Build your own gymnastic rings – step by step guide

Build your own gymnastic rings – step by step guide

If you want to get the most from bodyweight training, you’ll definitely want some gymnastic rings.

What are the benefits of training with gymnastic rings?

They’ll give you a greater range of motion and strengthen your balance. The same exercises you do on the ground will be more challenging and more intense. Ever try a push-up on rings? It’s awesome, and it’s time to get started! This article teaches you the step-by-step process of making your own pair of affordable gymnastics rings so that you can start your training.

Buying fitness equipment from shops can prove to be pretty freakin’ expensive. You don’t need to pay big bucks to get it, though! I’ve made my own pull-up rings, and boy, was it a useful and exciting experiment. The end-product was great and well, it made me proud. It might take more time than buying it ready-made, but the effort was definitely worth it.

It might take more time than buying it ready-made, but the effort was definitely worth it.

The current guide is on how to build wooden gymnastic rings. In the past I did have a go at building one from PCV materials. You can see how it went here. 

Here’s how it goes.

Choosing your rings’ measurements

You need to plan ahead on the size of your rings. Be accurate so that the end product is as close to perfect as you can make it. Knowing your rings’ dimensions ahead means anticipating the thickness of the wood you’ll need, as well as its size before being cut.

Material that you will need

This step-by-step will get your rings at minimum cost. No expensive tools are used the process, but you do need some basic material, such as:

  • Any kind of wood (included salvaged from old furniture) that is:
    • Triplex or multiplex wood
    • Has a thickness around either 15mm or 30mm
    • Board size is at least 30×30
  • Wood glue
  • Sanding paper
  • Jigsaw
  • Clamps (or heavy weights for the gluing process)
  • Acryl-based lacquer

Step 1: Got wood?

If you’re using any random board that fits the requirements for this project, you’re going to need to cut it down to the usable parts. Saw them off and, if the board’s thickness is 15mm, saw it in half so that you can double back and get 28-30mm of thickness for your finished rings. If you need to do this, sand down a side of the board for the gluing process.

 

Cut the board for your Gymnastic rings thickness

Step 1: sanded down board cut in half to get 28mm-30mm thickness

Step 2: Glue ‘em!

This step can be skipped if your board is already approx. 30mm-thick. If it isn’t, glue the sanded side of your boards together with some simple wood glue. If you have wood clamps, use them now to make sure the boards stay together until the glue has dried. You can also use some heavy weights for a similar effect. Let the glue set for approx. 24 hours.

Glue the boards for your gymnastics rings thickness

Step 2: use clamps or weights to keep the boards together until the glue sets

Step 3: Draw like an artist

Draw the inner and outer rings. You can also draw a ring in the center to help you guide the ring’s shaping in the next step. Use the jigsaw (power or manual) to first drill some holes outside of the ring’s drawing so that you can get the blade through.

Cut your gymnastics rings

Step 3: drill holes outside of your ring’s drawings to get the jigsaw blade through

Step 4: Be patient, even artists do tedious stuff

Using wood files, start shaping your rings. Start with the rough and general shaping first, then move on to rounding it all out. You’re almost done, so don’t give up now!

File your rings to make them perfectly rounded

Step 4: be patient and you’ll see a beautiful finished product soon

 

Step 5: Make ‘em pretty and make ‘em long-lasting

If you want your rings to last for the next few years, apply a few layers of Acryl-based lacquer on them. Make sure they’re completely dry and the lacquer’s hard before starting to use them. You can choose to skip this step if you want, but I’d advise you to add some extra protection against the elements and sweaty hands.
Add some straps that hold your weight easily, and voilà! You’ve just made your own set of beautiful wooden gymnastic rings. Congrats for getting this far!

Time to play with your gymnastics rings

Step 5: time to start training!

Now that you have your homemade rings, check out our Guide to Using Gymnastics Rings and start with The Support to start training.

Have you made other calisthenics equipment on your own? Let us know in the comments. 

