If you’re in a fitness rut, The Bare Minimum Workout is for you.
Have you left the office after work too exhausted to work out? Ever been stuck in a cycle of exhaustion and lack of exercise because of
poor food choices? Or are you just bored with your current routine?
This happens to the best of us; I’ve experienced all types of workout plateaus, ruts, jeesh even valleys!…and that’s why I developed my “Bare Minimum” workout. It’s not a substitute for a full training plan. It’s more like insurance to make sure that you never, ever get out of shape. Consider it a way of bulletproofing your long-term fitness goals.
This workout combines basic everyday fitness needs with focused skill training. It can be tailored to meet your goals. This can mean, for example, doing it in the shortest amount of time with as little equipment and space as possible. With it, you’ll never, ever get out of shape.
It’s a do anywhere, anytime workout.
Before you get started, though, you need to lay your fitness goals out. What does your body need to achieve your goals? Do you have any special exercises, like physical therapy exercises?
Get creative, and make sure the program you lay out for yourself is reasonable. Try building it with little to no equipment, and short enough to squeeze into even your most hectic days.
You are the creator of your plan, these are your goals -make this program your go-to when you can’t get a longer routine in. Smart, focused, and diligent training will yield results!
1.My “Bare Minimum” workout
I’m an acrobat, so I set myself very specific goals.
I’m an acrobat, so I set myself very specific goals. My body needs specialized exercises to make those goals a reality while protecting my joints from the wear and tear caused by advanced acrobatics.
My current goals: increase the flexibility of my active and passive splits; have a reliable one arm handstand.
My fitness needs: PT to prevent shoulder and wrist problems to continue my acrobatic work. For the splits, I need enhanced joint mobility and strength.
My Bare Minimum (BM) Workout: I start off with a PT warmup. It stretches my wrists and shoulders, preparing me for handstands.
I then go into a routine with a variety of handstands, wrist strengthening exercises, and split stretching that addresses my body’s needs and moves me closer to my goals. The entire routine is 45 minutes.
Wait, what? 45 minutes?!
I know that for many people, 45 minutes is excessive for a “Bare Minimum” workout. But my routine caters to my career as a full-time acrobat. Remember, this program is customizable! Unless you’ve got the same needs as me, working on a one-arm handstand and splits, you’ll want to create a shorter workout that still keeps you on track with your long-term goals.
So let’s talk about YOU.
I think that it’s safe to say that there are three broad goals for general fitness:
Maintain current weight
Gain muscle mass.
You can obviously add more goals to this list, though. Do you want to increase your cardiovascular endurance, so that you can run your first 5k/10k Marathon? Or maybe you want to focus on your chest and back, or your glutes! These are all goals that can be included in your Bare Minimum workout.
2A BM booty workout routine
Shake that booty!
Fitness goals: Lose 10 lbs and have a perfect booty.
Fitness needs: Expending more calories, increasing glute size and strength.
So what should your BM workout look like?
I’d suggest high-intensity interval training. Consider workouts like Tabata, burpees, mountain climbers, jumping rope, and other high-intensity full body moves guaranteed to burn some fat. Set a timer and do it for 15 minutes with a little rest as possible. It’s better to do an easier version of an exercise than have down time.
Now for the targeting –go for the hardest squat/lunge-type exercise you can do. Air squats, lunges, and squat jumps are all fair game. The key is to have a full range of motion. Pick an exercise or resistance level to do at least 8 and no more than 12 repetitions.
Bang out 3 sets and you’re done. Stretch and go home…unless you’re already home.
Never forget – these exercises all rock, but only if you absolutely nail the form. Every one of the above exercises is a risk for knee injuries if done wrong.
Fitness goals: Muscles, muscles, everywhere.
Fitness needs: Gain muscle without creating imbalances that lead to injury.
This is a staple bodyweight workout.
These are the three most important and complex exercises you can do: squats, pullups, pushups. Now make a workout around them.
Warm up with some wrist, knee, or shoulder PT. You have to warm up anyway, so might as well keep your joints healthy. Almost every athlete develops problems in one of these three areas at some point. Some have problems their whole careers. If you really don’t feel warm enough yet (are you sweating yet?), go ahead and run around the block once or something.
