Cleaning up your Muscle up Once and For All

Cleaning up your Muscle up Once and For All

Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athlete – 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!

What got you into calisthenics? Was it wanting to learn a handstand? Did you see pistol squats and think, man, I wanna do that!? Maybe front & back levers turn you on… There’s one move that leaves those for dust thanks to its iconic status and ego flattering properties: the muscle up! Who knew the combo of a pull up and a dip could be so known across the world and so sought after?! You love the muscle up because you know it’s doable; it’s not going to take years to achieve like an iron cross or planche. You know you can go on YouTube and find thousands of tutorials and how-to guides on the muscle up. You also know a park with a high bar or a gym where you could have a crack at what’s often called ‘the upper body squat’. You think you can muscle up but can you actually? Before we can start giving your muscle ups a makeover we must define what a muscle up means in the context of this post, and what it means in your head. You can either do things right or do them wrong and to do them wrong is simply a waste of the most precious thing you have, and will ever have…time. While muscle ups are still a rare sight, (think about how many you’ve seen in real life, not on a video), there are plenty of people who can do anywhere from 1-5 ‘muscle ups’. We’ll call them muscle ups because they’re getting from a pull up into a dip and back again. That’s it, right?
If a muscle up in any sense of the word is rare, how are STRICT muscle ups? A clean/strict/proper muscle up is not only a sight of beauty to behold but also a feat of serious athleticism. You can learn a lot about someone who can strict muscle up. We know they have the following:

  • They have well above average vertical (pull up) strength
  • They have well above average vertical (dipping) strength
  • They have strong, stable & functional shoulders
  • Their muscular chain(s) work very well as muscle ups require tension from head to toe
  • They have the skillset to combine velocity with coordination
Do you break the rules? If you want to get to the next level and become the athlete you’ve always wanted and not only turn the heads of the layman but also those who’ve been in the game for years, you’re going to need to clean your muscle ups up. Even if you have strict muscle ups, there are always ways to improve them…..you just may not know how. An example of strict muscle ups can be seen below.
You’re not sure if you’re strict or non-strict? Let’s now dissect the non-strict muscle up by outlining all of its offences:

KIPPING OR USING MOMENTUM

Easily identified; do you bend your legs to any degree as you pull up through the transition? Although often subtle, this makes a difference as the knee drive creates extra inertia that catapults you through the most challenging portion of the move, the transition. You may think you’re a badass blasting out kipped muscle ups but with this technique, your transitional strength will be almost non-existent.

Not only will you blunt your development in the transition but your raw pulling power will suffer as your body simply doesn’t need to pull higher, because your knee drive does the job.

‘CHICKEN WINGING’/ BOTH ARMS AREN'T ROTATING AT THE SAME TIME

Similar to kipping, uneven arms in a muscle up can be subtle or pronounced. Either way, this is a must avoid. The detriments of this go beyond aesthetics and instead become an issue of safety. If you value your shoulders and elbows, this is one to not even start let alone eradicate. Needless to say when one arm goes up before the over, serious force is sent through the shoulder and elbow joint. Usually people who commit this offence don’t have strong enough rotator cuffs and tendons to withstand it.

BEING A 'HALF-REPPER' / NOT USING A FULL RANGE OF MOTION

Half reps, half results is my motto with clients and it’s one you can take to any move you like! If you shouldn’t half rep your pull-ups or dips, what makes you think muscle ups are an exception? Just because they’re harder that makes it OK?

Initiating the move with bent arms leaves lots of scapula strength gains on the table. The great quality of calisthenics is how much crossover there is between moves and why not use this knowledge to our advantage with muscle ups?

“Muscle ups are overrated. They don’t do anything that a pull up or dip can do individually.” Is a line I’ve heard in movement circles and nearly always the person saying this isn’t referring to a high-quality muscle up. The pulling power built in high-quality muscle ups has wonderful carryover to moves like the front lever!

A less common example of half-repping with regards to the muscle up comes with ring muscle ups; how many times do you see people not pressing the dip out to a full turnout and thus, missing out on the elbow strengthening benefits of what’s known as the ‘RTO’ support position?

If time is precious, why waste it? Why spend so much time doing it wrong to have to invest MORE time putting it right in the form of boring isolation exercises, because you’ve developed glaring imbalances that are now literally stopping you from making any progress? Use the largest range of motion you have safely available to you.

The Medicine 

We’ll now go over the best training methods to eliminate these faults one by one so you can get your muscle ups on the road to the next level.

FIXING THE KIP WITH BANDS AND HIGH PULL UPS

When I was looking to rebuild my muscle up I followed a simple method: I would do 3 sets of 3 explosive pull ups at the beginning of EVERY workout, while I was fresh. I made these pull ups as similar to the muscle up pull technique as possible – I had a hollow body, I would swing forward just in front of the bar, keep a slight ‘false’ grip and pull as high as possible. Usually this was around ribcage height.

The key isn’t to worry about exactly how high you pull, but more that you’re improving over time. I would give myself full recovery which meant a good 3 minutes or so rest.

Once you’ve done 3 sets of 3 high pull ups it’s time to move on to banded muscle ups. Choose a band with a generous resistance; there’s no points here for struggling. Struggling will build bad patterns. The purpose of the banded work is to groove the correct pattern of the muscle up. You can’t do this if the assistance is too light or you’ll revert back to those ghastly kipping ways.

3 sets of 3-5 reps works well here. Again, keep the rest generous so you can sustain the quality.

