Why Calisthenics May Be King
Calisthenics are a form of exercise that are challenging, require no equipment (but benefits can be enhanced with the use of it), can be performed virtually anywhere, increase both strength and flexibility, and improve balance, agility and coordination, all while improving muscular and cardiovascular fitness. We’ll be taking a look at some great calisthenics exercises over the course of the next few issues that will help improve your jiu-jitsu.
Need More Proof?
If you don’t think calisthenics can get you in extreme shape then I suggest you search “Baristi workout” on the Internet. Baristi workouts have been growing in popularity year after year, so much so, that there are Baristi competitions at the Los Angeles Fitness Expo, and all over the world. They even have world championship events. You may ask yourself just how good of shape you can get in. If you look at individuals such as: Frank Medrano, the Bar Brothers and probably the most well known pioneer of extreme calisthenics movement, Hannibal For King, you will see that their physical strength is off the charts! Olympic gymnasts are also extremely strong and use their body weight to gain that strength!
Much like a dog being man’s best friend, the push-up is one of, if not the most loyal of exercises for someone to use to get in shape. For those of us who don’t have gym passes it is the poor man’s bench press. It’s essentially the same movement, but instead of pushing a bar upward above you, your body weight is used as the resistance. Like its counterpart, the pectoral muscles, triceps and deltoids are worked, but you also work your core (which we need to be strong for jiu-jitsu) and can even stress your biceps on certain variations! Speaking of variations, there are hundreds of them as compared to the limited versions of bench press! Even though you don’t need equipment (as mentioned earlier) for variety, we’ve added some in to make it more challenging; however, you can perform them without it as well.
What They Do
Muscles that are used during a push-up include your pectoralis major and minor, triceps brachii (long, lateral and medial heads), anterior deltoid, coracobrachialis, serratus anterior, anconeus, and abdominal muscles; with the first four as the primaries. Our pectorals control movements of our arms by pulling on the humerus allowing for lateral, vertical or rotational movement. Straightening of our arms is the main responsibility of our triceps muscle. As contractions of muscles exert a pulling force on connected bones our anterior deltoids place them in an ideal position to aid with shoulder flexion.
Keep Tradition Alive
The granddaddy of them all, the traditional push-up is the most basic of all the variations. While it may only be basic, the results it can yield are anything, but.
1. Kneel down on all fours and place your hands just beyond shoulder-width apart. Put your feet next to each other, post on your toes and straighten your arms and legs.
2. Pull your elbows in toward your sides, lower your chest to just above the floor and push back up to the starting position.
Prescription: As a warm-up: 10-15 reps; as a workout: 3-4 sets of 10-25 reps