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Wellness Is Calisthenics The Next Big Fitness Trend?

Is Calisthenics The Next Big Fitness Trend?

Is Calisthenics The Next Big Fitness Trend?
Photo: Affa Chan/Hong Kong Tatler
By Pearl Yan
May 16, 2019
Hong Kong calisthenics expert Timothy Skinner tells us why it's time to put down the dumbbells and start working with your own bodyweight

Picture a time in ancient Greece when gyms didn’t exist and warriors needed to train. Calisthenics—know to the Greek Spartans as kalos sthenos (beautiful strength)—are exercises that maximise human power and athletic ability, relying only on bodyweight and gravity.

While calisthenics is not new in the fitness world, it’s been making a comeback not just in Hong Kong but all over the world. But, it's not just about muscle-ups and the human flag. Calisthenics also includes basic moves—such as squats, push-ups, lunges, dips, jumping jacks and handstands—that you’re probably already doing in your fitness routine.

So, what's the fuss with this workout that can sculpt your body anytime, anywhere? There's no one better to show us than Hong Kong calisthenics expert, Timothy Skinner. Watch him demonstrate some seriously impressive calisthenics moves below and read on to find out how you can incorporate it into your own training:

Video: Anson Yip/Hong Kong Tatler

How did you get into calisthenics?

I have over six years of experience training in everything from endurance and cardio to bodybuilding. However, it wasn't until five years ago that I began utilising bodyweight training and taking a holistic approach to nutrition and life.

I immersed myself in research papers, books, podcasts, seminars and formal education. After everything I have received from the vast movement community, I decided to give back by sharing my experiences and ideas with my street culture brand @top_street_fit.

Photo: Affa Chan/Hong Kong Tatler
Photo: Affa Chan/Hong Kong Tatler

Take us through a typical week of training for you.

My workouts revolve around calisthenics and bodyweight exercises, mixed with moderate lightweight training. I train on parallel bars, pull-up bars or on the ground five to six days a week for 60 to 90 minutes at a time. For people new to calisthenics, I'd recommend the following workout to be performed once or twice a week:

  • 10 pull-ups
  • 10 chin-ups
  • 20 dips
  • 25 jump squats
  • 20 push-ups
  • 50 knee touch crunches
  • 10 burpees
  • 30s jumping rope

See also: 10 Best Hong Kong Fitness Classes Under One Hour

Photo: Affa Chan/Hong Kong Tatler
Photo: Affa Chan/Hong Kong Tatler

What are your favourite upper- and lower body exercises?

My favourite upper body exercises are handstand push-ups and isometric holds, such as back lever, front lever, human flag and planches. As for lower body, I prefer doing a mixture of movements to aid CNS (central nervous system) recovery after an intense training cycle of progressive overload.

What's the injury rate for calisthenics as compared to weight training?

People who train in calisthenics don't have high injury rates, but activities that involve lumbar extension can result in lower back injuries and warrant further attention. That's why we should always seek a mentor or professional for any type of sport.

See also: Tried & Tested: Garuda Fitness In Hong Kong

Photo: Affa Chan/Hong Kong Tatler
Photo: Affa Chan/Hong Kong Tatler

What kind of diet is best for calisthenics training?

There are many diet tools that you can use to help you achieve your goals, but for calisthenics it’s best to stay lean with no excess fat. I’d recommend a low to medium-calorie diet, focusing on proteins such as red meat, fish, eggs, chicken and vegetables.

See also: Why Everyone Is Talking About The Mediterranean Diet In 2019

It’s not necessary to consume a massive amount of carbohydrates as side dishes unless you’re looking to gain weight. A quick way to implement this is by substituting carb-heavy side dishes such as white rice, fries, and pasta with vegetable alternatives, such as sweet potatoes.

I’ve also been on intermittent fasting for almost six years now and it has helped me to maintain a low body fat percentage in order for me to stay lean.

Do you think calisthenics will come to the forefront of fitness and physical culture?

Absolutely! It’s challenging and fun, plus you can pretty much do it anywhere you desire. It’s all about being creative with your movements.

Follow Timothy Skinner on Instagram @timothyskinnerfitness

See also: The Most Common Exercise Mistakes To Avoid


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