THROWING OUT THE CHICKEN WINGS WITH NEGATIVES

You don’t like negatives because they’re not much fun, I get it. But sometimes what we need most isn’t what we want most. Eccentric muscle ups work very well for grooving the true motion/technique through the trickiest part, the transition.

The reason you and I find eccentric training tough is because the ego hates not doing the full move. The ego seeks instant gratification. If you pair eccentric work with other intelligent and effective moves, all of a sudden the puzzle starts forming and before you know it you’re back doing better muscle ups than ever before!

Eccentric work is stressful to the body because you’re technically using loads greater than you can handle concentrically (the positive phase of a lift; going up instead of down). For this reason, we want to keep the volume low…5 sets of 1 rep as slow and as perfect as you can go is the ticket here.

USE ISOMETRIC PAUSES TO IMPROVE YOUR RANGE & NOT BE A HALF REPPER

Solution 2 and 3 are very interchangeable and each could be used to fix the other. One of the simplest ways to force someone to use better/stricter form is to introduce pauses in challenging places throughout the range of motion. The protocol I’m about to share with you not only helps you get strong at the extremes of the range, but also greatly aids your transitional strength!

You’ll separate pull ups and dips (bar or rings) into individual sets and incorporate 3 second holds at both the top and bottom. For the pull ups this means pausing in an active hang (shoulders pulled down & back with the arms locked) for 3 seconds, pulling up powerfully and holding the top position as high as you physically can. If you can get chest to bar contact and hold it, then rock that shit! If not, keep working on it and it WILL improve.

When it comes to dips, regardless of straight bar or rings, lower down as low as you can actively control – which means your muscles are still working, NOT resting your chest on the bar or just resting on your joints at the bottom of a ring dip! Pause for an honest 3 count and then explosively press back out. If you’re doing straight bar dips make sure you drive your shoulders down as much as possible (scapula depression) and have locked arms.

If you’re using rings, this will mean turning the rings out as much as you can and holding for 3 seconds. Don’t worry if you’re only turning the rings out to a neutral position initially, just ensure you’re locking the arms and driving the shoulders down. It’s not full range if you’re not.

Extra tips to really make your muscle up stand out

Believe it or not, shoulder mobility can make the difference between a strict muscle up and a jaw-droppingly strict muscle up. There’s not a lot of literature out there on this subject so it was one that really took me some time to get my head around.

How much shoulder flexion and extension you have available will have a direct impact on how efficient your muscle ups are. Here’s why:

If you don’t have a full overhead range of motion available (180 degrees), you won’t be able to catch a subtle, yet effective, stretch reflex on your lats. And let’s face it, most calisthenics athletes lack in this department (I’m dreaming of that perfectly straight handstand just as much as you are!) When you travel in front of the bar using the pendulum motion needed for the muscle up, you’ll allow your shoulders to fully open for a split second and then, just as you swing back but before you bend your arms, you’ll get a slight bounce/catapult effect.

This effect can be the difference between 5/6 muscle ups on the bar and 10/12.

Shoulder extension’s role?

This is the ability to get your arms (particularly the upper arm) behind your body. This is a crucial pattern in the transitional phase of the muscle up. When you look at slow muscle ups, either on the bar or rings, those with the cleanest ones really get their arms behind their body, this allows a nice glide through the transition.

You may think this transitional adequacy is only necessary for slow muscle ups and not explosive ones…

BUT, improving this movement pattern will make your muscle ups cleaner all round; you’ll find even on your pendulum swing, explosive muscle ups, you need less forward travel in front of the bar to complete solid reps. Even on the rare occasions (they will happen) you slightly mistime the pull phase your transitional strength will save you.

The ULTIMATE shoulder mobility combo!

The following mini circuit works beautifully as a warm-up prior to muscle up training. We have a passive (using gravity) stretch and an active (using our muscles/resisting gravity) stretch. A. 1) Hollow body passive hang (try to squeeze your chest through your arms) – 10-15 seconds 2) German hang (can be done with feet on the floor if too intense) – 10-15 seconds Do it in three (3) rounds

Passive hang with a hollow body – keeping the pelvis tilted back increases the stretch on the lats
German Hang – most effective with the hands supinated but can be done pronated
B. 1. Prone Y raises with 2-second pauses – 10 reps 2. Active shoulder extension raises – 10 reps with 2-second pauses Do it for 3 rounds

The reason the stretches aren’t held too long is so the lats and working muscles don’t get too relaxed when you come to the meat and potatoes of the session; the muscle ups themselves.

When it comes to shoulder mobility improvements, consistency and patience are key. Having awareness when you’re working on your mobility each time will yield much more than merely going through the motions and just trying to ‘get it done’. If you do it as a warm-up you’ll find you definitely feel freer in your muscle up work, that I can promise!


2 more tips to make your muscle ups immaculate

Question time: if we’ve learnt anything until now, what’s one thing that distinguishes ‘clean’ and ‘scruffy’ muscle ups?

Using momentum or swinging. If you look at the nicest muscle ups they involve pretty much completely straight legs and little to no pendulum/forward swing in front of the bar. A really cool way to train for this is using the ‘step method’ – which involves placing a step (or any object) slightly in front of the bar you use for muscle ups, and the chair acts as a marker for how much forward motion you get. As you get stronger simply move the marker closer and closer. Even if you’ve got a relatively strict muscle up already, you’ll be HUMBLED by this. It will seem a whole new exercise.

The last tip I have for you is about the to grip. We’ve covered kipping, poor range of motion, poor transitional strength but the one thing we’ve not taken a look at is how to actually grip the bar.

