8 Challenging Push-up Variations To Spice Up Your Calisthenics Training

8 Challenging Push-up Variations To Spice Up Your Calisthenics Training

When it comes to working out, push-up is probably one of the most common movements that every athlete has performed inside or outside the gym.

Push-ups are done in your yoga classes, pilates classes, boot camp classes, crossfit and many others. Soldiers even perform push-ups in their training.

The are the also the fundamental calisthenics pushing movement that is absolutely required if you want to build towards some of the more advanced movements.

The problem is – when you think push-up you probably think normal, generic push up on the floor but there are hundreds of push-up variations that you can use in your training.

Wether you are looking to add variety to your training, challenge yourself, have a bit of fun, follow some variations tried by calisthenics masters – we’ve got you covered.

In this article we will cover the benefits of push-ups as a fundamental horizontal pushing movement, how to use it to progress in your training and we will show you 8 fun variations to try to get your training to the next level.

Why you should start doing push-ups now?

A push-up requires literally nothing but your body weight, yet it has the power to activate almost every muscle in your body. It may appear to be very simple, but once you press your hands against the floor, you’ll know why a PUSH-UP is something that EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW AND START DOING.

There are many movements that you can incorporate into your workout regimen. PUSH-UPS should definitely be one of those movements for all the exciting benefits it can provide your body. Your training will be so much better with push-ups.

Strengthens Your Muscles

Push-up is a simple workout that brings a myriad of miracles to the body. Doing push-ups stretches your whole body and strengthens your muscles, particularly those located on your chest, shoulders, triceps, abdomen, and the wing muscles under your armpit called serratus anterior. It also helps with the growth of your muscles as this exercise increases the production of the Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which is responsible for muscle growth.

Improves Your Health

Push-ups also help improve your health. This exercise improves your cardiovascular system as it makes your heart work harder to pump blood to your muscles. Moreover, studies have shown that push-ups help prevent osteoporosis development for both men and women.

Prevents Injuries

In addition, push-ups are also a great way to prevent unwanted injuries. By stabilizing your muscles through push-ups, not only can you strengthen the vulnerable parts of your body such as shoulders and your spine, but also improve your posture, too!

What is a push-up?

The push-up movement is one of the most simple and inexpensive movements that activates all your muscle groups, as discussed by Michelle Hobgood, MS, of Daily Burn.

In addition, Calisthenics Academy discussed that “push-ups are one of the best ways to strengthen the upper body, shoulders, triceps and chest. They also stress the core muscles throughout the movement.”

How to do a PUSH-UP?

Basically, a standard push-up is performed by:

  • Place your hands shoulder width apart on the floor. Make sure the arms are straight.
  • The upper back is slightly rounded. Keep the abs tight.
  • Keep the legs straight and close together with the toes resting on the floor
  • From this position lower your body down by bending the elbows to more than 90 degrees till the body is two inches above and parallel to the floor. The elbows stay close to the body.
  • Come to initial position by tensing the triceps and chest muscles.
  • Keep low back and abs tight throughout the movement.
push ups variations calisthenics

This is how you should look like in the starting position.

pasted image 0 8

push ups variations calisthenics

REMEMBER: Maintain a neutral straight position while pressing yourself on the ground.

Now, that you have an idea on how to do a push-up, or  your memory has been refreshed on doing one, let me share how this one simple movement can influence dramatically your training for Calisthenics and Gymnastics.

Pushing Movement Modalities to Improve Calisthenics and Gymnastics

Pushing movements such as push-up, handstand, pull-up and other bodyweight exercises are very important in building up overall strength and control over your body.

The gymnastics modality comprises of body weight elements or calisthenics, and its primary purpose is to improve body control by improving neurological components like coordination, balance, agility, and accuracy, and to improve functional upper body capacity and trunk strength. – The CrossFit Training Guide, 2006

Before you can do crazy gymnastic movements such as handstand push-ups, pull-ups, or even back flips, performing standard push-ups to get better is a good start. If you already got the hang of performing push-ups, there are always modifications and variations that you can do to spice up your training.

Advanced Push-Up Variations That You MUST Try

1. Typewriter Push-Up

Muscles worked:

  • Upper back muscles like rhomboids and middle trapezius
  • Triceps
  • Chest (pectorals major and minor)
  • Shoulders
  • Core

Why you should try it: 

This specific variation challenges the athlete to engage the core during the whole duration of the movement. The athlete is not only focused on the up and down motion of the movement, rather the sides are also accounted for.

How to perform it:

  • Place both hands two feet apart and with elbows straight.
  • Keep the upper body rounded and abs tight.
  • Legs are straight and should be placed hip width apart with toes resting on the floor.
  • Lower your body towards the floor, by bending both elbows fully, till body is approximately two inches above and parallel to the floor.
  • Now shift your body towards either side a few time by straightening the opposite elbow. The body should move from side to side by alternate bending and straightening of the elbows – imitating a typewriter
  • Come up to initial position by tensing the triceps, shoulders and chest muscles.
  • Repeat.

push ups variations calisthenics

push ups variations calisthenics

push ups variations calisthenics

You should look like this while performing this movement!

