Although weight training does have benefits, calisthenics has many of the same benefits with a lower risk of injury and more muscles incorporated at one time. I want to start with mentioning, I have no real problem with weight lifting, I did it for a long time. As a matter of fact, I have a lot of friends who prefer weight training to other forms of fitness. However, calisthenics, or body weight training, is the optimal way to exercise. Before we get into the workouts, we will start with the very long-standing history of body weight training. Calisthenics has been around since the dawn of man. Our early ancestors uses their hands and feet to climb trees to pick fruit and evade predators. Calisthenics is a form of exercise using body weight to achieve fitness. In ancient Greece, the human form was important; there was even the belief that, the better the physique was, the closer to a god you were. Their gyms didn’t have fancy equipment or huge amounts of weight, they had calisthenics. As a matter of fact, an early mention of calisthenics was found in the writings of the ancient Greek philosopher Herodotus from between 450 and 420 BCE. In his writings, he mentions a spy from Xerxes’ army who witnesses the Spartan army practicing calisthenics in the nude before the Battle of Thermopylae. It wasn’t only the Greeks that trained calisthenics, but also people of India with Yoga and the Shaolin monks of China with Kung Fu and body conditioning. In Yoga, you are constantly stretching your muscles and then holding them in isometric poses with no weight. Keeping them in this flexed position can induce muscle growth. In Kung Fu body conditioning, something I have years of experience in, the practitioner uses their own body and the local environment to become fit. This can include crawling up and down stairs on your hands, climbing trees or doing elevated push-ups while a partner hold your feet while they hold a squat. Body weight training has been around since the start of fitness and is still being used today.
Muscle Activation When Comparing Body Weight Vs. Lifting Weights
In exercise your progress comes down to proper muscle activation, so let’s compare results in muscle activation. Push-ups recruit more muscles at one time than the bench press. Why is that? When a push-up is done with proper form, they will engage your all the core muscles, not just your chest, shoulders, and triceps. When the bench press is being used, the bench provides the stability for the core muscles. This means that all muscle in your body other than your chest, shoulders, lats, and triceps will have little activation. The pull-up not only activates the lats, and the rest other upper-back muscles, but also activates the abs more than many other known ab exercises like sit-ups and crunches. When compared to the pull-ups, pull-downs, purposefully remove the core muscle stimulation by having the user in a seated position with their legs held in place by a cushion or a harness. Weight training typically isolates one muscle at a time, so it doesn’t emulate real life situations. To be functionally fit, each exercise should incorporate multiple muscle groups at one time. This is what we do in everyday life. It is clear to see that using your own body weight is the optimal training method to activate multiple muscles at one time.
Another aspect to look at is simplicity of the exercise. Do you need to buy bunch of equipment or need a gym or can you do it anywhere you are? A huge advantage of calisthenics versus weight training is the ability to workout anywhere you are at any time. All you need is space to practice your routing and maybe a pull-up bar or a level stool. I personally like to go to local parks, even more so on nice days. The playgrounds and parks have all the bars and benches you will ever need. As for weight training you may have to get a gym membership or buy a lot of expensive equipment. Another thing to consider is, if you are lifting heavy weight, enough needed to stimulate the muscle growth, you may need a spotter or have to hire a trainer to ensure safety. The worst injury to worry about in a failed push-up is a bruised ego. Also consider, when lifting weights, your possibility of getting injured increases, so if you are new to weight lifting should seek training from a qualified trainer to ensure you have proper form in each lift.
Both calisthenics and weightlifting are both great for strength training, and useful for developing muscles, weight training is a faster means to gain strength. The real question is, is it better? When put to the test, the pull-up came out on top as the better pound-for-pound way to build strength. The pull down, although it is great for the new gym goer, it didn’t offer much in the way of functional strength gain. However, the pull-up will provide an unbiased way to judge your strength-to-weight ratio. You could argue that the pull-up will eventually get easier, where the pull-down becomes more challenging when you just add more weight. Although this holds a truth, you can change the difficulty of a pull-up by advancing to the one-arm pull-up, which is an incredible challenge. Overall the strength gains is a tie. But, it depends on what you consider strength. If pushing as much weight as possible is the goal, there is no better choice than the bench press. While push-ups can help you create greater relative strength, the bench can foster greater absolute strength.
