I have gotten into the debate multiple times with multiple personal trainers over what is the best way to get fit. Some say that you have to do a lot of cardio, some say you have to push a lot of weight, but I say there is no one perfect way to get fit. I have even gotten into argument with professional trainers who state that you can’t put on muscle mass unless you lift weight. Let’s take a moment and look at the science behind gaining muscle. In order to gain muscle, you must put the muscle under stress and break it down so when the healing of the muscle occurs, you gain extra muscle fibers. In other words, you have to challenge the muscles and this can be done in various ways including push-ups and pull-ups with bodyweight exercises (also known as “calisthenics“). So anytime someone tells you that you have to lift wait to put on muscle they’re not telling you the entire truth, that you need to challenge your muscles. Now, as far as losing weight and getting fit there is no one way to do it, because if there was only one way to do it there would not be the 50 million exercise DVDs and diet guides out on the market today. Let’s face it, everybody’s body type is different; therefore, how your body reacts to nutrition and fitness is going to be different. A good trainer will be able to help you down this path and, yes, there will be trial and error. But don’t get discouraged with this, because once we find the right combination that works for you, the health and fitness goals will start to flow together. Another thing to consider is not everyone likes lifting weight, or doing cardio all the time, or doing push-ups and pull-ups. So find a workout that you enjoy makes your fitness journey fun. It doesn’t need to be a chore. Health and fitness is your way of investing in your own well-being. After all, your body is your best investment.
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When it comes to improving your fitness, you have to constantly keep yourself challenged. In weight training, this is done by increasing weight to increase difficulty. With calisthenics, however, it works little differently. Challenging yourself and calisthenics can mean changing the angle, changing the depth of the movement, or looking at different variations of exercises for the same muscle group. Whether you’re lifting weights or doing calisthenics most of us are familiar with dips. When I was starting to increase the difficulty of my dips, I add weights. But taking a step back and taking a better look at the exercise I found that the weights are not necessary. As I progressed I moved from bench dips, to elevated bench dips, to parallel bar dips, the straight bar dips, and eventually Korean dips. Before I would progress from one to the other I made sure I was reaching the maximum depth with proper form to make sure I was maximizing my range of motion. One of the things I love most about calisthenics is the near limitless amount of exercises you can do if you get creative. You can find a video of all these dips here.
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