Do 8-12 pullups, 8-12 pushups, and 8-12 squats. No more than 90 seconds of rest between each exercise. If you can’t do a full pull-up yet, try pull-up negatives or pull-downs. If a normal pull up is easy, throw “pull-up progressions” at google and you’ll get a host of great sites like this one:
When I say 8-12, I mean pick a challenging-enough version of each exercise that you can do no more than 12 but can get at least 8 repetitions in. 8-12 is the NASM standard for hypertrophy (gaining muscle size).
This whole workout will probably take you as little as 20 minutes altogether, especially if you’re already warm. The only piece of equipment you need is a pull-up bar. Don’t have one? Use a door frame or jungle gym, fire escape, or the underside of some steps. Still, nothing? We’ve got you covered. Now you have a basic bodyweight staple you could do even in your bedroom if you had to.
There is always a way.
If your workout can be done quickly, anywhere, at any time, you won’t have any excuses. So what are you still doing, reading this?
Share your Bare Minimum Workout with us in the comments, or on Facebook!
Extra resources to help you create your Bare Minimum Workout routine:
A couple of years ago, when I quit lifting weights and began focusing on bodyweight exercises, muscle ups were a huge goal for me to strive for.
Follow Johan’s journey on his Instagram for inspiration and calisthenics tips at johan.cali
To me muscle ups are one of a true exercises that define bodyweight excellence. A muscle up is an impressive display of strength, coordination and explosiveness that even very fit people may have a hard time accomplishing with practice. It’s an exercise engages the whole upper body in a way few other exercises does.
While completing the first muscle up is a feat in its own right, I don’t think bodyweight athletes should stop there. You’ll likely hit your first muscle up kipping style, by swinging and kicking to get your weight above the bar. Next most athletes move to a kipping muscle up on rings (if available), followed by strict bar muscle ups (no swinging) and finally, the strict ring muscle ups.
There is some variation in reported difficulty by athletes, for me personally I found the strict bar muscle ups the hardest, due to the effort needed to get around over the bar. Other athletes find the strict ring muscle up the hardest because of the necessary stabilisation one must achieve in addition to getting up and over.
Today we’re going to cover these 4 variations in detail. If you’re already doing basic muscle ups, or even a little further along, this article will help you hit a true muscle up without assistance (no kipping)
Each of these forms of muscle ups has its own difficulties to deal with and their own benefits and I really recommend exploring each one of them.
The muscle up is a three part dynamic movement that consists of a pull up, followed by a transition phase where the shoulders need to travel from under the bar to above the bar, and is finished of with a straight bar-dip. The main problem many face when trying out the muscle up is the transition phase; there seems to be no way the shoulders and upper body can move from the upper pull up-position to the lower part of a straight bar-dip. There are a two ways to accomplish just that; by momentum or by sheer strength.
To false grip or not?
The false grip is a kind of hand placement on the bar or rings where you hook your hand over the bar or ring. The ring or bar will rest in the area between your wrist and palm instead of in your palm. This will result in your hands already being where they need to be after the transition phase (in order to begin your straight bar dip at the top).
With an ordinary pull up grip your hands need to rotate at the same time your upper body shifts forward to get in position for the push. This may be fine when a muscle up is done relying on momentum, but it makes it almost impossible to complete a slow muscle up.
I would recommend doing pull ups with a false grip, both on bar and rings, from the start to condition yourself to a strong false grip. It will pay off in the long run.
1) The Kipping Bar Muscle Up
This variation may be considered the easiest but it still requires some decent strict pull-up strength, a few chest-to-bar or sternum-to-bar pull ups and a decent efficiency in straight bar-dips. By kicking the legs during the pull you can create enough momentum to drive you through the transition point to get your shoulders above the bar. In the beginning it can be helpful to let the body swing slightly in the lower pull up-position and time the pull when your body is swinging towards your back, and thus helping with the momentum created by the swing.
One thing to note is that you should do the pulling movement and pull the bar down in front of you slightly, instead of pulling straight down. This will make it possible to curve your body around the bar in an S-shape (shown in the video below).
If I time the pull with my body swinging back and make a strong kick with straight legs I will have strong movement to go up and over the bar. When the bar is in line with my lower chest, I do a fast lean forward with my upper body, elbows back and find myself in the lower position of a straight bar-dip. One should strive for reducing the kipping movements over time as you get more proficient with the movement.