2. Muay Thai Push-Up

Muscles worked:

  • Chest
  • Triceps
  • Abs
  • Shoulders

Why you should try it:

This may be one of the most difficult push-up variations that you would want to try. This movement would require tremendous strength and balance in your core and upper body. If you already graduated from doing clapping push-ups, this can be your next challenge.

How to perform it:

  • Get down into the push-up position with arms straight.
  • Drop down to the ground to perform a standard push-up and explode up out of the push-up.
  • While in the air, clap your hands behind your back and place your hands back down on the ground as you drop down into the next push-up.
  • Be careful not to lose your balance and momentum from transitioning in the clap back to the ground.

Here’s a sample video of someone performing muay thai push-ups:

3. Triple Clap Push-Up

Muscles worked:

  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Abs
  • Triceps

Why you should do it:

Can you do one clap push up? That’s good! How about two claps push-up? That’s impressive. But if you can do a triple clap push-up, you are a beast. This is definitely a challenging push-up variation that once you have done it, you’ll feel extremely strong.

How to perform it:

  • Get down into the push-up position with arms straight.
  • Drop down to the ground to perform a standard push-up and explode up into the air.
  • Clap your hands in front of your chest, then clap your hands behind your back and finally clap your hands again in front of your chest. Use the momentum from that explosive push off the ground to perform the three claps.
  • Place your hands on the ground and drop down into the next rep.

This is how fast you should be able to perform the three claps successfully:

4. Two Fingers Push-Up

Muscles worked:

  • Index finger
  • Thumb
  • Triceps
  • Chest
  • Core
  • Shoulders

Why you should do it:

Are you a Bruce Lee fan? You definitely would want to work your way to perform 2 fingers push-up. This can be really challenging since you have to develop strength on your fingers to be able to do this movement.

Building strength on your fingers is not an easy job for sure. Hence, this is not advisable for beginners. Doing push-up variations with your arms can be easy enough for you. But, this one can bring back spice to your push-up movements.

How to perform it:

  • Start from the standard push-up position.
  • Adjust your position so you can balance on one hand. Make sure that your arm is well-balanced and your legs evenly apart from one another.
  • Put all your weight on your index finger and thumb. Try to hold your weight firmly on those two fingers. Engage your core and maintain a straight spine to complete a push-up.
  • If your fingers are not that stable, do not attempt to continue with the movement to avoid injury.

Are you curious if this variation is even possible? Check out this video to be amazed:

5. Planche Push-Up

Muscles worked:

  • Triceps
  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Core

Why you should do it:

If you want to be extremely challenged, developing strength to perform this push-up might be the perfect regimen for you. To be able to do this movement, you must have already mastered the basic push-up movements. It may take weeks for you to master this, but ain’t that an exciting challenge?

How to perform it:

  • Lie on your belly on the floor and extend your arms by your hips.
  • Put your palms on the floor directly below your abdomen. Rotate your fingers out to the side of the room.
  • Press against the ground to perform a push-up by leaning your weight forward into your chest and shoulders.
  • Squeeze your legs together and engage your core to lift both your feet and legs off the floor.
  • Move into a planche position in which only your palms make contact with the ground.
  • Bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor while keeping your lower body elevated the entire time.
  • Extend your elbows back up to complete one repetition.

Watch this video to visualize the full range of motion for this movement:

Also, check out this planche progression to help you build on your strength.

6. One Arm Push-Up

Muscles worked:

  • Chest
  • Triceps
  • Shoulders
  • Core

Why you should do it:

One arm push-up is one of the most common variations of push-ups. However, it is still complicated to perform and requires extensive training. It is one of the fundamental movements in Calisthenics.

Some people who attempt in doing this push-up resort to use the shortcuts which is not really performing the proper one arm push-up. Nevertheless, being able to do one arm push-ups is a big accomplishment!

How to perform it:

  • Shoulders are parallel to the ground.
  • Feet are not wider than shoulder width.
  • Body is straight when viewed from the side.
  • Twisting in the body is minimal.
  • At the lowest position, there are no more than 10 cm between the chest and the floor.
push up variations calisthenics training

Be mindful that your posture must be very similar to this in performing one arm push-up.

If you are still working on your one arm push-up, it would be better to take the assessment test on Calisthenics Academy.  You will be able to determine at which level you are in. At the same time, you can also focus on the areas in which you need to improve on the most with the proper professional training and coaching.

7. Handstand Push-Up

Muscles worked:

  • Shoulders
  • Chest
  • Deltoids
  • Triceps
  • Traps
  • Serratus Anterior (muscles at the side of your ribs)

Why you should start doing it:

Handstand push-up is a very effective movement to IMPROVE  your upper body strength and balance. Also, being in an inverted position entails added health benefits such as better blood circulation and lesser back pain.

Moreover, you would definitely look cooler and stronger being able to do a push-up in an inverted position. If you are not convinced enough, read more of the reasons here as to why you need to start doing handstand push-ups now.

