Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
February 26, 2019
Last week, we talked about a couple of very similar workout philosophies, with me taking the stand that German Volume Training is probably better than High Intensity Interval Training. Now of course, I was sore all week when I performed a very doable and relatively light GVT, and this sure knocked me down, but it was worth it. I might even do it again in another week! The key is to find workout philosophies that mind of match up to each other and put them head to head. Now of course, there is no such thing as a bad way to really approach fitness unless you are doing dangerous CrossFit style stuff like trying to do 50 snatches at 60% in under ten minutes. That stuff is crazy. Variety is the spice of life, and so don’t look at this as some takedown of certain fitness approaches. This week presents a rather interesting match-up, and it might start with a buzzword that immediately triggers everyone: toxic masculinity.
Why do so many men feel the need to hit the weights, risk jail time to use performance enhancing drugs, spend hundreds on whey proteins and pills while spending hours on end at the gym? Many feel this is what makes men masculine, that visual power is what makes you unstoppable and desirable. It’s a weird version of social darwinism, that the strong will survive and the weak will die. So the men that believe in this type of masculinity do dangerous things to prove their might, such as taking extreme measures in the gym along with picking fights with other men, harassing women and using physical intimidation to try and win arguments. People in power use this tactic as well, abusing their positions to get what they want, which is why an overweight slob like Harvey Weinstein is a version of toxic masculinity. Anyway, before this turns into a dissertation about the struggles of the 21st Century Male, the reason I mention this is because the “gym bro” mentality is very similar to toxic masculinity. The bench press and leg press is what makes you strong and powerful, and all other forms of fitness is wrong. Whisper the word “calisthenics” around these guys and they might scoff at you. Never mind the fact our fathers and grandfathers did boatloads of calisthenics in physical education classes (a pull-up bar, rope and gymnast bars were cheaper than hundreds of pounds of weights). If anything, calisthenics is probably one of the main foundations of fitness training, so this weird mentality that doing heavy curls is better than doing a pull-up is ridiculous.
Fortunately, smarter men have been coming around the last 20 years or so, and thanks to cool hairdos, tattoos and YouTube, calisthenics is becoming interesting again. Some of the things these guys can do is impressive, like holding your body perpendicular to the floor while facing down and then doing some sort of push-up or suspending your body in weird ways from playground equipment. https://youtu.be/iZYz2URJRqUThis trend may have been the progenitor of a new form of calisthenics…which of course if TRX Suspension training. The difference is pretty clear. Calisthenics uses surfaces and stationary objects to utilize your movement and focus your strength. TRX uses your body, hanging from suspended “rope” mechanisms that can be utilized in multiple ways. Now when you look at the two methods, you might not see too many differences. Advanced practitioners of these two methods can contort themselves into marvelous positions that most people can only dream of. But is one better than the other? Well, let’s look at the benefits.
Calisthenics is certainly a great foundation workout method, for it does not rely on heavy weights and can be adjusted to your weight and fitness acumen. While you might get some face plants in the process, it is a good way to build functional strength. The first area is always going to be your arms and shoulders, especially since suspension and holding yourself up will be the opening cue to the methodology. Over time you have to build some resistance, and this where you can do some body contortion to make the system work for you. Advanced calisthenics, the stuff you see on video, is definitely a matter of patience. If you want to hang your body sideways on a Rogue rig, that is going to take some time. Here is the nice thing though…you don’t really have to go that direction if you want to. Calisthenics also has a more simplistic approach as well, where you just use your body as the weight and utilize certain movements to get stronger. Standard arm lifts and pull-ups fall under this category, and while you can use weights to get some extra work in, this can lead to some major gains in body musculature. There is a whole community of people out there that use this type of weightlifting as their primary, and I am sure you have seen videos of guys showing you that you can use playground equipment and still get ripped rather than spending money on trainers, gyms and supplements. So thanks to some modern media, calisthenics has been deemed pretty cool these days. But is it better than TRX?
Now TRX Suspension training has a lot of similarities to calisthenics, but with one huge difference. With calisthenics, you are essentially using the ground or some kind of bar to help with your movements. You get no such luxury with TRX straps, mainly because they move around and can cause all sorts of instability if you don’t position yourself properly. You see, TRX is much like a gymnast doing the rings, relying on his own stability to navigate two wobbly ropes hanging from a ceiling. The nice part about TRX is the ropes hang lower, so if you lose stability the drop will not be a long one. Angles are the key to this method, and you can dictate how hard something will by the angle you want or the direction you take it. If you lay your body flat to the ground and suspend yourself, then attempting bicep curls while keeping yourself off the ground…that is gonna be one hell of a workout. Now of course, you might not have the variety of movements in this medium, but is it better?
The biggest key to any person getting older is the use of their entire body, and stability and flexibility is going to be the key to surviving your old age. https://www.trxtraining.com/train/three-reasons-the-trx-suspension-trainer-is-perfect-for-every-bodyTRX builds the core and it builds it quickly, because you have to maintain your body to make this thing work. This blog has gone off for years about how the core is the key to everything in your fitness, from helping you with your olympic weight lifting to making your planking better. Its just something that really needs to be done. But for the calisthenics crowd…you have a viable defense?! https://blog.biostrap.com/posts/the-benefits-of-calisthenicsTurns out calisthenics can do much of the same thing provided you choose the right workouts. While calisthenics relies heavily on arms and legs, eventually you will have to build your core to help with the movements. Wanna be that guy that uses the pull-up bar to walk some stairs? Well, you have to be have a strong core for that. Well, this brings some issues as to choosing which is better. This is certainly a hard one to choose from, but you have to kind of give the edge to the granddaddy of them all, calisthenics. While both TRX and calisthenics have a great introductory program to help you from the ground up….you don’t need much equipment and you don’t need to find someone that is TRX certified to help you train. Now this summation is a hard one because these two foundational type workout methods are so closely related. But with the longer track record and a larger community of ex-gym bros going to calisthenics, you have to say this method is better…but only slightly. We’ll let the debate rage on between the professionals, but don’t worry, Parsons Training will gladly you show you how to succeed in both areas.
About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
Meet the Author
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
When you read this blog you are reading through the eyes of someone who is winning the battle of real weight loss. Steve is not a fitness professional, but he is someone we can all learn from.
Steve shares his journey once a week here on our blog. We hope that you find a spark of inspiration from reading his blog.
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. The author of this blog is an independent writer and is not an associate of Parsons Training, LLC. Any information or images displayed are done so solely at the authors discretion. Any dietary or fitness commentary is exclusively that of the author and in no way dictated by the company.