2) The Kipping Ring Muscle Up
This variation is a little harder to accomplish since the rings are not a stable object like the bar, but moving ones. What makes this form somewhat easy is that you don’t need to bend yourself around the rings, you will shoot straight up through the rings instead. A false grip may not be required for this one but you may as well begin using it to strengthen your false grip.
I would recommend having some experience with ring-pull ups and deep ring-dips before trying this one out. I’m a big fan of weighted pull ups and they will serve you well here as well as in the previous muscle up form on bars. If you have problems doing ring-dips because of shoulder pain or something similar you may want to skip this one, because this movement puts the shoulders in a deep stretch-position.
The theory is the same as kipping bar-muscle up; by kicking with your legs you create momentum to propel you up. I begin with securing a strong false grip and enter the low pull up-position. I tend to bend my body slightly backwards and begin an explosive pulling-movement and at the same time kicking with both legs extended. When the rings are at the level of my chest I do another fast lean forward, bring my elbows back so they are tight to my sides and I end up in the lower part of a ring-dip. Then it’s simply a matter of completing the dip.
As with kipping bar muscle up I recommend reducing the kipping-movement over time so you rely more on the strength aspect of the pull.
3) The Strict Bar Muscle Up
This is where things get difficult (and fun). No more crossfit muscle ups!
It takes some time to work up to enough strength to complete the transition over with no momentum involved. For me negative reps worked wonders; to begin in the top position of the dip and then as slowly as possible lower myself through the transition and work those negatives as reps. Another exercise I used to condition myself was heavy weighted pull ups and dips. For pull-ups I worked sets reps with around 50% of my bodyweight added in weights. In time the strength required to complete the strict ring-muscle up will come. Explosive chest-to-bar pull-ups with added weight was also included in my prep-workouts.
The sticking points that made this move possible, except the necessary strength, was a really strong false grip and a more narrow grip than your regular pull up grip; around in the middle of your collarbones. With time you’ll be able to move your arms wider and wider. You need to curve yourself around the bar and what I found helpful was to pull myself up in an L-sit position. In any case you need to have some part of your legs in front of the bar to act as a counterweight.
I prepare the move by securing a tight false grip and put myself in the start position of an L-sit pull up. I pull myself slightly bent backwards and when the bar is cleared I roll the shoulders forward and the elbows back and then begin the dip push.
4) The Strict Ring Muscle Up
The big Kahuna. THE Muscle Up.
One of the most important factors with this variation is the false grip and an understanding of how to use your bodyweight to aid you instead of hinder you. I find it very helpful to keep the movement very tight; hands and rings close together and the rings close to your body during the pull. As with many other bodyweight exercises tense your whole body to create a solid foundation.
For training to this level something that worked well was the use of resistance bands. I fastened a resistance band between the rings, and sat on the band in a L-sit position and then worked the transition from pull to lower dip position.
I start with the false grip and lower myself to the lower pull up position. I find it easier to enter a sort of L-sit position during the pull because that creates a natural movement when it’s time to shift the body weight forward. I do the false grip pull up slightly bent backwards and when the hands is about shoulder level or slightly lower it’s time to move the shoulders forward.
You’ll find it helpful to imagine that your thumbs are following the lower part of the pecs when you bring your elbows towards your back. Shoulders shifts forward, leg drops and elbows are moving towards the back. The false grip helps enormously here since it will automatically will bring your hands to the right place. Then it’s time for the push.
BOOM. You just did your first true muscle up.
No matter where you are on the muscle up progression you can develop different strength and physical expertise from each of these 4 variations. Figure out where you are and get started today!
Let us know in comments what are your favourite muscle up variations!
Levers are king in the world of men’s gymnastics. Athletes spend years refining their technique and bolstering the strength of their upper bodies to inhuman levels to perform feats of strength that appear to completely defy the laws of gravity.
Pound for pound gymnasts are the strongest athletes in the world with the ability to leverage their own body weight with completely straight arms. These skills are referred to as levers for that reason. Levers are not mere feats of strength but of skill, balance, control and dedication as well. Training to develop levers develops abilities and skills you will never come even close to with any other type of training. The isometric nature of levers means that training this way puts strain on your tendons and in turn strengthens them to unheard of levels. They also build immense amounts of strength in the torso musculature. And these are just a few from tons of benefits. I strongly encourage you to explore what levers can do for you and build strength you never thought of
What makes all this training worth it?