How to perform it:

  • Make sure that before you do your first handstand push-up, your handstand form is well-executed.
  • Your hips must be fully extended with your shoulders fully opened up.
  • Maintain a full elbow and wrist extension before going into the dip.
  • Neutral spine must be observed all throughout the full range of motion.

push up variations calisthenics training

This is how you should look like in the start of the handstand push-up. If you are not quite there yet, make sure to look into this progression to develop your balance and strength for a handstand push-up.

The 45 degree angle during the handstand position before you do the press is VERY IMPORTANT for a SUCCESSFUL HANDSTAND PUSH-UP. This angle will help you to stabilize while pushing yourself towards the ground.

push up variations calisthenics training

push up variations calisthenics training

To tackle this move we strongly suggest building up to a wall handstand pushup FIRST then moving to a freestanding handstand and then trying a freestanding handstand push-up.

What’s important is that you build  proper strength and mobility before attempting one.

Challenge Accepted! It’s time to show off your beast mode.

You’re looking for a challenge? Tired of the everyday normal push-ups? Then, here you go…

Get ready and puff your chest to try and test your strengths with these advanced push-up variations. Some might be really intimidating for you. But, you can never conquer a land unless you try it. Make sure to memorialize your every attempt so you can look back to your struggles and celebrate your achievements.

We look forward to seeing your results of dominating these variations! Make sure to comment on this post and share your photos and videos of you attempting these movements.

Professional trainer, ex cross-fitter and a long time calisthenic practitioner. I started with Convict Conditioning and achieved levels of strength which enabled me to take part in street workouts championships. Check Out our Resources and Start Building Real Strength just using your Bodyweight!
Tricking Your Mind into Weight Loss with Katelyn Travers

Tricking Your Mind into Weight Loss with Katelyn Travers

The mind is a powerful thing.

When motivated, you can convince yourself of almost anything. “Yes, I do need to spend $200 on a new gym bag. No, I don’t need to wash my hair as long as I have dry shampoo.

When you’re highly motivated, you can get your body to play along with your brain, like in Phantom Limb Pain when there is pain in a limb that has been amputated, False Pregnancy when women who are not pregnant begin to develop many pregnancy-like symptoms or with the “Placebo Effect” that reports up to 70 percent of participants in clinical trials see an improvement in their symptoms simply from a placebo.

Although the conditions above are not favorable, you can also use this power for good. In this case, to make weight loss easier.

People spend lots of money on supplements that are supposed to suppress appetite to help lose weight. Although some do help a little, others are not yet proven to be effective…yet they’re still on the market!

What if I were to tell you that there is a cost-free strategy to naturally suppress your appetite, increase your metabolism and encourage your body to be lighter and leaner?

This strategy follows a training plan that focuses heavily on bodyweight training and gymnastic-type movements, such as handstands and pull-ups.

calisthenics weight loss

Think Like a Gymnast

Gymnasts are famously known for being lean, muscular and nimble.

This is obvious because they are required to propel their body weight over obstacles, balance and walk on their hands and perform feats that would be much more difficult if they were holding onto excess body fat.

If you’ve ever gone on vacation, gained a few pounds and returned to your workouts only to find they feel much more difficult, you know that extra weight doesn’t make running, pull-ups, or really any exercise, easier.

Hoisting five extra pounds up to the bar on a pull up or inverted row is no small feat for the muscles of your back. For someone weighing 140 pounds, that’s an extra 4% of their weight.

This brings us to the reason that bodyweight and gymnastic training can be so powerful for weight loss. If you are rigidly following a training program that requires you to practice handstands, plyometric movements and pulling around your bodyweight, your brain knows that these moves are easier when you are lighter.

The concept of neuroplasticity states that the brain reorganizes itself throughout your life. With training, “every movement of the body provides sensory feedback for the brain to process and adapt to.” Meaning, while you are practicing, your brain will work with you to make adaptations to improve your ability.

Your Hormones need to work with you

There’s also a little-known benefit that inverted positions, like the handstand, have on the body. Research shows that handstands help to stimulate your endocrine system and reduce Cortisol, the body’s major stress hormone. When Cortisol levels are high, weight loss is not likely.

Lower your cortisol and increase your capability for weight loss.

Furthermore, “the inversion [with handstands] brings blood to the thyroid glands to help regulate the production of T3 and T4 [metabolism controlling hormones], which also affects metabolism.”

So not only will you be building the strength of the muscles in your upper body, abs and improving balance, you will have increased blood flow, decreased Cortisol and increased metabolism.

calisthenics weight loss

Don’t look at the Scale

In addition to the hormonal and physical benefits of bodyweight training, focusing on these performance-based movements redirects your focus away from the scale. I enjoyed seeing my developments in strength with this type of training and used my nutrition as a means to enhance performance.

My focus wasn’t on the number on the scale, but at being able to improve my skills. This impacted my portion sizes and the choices I made.

Another benefit, of course, is that when you practice these movements, you increase your neural connection to the muscles and build more lean mass.

