is mainly focused on progressions, divided by level of difficulty so that the body can assimilate them with time and patience.

The most evident example of progression, comes from the difference among the following ways of performing each exercise:

  • Tuck

  • Advanced Tuck

  • One leg

  • Straddle

  • Half lay

  • Full

Based on this hierarchy of steps, you are supposed, as a beginner, to start from the beginning and not to go straight to an attempt of performing a one leg front lever hold for instance if you can barely pull yourself up over the bar or hold a tuck front lever for barely 10”.

The point is that, on the YouTube, I personally see a lot of kids and guys attempting to perform advanced exercises such as Front Lever, Free Handstand Push Ups, Back Lever, Planche and even Human Flag without having any solid basic exercise consolidated.

This is the biggest mistake because Calisthenics, like every other discipline, can be risky rather than healthy to your body if you do not accept that, to achieve a goal you must start from the basics and not thinking that, because you see all the other guys performing incredible skills, you can do it too in a short time lapse.

You must consider that our body is made in a way that is so different one another and for this reason you have to consider the variables of it: height, weight, how flexible your muscles are, how mobile your joints are, the age.

As you can see there is a lot to consider and to work on in order to avoid injuries and be able to reach effective goals with the proper time.

Calisthenics is beautiful because you can vary in so many ways the trainings, that you can think of starting by developing firstly your strength and stabilize your body using the gymnastic rings.

Most of the people who are approaching this sport, are all starting with the bar and a pair of parallettes because they do not think that using the rings can be challenging enough or simply because they ignore (in a first moment) their existence.

Using the gymnastic rings to develop a strong body is, in my opinion, one of the most effective ways to achieve a good level of strength that will make a lot easier performing the exercises later on on the bars.

With the rings you are forced to use all the stabilizers muscles that are not used when performing an exercise on the bar; simple example comes if you think about performing a dip on a bar or on parallettes rather than on rings.

Have you ever wondered why, the very first time you try to perform a dip on rings you start to tremble like a leaf?! Well, simple, because you have the habit not to use the stabilizers muscles whenever you perform a dip on parallettes or on a bar.

The same can be told for a hold exercise such as the L-sit.

Said that, my goal is to let you understand that you must be creative in your way of thinking about how to create a proper calisthenics workout, keeping in mind that if you wanna reach very good goals avoiding injuries you must work on the progressions taking the proper time to do so.

Another important element to consider in Calisthenics is the form in which each exercise is performed: the hollow body position.

A lot of people are performing the exercises by only thinking about the strength, but in Calisthenics you cannot think of performing whichever exercise if you don’t firstly learn to keep a position that allows your spinal column to be safe from unpleasant and unexpected loads while performing a movement.

This is another reason why, especially at the beginning, the work should be focused on including those basic exercises such as hollow body hold, arch body, plank, planch lean and so on, in order to acquire the proper hollow body position by squeezing your glutes properly, keeping protracted shoulder blades and the tip of your toes pointing out in order to form a straight line with your spinal column.

Needless to say at this point that, compared to Street Workout, Calisthenics is definitely closer to include more principles typical of Gymnastics, i.e. hollow body position in every execution and also most of its advanced skills such as Hefesto, Victorian, Manna, Iron Cross, Azarian Cross, Full Planche and so on are all coming from the world of Gymnastics and then adopted in a more freeway in Calisthenics.

STREET WORKOUT

What is Street Workout and why is different from Calisthenics and Gymnastics?!

Well, the answer lies on the fact that when you hear or you talk about Street Workout you have to think of training in a completely different way.

Why is that?! Because in Street Workout the goal is to learn through (of course again) the basics of bodyweight training such as pull-ups, push-ups, dips and so on, more advanced movements that are more part of a freestyle world rather than strict form skills like in Calisthenics and Gymnastics.

In Street Workout the form in each exercise is of course kept in consideration during the execution, but not in the same way as you would do if training in strict Calisthenics.

Of course is up to you then, to try to include a proper time to have a perfect and clean form no matter the kind of skill you wanna achieve.

In Street Workout there are a lot of tricks that are performed by rotating around the bar, doing 360° movements like the Muscle Ups, very explosive combined movements.

A thing that I surely noticed whenever I hear talking about Street Workout, is the fact that guys tend to build their own workouts by dividing them in muscle groups.

So for instance, one day they work on chest and biceps, the next one on back and triceps, then on shoulders and core and of course one day only legs training apart.

This is a way of training that is definitely more like a bodybuilding training program; of course also in this case you can work and build strength and stay lean, but the form is left a bit apart in order to dedicate more effort to get stronger and bigger.

