Calisthenics – What is that?

First of all, let’s explain what is the Calisthenics?

Calisthenics (American English) or callisthenics (British English) is a form of exercise consisting of a variety of movements that exercise large muscle groups (gross motor movements), such as running, standing, grasping, pushing, etc.

Urban calisthenics is a form of street workout; calisthenics groups perform exercise routines in urban areas. Individuals and groups train to perform advanced calisthenics skills such as muscle-ups, levers, and various freestyle moves such as spins and flips. (Source: Wikipedia)

Now, when we know what the Calisthenics is, we can research about it. (Research done by Instagram page @calisthenics_informations follow them)

Where does Calisthenics come from?

To our knowledge, Calisthenics takes its roots in Greece in 480 BC (We can find the first hints in “Battle of Thermopylae”, Herodote).
In Greek Calisthenics is Kallos (Beauty) and Sthenos (Strength). We could translate it as beautiful strength.
Spartan warriors are the first known to use this kind of training to enhance their fighting skills. This was also use at this time by all the participants of Olympics Games.

What is it?

Calisthenics is composed of solely bodyweight exercises. Back in the time it was use for war purpose (like the Spartans) and for Olympic games.
Today it is still use by military (since they have to move a lot in their environment) and by common people for recreational or health purpose (getting fit, having fun, compete).
We could include all trainings based only on our bodyweight such as running or even swimming.

Which exercises?

Nowadays it is mainly composed of Pull-ups, Push-Ups, Dips and Squats. We could add some more like the Muscle-Up but it is not used as much as these first fours.⁣
Calisthenics also evolved through the time with gymnastique who brought a lot of static movements (like Planche) and equilibrium (Handstand).

Calisthenics today

Recently Calisthenics emerged principally in USA especially in the Bronx (Sets and reps) and LA area (more freestyle).

But it also appears to be used in Eastern Europe and particularly in Russia where a lot of parks were built.

Nowadays parks are built all around the world and all kind of people are practicing.

Calisthenics Icons

Zef Zakaveli is a very popular Calisthenics athlete in Bronx, specialized in Sets and Reps.

Hannibal for king maybe the most popular in Calisthenics who started to share his journey through YouTube videos.

Bar Brothers, the group of 3 Serbian Athletes dedicated to development of Calisthenics that motivated millions of people to change their lives and train Calisthenics.

The most popular Calisthenics exercises


A Pull-up is the act to lifting you up by the strength of your body while hanging on a bar (or other things like rings) with both hands.

Where is the difference between a Pull-up and a Chin-up?

The only visible difference is the way you hold the bar:

For a Pull-up you will hang on the bar with a pronation grip

For a Chin-up it is supinated grip.

Of course it not the only difference.

To make things short, muscles involved in a Pull-up and in a Chin-up are the same. But activation is different. While a Chin-up will target more the biceps, the Pull-up will target mainly your back. And it works the same way for the width of your grip, same muscle working but not the same activation.


A Dips is a pushing movement (vertically). Both of your hands are on a support (parallel bars, rings a straight bar, any support…)

You go down to 90 degree or more and then you push all the way back to the top.

What does it work?

Dips work mainly pectorals, triceps brachial and anterior deltoid. It also works scapula, core strength (abs and lower back).


Push-ups are a pushing exercise. It exists a lot of variations but they all have to respect the same principles. You have to keep a straight body through the whole movement. It means having your ankles, hips and shoulders on the same line at all time without arching your lower back.

Push-ups work essentially your shoulders (anterior deltoid), pectorals, triceps and core strength. But they also work almost all your muscles including legs on a low base because of your position.

To be continued.

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This blog is dedicated to the development of Street Workout and Calisthenics.

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