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  • David Price

Train like Tyson - the Calisthenic way

One amazing fact about the recent Tyson/Jones Junior fight, was that Mike Tyson only started training 8 weeks before the fight. He soon made up for that with a very rigorous training schedule that included sparring, the punch bag, running and calisthenics. What is calisthenics you might ask? simply;-

“Calisthenics is a form of fitness which utilises gravity and your own bodyweight leverage to challenge your fitness level".

For Tyson, this mean his daily routine consisted of 10 sets of 200 decline sit-ups, 50 bench dips, 50 push ups and 50 shoulder shrugs. The benefits were clearly obvious, as he fought to draw and put him in fantastic shape.

Back to reality, the benefits of low-resistance ,repetitious exercises are numerous but they include increases in muscle strength, endurance and flexibility with less threat from injury. In order to get the full benefit, the exercises should be done in quick succession, stopping for less than a minute or so between each set. That keeps your heart rate up, making calisthenics a more challenging and effective workout.

Depending on your level of fitness, most routines will require between 3-5 sets of at least 10-12 repetitions, increasing as you become fitter and stronger. Calisthenics its self, can be used to warm-up/cool-down before another sport or clearly as a workout on its own.

Examples of calisthenic exercises (there are lots) include:

  • Sit up – crunches, bicycle crunch, Russian twist, V-ups, dead bugs, scissors, raised leg, toe touches – Target Muscle Groups: Chest, abdominals, and hip flexors

  • Bar Dips – no variation. Target Muscle Groups: Chest, shoulders, arms, back, abdominals, and glutes

  • Bench dips – find a bench ! Target muscle groups triceps, anterior deltoids, Chest

  • Push ups – incline / decline / diamond / wide hands / pike. Target muscles Chest, shoulders, triceps, abs

  • Jumping jacks – star jump. Target muscle groups glutes, quadriceps, hip flexors

  • Trunk twists – standing, sitting. Target muscle groups Abs, internal oblique

  • Pull/Chin-ups – wide grip, shoulder grip, narrow grip - Target Muscle Groups: Chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps, and upper back

  • Planks – high, low, side, reverse, extended. Target Muscle Groups Abs, internal obliques

  • Lunges – stationary, side, walking, reverse, twist, curtsy. Target Muscle group, Abs, back muscles, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves.

  • Burpees – push up, star jump, superman, side, mountain climber - Target Muscle Groups: Upper body (triceps, shoulder, chest, back, and abdominals) and lower body (hips, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves)

  • Skipping – various variations, Target muscle groups – full body work out

How Many Calories Do Calisthenics Burn?

The number of calories you use while doing calisthenics depends on several things, including your weight and your age. On average, for a 200 pound male, doing calisthenics for about 30 minutes will burn:-

  • 200 calories – moderate exercise

  • 355 calories - vigorous exercise


The World is your gym ! You can do it anywhere, anyplace. Compared to certain types of exercises that focus on a specific muscle group, calisthenics offers more efficient muscle-building by providing a whole-body workout. For instance, a single burpee engages almost every muscle group in your body.

Brett’s view: Recently I have included more exercises with my stretching regime in the morning, and slowly but surely I have really noticed the difference.

David’s view: I am a big fan of Calisthenics as I travel a lot and you can do it anywhere, I do a little every day, have been working on pull ups and dips.

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