Reply To: Jogging and Calisthenics

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Robby Taylor

The only reason I say the plank may tire you out for push ups is because the plank is the top position of the push up. The plank primarily focuses on the abdominal muscles, while the push up more focuses on the upper body (shoulders, chest, triceps). So depending on your core strength in the push ups doing planks in the same workout could make it difficult to maintain a straight body position in doing push ups if your core is not strong enough to handle both exercises. But, it shouldn’t be a problem if your arms are the first thing to give out in push ups. Doing your planks on your forearms could help, though. Just experiment with it. You could also do hanging leg raises, that’s a great alternative to planks; even if you can’t do them with your legs straight and have to tuck your knees it’s still a good exercise, and also shouldn’t tire you out for push ups. Or you could sub dips for push ups. You should also try to fit bridges in there somewhere; doing those at the end of your workout is a good idea, or during the workout in reps. It’s a good antagonistic movement to the plank, actually, and I think at the level that you’re at working up to a full bridge is an excellent goal. Maybe you already can do it, in which case you should!

As for the books, I’ve read all 3 and I would say that Pushing the Limits! is overall the most informative as a training manual. I like CC for the philosophy behind the training, but I think the structuring of the exercises themselves could be more effective. While PTL is based on 3 exercises, it really covers far more than that. Yes it’s based on push ups, squats, and inversions, but those are all pretty general terms and it includes everything from beginner variations to high level variations; there are many challenges to be found in that book. Plus there’s a bonus section at the end of the book with even more exercises that don’t quite fit into the main categories. As a training manual, it’s great because the pictures are excellent and the text is informative yet brief. I bought the kindle version of You Are Your Own Gym, and while it does have some good exercises in it, the whole thing seemed like it needed some editing. It is quite informative for people who are not already exposed to this, but PTL and Raising the Bar are the real deal. At this point, the only book that I’ve come across that I would suggest for calisthenics training besides either of those books would be Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low. The difference is that OG doesn’t have all of the nice pictures that PTL and RTB have, but it does have tons of detailed text; there are over 500 pages in that book and it does not come across as repetitive. It gives you tons of information on a huge variety of useful exercises and relevant topics (nutrition, sleep, recovery, etc), and as an informatory text it is a great book, but again PTL and RTB I think make better training manuals simply because they are so easy to navigate and utilize either before or during your training. You often really don’t even need to read anything just look at the pictures. PTL is a bit better overall than RTB, since it goes in depth in squats (you gotta hit the lower body) and the format is a bit more streamlined, clearly a result of Al refining his writing style after RTB. But I really like RTB because I generally prefer pulling exercises to pressing exercises since I’m better at pulling haha.

Oh, and yes in conjunction PTL and RTB will easily give you a complete full body workout. Technically PTL by itself will do this, since it covers squats and there are several exercises that will work the back.