Program Critique

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  • #30109

    Hey all,

    First off I’ve been training for about 5 years, and I started using body weight exercises about 2 months ago. I’m really wanting to learn the front/back lever skills and planch. On top of that I want to maintain my strength levels so to do so I was thinking of a program that consisted of alternating days of training.

    M/W/F: Handstand, planch, front/back lever, and backbend training

    T/Th/Sat: 5×5, 5/3/1, or Easy strength push, pull, squat, core, and dip progression.

    Al Kavadlo

    That looks like a lot, but if you can handle it then go for it!

    However, if you wind up needing an extra rest day then don’t feel confined to that schedule.


    I’m not actually using any weight training other than body weight. I was just using the templates from the 5×5, 5/3/1, and such to work on my pistols, one arm push ups, and pull-ups. By dip progressions I meant going from regular dips, to Korean and such.

    I was considering holding off on the front lever since I can only hold a front tuck for 10-12 seconds, and anytime I try to progress past the progression I fall. As for planch, I can now hold a tuck planch for 5x8seconds and back lever I’m holding a extended back tuck for 5×6-8 seconds. I’m wanting to get a solid over all time for each progression up to a minute. My current goals are basically weighted pistols( I can do 3×3 at 8kg), 10 each; one arm push ups, planch, and levers. I do throw in finishers from pavel’s PM alternating days of 5-10min TGU, 8-12 min of swings.

    My main focus over the last few months has been nutrition, its what I’m going to school for, so my fitness programming seems to be a little off.

    my current training before my deload last week looked like this: M/T/TH/Fri, Wed/Sat were skill work/active recovery and or sprint sessions

    Warm-up/skill work- 15-20min: Foam roll, dynamic movements, wrist circles, shoulder dislocates and such, Handstand and L-sit progressions. I can hold wall handstands up to 2 minutes, and l-sits tucked 1 min, straight leg 10-20sec, but after moving to the floor from parallettes my times decreased by half. I want to progress into straddles l’s and the manna one day.

    Strength: Planch 3-4×10-15sec paired with back lever in an A/B format rest 60-90seconds. 2a/b/c was push, pull, squat progressions, 3-4×5-12. I alternated between heavy, and light days. M/Thur heavy, Tues/Friday light. Also Tues/Fri was more posterior(russian leg curls, ring glute raises or a variation) strength for legs vs pistols on mon/thurs.

    This program worked for me, but I started to want to get my planch, and levers more so I wanted to train at least 4-5x a week as skills vs strength work.


    Also, Thank you for the tips when combining the two styles of training! Because I’m leaving for basic soon, my only training focus has been body weight, but I didn’t want to lose my strength, so I’m trying to stick to low rep higher advanced version of progressions I can get 3-5 reps with.


    Thank you! I’m not too good with standing to back bends, but I do work on them daily. I’m already working on press up to handstands and can do both frog stance press up and straddle press up against the wall. Before I was fascinated with bodyweight training I most performed deadlifts, bent rows, and front squat to overhead press.

    I actually have and read the book the dragon’s door article is from. I also just finished reading overcoming gravity, and both of Al’s books. I think with all the info I’ve been taking in I’m just become way to spread out, goal wise.
    Before I start front lever training should I focus more on my back lever progressions until I have a better basis of strength for my upper back and core?

    Robby Taylor

    Focusing on the back lever is a good idea…but since you can hold a tuck planche I think your shoulders should be strong enough for it already. Still, it’s a great full body strength conditioner and will help you to mentally understand how to physically approach the front lever and planche. Plus, it will take much less time to get down.

    Besides that, I’d suggest continue focusing on press handstands, stand to stand bridges, and pistols. You could also work on the muscle up, but really the back lever is a fine substitute. Regardless you should be doing plenty of pull ups and straight bar dips, which forms the strength foundation for both of those moves.

    For the stand to stand bridge, all I did was build up to a 1 minute regular bridge, then started doing one arm/opposite leg bridges for about 30 seconds each side (if the balance is an issue place a finger of the free hand on the ground or a wall, ideally the pinky). This was during the warm up for my daily workouts. Before long at all I was able to stand out of it, and once I did that I had the confidence to lean back into the bridge.


    Awesome, thank you for the tips and help.
    I think I came up with a decent program routine using total time/reps vs traditional set X rep. For example today

    12min: skill work
    Press to handstand against wall- hold 30-60sec
    Different position l-sits(parallel bars, floor, rings turned out)

    Light holds- :30 total seconds- A) tucked planch, B) advanced tuck back lever rest 60-90sec.
    Medium movements- A) tucked front lever pull ups, 5/5/4/4/4/3- 25 total
    B) straight bar dips, 6/6/5/5/5/3- 30 total
    C) pistols, 5/5/5/4/4/2- 25 total.
    Finisher: 5 min TGU: 24kg( 3each side)

    I think alternating heavy, med, light will allow me to train my holds daily, and use different strength based skills for their appropriate intensity.
    Mon: longer holds, low reps
    Tues: low holds, higher reps
    Wed: medium holds, med reps
    Thurs: rest, repeat, active recover, or sprints.
    I’m still playing around with which pairings of holds to rep ratio.
    Longer holds: total :60
    Low reps 15-20 total
    Med: 35-45seconds/25-35reps
    Short holds: 20-30 sec total
    High reps: 40-50

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