For general purposes, I wanna let you all be aware of fact that, nowadays Street Workout has become so popular worldwide that a real official world federation has been found: the WSWCF – WORLD STREET WORKOUT & CALISTHENICS FEDERATION that you can find at its official website http://wswcf.org/.

AS you can see below, the purposes of this Federation are clear:

WSWCF is an international non-governmental, non-for profit organization operating worldwide pursuant to international law. It was founded on April 08, 2011 and recorded in the Registry of Associations and Foundations of the Republic of Latvia on May 17th, 2011, with registration No. 40009178458. WSWCF’s main office is located in Riga, Latvia.

WSWCF unites national street workout organizations and supporters on a global level, and directs and coordinates the street workout matters and activities worldwide. WSWCF is the official organizer of the Street Workout Freestyle World Championship, Street Workout Power and Strength World Championship, Street Workout Freestyle World Cup series, World Bar Games, and the World Pull-Up Day.”

So thanks to this Federation, surely the sport itself has become more and more popular giving a chance to a lot of guys from different countries to challenge one another in different kind of competitions, by following specific and approved rules in each one of them.

So It is not all about Freestyle, because as you can see from the brief excerpt above, you can even decide to specialize more for the Power & Strength challenge, rather than Bar games and World Pull-Up day.

Personally, I believe this is a great thing for the world of sports, since this Federation has a lot to give also in terms of those who are aiming to become trainers recognized internationally and make a job out of it.

This is a very precious opportunity that, even if it’s a bit expensive because the cost for an entire course costs around 1350 USD (a discount is applied if you pay for all three levels of the course at once), I believe it’s worth it

If this is what you wanna really become in your life; consider it like a little investment that can give you a lot back in the close and far future in terms of personal satisfaction as well as recognition as a certified trainer.

GYMNASTICS

Well, even if there would not much to say about this discipline since it is simply a recognized one in the Olympic games since 1896, I believe it’s worth it to give it a little recognition in terms of defining what we are talking about.

Here are some excerpts taken from the website www.scholastic.com where an interesting definition of Gymnastics is given as well as some important information about its history until present:

The sport of gymnastics, which derives its name from the ancient Greek word for disciplinary exercises, combines physical skills such as body control, coordination, dexterity, gracefulness, and strength with tumbling and acrobatic skills, all performed in an artistic manner. Gymnastics is performed by both men and women at many levels, from local clubs and schools to colleges and universities, and in elite national and international competitions.”

As we can see there is a little similarity with the definition we gave before of Calisthenics.

As a proof of fact that Calisthenics partly adopts the principles of Gymnastics, we can see that it involves too disciplinary exercises, combined physical skills and strength together with acrobatic skills.

If you are now wondering how Gymnastics became then so popular worldwide, it’s worth to take a look back in the past:

Gymnastics was introduced in early Greek civilization to facilitate bodily development through a series of exercises that included running, jumping, swimming, throwing, wrestling, and weight lifting.

The Romans, after conquering Greece, developed the activities into a more formal sport, and they used the gymnasiums to physically prepare their legions for warfare. With the decline of Rome, however, interest in gymnastics dwindled, with tumbling remaining as a form of entertainment.

In 1774, a Prussian, Johann Bernhard Basedow, included physical exercises with other forms of instruction at his school in Dessau, Saxony. With this action began the modernization of gymnastics, and also thrust the Germanic countries into the forefront in the sport. In the late 1700s, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn of Germany developed the side bar, the horizontal bar, the parallel bars, the balance beam, and jumping events. He, more than anyone else, is considered the “father of modern gymnastics.” Gymnastics flourished in Germany in the 1800s, while in Sweden a more graceful form of the sport, stressing rhythmic movement, was developed by Guts Muth. The opening (1811) of Jahn’s school in Berlin, to promote his version of the sport, was followed by the formation of many clubs in Europe and later in England. The sport was introduced to the United States by Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent, who taught gymnastics in several U.S. universities about the time of the Civil War, and who is credited with inventing more than 30 pieces of apparatus. Most of the growth of gymnastics in the United States centered on the activities of European immigrants, who introduced the sport in their new cities in the 1880s. Clubs were formed as Turnverein and Sokol groups, and gymnasts were often referred to as “turners.” Modern gymnastics excluded some traditional events, such as weight lifting and wrestling, and emphasized form rather than personal rivalry.”

Well guys, I hope not to have bothered you this time with this article that was more like an historical one, focused on finding the roots of three different disciplines that nowadays are more than ever recognized worldwide for their effectiveness and popularity.

KNWOLEDGE IS POWER!