Why are levers such a key ability in the gymnast’s skill set?
How can a calisthenics athlete or even an average person benefit from straight arm strength training?
Let’s take a look.
1. Builds a bulletproof rotator cuff
Leveraging your body with straight arms utilizes the shoulder muscles to a large degree. Your body will recruit the smaller stabilizing muscles in the shoulder girdle in order to keep the scapula in the proper position to facilitate the movement. Any bending of the arms in a lever movement will transfer some portion of the load to the upper arm muscles therefore decreasing the work the shoulders are required to perform. This kind of strength training will transform your shoulders into a solid rack upon which weight can safely be borne, whether it be internal or external.
2. Strengthens the back and core, enhancing midline stability
You will build exceptional strength in the back muscles such as the lats, rhomboids and spinal erectors, as well as in your abdomen. All of these muscles working together support your spine and maintain posture. This effect has a tremendous carryover to different athletic endeavors such as weightlifting when you perform a squat, because your entire torso functions collectively as a solid foundation rather than twisting and collapsing under pressure.
3. Enhances control and awareness during upper body movements
Training to master the various lever skills requires that you pay close attention to body position in space. All of the pieces of your body must be working in unison and must be coordinated by your mind as such. This is a meditative practice as much as it is a physical one. Focus must be entirely set on performing the movement to the best of your ability. Only through practice with body awareness will you become the strongest you can be.
That’s all pretty incredible when you think about it.
But there is a lot more to it like SKILL TRANSFER like in this guy
Today, I decided to do some muscleups for a change of pace and was amazed at how easy they were, in spite of the fact that I haven’t done any in months. What really surprised me was how smooth and slowly I was able to do them. In the past, I would have to put some explosiveness into them to get thru the transition, while today I was able to pull up and thru the transition with far less effort than before. A nice, unexpected carryover !
Now that you know all the benefits, its time to get training.
A few weeks ago America Ninja Warrior competitor and professional rock climber Brian Arnold powered his way to the finals at the world’s most challenging obstacle course known as Mt. Midoriyama in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pure muscle and grip strength helped him make his way through Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the course. And despite falling on the Flying Bar in Stage 3, he set a new record for going farther than any other American, and showcased an incredible level of grip strength from day one.
Grip strength is crucial for rock climbers, parkour athletes, gymnasts, or baseball players gripping a bat to hit a homerun. But it’s also a critical element of calisthenics that can determine whether or not you can move on to the next exercise in the THE FUNDAMENTAL series of progressive exercises. It’s particularly important to develop grip strength to achieve the one-arm pull-up and one-arm hanging straight-leg raise. Calisthenics progressive exercises for these two moves will help you develop grip strength. But if your grip strength is what’s keeping you from progressing, you may want to add some grip-strength training to your exercise routine.
Is your grip strength powerful enough to tear apart a phone book like this guy? Watch the video.
Grip Strength Matters
You need grip strength to help you achieve the Big Six, but it’s more important than that. Grip strength is an indicator of your overall health and longevity. Healthcare professionals frequently used a grip strength test to measure improvements in strength after hand surgery. But it’s also used to predict problems with mobility as you age, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, a nice reminder that following calisthenics progression for the long haul will help you live a longer, healthier life.
If you’re having trouble with the progressive exercises to execute the one-arm pull-up or hanging straight-leg raises, improving your grip strength can help. Here are two ways you can improve your grip strength to help you progress through calisthenics:
Squeeze the Bar.
Hop on to your pull-up bar to muscle your way through a couple of reps. Take a break and repeat. Do that a couple of times, and you may notice that with eat set, your grip gets a little weaker until you’re clinging to the bar by your fingertips trying to eek out one more rep. But that approach isn’t the best way to build your grip strength.
Instead, squeeze the bar tightly while doing the repetitions for a set like you’re hanging on for dear life on an out-of-control roller coaster ride. Grip the bar, squeeze tightly, and then complete your reps. When you make the effort to use your grip, it triggers a response in your body that engages more of your hands and fingers to hang on and perform the exercise. And the result is a lot like everything else in calisthenics. Stick with it, and this habit will make your grip strength legendary.
Use Grip Builders.