Obviously, for ring muscle ups (strict ones at least), a false grip is absolutely crucial, but for bar muscle ups the false grip is more personal; some always use a false grip, others use very little false grip and some are in the middle. That said, I genuinely believe you’ll be best served to employ a false grip, especially in the early stages of muscle up training. At first, it feels weird and you’ll hate it but suck it up and get on with it! It will get better.

While the ring false grip is universal, there’s a wider range of variations with the bar muscle up. You have the thumbs over (pinching style) grip and you have the thumbs under (wrapped) grip. Both are shown below.

Pinching false grip example
The wrapped style – note the thumb is UNDER The pinching style is more suited to slow muscle ups and the wrapped style compliments explosive muscle ups better. What I’ve found in my own training and experience is that a semi-false grip works really well – this is where you’re overgripping the bar but not in a complete false grip. Doing so limits the need for you to rotate so much of the hands around the bar. Obviously this grip is tricky at first and another tip I have is to use liquid chalk to get used to it. You’ll be surprised the difference chalk makes. I wasn’t convinced at first either and it’s very cheap and readily available!


What YOU need to do now

As promised, here’s an outlaid workout including all the exercises and drills mentioned today. The routine structure is as important as selecting the right exercises so I’ve designed this to allow for the most complex moves to be tackled first, while you’re fresh, and as fatigue sets in the moves get easier.

The plan can run 2-3 times per week, ideally with a day’s rest in between (you could do a leg session or mobility work here though). Progression is simple too: each time you hit the top end of the rep ranges, adopt a harder variation (for example: use a smaller resistance band for banded muscle ups).

1. High Pull ups with pendulum motion – 3 sets of 3 reps, 3 minutes rest

2. Resistance banded muscle ups/eccentric muscle ups (alternate these at each workout) 3 sets of 3-5 reps for the banded muscle ups and 5 sets of 1 rep for the eccentric muscle ups, 2 minutes rest

(Note: Use a low bar for negative muscle ups if possible!)

3. Pull ups with isometric pause (3 seconds) at the top & bottom – 3 sets of max good form reps

4.  Dips (straight bar or rings) with 3-second ACTIVE pauses in the bottom position (& top with a ring turnout if using rings) – 3 sets of max good form reps

Rest 90-120 seconds between exercises

Depending on your current level, some or all of the plan above will help you. As Bruce Lee said, absorb what’s useful, reject what isn’t.

READY TO GET ON THE JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME?

See what our users are saying:

“Would you rather have the ability to boast of bench pressing 300 pounds or to do a one-arm pull-up? To me, pulling my entire body up with one arm is much more impressive. – Michael – Calisthenics Academy User”
“Calisthenics Academy is not the kind of program that demands you to be this physically fit to be able to perform. Instead, it caters to your own strengths and capabilities and keeps track of your progress.”
“Stick with it! It is hard at first, especially if you are stuck on a lower-level, high rep exercise. But persevering is worth it! Finally reaching each goal is so exciting.”
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Top 5 killer calisthenics ab exercises for faster results

Top 5 killer calisthenics ab exercises for faster results

Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athlete – 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!

When we hear the word abs, the first thing that pops in our minds is Zac Efron’s rock solid, beach-ready abs. No? Just me? Fine, but one reason he was able to attain those are from the most important ab exercises.

But wait, Ab exercises have too many benefits.

These are not only for aesthetics. Benefits are well spread into function. Having strong abdominal muscles assist in providing good posture, balance,  translates into your sport and provides power for your compound movements. It’s overall good balance in our system.

Especially in calisthenics, the number of skill work requires you to have superb ab muscle strength and endurance. But why do it on a bar?

Hanging on the bar requires you to work your abs even more.

If your form is correct, the simple act of hanging already puts stress on your abs. Your core works to stabilize you on the bar and part of the core is the abdominal muscles. Gravity is not your best friend for these types of exercises. Plus, you’ll have stronger grip and forearms for hanging around.

Bar ab exercises are challenging and will definitely build your towering 6 pack. Just remember that form is everything and shift to an easier progression or similar exercise first if you can’t do the proper form yet.

Top Exercises to Maximize your Ab Gains

If you’re going to train your abs, might as well use the top exercises to maximize your ab gains in no time! Here they are:

KNEE UPS

This is the entry point in your bar journey. The easiest in this list but still a contender among all of the ab exercises. Your lower abs will do most of the work and contraction so prepare for upcoming pain the next day.

How to Perform

1. Grip the bar with hands slightly more than shoulder width apart.
2. Make sure your arms are straight and shoulders, back, hip, legs fall in a straight line.
3. From this position, bend your knees and lift your knees up towards your chest. The closer to chest, the better.
4. Come down slowly to the first position.

Coaching Pointers

1. Contract your abs and hip flexors from the starting position to the end.
2. Let your lower back slightly round as your lift your knees.
3. Throughout the exercise tilt your hips forward to engage your core.
4. Don’t use momentum. Lift and comedown slowly as possible.
5. Resist the rocking motion you’ll feel when your doing the movement.
6. Please Don’t forget to breathe. You’re still a human.

LEG RAISES

This is like the harder version of the previous exercises. Instead of bent knee, keep the legs straight. Aim to reach the top of the bar with your toes. The increased leverage puts more stress on the abs. Your upper and lower abs will work together to execute the movement. You should also perform mobility exercises prior to your attempt since mobility is required for the exercises. Don’t be lazy now!


