Why most calisthenics skills are IMPOSSIBLE with tight hamstrings

Why most calisthenics skills are IMPOSSIBLE with tight hamstrings

Do you need to bend your knees to the point that they make noise to pick some
thing off the ground? That’s probably because you’re struggling with hamstring tightness.

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Hamstrings are the set of muscles below the buttocks. Their main role is to help keep your posture upright. But they’ll also limit your range-of-motion if you don’t keep them loose and limber.

Why should I care if my hamstrings are tight?


1. You need to move!

Hamstring tightness typically occurs from lack of use. If you don’t move enough, your body naturally stiffens up. Imagine leaning forward to pick something off the ground. How much effort is it for you?

Having more flexible hamstrings will help you feel comfortable in your day-to-day movements.

Additionally, if you’re an athlete with tight hamstrings, you’ll be limited in the tricks you can accomplish. You can’t do an L-Sit with tight hamstrings.


2. Got joint pain?

The Stretching Exercises Guide tells us that the hamstring muscles wrap around the hips and the knees. Their role is to bend the knee and flex the hip. If your hamstrings are tight, they can limit your overall range-of-motion (ROM) and cause problems in both your hip and your knee joints.


3. Don’t be so stiff

As I mentioned before, the main role hamstrings play is to help you keep your upright posture. Because of that, they’re able to contract for long periods of time without fatiguing.

But…that also means that they tend to get stiff and shorten over time if they aren’t properly loosened. This will eventually reduce your ROM. If you don’t loosen your hamstrings, you’ll be stiff as a board (though definitely not light as a feather).

This happens all the more to us nowadays. We spend so much more time either sitting or standing, without putting our body through its true range-of-motion on a daily basis.

…unless you’re an athlete. Or a contortionist.

Too much sitting and not enough moving messes with the body’s natural balance.

Butt (gluteal) muscles will get weak from lack of use, and compensation through the hamstrings will occur. The body will engage the hamstrings and, basically, ruin your natural posture because it’s calling on all the wrong muscles.

It’s gonna hurt.

Help me loosen my hamstrings!

1. Stretch

The most important thing you can do is to stretch. It loosens the muscle and gives it a larger ROM.  Stretching also decreases lower back pain, improves performance, and reduces the risk of injury.

Doing just a few hamstring stretches every day can significantly improve a muscle’s flexibility.  

This study explains that the way you stretch will depend completely on what your goal is:

  • Do you want to become more flexible, or do you have range-of-motion issues? You need to use passive stretches.
  • Do you want to gain strength, or are you using stretches before working out? You need to use active stretches.

Passive stretches

A passive stretch means that you aren’t engaging any of your muscles to cause the stretch.

A good example of a passive hamstring stretch is the forward bend. You can do it sitting or standing:

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Lean forward, bend your knees a little if you need to, but don’t force the stretch. Just relax into it.

Active stretches

They’re the opposite of passive stretches. So instead of just letting the body stretch, an active stretch will use muscles to create the stretch.

A good example of an active hamstring stretch is the hamstring supine stretch:

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Lie on your back and keep your legs straight together. Bring one knee towards your chest, keeping the other leg straight, your ankle flexed (c.f. picture). Slowly extend the leg at a 90-degree angle from your body. Don’t push this stretch to the point of pain. It should feel a tad uncomfortable, but no more than that. Hold the stretch for as long as you can before bending your knee towards your chest once again and gently letting it return to the ground. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.

Hold the stretch for as long as you can before bending your knee towards your chest once again and gently letting it return to the ground. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.

2. Roll It Out

Foam-Rolling is a great way to loosen up tight muscles.

There’s no doubt that it’ll be painful the first go, but it’ll be worth it…you’re essentially giving yourself a massage. It increases blood flow through the body, decreases recovery time, increases range-of-motion, and relieves any tension in the muscles.

If you don’t have a foam roller, you can also use a tennis ball, or baseball for the same purpose.

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Just place the foam roller on your legs, between the buttocks and the knees. Raise your upper body from the ground, placing some of the weight on your hands. Make sure that the bulk of your body weight is on your hamstrings being worked over by the foam-roller.

3. Therapy

Massage Therapy
Massage therapy’s main purpose is to relax your muscles, which will help release any tension. It’ll help increase flexibility, improve blood circulation, and heal any muscle pain.

