Today we are going to talk about calisthenics for seniors. Can seniors do calisthenics safely and is it beneficial for your health? Read on to find out.
Calisthenics are a great way to get started with strength training because they require virtually no equipment. Most calisthenics movements are functional exercises that improve full body flexibility and strength for seniors.
Another great thing about calisthenics is that most people are familiar with them as many of the movements are taught in schools and they are very intuitive movement patterns human use naturally.
Since strength training is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise for seniors and the benefits of strength training are incredibly diverse for seniors, calisthenics is a good option for improving your strength and health.
You might have a general idea what calisthenics are but let’s take a closer look at what it actually includes!
What are calisthenics
Strictly speaking calisthenics mean any exercise that is done by using your own body weight. This would include activities like standing, walking, running, swimming etc.
More commonly calisthenics refers to body weight exercises that require strength, mobility and body control. Good examples of these are push-ups and pull-ups. Also, gymnastics that involve the use of rings, vaults, bars, balance beams etc. are considered a form of calisthenics.
The word calisthenics means “beauty and strength” or “beautiful strength” as it’s derived from the Greek words kallos (beauty) and sthenos (strength). The ancient Greeks saw calisthenics as a form of achieving the potential strength and beauty of one’s body. You know those ancient Greek statues with perfect muscular figure? That’s the result of calisthenics for you.
What’s common with all calisthenics exercises is that they are done with minimal equipment using your body weight. Stretching, mobility and balance skills are a key part in calisthenics and they are challenged in almost every exercise. Calisthenics are great for improving proprioception which is very important for balance and athletics performance.
These day calisthenics are also synonymous with home or street workouts that can be done on the floor and on various horizontal bars and racks. Calisthenics can be used to build impressive physiques and strength as well as for improving general health, strength and mobility.
Common exercises in home and street calisthenics workout include:
- Push up variations
- Pull ups
- Chin ups
- Dip variations
- Hand stands
- Muscle ups
- Squat jumps
- Pistol squats
- Leg raises
These exercises will train the muscles of your whole body. Pulling movements like pull ups and chin ups use the upper back and biceps. Pushing movements like push-ups and dips use the chest, shoulders and triceps. Squat variations train the whole lower body, including the quads, the hamstrings and the glutes. Planks, levers and L-sits require incredible core strength.
Are calisthenics beneficial for seniors?
Calisthenics are very beneficial for seniors. They are a form of strength training, which means performing calisthenics offers the benefits of strength training. For seniors the greatest benefits of strength training are maintaining muscle mass, improving strength and improving bone strength. Calisthenics has been shown to be an effective way to improve strength in seniors.
Calisthenics also requires you to challenge your balance and maintain and improve your mobility. Improving and maintaining balance is one of the most important goals for seniors besides maintaining strength and muscle mass as you age. This is because losing balance and falling becomes more likely and more dangerous as you age.
Calisthenics offer free and easy to do floor exercises for seniors who don’t have the option of going to a gym. You don’t have to do complex and technique driven calisthenics movements like muscle ups and levers to get the health benefits and to improve your strength. Simple exercises like push-ups, pull ups, squats and planks can train your whole body in a short amount of time.
If you are hesitant about going to the gym or getting a trainer or simply can’t afford them or any strength training equipment, start doing a basic calisthenics program and you will improve your health vastly. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that!
Are calisthenics safe for seniors?
So are calisthenics safe for seniors? Generally speaking yes they are. It’s extremely important to know your level of fitness and start carefully. There is potential for injury as with all exercise.
If you have heart conditions or other significant health issues, your exercise program needs to be planned with your treating doctor. Always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
The greatest risk of calisthenics for seniors are joint injuries, pulled muscles and lower back pain from performing the exercises with poor form or without sufficient mobility.
The important thing is to know your limitations, learn the movements with correct form and then gradually improve them.
Never try to perform a new exercise out cold. Always warm up, try it partly and feel out if you have any mobility issues or pain in your joints. If you experience any pain, stop.
I want to point out that pain and mild discomfort are a different thing, you will always feel a bit uncomfortable when trying new exercises and challenging your strength. Progress lives outside of your comfort zone after all.
When you keep these simple rules in mind while practicing calisthenics, they should be completely safe even if you are a bit older.
Simple calisthenics routine for seniors
This simple calisthenics routine by Tony Tailor from Tony Tailor Fitness will get you started with strength training. It’s a very simple program that includes 4 exercises and can be done in 7 minutes. That’s right 7 minutes! The included exercises are a chair squat, a push up, the mountain climber and the lunge.
The program will activate most of the large muscle in your body and will get you started with strength training. The only problem with the program is that it lacks a pulling movement. If you want to try a strength training program that requires a bit of more equipment (a dumbbell or a kettle bell) download my free strength training routine from the form below.
I hope you enjoyed reading about calisthenics for seniors, what do you think, does it sound something you’d like to try? If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer you.
I’m not really a calisthenics expert since my experience is more in barbell and gym training but I’ll share what I know. I do include pull ups and dips in my regular strength training routine, both with body weight as well as added weight. I also do dragon flag progressions to improve my core strength.
I actually build my initial strength as a teenager by doing tons of pull ups, push-ups, body weight squats and crunches. At some point I could perform 28 strict form pull ups which was my all time record. I have since gained quite a bit of body weight so pull up have become harder.
I can still eek out 14 pull ups in a good day. I’m not telling you this to brag but to show I have some actual experience with body weight exercises. If you want to improve your strength with calisthenics and body weight exercises it’s completely possible. I am a living proof. Just start light, get started right away and stick to it! Consistency is the key.
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See you next time!