Working in the fitness industry for as many years as I have, I have seen my share of fitness injuries. All the injuries I have seen have been weight lifting related, never calisthenics related. This isn’t to say you will never get injured. With anything you do in the fitness world comes some risk. You can see hundreds of videos online displaying many different fitness related injuries, but let’s not be too hasty to judge. The possibility of injury when weight lifting is far more likely than it is in calisthenics due to bad form when training. People who get injured in training usually do so because they attempted something far outside of their current abilities. In a heavy bench press, poor form can cause shoulder problems such as muscle or tendon tares or other issues particularly in the long term. Push-ups with bad form can also be an issue, but since your body is what creates resistance there won’t be as much strain on the joints. With weighted squats I have witnessed gym members rip their ACL and meniscus, and with lifting too heavy on deadlifts I have seen hamstring tear and bicep tears or even go as far as ripping muscle in the lower back. As I said, it isn’t to say you will never get injured in calisthenics, it is just far less likely than it is with weight training.
Both, calisthenics and weight lifting offer many varieties of exercises you can perform, but there will be a winner in the end. The pull-down machine offers many different handles you can attach to pull giving you various grips and widths, but the pull-up offers even more than you can imagine. There are tournaments dedicated to just showcasing all the pull-up styles out there. Then we have the bench press, this offers very limited variations to work with, from dumbbell chest press to barbell bench press, wide or narrow grip or playing with angle of bench you are on. As for push-up variations, there almost never-ending variations with foot and hand placements. By elevating your hands or feet you change weight load on your arms. You can go wide or narrow with hands and feet or get creative and do push-ups on your knuckles, fingertips or the back of your hand or wrist. You can also focus on one side at a time by doing push-ups on one arm at a time. This will make sure each side of your chest is trained evenly. This will keep you physically and mentally stimulated for years to come.
In conclusion, calisthenics or bodyweight training is the clear winner. Calisthenics has been time tested, as it has been around since the dawn of man, and it still remains in the fitness industry. You can easily gain strength, as you would in weight lifting, while reducing the chance of injury. If that is not enough, you also get the option to leave the gym and take your workout with you everywhere you go, such as the park, living room or even at the bus stop. The options of exercises are next to limitless as well, there are countless push-up, pull-up and squat variations you can do, using the best equipment of all, the human body. All movements can be progressed and regressed by just changing angles or hand and foot position to increase or decrease difficulty and constantly keep you challenged with minimal risk. In the end the most important thing is, you continue to be active, fit, and healthy. Train smart and work within your limits to prevent those possible injuries. Even though there is minimal risk of injury in the world of calisthenics, it is never a bad idea to work with a fitness professional to get new ideas to push you to new levels of fitness. Working with a personal trainer is also a great way to make sure your form is where it needs to be to get the best possible results.
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Now is the best time to get signed up for personal training! We all know once New Year’s hits, the gyms get crazy. Luckily, here at Quest Fitness , there’s no waiting for equipment no crowds to push through just one on one training with a professional trainer to get you to your fitness goals quickly. So, from December 18 to January 31, 2018, we will be offering special pricing to get you started on your fitness resolutions!
3 / 1 hour sessions $90 (normally $120)
3 / 30 minute sessions $66 (normally $75)
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September 2nd is the scheduled date for the grand opening of the new location. Stop in and meet the trainers, get info on classes, training discounts and get entered in a drawing to win free training. Everyone is welcome to attend!! We hope to see you there! The new address will be 4316 S. Division Kentwood, MI 49548
Quest Fitness is growing! Because of this we are moving from a 300 sq. ft. space to a 1600 sq. ft. space! But, don’t worry we are not going far. We signed the lease and now we have some modifications to do. What does this mean for you? Well, we will have more classes including a new yoga class, another trainer (to be announced soon) more equipment (however, still sticking with the minimalist approach), a changing room, and multiple restrooms. The main focus will still be quality one-on-one personal training. Finally, I have to say this is all possible because of the Quest Fitness members. I look forward to continuing to work with you all and offering more services.
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Some may not see it, but there is a big difference between body building and performance training. One difference is that body building is primarily done for aesthetic purposes, whereas performance training is done to improve certain physical skills. Another difference is that the muscles that are focused on. The body builder, in most cases, wants to build that muscle mass focusing heavily on the slow twitch muscles that help with raw strength and appearance. In the realm of performance training, you want to focus on the fast twitch muscles and the tendons. Performance training sometimes requires quick direction changes and explosive movements. For the aesthetic purpose, the body builder will also focus on keeping the body fat low to look more defined, whereas body fat only becomes an issue in performance training if weight class or poor performance become an issue. Now, I’m not saying that you won’t be aesthetically attractive doing performance training, but it is more of a side effect or after thought not a focus. Also, you do work strength into performance training, but it is more for the purpose of performing a certain physical activity. In the end they both have benefits, and it really comes down to what do you want in the end.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been getting the same question over and over. “How much time do I need to devote to working out?” There really isn’t a perfect answer to this, but here is my view. You honestly do not need to spend hours in the gym working out. The real trick is to workout smart. In a lot of cases, you can get away with 30 to 45 minute long workouts as long as long as you avoid the common distractions in the gym such as TVs and constantly texting or making calls between sets, and in some “fitness facilities”, the snack table. No, I’m not saying that you won’t get a lot out of working out for an hour; heck, I like working out for at least an hour. But in most cases, the time is not necessarily available. Another thing you can do to help speed up your workout is focus on multiple muscle groups in one exercise. You don’t have to stick with the standard three sets of 10 for bench press three sets of 10 for lat pulldowns you can work more than one muscle at a time. The most important of all focus on your goals. Every time you enter your gym, playground or wherever else you workout, go in with a plan and if that plan is torn apart by someone using the equipment, then you need have a back up plan. There of been plenty of times when I went in planning to work one set of muscles and was thrown off by equipment I regularly use for that so I switch gears and move to another muscle group. And never forget, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re not sure how to best maximize your time in the gym. It takes some getting used to and there are plenty of people that can help you get on the right path.