Physical Therapy
In my opinion, physical therapy should be your last resort.  If none of the other options work, think about undergoing physical therapy. Professional physiotherapists can help loosen and strengthen your hamstring muscles.

So get started!

Your hamstrings are definitely an important part of your body, so give ‘em some loving! Share your own tips and tricks with us, either in the comments or our Facebook group.

Watch your posture

Stretch your body

Play, move, don’t stay static!

Stay strong.

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The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Parallets

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Parallets

From helping your handstand to getting started with your l-sit, parallets should be a staple in any beginner’s hand-balancing workout. Let me tell you why:

Typically, Calisthenics tells you to stick with the bare essentials of equipment. Some rings, a pull-up bar and that’s it. But sometimes, having one or two more things at home can make your training easier.

Take hand-balancing, for example. It’s crucial to calisthenics, but it’s one hell of a challenge when you’re just starting out:

You need to get your legs up straight, keep your balance and hold your posture. Even if you’re using a wall or support blocks, your wrists and hands will usually get tired long before the rest of your body is ready to give up.

And that’s where a little piece of equipment like parallets comes in handy. They’re an awesome and affordable hand-balancing tool that allows you to do train longer safely. You can even go to our Calisthenics Academy shop and get them today.

But how can I use parallets?

Parallets can help you in so many different ways, but there isn’t much info about how to actually add them to your training, or how to work out with them. This is why we’ve created a guide. Let’s dive into it!


Here are some of the awesome benefits parallets have:

  • Prolong your training. You can practice hand-balancing on the ground until you start experiencing wrist fatigue, then switch to using the parallets for the rest of your training session.
  • Prevent overuse injury. Hands and wrists aren’t naturally equipped to carry our entire body weight. If you don’t train them properly, they’ll quickly develop overuse injuries that take a lot of time to heal. As a beginner, parallets will help you train properly without putting too much stress onto your hands and wrists.
  • Add an extra step to your progressions. Is working on the floor too hard right off the bat? Try training with parallets as an extra step towards working on the ground.
  • Practice moves you can’t do on the ground. Can’t do an L-sit on the ground because, well, you just can’t yet? Start on parallets! They take you off the ground enough for you to get started.

6 ways to include parallets in your training

Here are 6 basic moves you can train on your parallets for a wider range of movement, easier progressions while safeguarding your wrists and hands.

Be careful with your wrists’ position! When starting, always keep them in a neutral position to prevent overexertion.

Keep your hips extended at the same level as your hands. Raise your legs as high as you can, preferably to a 90-degree angle, parallel to the floor. If you can’t, focus on keeping your feet off the ground while holding your back and arms straight.
Photo credit: Crossfit Magnus

Keep your hips extended, slightly in front of your hands, and your back as straight as you can maintain it. Your knees should be tightly held to get her and your head is held in a neutral position.
Photo credit: GMB Fitness

Keep the parallets wide enough that your hands and shoulders are at the same width. Bend your knees if you need to, and lower down with your elbows tucked in. As per calisthenics, lower slowly while exhaling (4s) and push up quickly with a 1s pause each way. Watch out for your hip position and keep them aligned with your body!
Photo credit: Men’s Fitness

How-to: Push down on your shoulders, round your back and pull your knees together, tight against your chest. Remember, keep your wrists in a neutral position.
Photo credit: Men’s Fitness

How-to: You have the option to do L-Sit dips, or follow the image with your feet on the ground. Keep your elbows tucked in and exhale while going down slowly (4s) and inhale coming up.
Photo credit: Desert Cart

Handstand (against the wall)
Place your hands on the parallets as close to the wall as you can while staying balanced. Align your head, shoulders and back, bring your stomach in to avoid the “banana” shape. Push your shoulders down and keep your head neutral (don’t overextend your neck). Try letting only your feet touch the wall.
Photo credit: Men’s Fitness

Wanna workout? Include your parallets!

  • Use the best warm-up for you.
    If you don’t have one, here’s a good warm-up routine from GMB Fitness:
  1. Shoulder circles – 5 times each direction
  2. Up/Down/Right/left neck tilts – 5 times each side
  3. Arm crossovers – 5 times each side
  4. Wrist stretches, fingers facing into and away from the knees – 5 times each
  5. Elbow circles with hands on the ground – 5 times each way
  6. Scapular shrugs, hands, and knees on the ground – 5-10 times
  7. Cat/Cow alternation – 5 each pose, hold for 3-5s
  8. Shake out those shoulders for a few seconds!
  • Dips – 5-12 reps
  • L-sit 5-10s
  • Tuck-sit 5-10s
  • Tuck planche 5-10s
  • Push-up – 5-12 reps
  • Rest 90s-2 minutes
  • Repeat steps 2-7 for no more than 3-4 rounds.
You can end your workout with a handstand (against the wall), holding for 10-45s.


