If someone tells you there is a secret to calisthenics, run as far as you can. There are none. There are none in fitness too and 80% of results will always come down to actually doing the work.
I know, unsexy, but it’s true.
It took me years to stop searching for a secret source and focus on what was most important – training.
The game is on – It’s just you, your body and your mind.
What is different about calisthenics though is the approach you need to take. Coming from weight background, 30 minutes workouts and sweating it out I really had to adjust my training philosophy to understand what it takes to achieve body mastery with calisthenics, the strenght, teh skills, the control, the balance.
The switch was in philosophy. I stopped looking at workouts as something that I need to get out of the way, that is something I am just doing for 30 minutes a day or something I am doing to only look good.
Calisthenics thought me a lot about movement, life, persistence and patience.We wrote more on this approach in our Movement Athlete Manifesto which you can read here.
For now though, as you are getting started I want you to focus on 3 things and 3 things only. Apply them at the start of your journey and you will not only get stronger faster, become a better human but you will be more content with life.
The 3 principles below are applicable to any other fitness routine but are even more important in calisthenics.
Keep that in mind and you will succeed.
Rule # 1. Be Patient and Consistent
It sounds like a no brainer, but you will hear me talking about it a lot. Why?
Because, its a number one killer for those taking up calisthenics.
I don’t know about you, but if I don’t see results within a few weeks I am freaking out, I troubleshoot things, I change my diet and I go nuts. My attention span is very short and I have no patience whatsoever. It is so strange that we as humans want everything good to happen very quickly despite knowing the fact that to achieve something worthwhile you need to give it your all for a significant amount of time. Nothing good happens overnight. Patience and consistency are critical factors for success. No great strength and physiques were built in 4 weeks.
What I want you to understand though, is that this is even more true in calisthenics. The reason why strengths gains are so significant and stay with you for life,is because building them take time and you do that by slowly conditioning your body into it. Your nervous system needs time to adjust. So right here and right now I want you to set yourself on a journey of a lifetime.
Keep an eye on the prize and set short-term goals to keep you going. But focus on the process, on being present, on keeping the training every single day, on developing your body awareness, on training your skill. Yes, you can gain some decent amount of muscle in a short period of time with the right tools and regime, but do not expect to see results overnight. Remember, it’s not a routine, it’s a lifestyle. Go slow but be consistent. Your nervous system will be slowly getting used to different movements and getting stronger.
Rule # 2. No cheating. Focus on the full range of motion
This one is a killer.
I see so many people doing half push ups and saying that push-ups are not sufficient to build your chest muscles.
Whaaaat? Most of the people doing calisthenics simply are doing it wrong.
Now, I know it sounds basic but it can literally make a difference between you succeeding and failing. Performing all your repetitions in a controlled way with a full range of motion, taking it all the way down and all the way up is critical to your success. First you train for quality, when you get your form perfect, you can move on.
Another benefit of it is really exploring the movement and becoming hyper aware of your body, your muscles, little tensions here and there. When you focus on that, breathe in and out it brings a different quality not only to the exercise itself but to your whole workout. Try going super slow, try squeezing everything is there and feel your body, try to be as present as you can.
Its hard especially when you are just getting started with calisthenics so keep that in mind.
Rule #3 Push yourself with progressive resistance
This is the most important rule of all especially when you are just getting started. And although its so obvious in weight training when you just add weight, it must be rigorously applied to calisthenics.
There is a simple rule in getting better.
You constantly need to go further, you need to push yourself, you need to go beyond whatever you have right now. And this is a mindset thing.
Like in personal development to grow you need to keep on getting out of your comfort zone, same with fitness. I don’t want any of you not progressing. I don’t care what level you are, how good or how bad you are.
Every single day I want you to do a little bit more.
If you are not growing you’re dying, and in calisthenics like in any other fitness regime you must challenge yourself every single time. If you are not doing more reps, more sets, harder exercises or having shorter rest periods you won’t get stronger and your body composition will not change to the better! Period.
Progressive calisthenics gives you tools and structure to progress so use it wisely. Keep these in mind, eat right, and you will see results
Later on I will teach you how to troubleshoot progressions, how to deconstruct the movements and how to overcome plateau. But for now, all you need to do is get in the right mindset and set yourself up for success.!
Are you ready to take your fitness to the next level?
PS. What are other rules you think are critical in succeeding with bodyweight strength training?