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Bodyweight Calisthenics: Give Your "Cardio" A Kick In The Pants

Dec 6, 2007
If you are one of the people who believe steady-state aerobic exercise is the only way to improve cardiorespiratory endurance and burn fat, you're in for a treat. Bodyweight calisthenics are an excellent way to get a full body workout that includes the heart and lungs. I'll show you how to use bodyweight exercise in a second, but first let's talk a little about cardiorespiratory endurance.

Cardiorespiratory endurance is the level of ability your body has to gather, process, deliver and sustain oxygen to produce energy for use in physical activity. Basically, the respiratory system gathers and starts to process the oxygen. The cardiovascular system continues to process and distributes the oxygen. So, your cardiorespiratory endurance is the level of efficiency your heart and lungs have to sustain and deliver oxygen for energy.

So, when most people want to improve their endurance they do cardiorespiratory conditioning exercises (cardio) to improve endurance by "conditioning" the heart and lungs. Unfortunately, the form of cardiorespiratory conditioning usually takes the form of aerobic exercise. And bodyweight calisthenics are completely ignored! But the fact is, any activity can improve cardiorespiratory endurance if they are done properly, and bodyweight exercises and calisthenics are an excellent choice.

There is something important I should mention. The type of cardio conditioning you do improves over-all endurance. But, the increased endurance is most closely related to the activity used. This means if you ride an exercise bike, your cardiorespiratory endurance will primarily be improved for bike riding. This is fine if you ride a bike in your normal, everyday life. But this has limited application for most people who are involved in a wide variety of activities both in and out of the gym.

If, on the other hand, you use bodyweight calisthenics for your cardio conditioning, you are using a wide variety of movements and muscles. Bodyweight exercises and calisthenics more closely represent the movements of highly random movements encountered in sport, work and life. So, you could make a case that cardiorespiratory conditioning using bodyweight calisthenics is better for endurance improvement that can be used in and out of the gym.

Plus, bodyweight calisthenics use all the muscles in your body. Compare this to the predominately lower body exercises of jogging or riding a bike. So, using bodyweight exercises allow you to build a strong, lean physique while improving cardiorespiratory endurance and burning fat!

Just think about it. Let's say you do a fast paced bodyweight workout consisting of a circuit of bodyweight exercises and calisthenics. You'll simultaneously build strong muscles and burn fat while improving heart and lung function. You wouldn't even have to do a long, slow aerobic workout to supplement your training.

I hope this article has opened you eyes to the wide variety of possibilities available to improve cardiorespiratory endurance. You don't always have to do long-slow aerobic exercise. And the truth is, using other forms of training to simultaneously improve heart and lung power can prepare you better for the challenges of sport, work and life. Bodyweight calisthenics are an excellent choice for both building a strong, lean, athletic physique and building a strong heart and lungs.
About the Author
Coach Eddie Lomax, author of Workout Without Weights uses bodyweight calisthenics to improve fitness, burn fat and build an attractive physique.
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