Also join our Facebook Group to meet fellow athletes who just like you are on the journey to build insane strength, muscle mass, and skills with calisthenics

Source for pictures and content: Instructables

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!
Are you doing it right? The Perfect Squat Assessment

Are you doing it right? The Perfect Squat Assessment

When done properly the squat is a safe and effective exercise that can be used for strengthening your entire body. Performing a correct squat requires the upper and lower body to work in unison, activating an estimated 200 muscles or more.

Squat

To make sure that your squats will reward your efforts with amazing gains, and not injury (“no pain, no gain” does not apply here), it’s important to make sure your technique is on point. A good way of starting out is to perform a Squat Assessment, to gain information about the areas you are lacking, from head to toe.

Of course, it’s difficult to observe yourself performing squats, even in front of a mirror, so consider enlisting the help of a friend, or you could film yourself so that you can get an objective view of areas where you may need to improve.

How to perform a squat assessment

  • Wear shorts and a t-shirt, to make it easier to observe your movements and identify faulty movement patterns.
  • Film yourself (or have your friend watch you) from the front and side view, to get a complete overview of your squat technique
  • Stand with the inside of your feet aligned with the outside of your shoulders
  • Feet should be facing straight ahead. Arms should be extended above the head.
  • Lower yourself down as far as comfortable, taking around 2-3 seconds to do so
  • Return to the starting position
  • Keep your heels on the ground, throughout the whole movement

So, what are you looking for? Here’s a checklist of things you need to pay attention to:

Starting Position Key Points:

  • Arms extended above head
  • Feet shoulder width apart
  • Feet pointing straight ahead
  • Eyes fixed straight ahead

Finish Position Key Points:

  • Arms stay straight
  • Don’t lean forward too much
  • Feet stay pointing straight
  • Heels stay on ground
  • Knees stay in line with feet

Problems to watch for:

  • Knees buckling inwards
  • Arms bending at the elbow or swaying excessively forward
  • Heels lifting off the floor
  • Upper body and shoulders leaning forward excessively
  • Lower back loses neutral spine position (twists or bends)

By working through the above checklist, you will be able to identify basic movement faults before they potentially become a problem.

Next Steps

If your Squat Assessment has highlighted areas that you need to improve on, you must check out our blog post, The 6 Golden Rules for achieving the perfect squat. This will give you, in detail, a step-by-step guide to achieving flawless squats.

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!
The 6 Golden Rules for achieving the perfect squat

The 6 Golden Rules for achieving the perfect squat

Squats are one of the fundamental building blocks of a good fitness routine. On the surface they seem simple, but it’s amazing how many people just aren’t doing them right. Without proper technique you could be wasting your time—or worse, risking injury.

However, with a little bit of instruction and step-by-step directions, anyone can learn a flawless squatting technique.

So, what’s the point of squatting? If you think about it, a squat or partial squat is an essential movement in life we must all be able to perform whether you are 18 or 80 years old. Notice how many times we perform this basic move in our daily lives—from picking up a box to lifting up a child. Our ability to do this in a safe and correct manner can make the difference between getting injured and living a healthy, pain free life.

And speaking of pain, don’t be misled by the old saying, “no pain, no gain”. Working hard at squats with proper technique will cause discomfort, but you should never feel pain. If you do, this is an indicator that you are not doing it right. Go back to basics and check your form. The only pain you should feel following squats is moderate soreness.

In order to push yourself to the next level and to learn good, sound squatting techniques, you will need to understand how to first complete a proper squat, and how not to over extend your body.

To help you with this, I’ve put together the 6 key things—the Golden Rules—that you need to know about squatting.

Rule 1: Give safe, maximal effort

The body is only able to exert a certain amount of effort with each exercise, but if you push your body beyond its limit, then you risk injuries. Your maximal effort should be your effort alone and should involve what you are able to do within reason.

Make it a point never to jerk, twist, or contort during your squats. You need to understand that these movements are not helping you. The muscles need to be work together to complete the lift. If your form is off or if the muscles are not working together, then there is more of a risk of injury.

Remember, do not get too ambitious when you first get started. Trying to progress your lifts quicker than your body can handle is a path towards injury and poor form. Being careful to progress at the right rate is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength.

