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

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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!
Front Lever Progression

Front Lever Progression

Front lever progression

Front lever progression

The front lever is an upper body progression which starts off with some relatively easy exercises before moving on to the ultimate step. The Front Lever is a fairly dynamic exercise made up of many different static motions as you build up through the progression. By the end your control of your own body weight will be an impressive feat and the muscular shape of your upper body will definitely improve.

front lever

front lever

Step 1 – Vertical Rows

For this exercise you should use a low bar where your feet can touch the ground. Alternatively you can use a high pull-up bar with a raised flat surface to rest your feet on. Put your feet flat on the floor or surface and grip the bar with your knees bent. Pull yourself up until your chest is near the bar and control back down.

Step 2 – Horizontal Rows

The added difficulty in this step involves moving more of your body weight with your arms. Instead of putting your feet on the floor, straighten your legs and rest your heels on the floor. This time you will be pulling some of your leg weight as well as the weight of your upper body.

Step 3 – Wide Bar Rows

This step is very similar to the previous step except for the hand position. In order to increase the difficulty to work up to a front lever position, you must make the exercise more difficult on your arms by spreading your hand position much wider than shoulder width apart. If you can manage it, try to double the distance your hands have been apart in the previous two steps and pull up.

Step 4 – Archer Rows

The purpose of this exercise is to bring strength to your core in preparation for the front lever step. It is not a full-proof way of being able to prepare you for the final step as it is not a similar exercise, so you may wish to consult some exercises in the leg raise progression for full preparation. Use two small dumbbells (3-8kg) and hand them in your hands while adopting a push-up position. You should concentrate on pulling up with your arms alternatively so your opposite side is facing the ground. This exercise will give further strength to your arms while engaging your core and obliques which are also key for the final exercise.

Step 5 – Front Lever Rows

Back to the bar position, place your heels on the floor. This time when you pull up focus on bringing your knees in towards your chest while pulling your chest towards the bar, hold this position shortly before controlling back to the starting position. To progress from this, you can balace with your body parallel to the ground with your feet unsupported then pull up and bring your knees to your chest.

There are other Front Lever variations you can try:

By the end of this progression your upper body will be strong and stable. See what else you can use this new found strength for with some of our other progressions.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Check those additional resources for the levers:

L-Sit, V-Sit and Hamstring Mobility

Fundamentals of Straight Arm Strength Training

3 Reasons Why You Must Practice Levers

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!
Planche Progressions

Planche Progressions

The planche progression is a gymnastics-based progression suited to bodyweight training. There are countless references to gymnastics workouts when it comes to calisthenics. Therefore, it is our pleasure to include this into our list of progressions. The planche will give you insane whole-body strength and outrageous and seemingly superhuman body control. It is certainly a must for all bodyweight training enthusiasts.

Planche

Planche Progression Infographic

Step 1 – Pseudo Planche Push-Ups

A very easy first step of this progression, pseudo push-ups give you the sensation of performing push-ups in a planche-like position. Support your legs on a raised platform (e.g. table, chair etc.) and place your hands on the floor or some bars. Perform push-ups at a steady pace by controlling the motion up and down.

Step 2 – Frog Stand (or Crow Stand)

The first step was a delicate introduction to a planche scenario with no balance involved. This step adds difficulty by bringing the sensation of balance to the progression, balance on your hands and rest your knees on your elbows. Be sure to hold this position comfortably before your move on to the next exercises of the progression as they act of balancing becomes more difficult.

Step 3 – Tuck Planche

Adopt a position with your hands on the floor and your knees together between your hands. Begin to balance on your hands and move your knees away from your hands until you are balancing with your knees together in the air about the same height as your elbows.

Step 4 – Advanced Tuck Planche

As the name might suggest, this is a more difficult version of step 3. Adopt the same tuck planche position but allow your knees to come apart and touch the backs of your elbows while balancing on your hands. This means your body will have to work harder to support and balance your weight which is distributed fully on a much narrower base.

Step 5 – Straddle Planche

Balance on your hands but this time allow your backside to face the floor and extend your legs out either side of your arms. This will make it much more difficult to balance and will demand much more strength and stability from your core which will now be working much harder to maintain this position.

Step 6 – Full Planche

The full planche involves balancing on your hands and holding your body steady in the position described in the last step but with your legs out straight behind you.

Step 7 – Planche Push-Up

A full-on, undiluted version of step 1. Adopt a planche position with your hands on the floor and your legs extended straight out behind you. Perform push-ups in this position. This is a great upper body exercise as your arms are working not only to balance your body but also to push up and down.

Here is a video demonstration of how this should look:

If you have worked your way through this progression then we congratulate you on your effort and thank you for attempting the purely gymnastic view of bodyweight training!

Planche progression

Planche progression

DOWNLOAD 6 STEPS ONE ARM PLANCHE 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

We have more calisthenics progressions for you to attempt.

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

Then we need to adjust your training, But before that let me tell you something:

WHY USING A COOKIE-CUTTER TRAINING ROUTINES  (like the one above) WILL HINDER YOUR PROGRESS AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT 

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.

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 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 8 fundamental calisthenics moves

calisthenics training assessment

calisthenics training assessment

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calisthenics academy the ultimate calisthenics training program

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!
Muscle Up Progression

Muscle Up Progression

In its most simply described form, a muscle-up is a pull up followed by a dip. That means that while hanging from a bar, your pull yourself up and then slightly adjust your and position to extend your arms above the bar pushing your whole body up. This i and extended muscle up progression. The initial exercise is not for beginners and you may want to work yourself up to it by progressing through some other exercises. See our Pull Ups Progression. [tweet_box design=”box_10″]The muscle-ups progression are a great bodyweight exercise for building strength and bodily control[/tweet_box], one of the key philosophies about the spirit of calisthenics.

muscle up progression

muscle up progression

Step 1 – False Grip Pull Ups

In order to correctly perform a muscle-up, you must be able to adopt a hand position on the bar that allows you to push up from the bar once you have pulled yourself up. To do this you must practice pull ups with what is known as a “false grip” here you grip the bar with your fingers over the top of the bar and your palms facing away from your body, but instead of putting your thumb around the bar, simply rest in to the side of your hand. Practice hanging like this before attempting to perform a pull up in this position. It may be slightly more difficult than a normal pull up, but it is the necessary hand position to be adopted to be able to work through the rest of the progression.

Step 2 – Muscle-Ups Eccentrics

The eccentrics of any exercise are known as the movements which are unique to that exercise to be practiced before the full exercise is put together. For the purpose of this progression the eccentrics are the second part of the muscle-up which involved pushing up from the bar. Balance on top of the bar with your hands and let your body drop until your elbows are near a 90 degree angle. Push up so that your arms are fully extended on the top of the bar before controlling on the way back down.

Step 3 – Kipping Muscle-Ups

This is a gravity-assisted form of the final exercise in this progression. The kipping part gives you momentum to pull yourself up into the muscle-up position. This involves holding the bar and letting your body move forward under and in front of the bar before swinging back and using this momentum to perform the muscle-up.

Step 4 – Muscle-Ups

Without the help of the swinging kipping motion, perform the muscle-up as described starting from static position below the bar. This is an impressive display of strength if you can complete this progression and will stand you in good stead to attempt some of our other upper body progressions available.

Here is a helpful video for the steps of this progression:

one arm pull up progression

DOWNLOAD 10 STEPS MUSCLE UP 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
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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!