Interested in getting your own set of parallets? Check out our shop at Calisthenics Academy!

Have your own experience with parallets? Share it in the comments or in our Facebook group.

The Ultimate Guide To Wrist Mobility For Calisthenics

Wrist mobility is absolutely crucial to any calisthenics workout and needs to be implemented to effectively build and maintain upper, and even lower, body strength. If you don’t strengthen your wrists, you’ll never be able to get as far as you want with calisthenics. There are many wrist wraps and straps available on the market, but it is important to build up your wrist mobility and strength on its own without the need for third party products.

I started calisthenics in 2010 and pushed myself hard with handstands, bridges and frost attempts at planche. It wasn’t long before my wrists were hurting, the pain and lack of mobility was stopping me from performing the exercises! If you’ve ever tried a bridge you’ll know our bodies weren’t made to be in that position, not mentioning holding the whole weight of our bodies on our wrists.

All the other guys in the gym, some not even as big as me, seemed to be doing these exercises no problem and I couldn’t figure it out so I pushed myself harder. Soon it felt like I’d broken my wrists; they were on fire every time I performed. I spoke to a trainer and he told me about wrist mobility and why it’s so important. Almost all exercises we do in calisthenics involve our wrists, so it seemed so obvious that I needed to pay attention to my wrists as well!

Since then I’ve got good at training and protecting my joints, and my wrists are much stronger now and I’ve been able to push myself further and further with my calisthenics. Just like when I started, the new starters that I teach always complain about wrist pain, because they’ve never focused on wrist mobility before!

I’ve written this guide because I want to teach you here what I teach them, why you should focus on your wrist mobility and how to do it. It’s not only the possibility of pain or injury you’re risking; poor wrist mobility will mean you’ll never be able to perform the calisthenic moves that you want to. That’s why YOU MUST READ THIS GUIDE.

Why Should You Be Focusing On Wrist Mobility?

Many exercises in your calisthenics routine will involve using your wrists, whether this be handstands, bridges, blanches or front levers. Without good wrist mobility, chances are you won’t even be able to perform these moves, but if you do this new level of intensity, combined with lack of wrist mobility and the pressure on the joints from exercises like using a keyboard can leave you with a wrist pain or injury.

Even worse, it can stop you from ever performing calisthenics as the health of the wrist directly affects grip strength! I know I found it tough when I was out of training, trust me you DON’T want to get into that position, it’ll only make you miserable. These are just some of the exercises you’ll need strong wrists for:

  • Push ups (Regular, incline, diamond, decline and MORE!)
  • Chest dips
  • Handstands
  • Planches
  • Chin ups & Pull ups

Your wrists are crucial to your calisthenics routine, and this list just scratches the surface of how often you’ll use them. Gymnasts differ from other athletes or gym-goers in that they spend a hell of a lot of time on their hands. Those at the highest levels of competition might even spend as long as 40 hours a WEEK on their wrists (OUCH!). Gymnasts are repeatedly exposed to compressive, torsional and tensile stresses with the wrists constantly in the extremes of extension and flexion. It’s hardly surprising that wrist pain is one of the most common issues gymnasts have to deal with is it?! Get this right and you’ll be unstoppable!

I know you’d much rather focus on building bigger biceps or stronger shoulders, and it may feel like you’re wasting your time with wrist exercises, but as we use our wrists a lot more than we think daily, having strong and flexible wrist mobility is a must. Injured wrists will lower the reps you do and damage your technique. Without this you can’t push on further and be the best at calisthenics that you want to be.

Remember, there’s two areas you want to focus on with your wrists; mobility and stability. Mobility allows for a greater position of the hand for grasp while stability will allow you to engage in heavier tasks like lifting or pulling.

All seem a little too much?

Don’t worry, at first it stressed me out having to focus on the tiny ligaments and joints in my wrists when all I wanted was to be out there performing one-handed handstands like the pros. But bringing a new focus to your wrists and dedicating time to strengthening these joints will allow you to push the rest of your workout further, as well as increasing your overall performance and health both inside and outside the gym.