More neural connection = more body awareness and control. More lean mass = better use of the food you eat to fuel and build your muscles rather than storage as fat.

There is also a convenient check and balance in this system. If you go totally off the rails with your diet over the weekend, your workout on Monday will remind you to reel it back in over the week because you don’t want to keep making the workouts harder and harder.

calisthenics weight loss

Prioritize Performance-based Goals

Finally, an often underestimated trick of bodyweight training or performance-based goals is the confidence and diligence you build while working towards these goals.

I still remember being able to do my first unassisted pull-up, a stark comparison to the middle school girl who achieved ¼ of a rep on her pull-up test. The satisfaction and confidence will empower you to continue making healthy decisions and stick to your training program.

So start small, but pick a goal or a training plan that involves a lot of handstands, pull-ups, sprints, plyometrics and push-ups. See if you can trick your mind into losing weight by enhancing the mind body connection and requiring it to be light, leaner and more nimble for your bodyweight movements.

A sample-workout to get started

 

Circuit One

  • Burpee to Pull Up
  • Handstand
  • Bulgarian Split Squat Jump
  • Inverted Row
  • Hanging Straight Leg Raise

Circuit Two

  • Pike Push Up
  • Pistol Squat (or assisted pistol squat)
  • Jump Rope
  • Eccentric Pull Up
  • Hollow Body Hold

Perform all exercises for 45 seconds with 15 seconds’ rest between exercises and one minute rest between rounds. Perform Circuit One for 4 rounds before moving on to Circuit Two for 4 rounds.

Have you noticed better weight control or weight loss with incorporating bodyweight movements into your training routine? Leave a comment a below or post in the Facebook group with your experience!

Katelyn is a fitness & nutrition coach specializing in women looking to develop strong, defined bodies while improving their health and confidence. Katelyn’s drive to challenge her body and mind led her to compete in a figure competition, powerlifting competition and marathon race all in the same year. Check out HelloStrength.com or follow her on Instagram @hellostrength1 for recipes ideas, workouts and tips to get lean without giving up ice cream.
7 Simple Tips & Tricks to Perfect Your One-Legged Squat with Momir Iseni

7 Simple Tips & Tricks to Perfect Your One-Legged Squat with Momir Iseni

There’s certainly no shortage of articles and videos on how to’s for one-legged squats. One-legged squat is a family of movements, with classic PISTOL SQUAT as the MOST BASIC.

Among that plethora of information about this fantastic exercise, those most useful and minuscule details indicate that if regularly utilized and constantly improved upon, your experience will be greatly improved and consequently your results.

one leg squat calisthenics

Pistol Squat – Basic One-Legged Squat

What is a one-legged squat?

Before going into specific details that can greatly improve your performance in one-legged squats, let us have an overview about what is a one legged-squat.

Simply put, a one-legged squat is similar in performing a normal air squat but instead of using both of your legs to bring yourself down and push yourself up, you will only use one leg. This may appear pretty simple because you can do air squats perfectly fine. But once you try performing the whole range of motion, it can be really challenging to do a squat with only one leg.

Since one-legged squat can be a very challenging movement, do not feel pressured to perform one in full range motion right away. You can do it step-by-step by following this progression.

Perfect one-legged squats

According to CrossFit, you have to follow these steps to perform a perfect one-legged squats or the most basic, pistol squats.

  1. Balance your own weight on the working leg while the non-working leg should be placed in front of your body.
  2. Your standing leg hip should be able to descend backwards and downwards at the same time while pushing yourself down to a squat.
  3. Aside from that, your standing leg hip should also descend lower than the knee.
  4. Your standing leg knee should keep the straight alignment with your toes.
  5. Make sure that your standing leg heel stays flat and grounded to the floor.
  6. Keep the chest as high as possible.
  7. You can use your arms to balance by positioning them parallel to the ground.
  8. Most importantly, the non-working leg should NOT TOUCH the ground.

The More Intricate, The Better

Let’s look at some delicate details on performing pistol squat that, through years of personal experience, I’ve found very useful.

Look ahead and down

Before you even start, fix your gaze to the spot in front of you. Ideally, it should be somewhere about sixty degrees down. By constantly holding this visual anchor, you will greatly enhance your stability.

one leg squat calisthenics

Prepare before beginning – do not start without going through complete mental checklist.

Take just enough air

Bay far the easiest way to start a set of any exercise is to be as much relaxed and loose as possible – before the first rep. In the case of one-legged squats, this means that you’re standing relaxed up to the very start of the first repetition. Try to calmly exhale all the air before the start. Then, as you start with the first rep, you take just enough air to perform the movement right. That doesn’t mean lungs full of air, but rather about 70% full. You should feel that the air helps stabilizing you, not inflate you uncomfortably.

Stand on it

Since the start of the first rep, you should actively push the ground with your standing feet as hard as possible. Try to visualize pushing the ground – the whole planet, even – away from you. Keep the sole of your foot slightly bent, like you’re trying to grab the ground with it. Doing your squats barefoot, or in some thin- flat-sole shoes will be of great help here.