Rule 2: Perfect your footing

An often overlooked, but vital, step of learning how to squat is to understand where your feet need to be to set yourself up for success. After all, the main goal in perfecting the squat is to be able to carefully lower your body and lift with swift, controlled movements. Your footing needs to be around shoulder width apart, but not too far or too close. Point your toes out to the side to get some advantage in your inner thighs and notice the difference. If you find that you are off balance at any time, drop down a level or two (e.g. If you were using a weight with your squats, consider racking your weight and starting over). You need a solid stance and good footing before you can take your squats to the next level.

Progression To pistol squat calisthenics trainingProgression To pistol squat calisthenics trainingProgression To pistol squat calisthenics training

Rule 3: Start easy, avoid injury

Over the years, I have learned that keeping squats easy to start with is by far the best rule of thumb. To begin with, lower down lightly, maybe about half the way down. This will help to develop leg strength and can help you to accomplish the form you desire. If you need to further assistance as you start out, consider placing a high bench behind you, or a squat machine if you have access to one. Lastly, some find it easier to use their own body weight to learn proper form; using body weight reduces the risk of injury and can help you to hit your goals much quicker.

Box Squat is a great way to get started. You can get a full progression to pistol squat here

Progression To pistol squat calisthenics training Progression To pistol squat calisthenics training Progression To pistol squat calisthenics training

Rule 4: A little support goes a long way

Here is how to start off (see the picture shown below). Make use of a vertical pole and stand in front of it. The hands should be placed on the pole at waist height. Squat down, and once you reach the bottom point,  sit down with the upper torso upright in a good posture. Your knees should be bent at a right angle at this point. If this is a tad challenging to start, then consider using more of the pole for assistance. The pole is your guide to keeping your glutes back and maintaining proper form.

Assisted Squat Calisthenics Pistol ProgressionAssisted Squat Calisthenics Pistol ProgressionAssisted Squat Calisthenics Pistol Progression

Rule 5:Don’t plateau, progress

What is the ideal prescription for a squat program? Initially it is better to start with three sets of about ten body weight squats. However, after about 7-10 days with a regular routine, it is natural for your muscles to adjust and you will need to progress in order to make gains. The following table will give you a basic idea on how to progress your squats.

Week #LoadReps
1.Ten pound dumbbellThree sets of  three reps
2.Ten pound dumbbellThree sets of  about five reps and so on

Rule 6: Good form is the key to success

If you wish to get the optimal results, then follow the squatting technique directions, as closely as possible. Attention to detail here will make all the difference.

  • If using a weight or kettleball, it needs to be tucked tight in to the torso and tight under the chin. Need more help with this form?  Look up goblet squat.
  • While lowering the body, inhale. The knees should slowly bend to lower the body down.
  • The glutes and hamstrings need to contract to their maximal effort, which happens during the lowering and rising phases. This will happen when you try lower your glutes down as if you are trying to sit down on a chair.
  • Once we have lowered down we need to exhale, relax, pause and then we can easily sink further down.
  • Even in the relaxed mode the torso needs to be upright in a good posture.
  • Take a brief pause.
  • Rise from the lowered position. Take a very brief pause, then rise from the lowered postion quickly, but in a controlled manner.
  • When we are rising, the thighs should be opened up slightly to an angle, or have your toes pointing out to the side.
  • Do not lock your knees when you complete your squat; keep them straight, but do not lock them.

Weighted Calisthenics Squats Weighted Squats 10bWeighted Squats 10c

If you follow the basic forms, as described above, then squatting will become more efficient. Before you add more weight or more reps, make sure your squat form is perfect. All of us have our physical limitations and initially it can be hard for us to move beyond them. But understanding what our own bodies can do is crucial in any exercise. Be consistent, be persistent and use your best form and best effort.

Follow the 6 Golden Rules to Squatting, and soon your squats will be paying back your patience and perseverance with great results.

Feeling inspired? Check out our Squat Assessment to see how your squats measure up.

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!