Now I feel like one of those pros myself!

Wrist Mobility

Not Worried About Your Wrists? Soon You Might Be!

Poor wrist mobility HURTS. Trust me, I’ve been there. It was hurting me to drive, to pick up coffee and even keeping me up at night. You might be able to guess that it put me out of training for a while. More seriously, it can lead to conditions like:

None of these injuries sound too fun do they?! It’s VITAL that you focus on your wrists early on before you get serious about your calisthenics.

Wrist Mobility

Source: Platitudes

Wrist and ankle pain are two of the most common places for pain and acute injury, with approximately 350 million people worldwide suffering from arthritis. It is easy to find yourself suffering from some form of acute wrist pain at some point in your life, especially with the increased use of mobile, tablet and laptop usage.

Gymnasts differ from most other athletes in that their wrists essentially act as weight-bearing joints due to the extra level of extension that we get. Quite simply, we weren’t MADE to do some of the exercises we do. Although that might seem a little crazy, that doesn’t mean we can’t still do them! It just takes an extra level of understanding with your routine. But it means we look a lot cooler than other athletes right?

Before you think, “I’ll be fine, it won’t happen to me!”, let me tell you, IT WILL.

I thought exactly the same thing, and it was only after I was out with injury that I was told at least 75% of male gymnasts have chronic wrist pain of greater than 4 months in duration. While this was only 33% for female, it’s still not worth taking the risk! Failing to take steps to prevent this kind of injury could leave you out of calisthenics & gymnastics permanently, and none of us want that! This guide looks at why wrist injury is common in gymnasts.

 Wrist Mobility

Source: Why Wrist Pain is common in Gymnasts

4 Easy Ways To Test Your Wrist & Finger Mobility

These are 4 easy tests you can do to test your wrist and finger mobility. It’s so important that you do this BEFORE you train, so you know your limits. If your wrists hurt slightly from these, then you will feel it BIG TIME when you move on to calisthenics. Don’t be disheartened though, I had to start from the beginning as well; just see these tests as areas you need to improve, and I can help you work on that further below.

Wrist Extension

This is an easy exercise for testing your wrist extension. Stand facing a wall with your shoulders flexed to 90 degrees and with your arms outstretched. Make sure your hands are in front of your shoulders, your wrists in a neutral position and your palms facing downwards.

With your elbows straight, attempt to place your hands flat on the wall in front of you. If you have a normal Range of Motion (ROM), you should be able to place your palms flat on the wall. If you feel pain, don’t worry! It’s normal to feel this at the beginning, which is why it’s important to build up wrist flexibility.

Wrist Mobility

Wrist Flexion

Stand facing a wall with your arms outstretched , with your hands in front on your shoulders and the palms facing downwards. Keeping your elbows straight, try and place the back of your hands flat against the wall. You should be able to get most of your palm on the wall, with the wrist coming within about an inch of the wall.

Finger Extension

Either standing or sitting, have your elbow flexed with the forearm supinated and the palm facing up. Open your hand as wide as possible and it should open to reveal a flat or slightly hyper-extended position. Make sure you test both hands!

Wrist Mobility

Finger Flexion

Stand with your arms outstretched in front of you at 90 degrees and your palms facing downwards. Try and make a tight fist, and then flex your wrists at 30-40 degrees, testing both hands. Again, feeling pressure or even pain is completely normal if this is your first time testing this, but just acts as a warning before you do anything more intense with your wrists!

 Wrist Mobility

Again, feeling pressure or even pain is completely normal if this is your first time testing this, but just acts as a warning before you do anything more intense with your wrists!

All images sourced from this Assessing Flexibility document.

How Do The Wrists Work?

The Wrist’s Structure

Wrist Mobility

The wrists, while small, are complex joints with bones, ligaments, tissues, muscles and nerves that aren’t specifically designed for taking the full weight of our bodies or large amounts of pressure for an extended period of time. But, as with any muscle, they can be trained.

The wrists are highly flexible joints, being able to move both forwards and backwards (extension and flexion), as well as from side to side (radial and ulnar). This is in direct contrast to the knee joint, which only has the flexion and extension abilities.