Rep by rep, set by set, workout by workout, try to improve on that feeling of firmly pushing the ground away from you. The better you are at that, the more strength and power you’ll gain.

Tighten your core

This step is simultaneous with the previous two. As you inhale that 70% lung capacity of air, tighten your core. The inhaled air will be of great help in that. But don’t try to squeeze to tight. Try to find a delicate balance. In time you’ll see that somewhere in between – not too tight but then again not too loose – is the real sweet spot of optimum experience and performance. You should especially pay attention to the side abdominals – more on them soon.

Push your thighs together

While you’re descending to the ground, try to keep your thighs close together. Don’t let your straight leg wander away sideways from your pushing leg. If you conscientiously keep them together, you’ll be tighter and more compact overall. One side note: the straight leg should be tight, but again not too tight – just enough to enable your full control of the movement.

Arms parallel to the floor

Perhaps you find yourself bent forward and your arms falling down in the bottom position of the one-legged squat. Try to implement a couple of cues:

  • First, from the beginning of the first rep, stand pushing your chest out and up.
  • That will simultaneously push your shoulders back and arch your back in natural position. As you’re starting to descend, focus on keeping your chest up and keeping your arms parallel to the floor. Keep your arms tight, squeezing your triceps and forearms and keeping your fingers straight and firm.
  • Second, from the bottom position – as you’re pushing the Earth away from you – try to imagine vertical strings pulling at your hands, shoulders and the crown of your head. That’s right – just as if someone is pulling you straight up. Ridiculous as this may sound, you must try it to feel it working. Try to feel that your whole body is getting up in unison.
  • Now – on the way up – is the time to EXHALE. Try to not exhale the whole air – keeping some in the lungs while holding your core tight will ensure the stability during this phase. Then, before starting the next rep, refill again your lungs up to those 70%.

Control the vertical

Another thing that may pose a problem – it certainly was a problem for me – is the tendency to bend to the side and lose the balance in the bottom position and/or while standing up from the bottom. This usually is connected with straight leg going sideways (see #5). In order to fix this problem, you again need a little awareness.

As you go down, EVALUATE and feel your movement through space. Do you feel like you’re even slightly bent to one side? Is your straight leg “running away“ sideways from you? If that is the case, try to – from the beginning of the movement – bent only very slightly to the opposite side. This may feel awkward at first. You may feel that you’re bending out of balance, but you’ll see that you are in fact putting yourself in just the right balance.

And this is the reason why I especially mentioned muscles of side abdominals. Controlling them will give you great stability.

one leg squat calisthenics

Throughout the movement maintain complete awareness and focus.

Practice Improves Progress

Beyond basic information that is available almost everywhere, there are numerous hidden cues and steps that, when used properly, greatly enhance and improve one’s progress.

At the beginning of this article I mentioned how pistol squat is the most basic of one-legged squats. In articles to come, we’ll progressively delve into more and more difficult variations of it.

Feel free to leave your comments, ask questions, and offer some advice and cues that you’ve found while progressing in one-legged squats.

 

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Momir has over 30 years of training experience and works as a fitness professional. He has ISSA certifications, as well as Metabolic Training certification. He trains exclusively with bodyweight exercises, and has been very successful with his own training as well as in training his clients. He contributes to a fitness magazine in Serbia, runs and manages his own website.
How To Start Your Own Calisthenics Community With Lex Lauron

How To Start Your Own Calisthenics Community With Lex Lauron

Start your own calisthenics/parkour community and empower the people to take charge of their own health!

If you have ever wanted to make a positive impact on your local community, try implementing the bodyweight exercises and parkour, and teach people how to do it. It’ll bring them together – regardless of their age, gender, religion, sexuality, social status and fitness level. Imagine a gathering of people from all walks of life and ages engaged in physical movement purely for the abundance of health benefits, and they’ll be having so much fun that they won’t realize they are working out.

calisthenic community

That is how to start a workout community. And the journey towards building it can be amazing and rewarding. Your community can grow each day by welcoming new and different people. It will create a unique set of characteristics and routines. Community brings people together, makes them take care of themselves and people around them and everybody can learn so much from that experience.

But why would you be the one to build it – you may ask yourself.

Why you should create your local workout community?

There is no greater feeling than having a positive impact on individuals and your community

When was the last time you had a positive impact on someone? Giving that one advice that helped your friend so much, teaching a child how to socialize with other kids or stand up to a bully, helped your parents switch to a healthier nutritional regime by going with them through it. Isn’t so fulfilling, right?

Imagine what can happen when you spread that positive impact and change to a community that shares your same goals and values. You can actually do a great deal for all of those people.

How would it impact your life if it’s on a larger scale?

The positive impact on your own life will be stronger than ever, it will make you achieve your full potential and reach your main goals.

Here are some reasons I’d like to point out:

REASON 1 – People will learn that exercise can be fun and free for everyone

I have been been working out for over 4 years 3-4 times a week and I have never had a gym membership or a personal trainer. Calisthenics and parkour never requires anything but your own body and can be done indoors  or outdoors.