Improve Flexibility, Decrease Joint Stiffness…The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

Because calisthenics is not your normal “up the weight” training program, you will quickly realize just how important mobility and flexibility is for building your strength and calisthenics skills.

Here is why it is important:

Just imagine strength as horsepower in an engine…

….No matter how powerful, you can’t control it if your tires are worn out…

If you only focus on adding horsepower, you’ll end up with worn down breaks, broken interiors, and bald tires.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

This is a bad idea.

You are building your own death trap.

There are two ways it can go: 1. or you will end up not being able to use that horsepower 2. Or you will crash. Simple as that.

If you just kept on adding all the weight, more horsepower but I had no ability to control it in any way. When I weight lifted in the past, I had a lot of strength. However, I had a bad shoulder and a bad knee, and my back was hurting. It was only a matter of time until I seriously injured myself.

And this is where mobility and flexibility comes in.

If you want to get stronger, you need to build a base of fundamental strength, but you need more than just muscular strength. You also need:

  • Strong tendons and ligaments
  • Strong joints
  • Flexibility and mobility
  • Balance and stability
  • Control

You need to develop all the other fitness qualities and physical abilities to be able to handle your muscular strength safely.

Once you improve your brakes, tires, and interiors, we can add more horsepower. That enables you to improve your skills and perform more advanced movements. These skills will continue building on top of others for your constant improvement.. Because of that  all around aspect of calisthenics, you can actually build more strength than with just weightlifting!

Lack of calisthenics can not only hinder your progress, but can make it impossible to move forward. I quickly realized that my stiff joints were becoming a barrier in my success and it was time to take care of it. I dove into research on the topic; below is everything I have learned in the process of avoiding joint stiffness and increasing my overall range of motion.

What You Need to Know About Flexibility and Range of Motion

    • Strength and flexibility go hand-in-hand. You cannot attain success in your calisthenics program unless you have both strength and flexibility. In studying the essential body mechanics, we see that our muscles need to have the strength to be flexible. Notice that when you work out, your body does not let you go beyond a particular level of flexibility.  This is what is referred to as your range of motion. If you have no flexibility, you will have a limited range of motion, and thus reduced strength.
    • Weak joints can lead to injuries.  If the muscles stabilising a joint are weak, then this joint and the muscles associated with it are at risk for injury. This is an important aspect in your calisthenics training program. If you tend to have weak joints, then it is wise to start on the lighter end for your safety.

    To counter stiff joints and bring a drastic improvement in flexibility, try different types of stretches that target all the muscle groups. It is best to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, and consider two sets of each stretch for optimal results.  Follow along with the video below for an introduction to stretches.

When to Stretch in your Workout

Most of us are focused on warm-up exercises, and we tend to do different stretches as part of a warm-up session. Studies show that stretching is not considered to be part of a warm-up. Rather, your stretching should occur at the end of your workout when your muscles and joints are sufficiently warmed.  

Another ideal time to try out stretches is before bedtime, which helps to relieve some of the tension in your muscles at the end of the day. Stretching 30 minutes before bed can help your body ease all of the tension, and can help calm your nerves for effective sleep. Follow these easy tips to help improve your flexibility and to ease tension.

Another important aspect when looking to improve flexibility is to select the right stretches for you and your goals. For example, dynamic stretches are perfect for a warm-up session or before competitive activities. Static stretches are ideal for any post-workout routine, so this is something that any athlete can do in the gym to stretch the worked muscles.  Lastly, more advanced stretches (which brings the best results of all forms) is PNF.  This is an advanced way to stretch the muscles and joints, and should be done with a partner who knows what they are doing.

Clueless about static and PNF stretching? Let me explain more. Static stretching is a stretch without any movement. This means that you will be getting into your stretching position and then hold that position for a certain amount of time (roughly 30 seconds). Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) helps the body overcome resistance by using a contract/relax/stretch method. This cycle of tension and relaxation allows for deeper stretches and improved range of motion. Thisis considered the most advanced stretching method around. With PNF stretching and long-hold static stretching, we can get results on a permanent basis.

