Calisthenics is a form of sport that is considered a great way to improve your strength and agility. The dynamic movements practiced in calisthenics are designed to take each muscle group through a full range of motion, although static stress positions such as planks can also be included in calisthenics. As no weights are used for calisthenic workouts, muscles are not massively over-loaded, so the chance of injury is lower, and muscles maintain a higher degree of flexibility.
Burpees are the quintessential calisthenic exercise, and they are an excellent place to introduce the fundamentals of this discipline.
From standing position, down to plank, to explosive jump, then straight back to plank – the burpee uses every major muscle group. As such, a set of 10-20 burpees is enough to rapidly increase your heart rate (calisthenics is also considered a form of aerobic conditioning).
For all calisthenic movements, the form is essential. While the calisthenic movements may seem obvious - like anyone can do them – completing the action with perfect form is the key to improving your strength and agility. To maximize the effect of the movements, correct posture must be maintained through the complete repetition. This means that shoulders and neck should not be slouched, but rather should be in a neutral position, with the chin tucked slightly in towards the neck.
For the burpee, when moving from the plank position back to the crouch, you should focus on keeping your core “tight.” This means your lower abdomen and glutes – rather than the extremities of your body like your arms and lower legs – should be doing the bulk of the work. If your shoulders, wrists, or ankles hurt when you are doing burpees – or any other calisthenic movement - slow down and focus on using the muscles in your core.
Burpees, like many calisthenic movements, contain an explosive element. From the crouch position, you jump – again keeping your core tight – then land and move fluidly back to the plank. The explosive component of a calisthenic movement is typically what allows you to build strength.