You can start with a simple workout plan that will engage people, encourage them to do the exercises together, and help each other out. They won’t realize that they are working out!

When your community develops a mutual connection and gets in physical form, you can start creating workout variations and more challenging workouts.

REASON 2 – People inside a group will feel less self-conscious and motivated

When you get all these different type of people working out together, all the differences will be gone. People will forget about their own insecurities and start working harder if they see someone who is working harder than them.

The best thing is that people will feel way more motivated to not only exercise but to push themselves harder.It’s been scientifically proven. We tend to put more effort because we are in an unspoken friendly competition with others and ourselves, so there will always be someone to shout out a word or two to increase the motivation level.

calisthenic community

REASON 3 – We are all influenced and influencers

By creating a positive space for people to gather together and exercise, have fun, connect and work towards a common goal we’re creating a community – one with a profoundly positive impact. When you talk to, see or engage with someone who eats healthy you most likely are  inspired and motivated to eat healthy.

This influence can happen with good or bad actions. When I workout at the park people walking by or hanging out try exercises I am doing. I became aware of this influence a few years ago before calisthenics, so I figured our society can always use more positive influencers.

You can be that positive influence on your family, friends or strangers.

Now, when you know why – let’s talk about how to actually successfully build your own workout community, step by step:

calisthenic community

How I successfully built my workout community and you can too

  1. I chose a name that motivated me a lot!
    When I decided I wanted to start a community, I wanted to come up with a name that personally pumped me up, and something anyone could connect to. I named it Train like Gods!
  2. I used social media to share events
    Social media was the fastest way to get the word out there, so I began a YouTube channel. I made videos of my training and made sure to share that I’m looking for other people to train with, where I trained at and my  an email address to contact me.I used Facebook and Instagram to share events I created.I started a Facebook page to share my videos and meet events. In the events I made sure to include that it’s free and open to anyone. I would invite everyone, share it on relatives and a few friends page.
  3. I made it as simple as possible
    To create an event, all I did was choose a day, time, and  place. Most of the time I held the events at the  parks or schools. Once in awhile local gyms would let us train there, but I still preferred  the outdoors way better.
  4. I interacted with as many people as possible
    I would talk to and invite people I would see at parks exercising. Tell them about the community I’m was creating. I would also invite people from my job site.
  5. Then I turned to Instagram
    I used my Instagram to share my trainings clips and events. These sports happen to be more enticing to a younger generation so this helped spread the word quicker.

You’d be surprised how easy it is to make friends with the people you meet at the park.

calisthenic community

Now it’s your turn to build YOUR workout community

When you create a community around exercise, you’re not only working out, you’re asking what each other’s fitness goals are, you’re sharing diet tips and ideas as well as injury prevention, and eventually about work, school and other more personal questions down the road.

It’s important to not only care about how much muscle everyone is gaining or pounds they have lost. It’s called cohesion. When you talk about goals people have in other areas of life, and support and encourage them in reaching those goals and do things other than train together.

Now create a name you will love, make a Youtube channel, Facebook page, Instagram and any other social media account you like. Choose a day, time and place, make events share it with everyone you can. Have fun no matter if it rains or shines. Start making your community and our world a little more empowered, peaceful and more connected place.

Have you created a community of your own? We want to hear about them. Share with us your stories in the comments.

 

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He started his own calisthenics community in San Jose, California called Train Like Gods. Because of his passion for an active lifestyle and community, he combined these two things together and build an awesome community that has provided long lasting friendships. He organizes meet ups and helps at local competitions. He loves everything about Calisthenics and he’s committed to support the growth of it till the end.

You’re never too old to train

Don is a grandfather AND a Calisthenics Athlete

Don

Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athletes – people just like you that are working with their own body weight to get strength, lose fat build muscle, recover from injuries and live their best lives!

Don works in the healthcare industry as an engineer. A father of three and grandfather of four, he’s always been an athlete.

“If your life remains static you wither and die spiritually, physically and mentally. Keep moving, keep learning and enjoy life with zest.”

Don has always been an active person. As a teenager, he played soccer and ran track, then later focused more attention and energy on martial arts, which he still trains today. “I have worked out my whole life.”

“I wanted to find a form of exercise that would give me functional strength and flexibility that would fit well into my martial arts.”

Life always takes over, but Don still worked out

Even though he raised his three children with his wife and worked a full-time job, Don never neglected his workouts. In fact, as a weightlifter, he trained like a bodybuilder.

“I got real serious about lifting weights and increased in size until I was up to 240lbs and could throw some heavy weight.”

However, weight training became counter-productive for Don. Being a martial artist, he needed mobility more than he needed a body heavy with muscle.

“It slowed me down big time doing martial arts.”

“I have seen so many guys that lift lots of weight in the gym but cannot do a push-up or one pull-up. I can, which translates to functional strength that you can use in real life.”

“I absolutely love the program. It fits well with my martial arts training and is challenging.”