How to Perform

1. Grip a hanging bar with hands placed shoulder width apart
2. Make sure your arms and back are straight.
3. Keep your legs straight and close. Keep your feet off the floor.
4. From this position, lift your legs straight up till the feet touch the bar.
5. Come down in a controlled manner.


Coaching Pointers

1. Contract your abs and hip flexors from the starting position to the end.
2. Let your lower back round as your lift your legs.
3. Throughout the exercise tilt your hips forward to engage your core.
4. Don’t use momentum. Lift and come down slowly as possible.
5. Resist the rocking motion you’ll feel when you’re doing the movement.
6. Perform mobility exercises so you can reach the top portion of the movement.
7. Please Don’t forget to breathe. You’re still a human.

WINDOW WIPERS

This is an advance and quite a challenging ab workout. Lower and upper abs will do work but your obliques will also come to play as you move your legs side to side. You can train this movement on the floor if hanging is too difficult for you. This is a difficult exercise, but don’t leave it be because window wipers can wipe your way to a strong and complete rock solid abs.


How to Perform

1. Grip a hanging bar with hands placed shoulder-width apart.
2. Make sure your arms and back are straight.
3. Keep your legs straight and close. Keep your feet off the floor.
4. From this position, lift your legs straight up till the feet are above the bar.
5. The back is rounded and almost parallel to the floor
6. Now twist your lower back such that the legs move slowly towards each side as much as possible.
7. Feel the side abs, back rotators, upper and lower abs tense while lifting and moving the legs.


Coaching Pointers

1. Contract your abs and hip flexors from the starting position to the end.
2. Let your lower back round as your lift your legs.
3. Throughout the exercise tilt your hips forward to engage your core.
4. Don’t use momentum. Lift and come down slowly as possible.
5. Resist the rocking motion you’ll feel when your doing the movement.
6. Perform the movement with control.
7. Please Don’t forget to breathe. You’re still a human.

WINDMILLS

Another excellent core building exercise that targets your abdominals, obliques and hip flexors. This is like a leg raise but instead of going straight up, it moves side to side.


How to Perform

1. Start by hanging from bar with overhand grip.
2. Make sure your arms and back are straight.
3. Bring legs up by creating a circle starting from left around to the right, then returning to side you started.
4. Repeat bringing legs up from the right circling to the left.


Coaching Pointers

1. Contract your abs and hip flexors from the starting position to the end.
2. Let your lower back round as your lift your legs.
3. Throughout the exercise tilt your hips forward to engage your core.
4. Don’t use momentum. Lift and comedown slowly as possible.
5. Resist the rocking motion you’ll feel when your doing the movement.
6. Perform mobility exercises so you can reach the top portion of the movement.
7. Please Don’t forget to breathe. You’re still a human.

KNEE RAISE KICK OUTS

It basically what it is named. As you knee raise, you kick out. This additional movement to the knee raise brings additional stress to your abs, making the move a lot harder than it already is. Bring this to your work out when knee raises becomes too easy.


How to Perform

1. Grip the bar with hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
2. Make sure your arms are straight and your shoulders, back, hip, legs fall in a straight line.
3. From this position,bend your knees and lift your knees up towards your chest. The closer to chest, the better.
4. Extend your legs away from your body to create an L position for a brief moment.
5. Come down slowly to the first position.


Coaching Pointers

1. Contract your abs and hip flexors from the starting position to the end.
2. Let your lower back slightly round as your lift your knees.
3. Throughout the exercise tilt your hips forward to engage your core.
4. Don’t use momentum. Lift and come down slowly as possible.
5. Resist the rocking motion you’ll feel when you’re doing the movement.
6. Please Don’t forget to breathe. You’re still a human.

Now that you have an arsenal of exercises for your abs, plan and set out your routine.

 

Treat your Ab Workout like any other Workout.

This means that you don’t have to do your ab workout everyday and only with high reps. Just like other parts of your muscles, the same principles apply to your abdominal muscles when creating a routine. Train with proper rep ranges, sets, difficulty and rest periods..

And if you’re aiming for that luscious 6 packs, eat well as you train. That goal relies more on your caloric deficit. But no worries, we got you covered regarding your eating.

Try it out and let us know in the comment section below what you think.

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“Would you rather have the ability to boast of bench pressing 300 pounds or to do a one-arm pull-up? To me, pulling my entire body up with one arm is much more impressive. – Michael – Calisthenics Academy User”

“Calisthenics Academy is not the kind of program that demands you to be this physically fit to be able to perform. Instead, it caters to your own strengths and capabilities and keeps track of your progress.”

“Stick with it! It is hard at first, especially if you are stuck on a lower-level, high rep exercise. But persevering is worth it! Finally reaching each goal is so exciting.”

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The Best Calisthenics Exercises For Pain From Desk-Damaged Physique

The Best Calisthenics Exercises For Pain From Desk-Damaged Physique

Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athlete – 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!

Is your desk work causing you physical discomfort lately? Are you experiencing pain, or yet a desk-damaged physique?

If you have it, this means you might be doing a bad posture for so long. A desk-damaged physique can be because of that slouch position while working in front of your computer, or even because of sitting all day long. We are all guilty of this every once in a while, but office workers are much more prone to this due to the nature of their job. However, it’s not yet too late to correct that posture.

Learn how to restore desk-damaged physiques with calisthenics!

What is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a type of exercise which improves the overall body strength of a person. The said exercise originated in Ancient Greece and was used as strength training. Others also call it as bodyweight training.