Important Tips to Improve Joint Stiffness

Now that we have gone through some tips, let’s look at some practical activities that can help to relieve joint stiffness and help us to prepare for calisthenics.

Upper body activities:

    • Head: Stand or sit and face forward. Your arms should be at your side, and your shoulders need to be square. Your head should be  turned to one side. We need to hold in this position for 30 seconds and then slowly face forward. Now we need to start turning to the other side. We need to look up and then look down. Your head needs to be rotated clockwise first, and then counter-clockwise.  Do all of these for 30 seconds each.
    • Triceps: Bring one arm up in the air and bend your elbow so that your hand is behind your body.  Bring your other hand up to your bent elbow above and slowly lower your arms behind your body.  Hold this position for 30 seconds and switch arms.
    • Shoulders: Reach one arm across your body towards your other shoulder.  Bring your other arm underneath that extended arm and hold that stretch for 30 seconds.  Switch arms and repeat.
    • Trunk: Your hands need to be placed on your hips, then start to bend at your waist to the left. Then straighten up and bend to the right.

Lower body activities:

    • Legs: Sit in a chair. Extend one leg out in front and place your foot on the ground. Slowly reach your hands down your legs towards your toes while keeping your legs as straight as possible.
    • Hips: Your hips need to be rocked from side to side; the weight needs to be on one hip and then shifted to your other hip.
    • Torso: While sitting, twist to one side and attempt to look over one shoulder.  Repeat on the other side.  Hold each stretch for 30 seconds each.
    • Calves/Thighs: Stand up and face the wall. Straighten one leg out back behind your body. Your palms should be pressed against the wall, and you need to feel the stretch by leaning forward into the wall. The stretch should be felt on your calves and thighs. You need to hold this position for about 30 seconds, and then switch sides and repeat.

If you try out these tips and exercises, you will really be able to prepare yourself for calisthenics like I did.  These tips are ideal for improving flexibility to gain a better range of motion, and subsequently to gain better strength.

Do you have a favorite mobility routine? Share in the comments!

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!
Top 4 Brilliant Progressions for Mastering the Dragon Flag

Top 4 Brilliant Progressions for Mastering the Dragon Flag

The first time I heard about the Dragon flag, I was curious to know more about it. When I tried to find out more about this, I found that the Dragon Flag got its name from Bruce Lee. Sounds exciting and interesting? The dragon Flag is basically a move that was performed by Bruce Lee in his workouts. He used to hang his body straight just like a flag and hold in this position for a particular amount of time. This move is not easy at all beginners will quickly find out how challenging it is. The great thing is the Dragon Flag comes with many benefits for your body and for your health; I will highlight some of them below for you.

Dragon Flag

Dragon Flag

Source: Fitnessfancy

The Benefits of the Dragon Flag

The following are some of the benefits of the Dragon Flag.

  • Mastering this exercise will help with many other exercises you do, which means your entire body is being worked. Through the calisthenics of the exercise, you are able to increase your strength and endurance.
  • The Dragon Flag helps to build core strength, which is the foundation of many exercises.
  • The Dragon Flag can be called the best hard core exercise for the abs. It surely helps to define the abs and makes them stronger.

How to Perfect the Dragon Flag

The approach to performing the Dragon Flag is to go slow. This may take about 3 months or more to master this exercise, so patience is needed. Using an easy approach when learning the Dragon Flags is best and follow follow these steps s that you can get the best results.

  • You need to have a grip behind the shoulders when starting with Dragon Flag so it is always best to try it out on a solid surface first. This movement should be started in the top position, otherwise you risk losing your form. The weight has to be in line with your shoulders. The hips and the legs need to be in a straight line as well. Try to avoid placing your weight all on your neck, rather, the weight has to be supported on the shoulders.
  • The body has to be lowered down slowly. When the body weight starts to lever out, this exercise tends to become more difficult and hurtful on your back. When your body has approached the starting position, pause, and repeat for more repetitions.

Understanding the Dragon Flag Progressions

The following are the four different types of Dragon Flag progressions.

