Calisthenics are a type of exercise that is used to increase body strength and flexibility by using the one's own body weight for resistance. They consist of various simple movements that incorporate stretches. Calisthenics can actually be used for bodybuilding and increasing muscle mass, without the use of weights.
There are a variety of techniques that can be used through calisthenics to build muscle. The following list of calisthenics techniques can be done while performing common exercises, such as squats or push-ups:
Traditional exercises - such as squats, push-ups or sit-ups - can be done using calisthenics by repeating the movement as many times as possible until muscle failure. The movement should be done until you can no longer sustain the position. This will build up muscle endurance. Although this technique may not necessarily add significant muscle mass, it will allow you to gain mass much faster if you eventually switch to traditional bodybuilding using weights. Doing so allows for certain physiological changes that make the muscles more responsive to heavier weight-lifting.
Flex Hard and Hold the Position
To get good results from calisthenics exercises, focus on tensing your muscle as much as you can, while holding the position for as long as possible. This technique is sometimes referred to as iso-tension, which simply refers to contracting the muscle with no movement. This technique will allow for a more defined muscle.
Flex while Doing Your Reps
This technique is a variation of the iso-tension technique. Rather than keeping the flexed muscles motionless, flex the muscles hard while also moving. This is referred to as dynamic-tension, which increases muscle power. For example, while doing push-ups, flex all the muscles involved in the descent of the chest to the floor - chest, triceps, biceps and back. Keeping the tension hard during the movements will promote muscle growth and strength.
Use Only One Leg/Arm instead of Both
Taking one limb out of the equation produces much greater resistance, therefore greater results. For example, squat using only one leg instead of both. Although this is very difficult, it can add great resistance when not using weights. This calisthenic technique will also develop balance.
Performing exercises slowly will work the muscle much more instead of quick motions. to maximize definition in the muscle, both the flexing and extending of the muscles should be done for a minimum of six seconds. For example, when squatting, take six seconds to lower your body, then another six seconds to come back up to starting position. Taking a few more seconds on the ascent will be even more beneficial.
Keep Rest Time between Sets to a Minimum
Reducing the amount of time you rest in between sets can be beneficial while performing exercises. For example, reduce your rest time from 60 seconds to 30 seconds. Continue to reduce the rest time until there is virtually no rest at all. This makes the calisthenics exercise much more intense.
For added benefit, after the movement is performed, continue with another set only a few seconds afterwards. This will allow more muscle growth from the exercise.