How to Train Everyday – for the rest of your life

This is a post outlining the two main strategies we use inside Calisthenics Academy to make sure that the training for our athletes is optimal.

We use deep personalisation and autoregulation to create training that is adjusts based on our athletes needs. Today I want to talk about autoregulation.

SECRET WEAPON #1. AUTOREGULATION

Adapt to your changing needs to train productively for the rest of your life

It’s not that difficult to push yourself for a few weeks and make a lot of improvement.
But it isn’t any good if you stop after that, which is what most of the people do.

The only sustainable way to include training in your life for good is to think long term and adjust training based on how you’re feeling.

The truth is that there are many variables affecting your training

Sleep, emotional stress, illness, work, energy levels and diet all significantly influence training.

There are days when you feel great and on the top of the world and you just power through your workout. Other days you might be feeling really bad. Some weeks are amazing, some are miserable.

And unfortunately, there are too many variables to predict and plot how you’ll be performing on a specific day to then schedule the right kind of workout.

The old school of thought would say that you just need to push through it and train, but the truth is that these are real variables. Instead of fighting against them, you should work with them to make your training more effective.

How can you do that, you ask?

By using a fancy strategy called autoregulatory training.

Auto-Regulatory Training

It just means changing how you set up your workout session. Auto-Regulatory Training (AT) uses your current performance in comparison to past sessions to help you make intelligent changes to your program. It takes how you’re feeling as well as actual progress into account to help you plan your next session.

AT wants to help athletes find the balance between the stress of training to actual readiness. It’s designed to help individuals workout according to their changing needs so that the training remains regular and consistent.

For example, the difficulty of a workout can vary greatly based on the athlete’s recovery, rather than the actual physical challenge of the routine. It allows the athlete to build their own workout based on their recovery in addition to their progress. It’s an amazing tool that has been proven to accelerate strength rehabilitation more efficiently than traditional methods.

AT believes that the athlete knows their needs best. Their awareness can then be used to program their overall program, which will greatly improve performance and progress.

So how do we rate this readiness?

Auto-Regulatory Training IN REAL LIFE

In an ideal world, you’d optimize your training sessions by adjusting your sets, reps, and intensity based on how hard is to perform the exercise in your current session.
In practice, that’d mean that the coach would give you a number of sets and reps to perform. S/he’d ask after each round or even each exercise how that felt and adjust based on your answer.

Here’s how we translate that for you to use to autoregulate your current or next session: ever heard of Rating of Perceived Exertion?

Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

It’s a scale we use to help AT by being aware of the level of effort and exertion you put into your exercise.

Here’s how it goes:

RPE, also called “The Borg Rating Scale of Perceived Exertion” was developed by Gunnar Borg (surprise, surprise) in the early 1980s. It was first used to gauge aerobic training, but soon became a tool to clinically analyse breathlessness and dyspnea, chest pain, angina and musculo-skeletal pain.

Overall, it’s a reliable tool for you to track your day-to-day training and how it compares to past sessions. This will help you in the long-term, teaching you how be aware of the impact your training had on your body and the kind of effort you put into your sessions. This will impact how you react to hitting a plateau during a workout. Rather than pressure yourself about your lack of progress, it will push you to just relax and accept the current situation while encouraging you to do better in the future.

Our current Calisthenics Academy Scale

Over time we were experimenting between a 3-point scale and 5 point scale to adjust the sets and reps. After a year of training athletes, we know that the  5-point scale gives us more data points and overally works better. The smaller scale simply wasn’t giving us enough data, but we still needed a simple version of the RPE.

This is a really important part of the training routine and it will work magic to help you with your progress. It’ll also help you build awareness of you body and take your training to the next level.

So after every single exercise you do, we’ll ask, “How hard was it to complete that set of reps?” and adjust your next set based on your feedback.