You can buy padded grips to put on your pull-up bar to make it thicker. This modification makes gripping the bar harder, and forces you to squeeze a little tighter to perform the exercises that require grip strength. But if you’re on a budget, you don’t have to buy jack to improve your grip strength. Just wrap your pull-up bar in a towel to make the bar thicker and more difficult to hang on to.
Fat Gripz are something I am using and loving them:
At first, you probably won’t be able to do as many reps as you could without a towel wrapped around the bar, but backing off a little to exercise this way is an investment in building grip strength. You can also toss the towel over the bar, and squeeze the two ends of the towel to perform pull-ups or hanging leg-raises like this below. But be prepared to discover that this technique will turn any bar-pulling or hanging exercise into a tug-of-war torture match between the towel and your forearms.
Hang in There.
If lack of grip strength is holding you back, here’s another way to improve your grip strength. End ever set of exercises by gripping the bar, squeezing, and hanging on as long as you can. It’s one more way to engage build the kind of muscle strength and endurance you need to go the distance with calisthenics
If you want to build calisthenics muscle mass and bulk up, you need to pick up some heavy stuff repeatedly… or so you’re told.
I’m here to tell you that you don’t. Your body alone is heavy enough to achieve that same exact goal, minus the expensive gym membership, free weights and complicated machines.
Not only does bodyweight training allow you to bulk up as well as a bodybuilder, but it provides your body with more than just some new, pretty-looking muscle. With bodyweight training, you build muscle, increase strength, develop endurance… and get into a split while you’re at it!
Yes, You Can Build Mass With Calisthenics
Why would lifting weights be more effective than bodyweight training? Your body doesn’t differentiate the kind of weight you’re working on, but rather how you work. Bodybuilders have the muscle-building technique down pat, while calisthenics tends to be better-known for muscle endurance.
…but that’s not all calisthenics is good for!
We live in a society convinced that without the gym, you can’t get fit.
I’m here to tell you…that’s a preconceived notion and a load of bullsh– bullcrap.
Ever Google male gymnasts? They’re packed with muscle, yet rely ONLY on bodyweight training.
Here’s the thing: to build calisthenics muscle mass, you gotta train a bit differently.
The “Science” Behind Building Muscle Mass
How does calisthenics muscle mass grow? If you don’t know, well… you should, and I’m here to help you into find out how.
Muscle doesn’t grow while you’re training it. It grows when you’re resting.
For your muscles to experience that growth, they need to be challenged by tension or weight for an extended period of time. It is this specific kind of stress that breaks down muscles with micro-tears.
Rest allows them to rebuild. If you’re eating enough calories, your body will naturally use that rest-time to both restore the muscle and add some mass to it.
Calisthenics can easily recreate a situation where enough tension or weight is placed long enough on the muscle that it’ll resist, then tear, and rebuild with more mass. The more you train, the more tension or weight you’ll need to place on the muscle. It’s levels of resistance grow the more you train and develop strength.
See? You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to build calisthenics muscle mass.
How do I build muscle mass with calisthenics? Create a tension/resistance in the muscle.
This stress will help your muscle grow in the same way weight-lifting would.
But if you want to build muscle mass as quickly as possible, calisthenics won’t be right for you.
If you want to make it a long-term thing though, calisthenics is totally for you.
Calisthenics is focused on progressions. Start with what your body allows you to do, then up the ante as you keep training.
More than that, don’t think that just because you can easily execute 20+ push-ups, you’re advanced.
Calisthenics wants you to slow it down, and focus on your form.
Here’s some useful terminology if you take your training seriously:
1. Concentric, or positive movement is the movement where you go up in your push-up. Technically, it’s the motion of an active muscle while it’s retracting under load.
2. Eccentric, or negative movement is the movement where you go down in your push-up. Technically, it’s the motion of an active muscle while it’s lengthening under load.
Bodyweight Muscle-Building Techniques
You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to build muscle mass, but you do need technique. Here are some of the main tricks you can use to maximize your bodyweight training aiming to build muscle mass.
1. Slow it DOWN
Bodyweight training relies heavily on the application of concentric and eccentric movement. Depending how you train both concentric and eccentric movements, your body will develop differently.
So even if you can do 20+ push-ups,I want you to slow down the entire movement and deconstruct it into separate steps.
Instead of powering through as many push-ups as you can, do less and focus on your form. In fact, try taking 30 seconds for each aspect of the movement.
