If you have been into fitness for even a brief amount of time, you are aware of the divisions that have been drawn in order to categorized fitness enthusiasts. What if I told you not one single fitness training style will you give the best results? More and more people are bringing to light the fact that hybrid training can take your physique from good.....to amazing! You have powerlifters looking as jacked and lean as bodybuilders. You have fast running and high stamina bodybuilding. You even have strong and jacked crossfitters. What happened to specialization? Let's find out below.
Components Of An Amazing Physique
What makes a physique stand out from others? These physiques were/are lean, have wide shoulders and a narrow waist, and has great proportion between muscle groups. So the goal when trying to build the best physique possible is to get bigger, proportioned, and shredded. Since body-fat percentage has a lot more to do with diet, you can learn more about this in my article DIETING MADE EASY. As for the other traits, they can easily become attainable by combining two different styles of training discussed in this article.
Stimulating More Muscle Mass
In order to get bigger, you must stimulate muscle growth. The more muscle you can stimulate to grow, the bigger you will get. This is why majority of your training must be focused around compound movements (multiple joints working together). The more body area that the exercise can stimulate (leg, abdominals, arms, etc), the greater the stimulus will be for overall size. You may get bigger biceps with some bicep curls, but that aesthetic look every "bro-lifter" desires to attain requires muscle mass throughout the entire body. This is why movements that require full-body tension are best for building overall mass. Why just work on your chest, when you can stimulate your abdominals and arms to grow as well? This is where calisthenics come into play. No, I don't mean merely doing 50 push-ups every day. I mean weighted dips with 100 pounds for reps, weighted pull-ups with 45 pounds for reps, and Bulgarian one-legged squats with 70 pound dumbbells for reps. By prioritizing exercises that progressively load the body, stimulate the entire body (or most of it), and work smaller muscles required to stabilize the movement, you get the most muscle stimulation possible. Don't be afraid to load these exercises heavy. A good guideline for calisthenic training, is to use repetition/set parameters explained with weight training. A good example of this would be if you are wanting to build muscle mass with dips, the goal would to be to load enough resistance to fail around the 8-12 repetition range and perform 3-5 sets of this. Looks familiar, right? That is because even though the exercise style/equipment has changed, does not mean that you should work out with different parameters. Resistance is resistance, whether you are doing a push-up or you are dumbbell pressing, progressive overload is a must.
When it comes to muscular proportions, there will always be a need of specificity. This specificity deals with specifically targeted muscles. Though you build the most mass with movements that stimulate the vast majority of the body, in order to keep the body balanced, you must add in some exercises specific for keeping proportion as you grow. This sometimes cannot be done with compound movements. This is where bodybuilding got its isolation exercise stereotype. In order to build up smaller muscles that cannot be efficiently targeted with compound movements (or to the degree the other muscles in that muscle group are being stimulated) you must add in isolation movements. This is where weightlifting comes into play. By using external loads for which you can easily manipulate the angle, load, and range of motion, you can focus all your energy on stimulating specific muscles. By being able to perform exercises such as calf raises and bicep curls, your limbs can stay proportioned with your chest, back, and thighs. By keeping proportion, you give your body the aesthetic "full-package" of a well-balanced physique. Before looking at how to implement both calisthenics and weight training into your training program, let's look at the Pros and Cons of both style of training.
Pros And Cons:
What Does This Tell Us?
With the Pros and Cons stated above, it's clearer to see that combining calisthenics and weight training can help fill gaps that would result in using only one style of training. With combining both calisthenics and weight training we can:
How To Combine Them:
Strength Focused Routine:
Heavy loaded barbell training and externally loaded (heavy) calisthenics
(5-10 repetition range for both calisthenic movements and free-weights)
Muscle Mass Focus:
Heavy/Moderate Repetition Calisthenics with Lighter Weight Isolation Exercises
(8-12 repetition range for calisthenic movements/10-20 repetition range with free-weights)
Moderate Repetitions Free-Weights with Moderate Repetitions/Until Failure Calisthenics
(8-15 repetition range for free-weights/8-15 repetition range,or until failure, for calisthenic movements)
High Repetition Free Weights with Calisthenic Movements To Failure
(20+ repetitions for free weights/calisthenics until failure)
Having the best physique you can possibly attain does not have to do with just spending endless hours performing one style of training. Rather, it is a combination of training style that compliment one another in order to fill the gaps. Having an aesthetic body isn't as easy as it is marketed to be, but by combing calisthenics and weight training, you give your body the right tools for the job.