  1. Hanging leg raises: Your toes need to be brought up to the bar without any kipping. It might be difficult to do the complete movement without kipping or momentum, so it is ok if the knees are brought up as high as possible.
Dragon Flag

Hanging Leg raises

Source: Breakingmuscle

    1. Eccentrics: If we want to build our strength then the best thing to do is to lower from the top slowly, then remain in this position for as long as possible. The Eccentrics help to resist the gravity and work your muscles in alternative ways. The portion that is eccentric helps in handling more of the weight and it needs to be slowed down in mid-exercise position. For more details check out the video below.

  1. Hardstyle Plank: You need to keep your core very tight for the dragon flag exercise. Thus holding tight in a plank position can be quite helpful. For the hardstyle planks, tension is required in the thighs, abs and the glutes.
Dragon Flag

Hardstyle Plank

Source: Pccblog.dragondoor

  1. Hip raises: It is essential to learn how to do abdominal bracing to protect the lower back. This is what the hip raises will teach you. The hip raises need to be practiced with bent legs or even bent hips. This will be quite helpful in taking away the levered weight and will help to strengthen your core. The hips should be raised off the bench in an upward and downward position.

Performing Dragon Flag Using a Pole

If, after reading the above details, you still require any help then just make sure that you go through this summary as closely as possible to learn the basics. This summary tells you how to perform the dragon flag using a pole and the bench is not the only option.

  • When I started the Dragon Flags I kept it simple and you should do the same. The bench is not the only option for the Dragon Flag and you can even use a pole. The four progressions are already discussed above so start with the eccentrics.
  • Here is how it goes. Lock the arms around the pole and raise the butt. Keep the legs as straight as possible. There needs to be a straight line between the legs and the torso. Do should not bend at the hips.
  • Then the body has to be lowered down slowly. The butt needs to be brought up again and the legs need to be straightened. It is better to start off with 3 sets of 5 reps of the Dragon Flags and initially it is better to lower the body gradually till our body is actually prepared for this move. Check out the video for more details. Lowering is the harder part so if the body is not prepared for the complete lowering then the body will start to hinge and that is what we do not want.

The Goal for Dragon Flags

Dragon Flag is a hard movement so we need to set the goals low to start; this will help you with motivation. Now if you master the Dragon Flag, then it will become much easier to attempt body weight exercises such as front levers. Try and aim for quality over quantity and the objective is not to lose your form at any time. Thus take your time in learning the Dragon Flag and once you are able to master even the starting points, then you will be proud of your achievement. The goal is not to give up and keep on trying to attain perfection and the results will be rewarding for your body and health.

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!
5 ways to incorporate conditioning into your calisthenics routine

5 ways to incorporate conditioning into your calisthenics routine

Being strong is great, but not at the expense of diminished athleticism and getting injured. We’ve all seen the big guy who can bench the house yet gets gassed playing pickup football with a bunch of dudes from the office.Or the middle-aged fella who pulls a hamstring when working up to a sprint on the track trying to show his kids Daddy’s still got it after all these years. That ain’t athletic.That’s sad. And certainly not what we’re after.

Here are 5 ways for improving athleticism and staving off injuries for anyone involved in sports…

1, Jump

Every athlete should include some type of jumping in their training program.Begin with easier variations such as box and vertical jumps, while also adding single-leg jumps like lateral bounds and hurdle hops in your workouts.Over time you can move on to advanced movements like depth jumps.The key with all jump exercises is to keep reps low and rest periods long enough for proper recovery.

While certain exercise methodologies advocate pummeling yourself into oblivion with depth landings from 50″ boxes followed by 20 reps of box jumps, you need to be smarter than that if you want to train for increased power and stay healthy.
Do 3-6 sets of 3-5 reps per exercise, two or three times per week.

improving athleticism

jumping

Source: Dougtjaden

2) Sprint

Although sprinting is a great way to get faster and leaner, most adults should stay away from emulating top level sprinters they see chasing world records on TV. Huh – whadda ya mean? Lemme explain…