This is how the adjustements look now inside the Calisthenics Academy

calisthenics assesment

Calisthenics Academy assessment

 

We also have a sheet for offline workouts. This is an example of a 5 point scale:

calisthenics academy assessment

 

WHY IS AUTOREGULATION A GAME-CHANGER?

With AT, all you need to do is get your workout started rather than try to predict how it’ll go beforehand.

This also means that no matter how you feel, the workout is always enjoyable.

What kind of difference would that make for your mindset knowing that every workout, no matter how you feel, is good and it’s moving you one step closer to your goals?

I let go of my expectations and just took my training one day at a time. I took it all in stride, the good and the bad alike. I stopped overthinking and worrying, and it’s helped me stick to my training whether it felt satisfying or not. Whether I felt like it was a good workout or not. Whether I was in the right mindset that day or not.

This is the key to lifelong training.

What would it feel like to never have to give up on another fitness program again?

The truth is that you showing up, aware of how your body’s feeling and adjusting based on that, will give you more gains long term than you’d expect.

Also, how amazing would it be to have the most effective training ever, just because you’re listening to your body’s needs?

No more feelings of disappointment or like you’re not moving forward. You always are.

Want a more optimal training?

Check out Calisthenics Academy or take a FREE Assesment to see how do you stack up on 8 main calisthenics fundamentals

calisthenics progressions assessment

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!
3 UNEXPECTED BENEFITS of  LEVERS and HOW TO GET STARTED!

3 UNEXPECTED BENEFITS of LEVERS and HOW TO GET STARTED!

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.

levers

Back levers

Source: Gymnasticswod

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.

BONUS

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.

Check out these FRONT LEVER Resources:

7 Days Front Lever Killer Workout,

Front Lever Progression

[FREE 7 WEEKS-LEVER TRAINING VIDEO COURSE ] (SIGNUP its coming soon)

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Alex Dutchak is a fitness trainer and athlete currently based out of Fairfax, Virginia. Since finding his passion in fitness, Alex has experimented with gymnastics, distance running, olympic weightlifting, cycling, rock climbing, crossfit, kettlebell training and much more. He will begin his college career at VCU in Richmond in August, 2015 in the pursuit of an exercise science degree. He is certified for personal fitness training by NASM and has a Progressive Calisthenics Certification.
Human flag progression

Human flag progression

human flag progression

human flag progression

[tweet_box design=”box_08″]The “human flag” exercise, also known simply as the “flag” is an urban variation of bodyweight training [/tweet_box]as calisthenics continues to inspire different interests, hobbies and sports. This progression is inspired by the free-running and parkour practice sweeping many streets, towns and cities throughout the world. Here is a quick video demonstration of what we are talking about:

Step 1 – Feet Lifts

[tweet_box design=”box_08″]For the whole of this progression you will need a pole.[/tweet_box] There is no need to specify which type of pole. It could be a street lamp, pole dancing pole or any other stable thin cylindrical vertical object. Just something you can get your hands around. Hold the pole with your hands, with your palms facing the same way. Lean over to the side and try to support your feet just above the ground. This takes a great about of strength and body stability. Once you are able to support your feet a few inches from the ground, try to lift them together until your body is almost parallel to the ground before returning to the starting position.

Step 2 – Tuck Flag

Your way to the human flag will not be easy. This time support your body parallel to the ground but to make things easier, tuck your feet behind your body. This will simulate a half sized human flag, and will take a lot of difficulty off as you work to the final step.

Step 3 – Double Leg Drops

Support your body above the parallel position, around a 30-45 degree angle to the ground. Allow your legs to drop to a parallel position to the ground before moving back to the starting position. This will allow you to simulate a full flag position with less difficulty. Try this exercise by dropping one leg only to the parallel position, and then start by using both legs.

Step 4 – Full Flag

Hold the human flag position with your body fully parallel to the ground. This is an impressive feat of body stability and control and we congratulate you if you are able to do this. Surely you are well on your way to being the best free-running athlete there is!