The range of motion (ROM) for normal extension and flexion is approximately 120 degrees (85-160 degrees) and the ROM in radial and ulnar deviation is approximately 65 degrees (15-25 degrees for radial and 30-45 degrees for ulnar).

For most daily activities, a functional level of ROM is:

  • 40 degrees wrist extension and flexion
  • 15 degrees in radial and ulnar deviation

Wrist Mobility

For good calisthenics you need good flexibility and motion in your wrists. As with any muscle, you need to train it and increase its potential. I work on mine daily and have built up the flexibility over a number of years, meaning I’m not limited in my calisthenics routines.


As with all areas of our body, maintaining correct technique with the wrists ensures they will stay healthy and strong. This means using the right grip, aligning your body correctly and having a good bar path. If you’re not sure if your technique is quite right, ask your trainer before you risk doing yourself some real damage and putting yourself out of training!

Calisthenics And Wrist Mobility

Here I look at some of the different calisthenics exercises you might be performing and how wrist mobility is important for those. These are just some of the many exercises available, get in touch if you want to discuss it further!


Performing a free-standing handstand looks awesome, but it puts a lot of strain on the wrist. Your wrist will be at a 90 degree angle to your arm, and if you felt the pain when testing out your wrist mobility by placing your palm flat on a wall as shown above, holding your full bodyweight on your wrists will hurt even more!

If you can’t extend your wrist to at least 90 degrees on its own, then a handstand will cause you a lot of injury. Before you start, work on the primary wrist motions, build strength in these areas to build yourself up to the handstand.

Being able to perform a free-standing handstand takes time, patience, a lot of discipline and of course strong wrist mobility and stability. This is one of the harder exercises to master but when you have you’ll feel like you can do anything! Not to mention it looks super cool.


Ever look at someone performing a bridge exercise and wonder how the hell they got into that position?! Well, as difficult as it looks, it’s possible, but you need good wrist mobility. Your wrist is going to be at an even greater angle to your arm than it is in a handstand, so if you struggle with a handstand you may find a bridge tough as well!

Bridges are an incredible exercise to work yourself up to, not only is it great for a weak or injured lower back, it will also help to make it a strong, flexible and injury-proof. Many skip over this exercise but as it works on every single muscle in your back it is something you should definitely factor into your routine. Once I started working on my bridges I found that it gave the front of my body a great stretch as well as resulting in extra endurance.

 Wrist Mobility

Source: Al Kavadlo

Wrist Mobility

Front Lever

The front lever is another exercise that will not only help develop your strength immensely, but it also looks awesome, and really shows others just how hard you’ve worked to achieve your results in not only your wrists, but also your should shoulders, back and core. It will take you time to build up to a full front lever and there are many steps to progress up to this, such as starting with your pulling prep and strength, and working yourself up through pulling up with knees to a front tuck, then to leg extension and finally to a full front lever.

Your wrists will be under a lot of strain when performing an exercise like this as you’ll not only be pulling up your own body weight but will be extending and flexing your wrists as you move into a full lever position. Holding yourself in this position you’ll feel the tension on your wrists, so it’s vital to build yourself up to this rather than diving straight in.

Push Ups

An obvious exercise, but a great one to build up the strength of your upper body that also uses your wrists. While many use this exercise to increase the muscles in their chest and arms, don’t forget about the pressure that you are putting on your wrists while doing a push up.

Wrist Mobility

Source: A Shot of Adrenaline

To keep your wrists pain-free, keep your hands shoulder width apart and close to your chest, facing forward (not angled!) and all parts of your hand should make contact with the ground. Check this guide here for a full list of how to protect your wrists during a press up.

Preventing Wrist Injury

It’s better to be proactive with these things rather than reactive; you want to be focusing on building up your wrist mobility early on to avoid the pain and the time out of training. Trust me, once you get put out of training you’ll be kicking yourself you didn’t do more to prevent it before! Here’s my best preventative strategies:


Mindset is absolute crucial to any workout and for preventing injury and achieving success. This is something my clients regularly overlook, but you can’t have a strong body without a strong mind. If you don’t believe you can do it and don’t stay positive, chances are you won’t do it!

You need to see building up your wrist mobility as honing your skills and progressing towards becoming the most awesome gymnast you can be. Stay positive and stay patient, but stay committed!

Remember, strong mind = strong body.


You must ALWAYS warm-up no matter what exercises or routines you are planning to work on. The lack of a proper warm-up is one of the most common mistakes I see all many gymnasts suffer from. The pros still warm-up, no matter how long they’ve been doing it for.

