Calisthenics. Pull Exercises.

Calisthenics is a smart, scientific approach to weight loss, strength gain and living a more active, fulfilling life. This is the third resource in our series on calisthenics, designed so you can workout in privacy of your home or on location when travelling and can’t attend your sessions with your Tiger Athletic personal trainer without the aid of equipment, a trainer or supplements and begin to understand that you too can get healthy using just your body, the physical environment and a little imagination.

Pull body weight exercises use a resistive or static pulling motion to work various muscle groups.

The word calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek words kálos (κάλλος), which means “beauty”, and sthénos (σθένος), meaning “strength”. It is the art of using one’s body weight and qualities of inertia to develop one’s physique. A longstanding urban legend has claimed that the exercise was named after one of its earliest promotors, the Greek historian Callisthenes.

Human Flag

Start by grabbing a vertical object such as a pole or tree trunk, with both hands palms pronated. The body is then lifted into a horizontal position using the abdominal muscles, with the arms remaining as straight as possible.

Muscle Groups

  • Abdominals (mainly obliques)
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps (this is for the pushing down by the lower arm)
  • Biceps (this is done by the pulling of the upper arm)

Muscle up

Starts with an aggressive standard Pull Up with an overhand grip to chest level, at which point the wrists are rotated forward to permit the elbows and arms to swing above the bar. The arms then push the body up until the arms are straight and the waist is at the level of the bar. The motion is then reversed so the body can be lowered back to the starting position. The transition between the high pull up and the low dip is the most difficult part and emphasizes the trapezius.

Muscle Groups

  • Deltoids
  • Trapezius
  • Erector spinae
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Biceps
  • Brachialis

Pull Up

The body weight Pull Up is another common indicator of an individual’s general fitness level.

Start by hanging from a bar with the arms extended and the palms facing away from the exerciser. The body is then pulled up using the arms until the elbows are bent and the head is higher than the hands. If the hands are moved closer, more emphasis is placed on the biceps and elbow flexors.

Muscle Groups

  • Deltoids
  • Trapezius
  • Erector spinae
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Biceps
  • Brachialis
  • Abdominals

Let Me Ins

Start by facing the outer edge of an open door that has a standard doorknob set. The feet are placed on either side of the door and the door pressed between the feet, the heels directly below the doorknob. The individual then leans back until the arms are straight and bends the knees, so a 90-degree angle is formed between the thighs and back. The body is then pulled toward the door until the chest touches the edge of the door. The thighs and back should remain locked into a 90-degree angle throughout the exercise. The body is then lowered to the starting point.

The exercise can be performed with either a side grip or over-handed grip, which places emphasis on the extensors on the outside of the forearm, or an under-handed grip, which shifts the focus to the flexors on the inside of the forearms.

The difficulty can be modified by moving the feet; moving them forward increases the difficulty while moving the feet back decreases the difficulty. The exercise can also be performed with unilateral movements (one-handed) to increase the difficulty.

Variation

  • Towel Grip Let Me In
  • One-Handed Let Me In

Muscle Groups

  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Biceps
  • Forearms
  • Deltoids

Let Me Ups

Start by lying on the ground in the supine position, and grasps a bar mounted at arm’s length above the chest. The arms are bent to pull the body up to the bar, while the body remains as straight as possible from the ankles to the shoulders. The body is then lowered until the arms are straight.

The exercise may be made less difficult by moving the feet closer to the bar and bending the knees. The exercise may be increased in difficulty by raising the feet onto a raised surface. Performing the exercise with an overhand grip focuses on the extensors on the outside of the forearm, while an underhand grip changes the focus to the flexors on the inside of the forearm.

Muscle Groups

  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Biceps
  • Forearms
  • Deltoids

Towel Curls

Start in a standing position with the back against a wall. The ends of a bath-sized towel are grasped in each hand, and the towel is looped under the foot of one leg. The towel is pulled upwards with the arms, the elbows locked against the side of the body, while pushing down with the foot to provide resistance. The arms are then lowered slowly as the foot continues to provide resistance until the arms are at the starting position.

The difficulty of the exercise may be modified by providing varying resistance with the foot; the exercise may be made even more difficult by performing it with one hand.

Variation

The Ledge Curl uses a fixed ledge between waist and chest height to provide resistance. The hands are balled into fists and placed under the ledge. Then bend over slowly while pressing up against the bottom of the ledge, then returns slowly to the starting position, maintaining the same level of resistance along the way.

The Isometric Curl uses one hand placed on the wrist of the other hand to provide resistance to the curling motion; the curling arm does not move in this case but instead benefits from the isometric tension of the exercise.

Muscle Groups

  • Biceps
  • Forearms

The Claw

Begin by placing the arms in front of the body, open and close the hands and fingers as tightly and as quickly as possible. This exercise is usually performed for many repetitions.

Muscle Groups

  • Hands
  • Forearms

Tiger Athletic Fitness & Conditioning uses personal training to assess, motivate, educate and train you in a private, modern appointment only strength and conditioning in the heart of Sandton. Our rigorous pre-participation health appraisal screening process ensures that we design and deliver comprehensive exercise programs that safely and effectively meet your goals. Start your own Tiger Athletic fitness program by booking your initial interview.

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