The only problem is, you’re only doing pulling and pushing each once a week, so your progress won’t come that quickly. It’s hard to do a lot of everything frequently, I understand. The thing is, people tend to recover from calisthenics more quickly than weightlifting. So you don’t need a day for each muscle group so that everything gets hit hard and also has time to recover. But there are a couple of easy solutions.
First, you can use the grease the groove method. Pick an exercise that you want to improve at. You said you might want more shoulder work. Have you attempted handstand push ups at a wall? If you can do these safely, you might want to do this exercise throughout the day.
Another option is to do more full body workouts, instead of just focusing on one exercise type. I will usually have an upper body pull, upper body push, and one or two lower body exercises. I find that I can hit each muscle group more frequently and ultimately do more work. So, since you aren’t constantly doing push up variations, each set is more solid. Even though you’re not doing as many sets, it’s more than offset by the fact that you’re doing it for multiple days a week. Plus, as far as training your nervous system for skill building is concerned, it is better to do something more frequently.
I think that, beyond generally eating healthy foods, the impact of diet is largely dependent upon genetics. I’m a naturally small, lean guy. I’m not personally concerned with fat:carb:protein ratios. If I were to try to gain weight, I would probably just eat more food with a focus on high quality proteins.
As for supplements, I sometimes have hemp protein, and I think vitamin k2 and hyaluronic acid supplements are probably helpful for bone and joint strength, long term. But yeah you don’t really need anything (except arguably a k2 supplement, as it is rare in practical dietary sources).
I have a buddy who does crossfit, but he works on the calisthenics too. He says the calisthenics has really helped his crossfit and given him new insights on injury prevention benefits that hardly any crossfitters even practice (such as the rotator cuff stability gained from performing one arm pull ups).
That said, crossfit all comes down to the individual practitioner and, if applicable, their coach. You can just find the workouts online and do them yourself, as my buddy does. As long as you do the exercises with good form and don’t push yourself too hard, you should be fine.
For me personally, I think crossfit takes too much focus away from calisthenics strength. That is, there’s so much focus on everything else that I wouldn’t have much time or energy left to work on levers and such. Although, they do incorporate muscle ups, pistol squats, etc. Again, form is totally down to the individual. Apparently strict muscle ups are a very fast way to do them…as long as you don’t get tired. The reason most people do huge kips is because they aren’t strong enough to do nonstop strict muscle ups. Not to diss anyone, doing any muscle ups at all is tough and impressive. I do have a barbell and incorporate a few lifts occasionally, though.
I generally consider skill work to consist of exercises that are difficult for reasons of mainly coordination or balance. These exercises are not static, and will change as you progress. For example, freestanding handstand push ups may be skill work for a long time. But, with enough dedication, you can get to doing consistent sets of 5+ reps, and you can use it as a strength exercise in a regular workout.
Skill work isn’t meant to drain your physical strength, it’s meant to fry your nervous system. You could work on your handstand for like 5 or 10 minutes and then feel it’s much more difficult to hold the handstand, yet you still feel like you could do about as many push ups as you could before doing the handstands.
However, skill work can still involve a strength component. Most advanced calisthenics are highly compound. Being able to hold a proper back lever and track your body in space while maintaining the full body tension is a skill unto itself. Yet this is a skill that requires time in the back lever, so it is developed continually as you practice the lever.
Ultimately, if you want to go beyond the back bridge, you can work towards the stand to stand bridge. I suggest working on the gecko bridge, which is one arm one leg. Now, there’s no time limit on bridging, but, anecdotally, I was able to do a gecko bridge with opposing limbs for 30 seconds per pair during my warm up routine before I even tried the stand to stand bridge.
You can do the exercises in whichever order you find most comfortable, or you can do alternating sets.
If you’ve always felt push ups more in the deltoids than the chest, it sounds like you may not know how to put the tension on your chest, yet I suspect it is due to an underlying issue with some kind of structural alignment rather than simply poor technique.
Honestly, I would suggest working on bridges and Australian pull ups extensively. Try to work push ups as well, but if they keep giving you issues I’d suggest trying bridge push ups, or possibly dips, if they don’t bother your shoulders. For the bridge push ups, ultimately you want to touch the back of your shoulders to the ground at the bottom of every rep. But you don’t really “have” to do push ups, for the time being you could just work on holding bridges for time.
I’d also recommend hanging leg raises, I think they could be good for your shoulders, plus they’re great for your abs.
Besides all that, you may want to find a good chiropractor or physical therapist. Most regular doctors will probably just give you pills and maybe recommend surgery.
Haha, thanks man!
I’ve found parks on Google Maps. Usually it will show the names of parks. You can also just look at the terrain map and visually look for parks.
Besides that, you should be able to check with your city’s parks and recreation department. Usually their website will list all of the parks.
Besides that, you could probably find something at a school playground. You might get hassled if you work out there though, so you might want to check with the school first if you can train there.
Besides Nick’s great advice, I have a suggestion for a wrist mobility drill.