Go down slowly, controlling your descent the entire time (4s minimum). Once you get down to a couple of inches from the ground, stop for a couple of seconds before pushing yourself back up in one explosive move.
By doing this, you’re taking the time for your eccentric movement to happen. You’re helping the muscle develop differently than most people train it. In fact, eccentric movements are where the micro-tears I mentioned will happen most.
So stop ignoring the eccentric movements if you want to gain that big muscle!
2. It’s All About The Angles
Angular training is this awesome technique where you use the angle of your body to create more tension in the muscle.
If you move your body around, adjust its angle, move your elbows in or out, bend or extend your knees – you’re doing angular training.
In fact, calisthenics uses angular training to make exercises progressively difficult. It is at the core of many calisthenics progressions; a new athlete training wall push-ups will make the exercise progressively difficult by adjusting the angle of the exercise. By placing your feet further and further away from the wall, you’re adding more weight onto your arms and making the push-up increasingly difficult.
An awesome example of angular training is the Typewriter Push-Up.
In this exercise, your starting position is a wide-armed push-up. Using your toes, arms and balance, you move your weight around your body, creating the need to RESIST in a variety of way.
Guess what? You’re pushing your muscles, creating tension and resistance that will then cause the micro-tears which will then cause – guess what? – muscle growth.
3. JOIN THE RESISTANCE!
No, I’m not talking about a revolution. I’m talking about bodyweight distribution.
Even in calisthenics, you need to work with a low rep range if you want to build muscle mass. If you worked longer, you’d be focusing on muscular endurance. That’s not what you’re looking for, right? So don’t.
The thing with bodyweight training is… you can’t increase the challenge-level of your workout you carry by just adding weight.
But there’s a trick!
This is where bodyweight distribution comes into play.
It might come as a surprise to you, but when you’re in a neutral push-up position, your weight is evenly distributed between your two arms. Guess what happens if, oh, maybe you placed all your weight on your right hand?
SURPRISE! More weight is added. Suddenly your right side needs to RESIST and stay strong against this weight that you didn’t need a machine to add on.
Let’s take the Typewriter push-up again.
It’s the perfect example of angular training, but it can easily be used for bodyweight distribution.
Instead of doing the movement by pushing on your arms and moving around, repositioning your body, you can simply move from one side to the other.
You’re switching your bodyweight around without changing anything else, and bam! You need to RESIST.
You Gotta EAT If You Want To Grow BIG And STRONG
If you want to build your muscles, you gotta eat.
Well… it’s time to get science-y again.
For muscles to either be maintained or grow, you need protein. Depending what your goal is, you need lots of protein.
Remember when I talked about the micro-tears your muscles experience when you work out? When you rest, your body uses protein chains to repair those tears, and if you want more muscle, you need more protein. Basically.
Many different publications talk about this, including Men’s Health. Different studies talk about different portion-size, but most people agree that 0.75 grams of protein should be eaten for every pound of bodyweight you have…if you’re already within a healthy body fat range.
If you’re overweight, you should eat the portion of protein you’d need if you were at your ideal bodyweight.
But that’s not all.
It’s not just about eating the right amount of protein. Scheduling is super important too, and you need to portion your protein throughout your different meals. Trying to O.D. on protein in a single meal just doesn’t sound quite right, does it?
Well, don’t do it.
Try dividing your protein-intake into at least three different meals in the day. In fact, the more balanced your protein-intake throughout the day, the better. If you stock up on protein in one specific meal, you’ll basically create a backlog in your system, and your body won’t benefit from that.
And one more thing…
The most effective way to consume protein is to have a meal a couple of hours before and right after your workout. Studies have shown that slightly upping your protein-intake before and/or after your workout is one of the best ways for it to help your muscles grow.
If you work out early in the morning, make sure to eat a meal right after.
This is a promise: your body and energy will thank you.
…and your muscles will get bigger.
Gimme a muscle-building workout NOW!
Before I share the awesome program I’ve come up with, there are a few things you need to know to train calisthenics well.
For example, you might not know that your body gets accustomed to a single, repetitive routine. So let’s talk about periodization for a second.
High volume and multiple sets might pack on muscle quickly, but you shouldn’t only train this way.
