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Calisthenics: Can It Be Done Every Day?

  • by Wayne Foong Weng Hui

The question of whether or not you can do calisthenics every day is a tricky one. There are many factors to consider, such as your training goal and how often you perform the exercises already.

If your goal is strength-based, then it may not be wise to train every day because this could lead to overtraining.

If your goal is skill-based (such as performing handstand), then it's possible that you can train every day without any issues at all.

Strength building happens while you rest

The secret to gaining strength is the rest. The magic zone between training too much (strength deteriorates as a result of over-use) and not enough (training reduces as a consequence of under-use) is what you need to discover.

It is not wise to train for strength every day. We know strength is the result of a combination of neurological activation and skeletal muscle adaptation.

Your muscles are made of fibers. The more you train them, the bigger they get and also the stronger they become. This means that with enough time between training sessions, your muscle fiber will grow in size which is what we call hypertrophy or muscular growth.

For most people, allow 48 hours of rest for the trained muscle group. That's about 3 times of training a week.

High-intensity, low-volume resistance training with long resting interval is best for strength

Study compared 2 different training methods: Medium intensity, high-volume, short rest interval and High-intensity, low-volume, long rest interval

The finding is high-intensity group gains significant strength and lean arm mass gains, compared to the medium intensity group.

How is a resistance training program considered high-intensity?

There are many factors that can affect the intensity of a workout. Generally, a high-intensity workout is:

  • between 3 to 5 repetition maximum
  • long rest interval around 3 minutes

You can use other tactics to make resistance training harder such as:

  • hold for a few seconds at the longest and shortest of muscle length
  • control the rate of firing, slow down movement in both concentric and eccentric
  • full muscle-mind-connection during the workout

You can train skill works more often

Skill work is something you practice to get better at without getting more powerful. Attributes like balancing, coordination, flexibility, and mobility are all considered skill works.

The secret to most skill work is that it can be done every day with a varied routine. You will need to master the movement before doing it too often but for now, most skill work will benefit from being done every day.

Handstands are a perfect example of a skill work that you might want to train every day. Handstands can be practiced on any given day, but there are some caveats. You will also need to get your body accustomed to the movement over time before performing it too often. So find a balance between practicing and resting for best results.

As long as there is no pain or discomfort, the skill work can be done every day without long-term issues.

Caveat: How to differentiate resistance training and skill work?

For untrained beginners, everything is a resistance training.

Again, take handstand for example, your shoulders might not get used to the pressure by handling all your bodyweight upside down. You feel stressed at the elbows and wrist. It is mostly resistance training for now and should be treated as such (do not train every day and allow rest days).

Our body adapts fast within a few weeks. Once you adapt to the stress, handstand would become a skill work. There is no more soreness after training. It is time to do it more often for the sake of balancing.

Use skill work as pre-workout warm-up

Skill work can be a great way to warm-up for a resistance training routine. 

It has many benefits that include increased activation of the nervous system, improved balance, and core strength. It kickstart your body and challenge it moderately without exhausting your energy too much that affect your performance in the main workout.

So your typical training schedule would consist of skill work and by doing so, you add training volume to the skill work. This is another great way to acquire the skill quicker.

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