Firstly, if any of this begins to aggravate something specific in your wrists, know that the idea of this drill is to treat these impingements as ‘stretch points’, if you will. Think of the flare of pain as analogous as overstretching a muscle. So if you can’t do the drill as extensively as I detail, that is perfectly fine, just do what you can. Like I said, think of it as a stretch. If the pain is too sharp, then back off.
Start in a plank position. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t even have to be a full plank, you can do this on your hands and knees. But your upper body should otherwise be like a standard plank. Concerning hand positioning, I prefer and recommend having your index fingers pointed forward. Now, try to extend your wrists and open your hands as much as you can while keeping your palms flat. Furthermore, try to press your hand into the floor as much as you can. Press your fingertips into the floor very hard, as hard as you can maintain, while keeping the entirety of your palms and fingers flat on the floor. While doing that, flex your forearms significantly. This will be your start point. From here, begin to lean forward by walking your body forward and extending your shoulder position further past your hands. You will likely notice impingements in your wrists as you go further forward. The trick is, when you feel one, back off and sort of lean your body to the side and, relative to the wrist impingement, try to reposition your wrists by moving ‘around’ it. The idea is, once you can figure out how to go ‘around’ these impingements and bring your body further forward, over as much time as needed, you will be able to spend time in that extended position and thus increase your wrist mobility (since the impingement generally keeps you from that degree of extension), which in turn should make the impingement itself more manageable.
Let me know if this works for you!
People could judge you for various reasons, from the beginner who can barely do a pull up thinking you’re just seeking attention, to the heavy bencher who’s always associated calisthenics with warm ups thinking that you think you’re so great, but that you probably can’t bench as much as he can.
But I think that, ultimately, it reflects the empowering nature of calisthenics. You don’t need to train outside, but if you do accept you might have some onlookers. As a beginner, this may feel embarrassing if you keep failing a new skill. As an advanced athlete, people will probably think you’re showing off. But the general empowerment that comes from this training is constant. Philosophically, that is probably the biggest takeaway. It’s not about what other people think, it’s about honing your skills to become the truest representation of an exercise that you can. Philosophically, the endgame is control of our physical domain, and the strengthening of the mental/physical connection.
Well, the cadence given in CC is a good standard. But if you want a more precise answer, first realize that it’s actually not about speed, but displacement. By that I mean the particular “path” that your body takes as you move through the range of motion. An obvious change in this displacement would be the difference between regular pull ups and L pull ups. Forcing your legs to stay in the L forces your upper body to engage more effectively.
As far as cadence is concerned, I want you to try something. Hold something in your hand with your palm open. It doesn’t have to be heavy, maybe a water bottle. Now, lift the bottle from a low to a higher position, kind of like a bicep curl, slowly. Then try it quickly. You should notice that, if you do it too quickly, the water bottle will actually bounce out of your hand when you stop. You initially feel it pushing against your hand but eventually your speed overwhelms the resistance and you’re essentially catapulting it instead of lifting it. Now, in contrast, when you do it slowly, you should feel the bottle consistently resisting against your hand. If you feel this particular tension start to ease as you continue moving, change your speed. This experiment, hopefully, will help you understand exactly what you need to be striving for in your movement in order to get the most out of each rep. Because you could easily go at a given cadence and still not get it. Really grind that resistance. Position your body to minimize the effect of your leverage (e.g. do pull ups with your legs straight rather than with your knees bent).
It’s all about optimization, so do what you can and as long as you’re mindful of this, you will have an insight that escapes the majority of trainees (which means more efficient progress).
I think back bridges make a great warm up. Jump rope or jumping jacks are good too.
Aside from the PCC, I’ve never gone to a gym to work out. If you go to a commercial gym and do just advanced calisthenics, people might think you are showboating because the huge majority of people can’t do any of that stuff and they are insecure about it, so they are projecting their fear of judgement onto you. Of course not everyone will think that, but so few people can do the advanced stuff that, in a crowded gym, some might feel that way. I kind of feel awkward sometimes working out in the park with kids and parents around, but I sometimes see guys doing parkour, and those dudes are strong! I’ve seen muscle ups, handstand presses, v sits…its pretty awesome. But I don’t go frequently and ive only seen them a few times. Usually I see parents with their kids.
Machines that assist you like the dip machine are not ideal. It’s kind of like the difference between a standing or a seated overhead press, or using a Smith machine vs free weights. If you aren’t strong enough to do pull ups, for example, try a regression such as flex hangs or negatives, and/or an easier exercise like Australian pull ups. This approach should get you better results overall than using machines like the ones you suggested.
However, there are some free weight exercises that are worth doing, much more so than the machines you asked about. Deadlifts, squats, standing overhead press and barbell rows are all awesome exercises that are of particular benefit for calisthenics athletes. There are other worthwhile lifts, of course, but these are all technically pretty simple and quite compound.
Glad you’ve been seeing progress Matt! You have the right idea about progressing your exercises, the ones you listed sound great. There’s not really a need to add more exercises, although bridging is usually a good idea.
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