Training exclusively this way will get you stuck in “general adaptation syndrome,” which means your body will adapt to the program quickly. You’ll run into a massive plateau.
This is why you should use a periodized routine. Choose one that emphasizes high volume and multiple sets—a plan that intersperses hypertrophy workouts with regular strength-focused workouts.
If you switch up your habits, your body can’t really adapt to a single workout, so your muscles will constantly be stimulated into growing. Periodization means varying exercises, workouts or weekly routines.
You could organize your week to be 2-to-1 hypertrophy/strength rotation; you do 2 hypertrophy workouts (8 to 12 reps, 6 sets) for every 1 strength workout (4 to 6 reps, 3 sets). Slotting in a strength day helps me lift more on my hypertrophy days.
Share the routine already!
Don’t expect this routine to magically make your muscles grow. It’ll help, but it won’t happen in a day, a week or even a month for some people. Just keep that in mind.
Here’s a one-week program that I’ve followed with amazing results.
MONDAY – BACK AND TRICEPS
Assisted 1 arm pull-up work 3 – 5 x 1-5 (L/R)
Wide Pull-up 3 – 5 x 8-10 / Wide Row 3 – 5 x 8-10
Close Pull-up 3 – 5 x 8–10 / Close Row 3 – 5 x 8-10
Normal Pull-up 3 x MAX
1 Arm push-up 5 x 5 (R/L)
Diamond Push-ups 3 – 5 x 15–20
Triceps extension 4 x 8–10
Straight Bar Dips 3 – 5 x 6–8 (Slow eccentric movements)
Dips 2 – 3 x MAX
TUESDAY – LEGS
Pistol Squats 5 x 5 – 10 (R/L) (If you can’t perform a pistol, find a variation that fits you)
Normal Squats 3 – 5 x 15-20
Close Squats 4 x 15-20
Lunges Matrix (Front, Side) 3 x 6 – 8 (Go immediately from Front to Side Lunge)
Calf Raises 5 x 15 – 20 (Slow Reps)
1 Legged Calf Raises 3 – 5 x 10 (Slow Reps)
Jump Rope 3 x 70 – 140 jumps with straight knees using your calves as a jumping power / Sprints 5 x 30 m 2 x 50 m (MIX IT UP)
WEDNESDAY – REST
This means don’t work out. But if you want to move, do yoga, spend an hour stretching and training your flexibility…that’s a good thing.
THURSDAY – SHOULDERS
Handstand Wall 3 – 5 – 45+ Sec (If you can perform a free stand handstand then do it!)
Handstand Pushup Wide 3 x 6 – 8 (FREESTAND OR USING A WALL)
Handstand Pushup Close 3 x 6 – 8 (FREESTAND OR USING A WALL)
Hindu Pushup 4 x 10 – 15 – SUPERSET – Pseudo Pushup 4 x 10
Again – stretch, do yoga, meditate, move, have fun, play with your body.
SATURDAY – CHEST AND BICEPS
Wide Push-ups 3 – 5 sets of 15 – 25 reps
Close Push-ups 3 – 5 sets of 15 – 25 reps
Declined Push-ups 3 – 5 sets of 15 – 25 reps
Dips 4 sets of 12 – 25 reps
Chin-ups 4 x 8 – 12
Chin-ups negatives 3 – 4 x 6 – 8 negatives
Rings Biceps Curl 4 x 8 – 12
Close grip chin-ups 3 x MAX (GIVE ALL YOU GOT)
SUNDAY – REST
Calisthenics can DEFINITELY help you build the muscle mass you want, but the process won’t be as instantly visible as weight-lifting.
…The results will definitely be more long-lasting though!
A calisthenics body…yup. This can happen. Just be patient.
But what if I can’t do some of these exercises?
WHY the program above although good, WILL NOT GET RESULTS FOR MOST OF YOU…
Create an optimal training routine just for you
This is a problem a lot of us run into. We’re given routines – usually based on a standardized level – beginner, intermediate, advanced. Calisthenics Academy used to do that too – because it’s very hard to create a personalized training for each and every person unless we spend a significant amount of time with them.