Back to Progressions.

one arm pull up progression

DOWNLOAD 4 STEPS HUMAN FLAG PROGRESSION!

And Start Your Journey to Insane Natural Strenght.

  • Condition Your Nervous System and Your Muscles Step By Step
  • Avoid Injuries and Strenghten Your Joints with Proven Steps for Progress

calistenics training

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!
Ab Wheel Progression

Ab Wheel Progression

From Steven Low’s excellent book, Overcoming Gravity, we have decided to visualise and explain a progression which will give great core strength and stability and is built around a piece of calisthenics equipment known as an ab wheel. The ab wheel workout is basically added resistance to a crunch where your bodyweight works against your core.

ab wheel progression

ab wheel progression

Step 1 – Plank (25s)

The plank position is a great way to quickly build core stability. Balance on your forearms and toes while keeping your torso parallel to the ground. Hold the first step for 25 seconds.

Step 2 – Plank (60s)

You may have to re-do the first step a number of times to be able to hold this, but for step 2, to build more strength and stability you must hold the plank position for 60 seconds.

Step 3 – 1 Arm 1 Leg Plank

Your core will now be working in the plank position not only to support the position but to hold balance in this more difficult set up. Plank with your left and on the floor as well as your left leg. This will be a much more difficult position in which to hold a plank position with the balancing responsibilities now resting more firmly on your core.

Step 4 – Kneeling Ab Wheel

This is the first exercise in the progression involving a wheel. Go on to your knees and grip the handles of the wheel with both hands. Allow it to roll forward until your torso is parallel to the ground and then roll back to the starting position.

Step 5 – Ramp Ab Wheel

The extra resistance here is given by gravity putting further strain on your core. Find some kind of ramp of sloped surface and kneel at the top of it. Allow the wheel to roll down the hill until your torso is parallel to the slope and roll back up.

Step 6 – Standing Negative Wheel

Here begins the truly difficult core stuff. Begin in the bottom position of step 4 with your torso parallel to the ground holding the wheel but with the balls of your feet on the floor. Roll backwards with the wheel until you are standing on your feet and bending over while still holding the wheel. Control this movement back to the starting position and repeat.

Step 7 – 1 Arm 1 Leg Wheel

Back to the evil balancing act of step 3. This time hold the wheel with your right hand and have your left foot on the floor. Slowly control the motion down until your torso is parallel to the ground in the previous 1 arm plank position and roll back up. This one will really test your core strength.

There are many other exercises that can be done with an ab wheel. Here are some more examples and variations:

 

Go Back to Progressions.

 

and if you are looking for a proven calisthenic training program then check out Getting Started With Calisthenics

ab wheel progression

ab wheel progression

DOWNLOAD 6 STEPS Ab WHEEL PROGRESSION!

And Start Your Journey to Insane Natural Strenght.

  • Condition Your Nervous System and Your Muscles Step By Step
  • Avoid Injuries and Strenghten Your Joints with Proven Steps for Progress

 

calistenics training

 

 

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!
Dips Progression

Dips Progression

dips exercise progression

dips exercise progression

Dips Progression

Dips Progression

[tweet_box design=”box_10″]The dips progression we have made has probably the most equipment needed for any of our calisthenics workouts.[/tweet_box] Standard dips are performed on parallel bars, so you will need these. Our progression has been put on to rings for more difficulty and there will also be the need of some kind of heavy weight. See our calisthenics equipment page for more information on this. [tweet_box design=”box_10″]This progression is very short but will give you great benefits in terms of upper body strength.[/tweet_box]

Here you can see a small guide to dips as well as the benefits and demonstration:

Step 1 – Bar Dips

The first two exercises in our dips progression involve parallel bars. Simply follow the video above for a guide on this part of the progression

Step 2 – L Sit Bar Dips

As well as working your upper body, this next exercise engages your core by holding this L Sit position. You may want to see our Planche progression to work your way to holding this position. Extend your legs out in front of you while holding the parallel bars and perform the dips again.