The 3 main benefits Don has gained since starting calisthenics

It fits with his martial arts training

Don has explored many different training programs, but none of them meshed with his martial arts training. “It complements my martial arts where I need flexibility and added strength is a plus.”

When he weight trained, he actually lost some of his range-of-motion, which is so important to martial arts.

“I think functional strength is extremely important for life and complements many other athletic activities. I teach self-defense and the calisthenics is the stuff that keeps a man in shape and prepares him for whatever comes his way.”

It’s always challenging

Despite being a lifelong athlete, calisthenics is a challenge to Don. The Calisthenics Academy program has actually forced him to start at the very beginning, despite being in very good shape. “Doing a plank for me for 10 seconds was easy but holding for 30 seconds is more difficult.”

“It was a slight blow to my ego to start at the very beginning but I really wanted to learn from the bottom up.”

He’s learning new skills

Don might be able to train and teach in martial arts, but he acknowledges that he still has a lot he can learn. “[The] hardest part of the journey is learning exercises I have never done before, like headstands.”

Over-training with weights can lead to injury

Don explored many forms of exercise over the years, but focused his attention on weight training. It helped him gain massive amounts of muscle, but caused him to lose range-of-motion in martial arts.It also caused him to injure himself by over-training. “I started getting injuries from weight lifting that forced me to stop all exercise for up to 4-6 weeks at a crack.”

These injuries started piling up and dogging him. “After a couple of years of back injuries, I started looking for other forms of exercise.”

He tried a variety of training programs, but none were motivating or attention-grabbing in the long-term. They also felt didn’t complement his martial arts training, not really helping him progress.

“I wanted to find a form of exercise that would give me functional strength and flexibility that would fit well into my martial arts.”

Don doing the side plank

Finding Calisthenics Academy

Before Don started with the Calisthenics Academy, he tried another program. “I came across a course I could do at home that promised I could do one arm push ups, one arm pull ups, muscle ups, etc in 9 months.”

However, once he started the course, he kept getting injured. Taking a step back from the program, he realized that he was going through the program too quickly to learn proper form. “[I] realized [I] needed the help of experts in gymnastics and calisthenics.”

And so Don went to find a program that would support him in his needs.

“I stumbled across Calisthenics Academy and started the program…It fits well with my martial arts training and is challenging.”

Don Doing Dips

“Give it a try. If you really want to master functional strength and improve your health this is the way to go. I have tried just about everything in my life and this is the very best way to get in the best shape that translates to real life.”

Don’s advice to anyone interested in starting calisthenics

With any workout discipline, you need to train consistently and be disciplined. “Be patient, it’s a journey not a 12-week wonder makeover workout.”

“If you want anything in life you must be disciplined. If you take on the challenge to pick a time during your week and make this a priority you will see results.”

Professional trainer, ex cross-fitter and a long time calisthenic practitioner. I started with Convict Conditioning and achieved levels of strength which enabled me to take part in street workouts championships. Check Out our Resources and Start Building Real Strength just using your Bodyweight!

Here’s how you should use calisthenics for legs training

Leg day has become a staple part of bodybuilders’ community over the past few years.

There’s a reason for that: squats and deadlifts are two great compound lifts.

However, they’re two exercises that don’t exist in calisthenics.

So what now?

We look for alternative bodyweight exercises that can be just as effective as traditional weight-lifting.

And guess what? They exist.

Just take a look at Lazar Novovic, a famous calisthenics athlete. He only uses body weight to train his legs and has a powerful and imposing lower body.

Still not satisfied? Then look at gymnasts. Gymnasts have well-proportioned bodies and need strong legs to complete flips.  Their leg training involves lots of calisthenics.

The benefits of training your legs with calisthenics

Calisthenics athletes do not have chicken legs. If you didn’t look before, verify this fact with Lazar Novovic, whose impressive body is almost exclusively developed with bodyweight.

This is one of the most common preconceived notions about calisthenics, and it’s completely wrong.

In fact, calisthenics offers much healthier benefits when training your legs than traditional weight-lifting.

1. It develops your flexibility

Let’s take a look at the deep squat.

Deep squat 1Deep squat 2Deep squat 3

I challenge you to try doing 20 squats, following this step-by-step tutorial.

Harder than it seems, right?

That’s because calisthenics develops your range-of-motion.

Most traditional weight-lifting will have you doing half-reps that will pump up the muscle but reduce the overall ROM of your hamstrings.

To successfully do 20-40 reps for 3 sets, your hamstrings need to be flexible enough to go down as low as proper form requires.

2. Calisthenics leg training helps you improve your balance

I’m sure you’ve heard of the staple calisthenics leg exercise, the pistol squat.

When I first met a friend, he was an extremely strong and active soccer player. And yet, he couldn’t do a single pistol squat.

Strength-wise, he was much stronger than me at that time (not anymore!). But balance and ROM-wise, I was much more advanced than him.

And that’s because I’d trained my legs with calisthenics exercises.