However, compared to bodybuilding to which it is often confused with, calisthenics or bodyweight training does not require any equipment since it involves gymnastics exercise. You can perform the exercises by simply following step-by-step forms and guides.

If you want to know how to restore desk-damaged physiques with calisthenics, you should know that this particular exercise is also found in other art forms. These include pole dancing, martial arts, street workouts, etc. These art forms incorporate the movements from calisthenics and turn them into something new and much more dynamic, providing more options for you to choose from.

Read Also: 10 Top Reason why you should start calisthenics

Benefits Of Calisthenics

How can calisthenics help you? It has a lot of medical benefits for those who practice the said exercise. There are hundreds of benefits you can get from doing calisthenics, but here are the top three most noticeable ones:

1. Improve overall strength and endurance

Since calisthenics is a body strength training, it improves the overall strength and endurance of one’s body. The effect is even said to be similar to cardiovascular exercises, such as running, jogging, and so much more. At the same time, doing calisthenics can provide relief, especially if you are experiencing aches and pain due to your desk-damaged physiques.

calisthenics exercises for pain

2. Full Body Activation

As compared to bodybuilding exercises which involve the use of barbells and dumbbells, calisthenics ensures that you work all of your muscle groups at the same time. With just minimal exercises of calisthenics, you are already working out most of your body parts!

3. Eliminate Bad Posture

Whether it is ditching that dreadful slouch you acquired from desk work or simply getting back in shape, calisthenics can surely help you with that. Practicing calisthenics can help you to improve your form as well as eliminate bad posture habits.

How?

Calisthenics teaches you to control specific muscle groups from doing various calisthenics movements. By developing that control over your body, you are correcting the lousy unconscious posture you acquired over the years. Moreover, with continuous practice of Calisthenics, you will develop body balance that will prevent bad posture habits from coming back.

How can calisthenics help you? It has a lot of medical benefits for those who practice the said exercise. There are hundreds of benefits you can get from doing calisthenics, but here are the top three most noticeable ones:

calisthenics exercise for pain

How To Use Calisthenics In Restoring Desk-Damaged Physiques

LOWER BACK PAIN

When you are experiencing lower back pain from your desk job, you can rock your pelvis back and forth, tilt your hips up, and round your back. This movement will only help in the short term. However, performing calisthenics exercises such as crunches or other abdominal exercises will strengthen your core and reduce lower back pain. Do it at least two times every week, and you will see a difference in your posture.

calisthenics exercises for pain

NECK AND SHOULDER PAIN

When you are seated all day behind your desk, it is inevitable to have neck and shoulder pain. You can do some chin tuck, neck retraction or even tilt your head from side to side for short-term relief.

To fully address this problem permanently, you can try pulling movements such as pull-ups every once in a while. Stick to a schedule in which you can do calisthenics at home. If you are too busy, find a space in your office and practice basic shoulder movements such us pushing the wall or overhead press.

calisthenics exercises for pain

WRIST STRAIN

An obvious factor on why you have a wrist strain is because of bad posture. If you hunch your shoulders forward, this will decrease the flow of your blood into your arms, thus causing soreness. You can stretch your arms or rotate your wrist clockwise once in a while.

You can even do a Buddha stretch where you do a prayer stretch by putting your fingers and palms together, placing it on your chest pointing upward. Keep your palms together, and your elbows moving out, lower your hands further so you can feel a good stretch.

calisthenics exercise for pain

TIGHTENED HIPS

When you sit all day, your hips lockout and tightens. Standing up and tilting your hips sideways can offer a bit of relief, but sometimes it’s just not enough. You can try doing lunges or squats whenever you start your day. Take a break from your desk job once in a while and try doing calisthenic poses, such as twisting your hips sideways for a good couple of seconds.

These exercises and quick fixes can offer relief, but being able to develop good posture through calisthenics is the key to a long-term fix.

calisthenics exercises for pain

Calisthenics On-The-Go

For office workers, it is very hard to get back into shape, especially if you spend your time behind the desk all day. Well, get ready to know how to restore desk-damaged physics with calisthenics. There are several programs you can follow. Whether you are just a beginner, intermediate, or on an advanced level, rest assured that there is a program fit for you. To determine which level you are at, take the free assessment test of Calisthenics Academy.

Since the hassle of work might be a hindrance to your road to fitness, you can now just access calisthenics fundamentals at the very tip of your fingers! Calisthenics Academy offers two programs as of the moment, which is: Calisthenics Academy Fundamentals, and the Calisthenics Academy 2.0, which was made convenient since it can be accessed through mobile and a web application.

TMA app

With modern technology, you can now access a wide range of calisthenics programs with easy-to-follow step by step progressions. Guaranteed that these programs are crafted and made only by experts and coaches who offer their expertise to professional athletes and beginners. Even though you are not an athlete, you can now get a hold of these programs which are proven to give real results!

Calisthenics in your home or office

Since it does not require any equipment (even the use of barbells, dumbbells or any other weight equipment), calisthenics can be practiced and performed in the comfort of your home or office! Make sure you have enough space so you can move around and you are good to go.

Make sure that you also have a comprehensive step-by-step guide, such as Calisthenics Fundamentals, on how to start practicing calisthenics. You can do the basics first, and then eventually progress by challenging yourself to do harder and much more complicated routines.

Not only will this help you achieve a better body, but this will also help you get rid of bad habits and develop good ones. You can now finally say to yourself that you are ready to learn how to restore desk-damaged physiques with calisthenics!  Through performing calisthenics exercises, you can ease that tension and relieve your aching hips and back. Start exercising today and see the results for yourself!