Step 3 – Ring Dips

For this part of the progression you will need gymnastics rings rather than bars. Do this while holding the L Sit position, but if you cannot perform dips in the L Sit position you may want to try doing it from the normal dips position to start. The rings require your upper body to work on stabilizing the position held as well as the strain given from the normal dips position.

Step 4 – Weighted Dips

Moving back to parallel bars now, you should now perform dips with some kind of heavy weight (perhaps a circular weight, but there may be other options). This should be 10-20kg depending on the resistance you want to add. You may want to work from 10kg and progress to 20kg or higher but that’s up to you. This is also a great opportunity to promote safety in this part of the dips progression. Please do not hang the weight from your neck or attempt to support in with some other part of your body. The suggested method is to chain it to some kind of weight lifting belt, otherwise you can find straps to hold it around your waist. There are plenty of safe options, but please exercise caution. Anyway, perform dips on bars with the weight and you will now have gained some awesome upper body strength with our dips progression.

You may wish to progress to doing weighted dips on rings, but we feel that doing it on bars will give you more than enough strength for now.

With this new awesome strength, feel free to try some of our other progressions.

dips progression calisthenics

dips progression calisthenics

DOWNLOAD 4 STEPS DIPS PROGRESSION!

And Start Your Journey to Insane Natural Strenght.

  • Condition Your Nervous System and Your Muscles Step By Step
  • Avoid Injuries and Strenghten Your Joints with Proven Steps for Progress

calistenics training

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!
Manna progression

Manna progression

 

Manna

Manna Progression

The manna progression is another one of the gymnastic-based exercises within calisthenics. There is no other exercise progression which demands so much balance and core strength to be developed. Body flexibility is also an important part of the progression as the completion of the final exercise requires you to display a body position which may seem completely impossible.

Step 1 – Foot Supported L Sit

This can be done either on the floor or with the use of some raised bars. Raise your backside off the ground with your hands. Extend your feet straight out in front of you and use them to help support you in this position. Try to focus on extending your scapulae towards the floor.

Step 2 – Advanced Tuck L Sit

The second phase of the manna progression involved the same hand position. The difference is your leg position. This time bend your legs until they are tucked with your feet around a foot and a half from your hands. For your first few attempts you may want to attempt the exercise with your feet supporting your weight on the floor, but before moving to the next step try and be able to balance on your hands with your feet elevated.

Step 3 – Straddle L Sit

Balance on your hands using the floor or raised bars again and spread your legs either side of your arms and extend them out in front of you. By the end of this you will be used to the sensation of balancing on your hands only.

Step 4 – V Sit

There are 2 positions to adopt in this exercise. The objective here is to strengthen your core so that you will be able to hold the final position. Start by sitting on the floor and extending your legs together in the air about a 45 degree angle to the floor. Lean back to maintain balance and put your arms out parallel to your legs. Holding this position will strain your core muscles and give you great core balance. From this you should attempt to hold the position while balancing on your hands. This is the best preparation for the manna exercise.

You may be interested to see some V sit eccentrics if you find this exercise difficult

Step 5 – Manna

The ultimate step of this progression. Balance on your hand s and bring your legs together in front of you in an L sit position. Begin to bring your legs up until your are in the V sit and begin to go further until your back is nearly parallel with the floor and your shins are close to touching your face. This is an awesome progression in strength, flexibility, mobility and balance. It is our pleasure if you found this progression useful.

Be sure to see some more of our progressions.

 

manna progression

manna progression

DOWNLOAD 5 STEPS MANNA PROGRESSION!

And Start Your Journey to Insane Natural Strenght.

  • Condition Your Nervous System and Your Muscles Step By Step
  • Avoid Injuries and Strenghten Your Joints with Proven Steps for Progress

 

calistenics training

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!