When I first got into calisthenics I was blown away with the functional strength and power I gained in my athletic adventures. I also experienced a surge in strength in my job which required me to lift and carry heavy awkward pieces of fitness equipment.
Never in my 15+ years of lifting weights had I experienced such an upshot of functional strength. The reason for such a surge is the unique way progressive calisthenics marries the two essential elements of functional training together.
In order to have this so-called functional strength you need 2 things; strength and control. That’s the “secret code.” It’s all about combining strength with the ability to control that strength.
The issue facing most training methods is that they focus greatly on either the strength part or the control part. Sitting on a leg press machine will greatly challenge your leg strength, but there are pads and all kinds of supports for your body. This means that while strength is challenged the control aspect is lacking.
The functional movement craze saw an explosion of control devices like balance disks and exercises like standing chest presses with resistance bands. While these methods were great for creating balance and control, they were a rather poor challenge towards one’s strength systems.
The typical solution was to somehow combine the two methods of training. Unfortunately, the balance and strength methods often came at the cost of each other. If you do squats on a Bosu then you can’t use as much resistance and you compromise strength. If you use a more stable and supported environment then you gain strength but the whole control aspect is compromised.
You could use both training methods separately. You could have a few sets of power lifting and then do some balance work, but that just eats up more lifestyle resources. Chances are, one is going to suffer at the expense of the other one way or another.
Progressive calisthenics is the perfect solution because control and strength are not in opposition but rather they compliment each other.
Take for example, progressive push ups. As you progress through various styles of using longer push ups and then moving more weight onto one arm both your capacity for strength and control are challenged in equal amounts. If you want to gain better control you need more strength and if you want more strength then you need more control. So instead of one aspect coming at the cost of the other, both strength and control enhance each other.
In addition, progressive calisthenics also requires full strength and control over every joint of your entire body. Even the joints in your neck, hands and feet are challenged for both strength and control. There is no muscle, joint or square inch of your body that can remain weak and unstable as you progress your training.
lastly, calisthenics builds incredible body awareness. This is the ultimate aspect in functional fitness. It’s not just about applying power or keeping your knees from moving too much on the frontal plane. The essence of functional training is about becoming ever more aware of how your body moves. Over time you not only create more power and control, but you can command that power and control however you wish in any situation life can throw at you.
I’ll take having full command over my own body as opposed to being able to throw tricks on a balance disk any day.