LIFESTYLES—The recent shutdowns of gyms around the world, consequently, has led to a shortage of gym equipment. You might be thinking “How in the world, am I keeping my lifelong gains? What about my New Year’s resolution to hit the gym everyday? Now what?”

Enter the world of calisthenics.

This form of bodyweight training focuses on strength formation with minimal use of equipment. It is the “free weight” training. It ditches the barbell, the dumbbell and the debatable effectiveness of the machine. 

The key to always starting a training program is to be determined. A factor that will eventually lead to habit. Without this essential factor, it is nearly impossible to stay consistent. Not to mention, to keep passion. All of these ingredients are what have led Cori Lefkowith to her path as personal trainer and owner of Redefining Strength

“The best routine is the one we will do consistently. And that means being able to train wherever we need, whenever we need. And that’s why I love bodyweight trainingLefkowith begins, when asked what appealed to her about calisthenics. Below she offers plenty of tips and in-depth information about calisthenics.

CN: What is it that appealed to you about calisthenics? 

Cori Lefkowith: “You can get lean and strong using very little space and you can adjust the moves to fit your needs and goals as your needs and goals change over time. No matter your fitness level you can get in a killer workout using your own bodyweight!”

“You can build full-body strength and get lean (of course for fat loss, diet is definitely key too!)!”

CN: What ideal program/workout do you recommend to untrained individuals who want to start in calisthenics?

“If you’re just starting out you want to master some fundamental bodyweight moves, like push ups, bodyweight squats, lunges and the inverted row. We often skip the basics and jump into the stuff that looks “cooler” but a big part of getting results is really mastering those fundamental movement patterns and not only having proper form but even proper recruitment patterns. We want to make sure we FEEL the correct muscles working. 

Using those 4 foundational moves you can really hit basically every muscle in your body.

  • Push Ups work not only your chest, shoulders and triceps but even your abs. If you’re just starting out, you can even start with a push up off a wall or incline to help you build up to that full one from your toes on the ground.
  • Inverted Rows are a great move to strengthen your back, biceps and abs as well. They are a great way to build up back and grip strength to progress toward pull ups. And even once you can do pull ups, these are a great accessory move to include to keep your back strong and improve your posture!
  • Bodyweight Squats, while they seem simple, are a key move to master to work your quads, adductors (inner thighs), glutes and even hamstrings. By focusing first on proper form with just your own bodyweight you can help yourself master the movement to avoid knee aches and pains. If you struggle to sit back in a squat, even try a squat to a chair to start!
  • Lunges can be done in basically every direction. They’re a killer lower body move. And they are a great unilateral move, which means they work each side independently and can help you correct any imbalances. So if one side is way stronger? Lunges are a great way to start building up strength even on that weaker side!”
CN: How would a dietary/nutritional plan differ from someone who is already trained in this program versus someone who is barely starting? 

“I think it is key we always focus on small changes based on what we are CURRENTLY doing. We each really just want to create a healthier version of our own lifestyle. Too often we get caught up in the “ideal” plan or making dramatic changes that leave us feeling deprived.

What ultimately works best is the thing we can stick to and do CONSISTENTLY.

For someone just starting to make dietary changes, logging their food to see what they are truly currently eating may be enough. That accountability can get them moving forward. From there they can start to make small adjustments to the amount of calories or proteins, carbs and fats they are consuming.

While someone more familiar with macro-nutrients and how to adjust their diet, may jump into more focused manipulation of macros and know what to adjust. They may also start paying attention to supplements and meal timing once everything else is already dialed in. Too often people look for a supplement to help out or get stressed about meal timing when they aren’t even fully aware of the portions they are currently consuming.”

CN: For instance, should they start focusing on Carb or Macro cycling?

“So carb cycling is a form of macro cycling. I would 100% NOT recommend carb cycling for someone starting out as that is an advanced technique and one that requires a ton of precision to implement and get results.

Carb cycling was also a technique used most often for people competing who’d stalled in their fat loss and needed that extra boost. But if you aren’t already comfortable tracking, if you aren’t already comfortable with adjusting the ratio of protein, carbs and fat that you’re eating, if you aren’t prepared to prep different meals for different days?

Definitely do NOT start with carb cycling. While it can be an amazing tweak for those looking to lose those last few percent of body fat, it is an ADVANCED technique.”

CN: Do you consider calisthenics or bodyweight training the same?                               
While calisthenics can include minimal equipment, for the most part, yes they are basically one in the same. Calisthenics training is you learning to master your own bodyweight!
CN: Most importantly, can tacos still be on the menu? 

HECK YES! Especially in Cali I don’t think you can miss a Taco Tuesday! Tacos can be a great balance of protein, carbs and fat. 

Aside from her YouTube channel, Cori offers various detailed programs on her website of the same name. Not to mention, she holds podcasts available on multiple platforms and sells books focused on nutrition. You can book appointments at her Costa Mesa base for personal training.