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The best workouts target all muscle groups, ligaments, tendons, fascia and use both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. The mentality of most is that to get a fit, toned and well-shaped body one must go to the gym and lift weights or use fancy machinery. This simply is not the case. Body weight or callisthenic exercise is more beneficial than equipment-based exercise. Is it time to move more and lift equipment less to achieve your ideal body?


Movement-based exercises, or callisthenics, focuses on increasing range of movement and mobility, and strengthening joints. It not only increases your range, it strengthens your secondary system, which includes ligaments, tendons, inter-connective tissue and fascia.


This is directly transferable to increasing the strength of the primary muscular system that it supports. By strengthening your secondary system this type of exercise massively helps in preventing injuries. The injury prevention and improved function of callisthenics, while also receiving great fat-burning and muscle-building gains, should make it a necessity to include in your workouts.


Strength, Balance and Power


The best bodies on the planet belong to gymnasts. Gymnasts never lift weights or use machines to achieve their physiques, yet their balance, stability, power, strength and control are second to none.


Functional strength and power training techniques require the construction of a movement continuum. This style of training demands coordinated and integrated body movements, which offer challenging variations to the participant or athlete that will accelerate neural and physiological adaptation.


Gymnasts are incredibly strong because multi-plane and multi-joint exercises develop synergistic movement, as opposed to isolated movement. Bodyweight exercise destabilises the body under load, which creates a challenging position where the muscular structure and fascia must work harder to enable the core and other joint stabilisers to manage the centre of gravity over its base of support.


While using weights and lifting machines may have a very slight advantage over bodyweight training in regard to the fact that progression is smoother and easier to effect, bodyweight training makes up for it with its greater variety, balance, agility and flexibility gains.


Fitness and Function


The latest fitness trends, like Ido Portal and Zuu, are leading the way in revolutionising the fitness industry. They provide a system of exercise that delivers amazing benefits in all fitness components and functional movement with the lowest risk of injury.


If your exercise is not achieving the objective of improving the way you function, then no matter how strong a single muscle becomes, you are only as strong as the weakest muscle in the kinetic chain of that movement. This is where the majority of machine or ‘outer’ body resistance programmes fail.


They operate on an isolated basis that doesn’t work or strengthen the entire secondary muscular system. Furthermore, conventional weights exercises are performed in a single plane of movement, making participants more inflexible and susceptible to injury when they go through a real-world multi-plane movement.


This is why so many people who train only with weights and machines, sustain injuries when playing sport or completing simple activities. Their body is simply not conditioned to work through a full range of motion.


Changing the Routine


In my view body-weight exercise is the superior form of resistance exercise. A functional definition of strength is the ability to control, stabilise, lift, accelerate and decelerate your body through space. Before moving on to performing conventional weight lifting people should first develop their functional strength and movement control via bodyweight workouts.


The greater point is that if your goal is to build a lean, toned and well-shaped body, callisthenic exercise should be a part of your workout routine. All resistance exercise is beneficial but if you do not include functional bodyweight exercise, that strength and muscle you gain might be unusable in the real world of activity and function.


Phil is founder and master trainer at Body Expert Systems. Contact him on 0934 782763, at his website or through Star Fitness (

Phil Kelly

Phil is an avid sportsman and loves most things fitness. With the final realisation that he would not be an All Black, he turned his full focus to studying the human body in regard to improving movement and posture, developing strength, function and performance, as well as scrutinising the conventional wisdom of nutrition for fat loss and performance. He loves challenging the 'norm' and is dedicated to the prosperity and health of his clients and the community. He has a mission to educate and empower people to "be all they can be" by providing accurate, research proven and industry leading information.