READY TO GET ON TEH JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME?

See what our users are saying:

“Would you rather have the ability to boast of bench pressing 300 pounds or to do a one-arm pull-up? To me, pulling my entire body up with one arm is much more impressive. – Michael – Calisthenics Academy User”

“Calisthenics Academy is not the kind of program that demands you to be this physically fit to be able to perform. Instead, it caters to your own strengths and capabilities and keeps track of your progress.”

“Stick with it! It is hard at first, especially if you are stuck on a lower-level, high rep exercise. But persevering is worth it! Finally reaching each goal is so exciting.”

GET A LIFETIME ACCESS TO THE CURRENT CALISTHENICS ACADEMY AND NEW MOBILE APP

(+ all the future updates and help us build the product you will love)

TODAY $97 ($399 AFTER)

Front Lever vs Back Lever Exercises

Front Lever vs Back Lever Exercises

Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athlete – 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!

Some exercise routines appear seemingly easy. You are so motivated to just do it at the start, but when you’re two minutes soaking sweat into the routine, you find yourself sighing in defeat. Your struggling muscles and aching body are screaming “too much struggle!” and they make you want to quit.

Front and back lever exercises are good examples. Sure, trained gymnasts can do it with their eyes shut. But a regular person? Nah. You better hustle and train hard if you want to achieve those movements and reap the benefits.

Also, these “easy” but “difficult” exercises are not only good for you but they also have some insane benefits. But first, research time! Read on to find out more about the front and back lever exercises!

Getting strong lats or latissimus dorsi (a.k.a. the largest muscles in the upper body) and phenomenal core strength is no easy task. You’d have to take on the immense and the grueling challenge to train, and dedicate precious time really working to enhance your skills.

What is the best way to achieve it, you say? Simply incorporate front and back lever exercises in your Calisthenics trainings!

Here is a simple table to help you visualize the important muscles being activated for front and back lever:

Front and Back Lever Exercises: A Fundamental Gymnastics Strength

The interesting thing about front and back lever exercises is that these are rated A in the Gymnastic Code of Points. That’s right, A. If you’re not familiar with Gymnastics, their scale goes from A to Fwith A being the easiest and F being the most difficult. Simply put, they consider it as a basic strength which just shows how difficult the sport really is. It’s not just prancing around or twirling elegantly in the air. The proof of superhuman strength is the training and the gymnast’s skills.

In fact, there’s a meaningful reason behind having this as their basic exercise. Instead of lifting weights, gymnasts work through progressions where they manipulate the leverage, range of motion and momentum.

But of course, you need to be equipped with the right knowledge to do the proper forms.


What is front lever exercises? 

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again! These “easy” but “difficult” exercises have some insane benefits.

A front lever exercise is a kind of Calisthenics movement that probably looks like an easy resting position, but is actually designed to build and develop your core strength. With the help of your back muscles, such as the lats, rhomboids, and spinal erectors, as well as your abdomen, you can maintain the proper posture during the movement.

However, make no mistake. A front lever is both difficult and cool-looking. It’s a common gymnastic move wherein a static hold is performed on still rings or a pull-bar, and the person is lowering his or her body from an inverted hang until the body is completely straight and horizontal. With this position, it seems like the person is floating on air, or is in a rigid plank.

Training for the front lever is considerably safer for your joints than learning some of the other high-level strength skills because you don’t have to work on locked elbow joints.

However, the front lever exercise is easier said (and seen) than done. It requires a high degree of back and core strength before you can do it. If you think it’s something you can achieve, then stay with us, and we’ll show you the proper progressive steps in attaining this exercise!

Perfecting the Front Lever

The front lever exercise is simple, but requires personal commitment, dedication, and focus to master. The steps to complete the exercise are done in a progressive manner to build the necessary strength to advance and to avoid unnecessary confusion from complicated and ineffective shortcuts.

Here’s how you can perfect the front lever:

TUCK FRONT LEVER

This will be the first or the basic position as you advance in the training. To do this posture, grasp the bar within overhand grip. Pull your legs and hips up while you are leaning back. Your back should be rounded and your body tucked up like a ball. Try to keep your back approximately parallel to the ground.

ADVANCED TUCK FRONT LEVER

Begin with the tuck front lever position. Once your body is up, straighten your back (instead of a rounded one) and see that it forms a line parallel to the ground. At the same time, pull your shoulder blades back in retraction. You may open your legs slightly so that your thighs are perpendicular to the body.

ONE BENT LEG FRONT LEVER

From your tuck front lever, extend your bent leg out so that it seems like it’s floating in the air. The lower leg will be perpendicular to the ground with your hip opened up completely. If your leg feels wobbly or tired, don’t worry. You may alternate legs between practice.

ONE LEG FRONT LEVER

A more advanced technique than the bent leg is this one! Front the first position, while extend one leg out completely straight. That means your back, hips, and extended leg all make a horizontal line, parallel to the ground. The other leg, whichever side it is, will be tucked in hard to the chest.

ADVANCED ONE LEG FRONT LEVER

From the tuck front lever, extend one leg completely straight, and the other partially untucked and away from the chest. The foot of the untucked leg will be in line with the knee of the extended leg. Keep your back and straight leg parallel to the ground! This “halfway open” form is designed to increase the leverage dramatically. Alternate legs.

