by Dr. Deric D’Agostino
Calisthenics was something I did back in elementary or high school as part of P.E.. But it was just that—a school thing. It was promptly forgotten as soon as I got out of P.E. classes. Flash forward 40 years later, I rediscover calisthenics and boy, my whole body is thrilled.
I used to like to work out with weights a lot. The hard steel in my hands pushing heavy weights up. There is a thrill and surge of adrenalin when I would push heavy weights up.
I turned 50 this year and my joints started letting me know that maybe I should ease up on the weights. I took a year off and rested my shoulders that had constant pain and aches in them.
This year I discovered the world of calisthenics. Push-ups, pull-ups, handstands……everything and anything with using my own body weight. I had started watching people on youtube doing unbelievable things with their bodies— lifting themselves with one hand, holding a pole and extending out horizontally (the human flag).
I was amazed and wanted to start doing some of these things. I joined a three-month workout plan provided by bodyweightbuilt.com—changing the workouts weekly.
I thought of myself as a pretty strong guy. After all, I could lift some pretty heavy weights at the gym. Whether it was bench press, military press, rows….. I was pretty happy with what I could do. The problem was my joints were killing me. When bench pressing, my pecs were strong but all the intrinsic muscles around them were not. That created an imbalance which caused me more pain in the joints.
The calisthenics exercises such as pull-ups work the latissimus dorsi, shoulders, back, core, chest, gluts, among many other muscles. The first thing I noticed was how weak I actually am. It seemed whatever calisthenics exercise I did, my entire body’s muscles had to work in concert with one another and some muscles were strong and others were very weak. I had trouble doing simple push-ups at first.
Over time though, my body’s muscles are beginning to work in unison with each other. There seems to be less of a gap between my strong muscles and the weak intrinsic muscles. This, in turn, is creating a stronger, more mobile body with less chance of injury.
I still can’t do all of the exercises they set for me. My goal is to keep moving forward and maybe you’ll see me on youtube performing the human flag one day.