Performance Insiders

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Q: Can doing calisthenics replace strength and cardiovascular exercise?

Can doing calisthenics replace strength and cardiovascular exercise? Jumping jacks, mountain climbers, push-ups, pull-ups, and high knee running seem be very effective and time efficient. Jay Liverpool, New York

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A:

All of the above are great, but they shouldn't exactly replace anything. Use these calisthenics, or bodyweight exercises, and others to maintain your routine, mix it up, and keep it fun.

The key is to keep your training session target=ed and balanced. This means watching the clock, for starters. By completing a certain number of bodyweight circuits (say, push-ups, pull-ups and squats) in a given amount of time, you'll increase the demand on your muscles and metabolism.

This also means planning your training session to include bodyweight exercises that improve mobility, stability, strength and cardiovascular fitness, not just strength and cardio.

Try this format to set up your bodyweight workouts.

1. Dynamic Warm-up - This is what we call "movement prep" and can include various lunges and skipping, for example.

2. Pillar Strength - Try front bridges, side bridges, and glute bridges.

3. Total-body Strength - A circuit with push-ups, pull-ups and squats is a good start.

4. Energy System Development - Try a combination of mountain climbers, jumping jacks and running for a heart-pumping finish to your workout.

For more info, check out these articles:
An Interval Workout That's Easier On Your Joints
The Five-Minute Jump Rope Workout
Build Total Body Strength

--Anthony Slater

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