FRONT LEVER

Starting from the tuck lever position, keeping both legs together, gradually extend them out at the hips and knees, until they are completely straight. Your entire body should be a one straight line that is parallel to the ground. Pull down hard with the hands and the lats, as well as working the pulling-apart action to assist in stabilization.

“With the progression of holds, you can definitely achieve this!

What is back lever exercises?

Now let’s move on to the counterpart of front lever- the back lever exercise, which is on another level of awesome!

This whole-body exercise places an emphasis on your back and core. It also requires strength and flexibility in the shoulders and arms in a typically untrained position. It would be good to have a spotter (just ask a friend to help you out) who can assist you in case you fall.

The back lever can be an awkward position, and because you are somewhat inverted, you may feel like you don’t quite know where your body is in space. Have your spotter friend also point out if you’re doing the correct form or not! You don’t want any injuries.

How to do the back lever? 

Before you even try doing this exercise, you must first skin the cat

Don’t worry! We don’t mean it literally. The Skin the Cat is a preparatory exercise you should do to get your muscles warmed up. It mostly focuses on the shoulders, so that it builds flexibility, as you use it for a full extension later on.

To do Skin the Cat: Raise your legs up from a hanging position. Now, thread your feet under the bar, and lower down as far as you can behind you. Reverse the movement to come back up, and practice several times. Slowly but surely.

Now that you’re done with your preparatory exercise, here are the steps on how to do a back lever:

TUCK BACK LEVER

First, start by grabbing the bar in an overhand grip, jumping, and then tucking yourself into a ball into a Skin The Cat manner. After that, lower yourself (slowly) until your back is parallel to the ground. You can stay tucked up tightly, with a rounded back. Or you can slightly open your legs.

ADVANCED TUCK BACK LEVER

Start from the first form. From there, straighten your back instead of having it rounded up. By doing this, your hips are opened, increasing the leverage of the exercise. To ensure that your back is really straight, ask your trusty pal spotter to check on you.

LEGS BENT STRADDLE BACK LEVER

Begin by doing the tuck back lever. As you complete that form, pull yourself up until your head is directly facing the ground, and your legs overhead. Next, Straighten out your hips, but bend your knees. Spread the legs at the knees as wide as you can. If you feel like it’ll cause you to lose balance or grip, then just spread it a little. Keep this alignment lower until you are parallel with the ground. Practice this patiently because it will help you lower into the back lever easily than extending into it once you’re horizontal. It’s all about the progression.

LEGS BENT BACK LEVER

Next, pull yourself up until your head is facing the ground and your legs are overhead. Straighten the hips out, but keep the knees bent. This time, keep the knees together. Hold this position.

STRADDLE BACK LEVER

You need to pull yourself up until your head is facing the ground with your legs overhead. Straighten your legs at the knees and hips and spread your legs wide into a straddle position. Stay low while holding this form. The tip in here is to widen the straddle so it’s easier.

BACK LEVER

Again, pull yourself up until your head is facing the ground with your legs overhead. Straighten out the legs at the knees and hips, and make sure to keep the legs together. Your body must form a one straight line through your legs. Keep this alignment lower until you are parallel with the ground, and hold.

Don’t think I can do it, should I stop?

Remember, you can’t build your strength overnight. In the same way, you can’t practice all the steps right away just because you want to. The simple progression may take months, depending on how you train your body; hence, you have to be patient. Work through the steps and you’ll get there. Practice your willpower, so you can overcome this physical challenge.


Unparalleled foundation

Mastering the front and back lever exercises are a great way to build a foundation for Calisthenics trainings. Why?

1. These are essential calisthenic strength movements that will provide incredible stimulation for total body strength. You can’t get that from any ordinary exercise.

2. Training with these bodyweight exercises will motivate you to train harder and achieve more advanced skills.

3. These exercises already provide you with the basics. When you advance in your Calisthenics training, you can always return to these fundamental concepts to attain other progressions.

If you want to get started but don’t know how to work with the progressions, you can check out Calisthenics Academy and do their free assessment to gauge where your skill levels at. Once you know your calisthenics fitness level, you can slowly develop your strength to do front and back lever and other crazy calisthenics movement with the in-depth training progressions from Calisthenics Academy.

Don’t hesitate to work more and be more! These front lever and back lever exercises are the keys to training Calisthenics easily.

You still want that powerful and toned body, don’t you?

READY TO GET ON TEH JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME?

See what our users are saying:

“Would you rather have the ability to boast of bench pressing 300 pounds or to do a one-arm pull-up? To me, pulling my entire body up with one arm is much more impressive. – Michael – Calisthenics Academy User”

“Calisthenics Academy is not the kind of program that demands you to be this physically fit to be able to perform. Instead, it caters to your own strengths and capabilities and keeps track of your progress.”

“Stick with it! It is hard at first, especially if you are stuck on a lower-level, high rep exercise. But persevering is worth it! Finally reaching each goal is so exciting.”

GET A LIFETIME ACCESS TO THE CURRENT CALISTHENICS ACADEMY AND NEW MOBILE APP

(+ all the future updates and help us build the product you will love)

TODAY $97 ($399 AFTER)

Learning calisthenics skills for maximum results, holistic health and fun.

calisthenics training program

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

Hey tribe! As you know the Team at Calisthenics Academy has been hard at work to bring together a brand new app – a gamified platform for skill-based training that will not only bring fun and a new dimension of motivation to your training – but all the more will take you on the journey to be healthier, stronger, leaner and more mobile with our calisthenics training program.