If you’re a regular dude with an office job whose last exposure to running sprints dates back to PE class in junior high, starting your quest to get back in shape with 200 m dashes on the track at full speed will soon have you sidelined with an injury as your body can’t yet withstand the muscular stress generated by such a demanding physical activity. Welcome groin and hamstring pulls. Goodbye getting faster and shedding body fat.
The solution?
Use shorter distances. With short distances, you’re spending considerably more time in the acceleration phase, which places less stress on lower body muscles and leads to less injuries as opposed to the max speed phase taking place after it.
For some of you that might mean starting with 10 meter sprints, then adding another 5-10 meters to it every two weeks or so. After a couple months, you’d be running 30-50 meters with significantly decreased injury risk as your body will be better prepared to handle the muscular stress caused by higher running speeds.

For longer distance sprinting, run hills. The incline of a hill forces you to run below your true maximal running speed (which is when the majority of injuries occur) and makes hamstring pulls a lot less likely. Perform one flat ground and one hill sprint workout for a total of two weekly sprinting sessions.

3) Change Directions

Sports is random and chaotic by nature. The best athletes – whether we’re talking about football, hockey, tennis or basketball – go from moving in one direction to exploding the other way as a new play develops in the blink of an eye.
Sprinting only in a straight line will not cut it if you want to gain the quickness and agility to dominate the opposition on the pitch or in the rink.
You need to add some exercises with braking and cutting into your training for that.

These can be as simple as setting up two cones anywhere between 5-10 meters apart and sprinting from one to the other a few times. Or you can perform more advanced variations with forward, backward, lateral and diagonal direction changes. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Include some sort of short change-of-direction drill in every warm-up before sports practice and train them more extensively once or twice per week.

4) Load Single-Leg Exercises

Single-leg exercises have long been an undervalued part of strength training – but they’re extremely important for athletes in improving performance and staying healthy.Not everyone can handle the wear and tear accumulated over years of subjecting your joints and tendons to heavy bilateral squatting and deadlifting. Incidences of low back and knee pain increase the longer you’ve been in the Iron Game. However, few people will display those same problems when we squat or deadlift on one leg at a time. Many gym-goers regard single-leg training as an afterthought, something you can throw in at the end of a workout for high reps with light weight – if performed at all.

I’m telling you to work those unilateral lower body movements just like you would heavy squats and deads from now on. Get stronger in the 3-8 rep range on dumbbell and barbell split squats, reverse lunges and rear-foot elevated split squats. You can still keep the heavy bilateral lifts in your program if they don’t beat you up. Though also including some single-leg stuff certainly wouldn’t hurt. A decent number to shoot for on any of those single-leg squat variations mentioned above is 1.5x BW of external load for 5 reps. If you could bump that up to 2x BW for 5 over the next few years, you’d be an extremely strong individual. Add at least two heavy single-leg exercises – one a squat, the other a deadlift pattern – in your training program each week.

improving athleticism

one leg exercises

Source: Howstuffworks

5) Master Your Bodyweight

Male gymnasts possess unparalleled mastery in moving their own bodyweight through space, which is a great way to build upper body strength and overall athleticism.Think about it… how much fat, out of shape people can perform loaded chin-ups? What about ring push-ups? Or climbing rope? Practically None. That’s because demonstrating any level of decent athleticism and being able to handle your own bodyweight go hand in hand.

When you see a fella at the park, kicking and flailing to climb the invisible ladder in front of his 10-year-old son to show Junior how to do chin-ups, you may think “man, what a dope”, but  when you come across a guy at the gym chinning effortlessly with a pile of plates attached to his waist? Now that is dope.

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Yunus Barisik, CSCS, is the owner and head trainer at Next Level Athletics in Helsinki, Finland. He has worked with hundreds of clients from all walks of life – from business owners and office workers to junior and high school hockey players all the way to the collegiate and pro levels.

Combining old school training methods with the latest research, Yunus helps his clients get stronger, faster, leaner and more awesome in general as fast as humanly possible through proper strength training and nutrition prescription.

For more information, please visit www.next-level-athletics.com or you can e-mail Yunus anytime at yunus@next-level-athletics.com.