3. Your legs can do more than just look pretty

Calisthenics offers a variety of exercises that trains the body in as wide a range-of-motion as possible.

As I mentioned, this is amazing for flexibility. But developing your ROM will also mean that your muscles have applicable uses outside of just looking big and pretty.

You’ll develop explosive strength, which means that you’ll be able to exert a maximum amount of power in a short period of time.

You’ll have POWER thanks to explosive calisthenics training.

Calisthenics exercises to train your legs

After this, I’m sure you’ll believe that calisthenics can help you develop superhuman legs. Check out a few of the leg exercises calisthenics has to offer!

1. Pistol Squats

A pistol squat is a one-legged deep squat.

Once it gets too easy, you can up the difficulty level by slowing down each rep, adding a jump at the top, or completing the movement while standing on a balancing ball or a low pull-up bar (or high pull up bar if you dare).

How to do it:

  • Stand on one leg, with arms wide open for balance
  • The other leg is extended in front
  • Go down fully by bending at the hip and knee of the weight bearing leg, till the buttock touches the heel
  • Do not allow the other leg to touch the floor
  • Come up by pushing through the heel and straightening the knee
  • Repeat with the other leg

Pistol squat 1Pistol squat 3Pistol squat 2

2. Box Jumps

This is an explosive exercise, that will have very quick results on your strength, endurance and muscle growth.

If you don’t have a box, you could use anything solid enough to hold you (ie. Rocks, benches, picnic tables).

How to do it:

  • Get into a starting position with your knees hip-width apart, your arms parallel to the floor in front of you.
  • Jump up and forward onto the box, your body relaxed.
  • Use your arms for balance, and always keep your knees bent.
  • Jump back down onto the ground, your body relaxed and your legs kept hip-width apart.

Doing this movement using one leg will test your balance similarly to the pistol squat.  Progression for this exercise is simple; if it gets too easy, jump onto a higher surface, if it’s too hard, jump onto a lower surface.

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3. Bridges

The bridge is known as a calisthenics replacement for deadlifts.  It works your glutes and hamstrings, as well as your shoulders and lower back, with the added benefit of working your mobility and flexibility.

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back, your knees bent and hip-width apart.
  • Place your hands, palms flat above your shoulders, right by your ears.
  • Push your hands and feet into the ground, raising your hips towards the ceiling.

If the full bridge is too difficult, try glute bridges. It is the same movement except with your upper back on the ground.  Work on your lower back mobility with similar bending stretches as well.

To make it more difficult, you can do it with one leg, one arm, or one leg and one arm.

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4. Depth Jumps

Depth jumps originated from the Russian trainer, Dr. Verkhoshansky.

How to perform it:

  • The movement begins on top of a small box, rock, bench, etc,
  • Take a small leap down to the ground
  • When you land, keep your body relaxed. Don’t tense your knees, or they will absorb too much of the impact.
  • As soon as you land, immediately jump forward or up as far as possible.

This movement was originally known as shock training, because of how quickly your muscles need to react and jump.  The depth jumps, similar to box jumps, will train your lower body explosiveness, and build mass in the entire legs, including the calves.

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5. Sprints

Sprints have a fat burning and muscle building effect.

Typically, you do sprints in intervals, for example, sprint for ten seconds, then walk/rest for twenty seconds, and repeat.

The intensity of the sprinting will keep your heart rate high throughout the entire rest period.

One of the main things Sprinting has over long distance cardio is EPOC, meaning you continue to burn calories after your workout.

But the benefits of sprinting don’t end there.  Sprints work the entire leg, helping build up lower body muscle, lose fat, and improve nutrient partitioning.

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So, there you have it.  You now know five ways to build lower body muscle and strength using calisthenics.

So even a calisthenics athlete shouldn’t skip leg day!

I recommend training your legs at least twice per week if you do split workouts.

If you train with full body routines, make sure to pick an exercise to do every workout for at least five sets.

How do you train your legs? Share your routines in the comments or in our Facebook group!

But what if I can’t do some of these exercises? 

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.

There was just one problem with this approach (actually there are a lot of problems with it) – it hindered our athletes’ progress. We’ve written extensively on the matter in the blog post, The end of beginner/intermediate/advanced – that is hurting your training.

It simply explains why a lack of personalization is hurting your training.

Imagine if some of these exercises above were too hard for you. Your body will try to compensate with a poor form, movement dysfunction and possibly risk injury if it’s too challenging.

If some of these exercises were too easy they wouldn’t challenge your muscles to grow – you’d simply be wasting your time.

This is why we created Calisthenics Academy: to offer a fully personalized training program reflecting exactly where your level is for optimal performance.

Take the assessment to see how do you stack up on the 8 fundamental calisthenics moves

calisthenics training assessment

calisthenics training assessment

Share the results and comments in our Facebook Group

Professional trainer, ex cross-fitter and a long time calisthenic practitioner. I started with Convict Conditioning and achieved levels of strength which enabled me to take part in street workouts championships. Check Out our Resources and Start Building Real Strength just using your Bodyweight!