There isn’t really a wrong way to warm up so don’t stress about trying to find the ‘perfect’ warm-up routine, just make sure you loosen the muscles and the joints, get the blood flowing and get the heart beating.

Mobility, Flexibility & Strength

At the end of a workout you’re tired so it’s ok to just go home and relax right? Wrong!

Make sure you stretch after every routine to keep your wrists flexible and limber; much like a warm-up you need to make sure you warm-down. Skipping out on stretching is another common but easily avoidable mistake that causes people stiff muscles and longer-term injury.

Remember, strong wrists SCOFF AT INJURIES. Try using a therapy ball to improve your wrist strength and mobility, you can see a great tutorial video for this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WknBLKSpG0w.

I look below at 5 AWESOME exercises to help build your wrist strength and mobility without a therapy ball. Without proper movement quality, you can’t train how you want to and below you’ll see how to keep your wrists mobile and working right.

5 Effective Exercises For Building Wrist Mobility

Below are a list of effective exercises I use for increasing my wrist mobility, some that I do at home or on the way to work, and others that I’ve incorporated into my calisthenics routines. Try and use a number of the exercises for a more balanced and well-rounded routine:

Wrist Rotations

This is the most basic of the wrist mobility exercises, but it is something that you can easily work into your everyday routine. Simply intertwine your fingers and rotate your wrists around in every direction possible. Any position that feels slightly tender or restricted; simply hold this position for a little longer. Repeat as often as you feel comfortable with throughout the day. This exercise will help to increase your natural wrist movement range, allowing you to push further with your calisthenics exercises.

This is one of the most effective routines as you can perform it ANYWHERE, and it focuses on every possible range of movement with your wrists.

Planche Push-Ups

This is a more intense exercise, but a great one to do to increase your wrist mobility and strength. Get yourself into the plank position with you elbows fully extended at the top of the push up, while turning your hands inwards so that your fingers are pointing towards your feet. Move your body forward so that there is an angle from your shoulders to your wrists, and try holding this for as long as you can, although 30 seconds is a good marker to aim for. This is a great exercise, and as you progress through calisthenics you can complete the exercise with your legs raised up off the floor. Trust me, it looks super cool!

It also has the added benefit of working your arms, core and even your legs. Perfect right?

Wrist Walks

Place your palms on a wall as high up as you can reach, and then ‘walk’ your hands down the wall. Go as far down as possible, while keeping your palms on the wall, and once you can’t reach any further turn your hands around, with your fingers pointing to the floor, and walk the palms up the other way. Repeat this for as many times as you feel comfortable.

A good exercise, but it only focuses on the extension and flexion movements rather than the radial and ulnar – although most calisthenics exercises use extension and flexion.


Wrist Mobility

Wrist Mobility

While standing, place your hands in front of you as though you are praying. While keeping contact between your two hands, lower them as far down as you can – the longer you can keep your hands together the better you’ll be stretching your wrists. Once you get down as far as you can go, reverse your hands so your fingers are pointing downs, and complete the exercise in reverse.

(Maybe at the same time you can pray to be the best gymnast there’s ever been?! It doesn’t hurt to aim big!)

Static Holds

This is another simple exercise that you can complete from wherever you are, so there’s absolutely no excuses not to be improving your wrist mobility and strength! A client once told me she didn’t have the time to work on wrist mobility, but this is just an excuse, not a reason! With this exercise, all you need to do is pull your wrists back into the extension and flexion positions and hold each for 20-30 seconds. You should feel the pressure on your wrists, and this will ease over time as they become more flexible. A basic but easy exercise to help with your calisthenics by increasing your maximum movement range.

Still Want More?

Check out this awesome page, 5 exercises to improve hand mobility, for more exercises and also check out this forum thread from Reddit for a huge section on grip training: Grip Training.

So what’s my key takeaway from these exercises? NO EXCUSES.

I’ve given you a range of exercises here – some you can incorporate into your routine and some you can do anywhere, so you have ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSES not to be working on your wrist mobility.

Wrist Injuries

If you’ve got an injury on your wrists DON’T be stubborn and continue pushing them harder with your routine. You’ll be using them everyday so you don’t want to do any serious damage to yourself and us gymnasts aren’t completely invincible (yet)! Make sure you see a healthcare professional first before you take any further steps, and seek their advice on what you can and can’t do. This article is no substitute for appropriate medical care and they may prescribe you certain exercises you must do.