 

As we are getting ready to launch the app publicly, we are starting a blog series showcasing some of the features, answering all your questions and showing you why this new training is unlike anything else.

Today we want to talk about what moves you will be learning inside the app and how are they structured.

 

Note that the way training works is that you are working towards certain skills and they represent a specific level of strength, mobility and flexibility you achieve. But at the end, it’s just a more effective way to reach your goals of losing fat, building muscles and getting insanely strong.

And we have over 100 new moves you will be learning with the app all organised on a big map of movements. 

Before we go into that though – we just wanted to remind you that there is still time to snap a lifetime access deal. If you are interested in joining us in building an amazing product and have a lifetime access to current (over 100 moves) and ALL the future updates – check it out. If you buy today you will get access to beta and you will be considered a part of our team forever. 

Back to the moves!

“If you want to live a good life in your older years, start training now.”

Deconstructing the moves

As you know, we approach the movement from a very scientific point of view. Our team of coaches and physios deconstruct each move understanding what goes into it – what muscles, flexibility, mobility, strength, skill and then create a step by step path that can take anyone from zero to performing that move (we will talk about deconstruction in next blog post). 

We think about our physical potential as a journey- you start with simple moves, build the foundation, learn the basics, make sure your joints, your muscles and your tendons are ready to handle higher loads and more complex moves and once they are we lead you towards the harder and harder moves. 

Turning movement training into a game you can’t lose

Think about it as a map of treasures and quests – just this time the moves are the quests. The system carefully guides you through all those little important things through a personalised training plan. Step by step helping you unlock harder and harder moves.

Note that we are just getting started and even though we have over 100 new moves in the app the library will be growing as we go along as well as offered assessment and complexity of the app. 

Taking you safely from zero to advanced moves

 

So how do you safely take someone from zero to planche? muscle up? front levers? backflips? You lead them, constantly assessing where they are on those different attributes and adjusting training daily making sure that the progress is effective and safe. 

With our team, we created a whole map of moves – all interconnected where we map exactly what you need to develop to safely move forward. 

We also categorized the moves based on complexity ensuring that we keep the playfulness, feeling of constant progress and holistic approach to overall body development. 

Below is an outline of how the moves are divided and what moves you can expect to learn in current app. 

100 calisthenics moves you can start today

 

The moves you will be learning are divided into different categories.Just like in the game we have:

MAIN MISSIONS

“Main Missions are the main moves in gymnastic and calisthenics. They require lots of preparation and progressions and usually take a ong time to achieve

Main missions are divided into fundamentals and advanced. They are very important as a make a base for all the advanced moves.

Once you achieve the  fundamental moves you unlock harder & harder moves – so

Back Fundamental unlocks Back Lever and Bridges Progression,

Wall Handstand unlocks – Handstand Pushup and Free Standing HAndstand and so on…

The way system is structured is that not only it makes sure that you develop all the attributes that are prerequisites for a given move – keeping you safe. But also that every single day you are making effective progress towards your goal.  Once done with fundamentals that are obligatory you are able to choose what you want to be working on.

Some of the advanced moves that you will see in the app are

– Human Flag

– Back Lever

– Front Lever

– Handstand Walk

– Handstand Push-Up

-Handstand Press

– Bridge

– Sitting Press

– Planche

– Muscle Ups

– Ring Dips

… and more.

SIDE QUESTS

“Side quests are additional moves that still require progressions but they are not a core of your program. They are usually small and fun moves that help you develop strenght and skill”

Just like any move in our program – these moves also have prerequisties and are unlock as you go along.

Some of the side quests in our new app are:

– Cartwheel

– Backwards Roll

– Butterfly

– Elevated Bridge

– Headstand

-Freestanding Handstand Pushup

SINGLE MOVES (VARIATIONS + TRANSITIONS)

“Single moves don’t have progessions. They include everything from one off moves eg a corow, variations of particular exercises, to connecting two different exercises (transitions) to connecting multiple exercises – what we call flow”

Some of the single skills that you will be learning inside the app:

 

VARIATIONS

-Pushup Variations eg. Aztec Pushup, X Pushup, Superman Pushup, Decline One Arm Pushup,

– Cartwheel Variations 

– Pull Up Variations 

– Handstand Variations

 

TRANSITIONS: 

– Forward Roll to Handstand, Front Lever to Back Lever, Handstand to Planche, Handstand to Bridge etc

 

FLOW 

– Combining Handstand to Bridge to Walk Over etc

ONE OFF MOVES

– eg Crow, Knee Scale, Grapevine, Bear Walk, Pike Jump

We are opening moves library to experienced trainers to create a filled with creativity library of different moves you can be learning

As you can see, the structure is there to keep fun and light approach while helping you safely push boundaries, stay playful but at the same time effective in your training. 

READY TO GET ON TEH JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME?

See what our users are saying:

“Would you rather have the ability to boast of bench pressing 300 pounds or to do a one-arm pull-up? To me, pulling my entire body up with one arm is much more impressive. – Michael – Calisthenics Academy User”

“Calisthenics Academy is not the kind of program that demands you to be this physically fit to be able to perform. Instead, it caters to your own strengths and capabilities and keeps track of your progress.”

“Stick with it! It is hard at first, especially if you are stuck on a lower-level, high rep exercise. But persevering is worth it! Finally reaching each goal is so exciting.”

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GET A LIFETIME ACCESS TO THE CURRENT CALISTHENICS ACADEMY AND NEW MOBILE APP

(+ all the future updates and help us build the product you will love)

TODAY $97 ($399 AFTER)