[tweet_box design=”default”]How can I improve my cardiovascular endurance when calisthenics is based on building muscle strength?[/tweet_box]
You want to be lean and mean, right. Think about that for a minute from Paul Wade’s – perspective on the inside – the prisoner and the author of the legendary Convict Conditioning – the training program – our program is based on- Getting Started with Calisthenics. It’s not going to do you a lot of good to be able to slog through hours of jogging, running, or cycling, when you’re in the middle of a prison fight, or get called out to a hand-to-hand battle of strength and honor in the rec yard.
What you need is pure brute strength.
The kind of strength that gives you the confidence to take down any challenge. [tweet_box design=”default”]Stick with calisthenics and it will deliver.[/tweet_box]. And when it’s all said and done, you’ll not only be the strongest badass around, you’ll also have the cardiovascular endurance to fight your way through a no-holds-barred brawl and survive, or run for your life like you’ve just escaped from San Quentin.
On the surface, calisthenics training may seem like it’s exclusively a strength training program based on the progression exercises for each of the FUNDAMENTAL 8 Exercises (one-armed push-ups, one-armed pull-ups, one-armed handstand push-ups, one-legged squats, straight leg raises, and stand-to-stand bridges). But when you put in the time to follow the program, there’s a lot more going on that just building muscle strength.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 to 60 minutes a day of moderate intensity cardiovascular activity, and at least two days of strength training exercises for best health. Most people see the strength training component of the cardio recommendation as a call to action for walking, jogging, aerobics, or spending time on a treadmill or stationary bike. And go to any gym, and you’re likely to find the bikes and treadmills full of people putting in their time on one of those hamster wheels.
But it’s not really necessary, especially with Calisthenics. One of the hallmarks of calisthenics program started by Paul Wade’s program perfected during his 19-year stint in prison is high-rep training for each of the progression exercises for the FUNDAMENTALS. This approach is perfect for building muscle strength and endurance. It’s also a safer way to go about doing it compared to lifting heavy weights, that helps you master technique and build the kind of muscle memory that makes doing the exercises a little easier with every workout.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Give the workouts your best effort, and you’ll be huffing and puffing to muscle your way through them. You’re actually getting cardiovascular benefits from calisthenics workouts, and moving through the exercises in a workout will keep your heart rate elevated long enough to strengthen your heart, lungs, and muscles. Use this heart rate calculator from the Mayo Clinic and you’ll find that a sustained CC workout will keep you in the ideal range for building cardiovascular strength and muscle endurance.
Prison-Style Cardiovascular Exercises
The calisthenics workouts provide adequate cardiovascular benefits to help you build endurance. But if you really want to step up your workouts and accelerate the amount of fat you’ll burn from week to week as you master the progressive exercises for the FUNDAMENTALS consider adding some prison-style cardiovascular exercises. If you were locked up in a cell, long runs or cycling just wouldn’t be possible. But these prison-style exercises are more challenging than traditional cardio and will leave you in a sweat-soaked puddle of your own hard work.
This exercise combines push-ups and squats that is guaranteed to leave you huffing and puffing. Get in a squatting position. Then place your hands on the ground and kick your legs back so you’re in push-up position. Then kick your legs back to squatting position, raise your hands above your head and jump as high as you can. Start with 5 or 10 and work your way up to being able to complete a set of 30.
Jacked-Up Jumping Jacks
This old-school exercise has been a staple for athletes and prison inmates for centuries. It provides some strength-building benefits to your arms and legs. But it also good for your cardiovascular health, especially if you modify the exercise to make it more difficult that the traditional move. Stand straight with your hands at your side. Quickly extend your arms out and raise them over your head vertically. At the same time, jump slightly and spread your legs. To make the exercise even more difficult, start in squat position. Then jump as high as you can while extending your arms and spreading your legs. Try to see how many you can perform in a minute and then try to break your record as you get stronger.
[tweet_box design=”default”]You don’t need a lot of space to do this bodyweight training exercise[/tweet_box] either. But it will really challenge your cardiovascular system. Get in position with your hands on the floor with one knee on the ground and the other knee bent at 90 degrees with your foot on the ground. Bring your back leg forward while moving your upright leg to kneeling position. Alternate between legs quickly and see how many you can do in 30 seconds to a minute.
Cardio Power of Calisthenics
[tweet_box design=”default”]Calisthenics is designed to build muscle strength and calisthenics endurance[/tweet_box]. You’ll burn plenty of fat as you develop more muscle tissue. And the high-rep workouts provide an effective cardiovascular workout for your heart and lungs.