If you’ve already injured your wrist, adopt some of the less pressurised exercises listed above to gradually bring strength back. You want to perform a range of exercises but in as much pain free repetition as possible. Once it’s healed be sure to adopt these exercises into your routine.

Try the Wrist Rotations to start as these don’t apply too much pressure and you can effectively test every area of your wrist. If you feel you can handle more then go for one of the more strenuous exercises, but DON’T attempt anything like a planche push-up that requires holding your whole body weight on your wrists, you’ll only cause yourself more damage!

I know you’ll be eager to keep up with your exercise, I definitely was when I injured myself! Luckily, the best advice is to not stop moving the wrist completely, simply continuing working on the areas that are pain free.

Once you’re ready, begin training for the movement that caused the injury and make sure you show that movement who’s the boss! (It’s YOU, obviously). Soon you’ll get to the point where you’ll be able to do that movement in your sleep and wonder how it ever caused you an injury in the first place!

The Do’s and Don’ts if You’ve Injured Your Wrists

  • DO seek proper medical advice first
  • DO continue to work on your wrist mobility in the pain-free areas
  • DO continue to exercise the injured area, but only with exercises you can manage
  • DON’T stop wrist exercises completely
  • DON’T push yourself further or ignore the pain or warning signs of injury
  • DON’T attempt the highly pressured exercises like a planche push up
  • DON’T GIVE UP! Once you’re ready, being to tackle the exercise that caused you injury

Injuries are only a minor setback – seem them as a learning curve.

Here’s a great guide on recovering from wrist injury.

Other Factors To Consider For Wrist Mobility

There’s More!

As if all this wasn’t enough to take in already, remember when using our arms not only do we use our wrists, but we also make use of both our shoulders and elbows, so it is important to also work on scapular and shoulder mobility as well as wrist mobility. I’ll cover these other areas in more depth in another post, but consider exercises like Standing Unilateral Chest Openers for shoulders and Scapular Wall Slides for scapular mobility.

Other Areas Of Your Life

While it’s important to factor in some of these wrist mobility exercises, be sure to look at other areas of your life where you could make adjustments or improvements to strengthen your wrists. For example:

  • Check that your keyboard and wrist position are both suitable for when you are typing, particularly if you have a job that involves working at a computer.
  • If you do a lot of driving, ensure you hold the wheel in a way that doesn’t hurt your wrists.
  • Do you have a heavy manual labour job? Think about your wrists and not pushing yourself further than you have to or being extra careful with heavy lifting.

Remember, your age will have an effect on your wrists as well. As you get older the strength in your wrists will naturally decrease. This doesn’t mean you can’t continue with calisthenics, just make sure you accommodate for this and know your limits!

Improving your wrist mobility will improve many areas of your life – from good hand-writing to heavy lifting. Some websites even recommended getting kids to practice good wrist extension from an early age so this is something you should incorporate into your life not just for your calisthenics routine but for your life as a whole. If that isn’t motivation enough then I don’t know what is!


To give you even MORE resources to kick-start your wrist mobility routines, here’s a couple of videos with extra drills and exercises:

Also, check out this document from The Monkey Gym on Wrist Mobility Exercises.

Wait, You Want Even More?!

I thought so!

Here’s a video on 5 wrist mobilisation exercises taken from Japanese martial arts, some we’ve already talked about here and some we haven’t: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii0J3Ye9NnA.

Be sure to do a mixture of exercises in your routine to keep it interesting and ensure you’re working every part of your wrists!


So, I hope this has given you some insight into just how important your wrists are for your calisthenics routines. If you don’t factor it into your routine, trust me you’re going to feel the PAIN! There are exercises that you can easily do at home, on the way to work or even in bed so there’s absolutely no excuses here!

Building up your wrist mobility, flexibility, stability and strength may seem basic, but it one of the MOST important factors in helping you to push yourself further and further with many calisthenic and gymnastic exercises.

Remember, NO EXCUSES!

I’d love to hear from you:

  • Do you have anymore questions about wrist mobility?
  • Have you got a wrist mobility routine you’d love to share?
  • Do you need help with working wrist mobility into your workout?


Thanks for reading, I’m looking forward to helping you guys have the most mobile wrists possible!

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!