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We have all heard it in commercials and seen it on fliers, “Best workout program ever made”, and this gets said about every program advertised. This is rather misleading, because let’s face it, if it was the best, then it would be the only one. So let’s look at what is the best for you.
First off, does it fit your time? Not everyone has an extra hour or so to spare for a workout, but we do have some free time for exercise. The fitness professional should have this in mind when making your fitness routine.
Next, does it require extra equipment or lots of room? Some pre-made programs require extra equipment or lots of space to move. In some cases, not all, you will need a gym membership to work with a fitness trainer. (Just a reminder that Quest Fitness has no membership fees.) If lots of room and equipment is needed, then are you willing to move furniture around or buy equipment?
Most important of all, is it something you can see yourself enjoying? Remember, fitness is a long journey, and it will take time. Not everyone likes cardio, weight training or calisthenics, it needs to be a workout based around your goals and needs. If you are not sure, then consult with a fitness professional, they can show you all the options. Another thing, don’t focus on how you feel during the workout, focus on how you feel after. The endorphin rush and the feeling of accomplishment.
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Every year I meet people that make very unrealistic health and fitness goals for their New Year’s resolution, and, within a month, they give up. That doesn’t have to be you. Get Inspired.Set attainable goals. The most common mistake people make is to set one large goal. It is important to set small goals for short term and long term. Instead of saying “I want to lose 50 lbs. by summer” (which is unhealthy), try the small goal of losing 1-2 lbs. a week. It doesn’t sounds like much but a small step forward is still a step forward. I use the SMART goal system. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Get a trainer. Even if it’s once a week or once a month, a trainer will help you assess your current fitness level, set goals you can attain, and help you choose workouts to get you to your goals. They can make sure you are doing your exercises correctly to avoid injury and can help you stay motivated. Don’t forget, even Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Ronda Rousey had help.
Eat for success. You can’t get lean and fit with a poor diet. Start by eliminating empty calories such as soda pop, juices, candy, and other junk foods. You can still have an occasional treat but everything should be in moderation. Then calculate your needed calories and eat by the numbers, keeping a balance between fruits and veggies, and lean proteins and healthy fats.
Create a support system. Health and fitness goals are hard to meet on your own. Friends, family, and co-workers might not understand your goals and inadvertently try to sabotage your effort. You worked out yesterday, you can skip it today or one cookie won’t hurt you. Surround yourself with as many like minded people as you can, from work-out buddies to health conscious eaters.
Don’t focus on the scale. At first you may drop weight fast, then plateau on weight loss. This is common and very frustrating. Instead focus on how you feel, how much energy you have, how well you sleep, and how your clothes fit. Keep in mind that set backs can happen and they are nothing to worry about. It is also possible that you are putting on lean muscle.
Treat your fitness goals as a life style change and stick to your convictions. It takes time to turn a new routine into a habit. Remember, everybody is different and reaching your goals may mean different approaches than someone else. Your fitness journey will be unique but follow these five simple tips for continued success.
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We all face them at some point in our fitness journey, but there are ways past them. I’ll admit, I have even faced them in both my workouts and my martial art training.
When it comes to weight loss and diet, the focus needs to be on calories in versus calories out. If you have been hitting the workout hard, then you may possibly have to increase your calories and possibly your carb intake just to kick the weight loss back up. Remember, as your metabolism grows so, too, will your fuel needs.
Now for the training plateau. First thing I always suggest is to change your routine. As I have mentioned in the past, your body will adapt to the work within 4-6 weeks. So change will be important. This holds true for weight loss as well as muscle building. Now this doesn’t mean you have to just up the weight or reps. You should try a complete phase change.
To go into these subjects further, I would strongly suggest talking to a trainer. They can help you blast past the road blocks and keep you challenged. Remember, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
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