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A few years back I moved to Scotland – I was well into calisthenics and I started training at the local circus school .
The next months that followed were some of the most fun, yet frustrating months in my training career.
I absolutely fell in love with acrobatics, handstands, moving and seeing how my body was changing. I didn’t know much about programming for body weight, circus movement, or acrobatics. So I attended all the group classes and was just learning as much as I could and enjoying myself – the training added up to 15-20 hours a week – which I absolutely loved.
I even got ripped, not even knowing about it.
There was just one problem…
6 months in – and I felt like I had hardly made any progress.
Don’t get me wrong, the six pack was there, my handstand was getting better, my tucks were getting tighter, and I definitely was more flexible and mobile – BUT when friends and family asked how I was doing….
I had nothing really to show for all the training I had completed….
What was going on?
Knowing that patience is bliss, especially in calisthenics, I kept on going.
But then I got really frustrated and spent months researching, reading books and learning how to train and how to program this type of training in order for it to be effective.
Turns out that advanced gymnastics and calisthenics moves are way more complex than we imagine.
I realized my handstands were lacking serious shoulder mobility and were hindering me from being able to hold it during a free standing.
I also learned that practicing a few skills at the same time (like in my group training we would train for back tucks and back handsprings at the same time and then not train it for months) was hindering my progress as my body was getting confused.
The most surprising part is that I learned I am not the only one who has trouble with it – we saw people from all over the world struggling with the same issues.
During this time I came across an article which perfectly explained what was going on.
Dr. Tilly – the author of the article I am referring to, explains how a lack of personalisation, even at the level of competitive gymnastics is hurting athletes progress.
He described a program where all the students are given an assignment that was the same level of difficulty: 3 sets of 10 pull ups, dips, handstands, push-ups, and then 2 sets of 20 leg lifts. Something we all know, either from school or from gym classes.
No matter the level, it was the same training.
Now you might not be taking group training, but this is WHAT you will get in any calisthenics and gymnastic program online. They might assign you to the beginners/ intermediate/ advanced level- but you will be doing the same as all other folks in your group.
What’s the problem with that, you ask?
Well. Here it is.
Problems with the one-size fits all training routines
Below is a breakdown of some of the few problems that one-size fits all training creates:
1. Promoting Compensation, Movement Dysfunction, and Possible Injury Risk If Too Challenging
“Say for example part of your conditioning assignment is 3 sets of 5 handstands and push-ups. You send your team of 20 gymnasts to do it. Maybe for 12 of them, they are appropriately challenged by the workload, they fall in the middle of the bell curve, and it will serve its job to make them adapt and get stronger.
However, for 4 of them it may be too challenging and with the “get it done” mindset, they may have to cheat their range of motion, use a poor form like excessive back arching, or may simply just not do it.
Not only is this dangerous and engrains movement dysfunction (as quality slips away), it also really doesn’t help them on the performance side because they won’t truly develop strength. When you consider the fatigue, things start to tank even faster. It will likely get them to be overwhelmed and frustrated.
Taking them a step back in a regression that demands perfect technique is better for their safety and long-term development of strength.”
2. Not Promoting Adaptation/Development If Not Challenging Enough
“The other side of the coin to the example, there may be 4 athletes who breeze through them and as a result don’t really get a challenge that stimulates development. Although this is not really as concerning with the compensation and danger side, they aren’t going to continue to get stronger/faster/more powerful, etc.
These athletes need a progression to make sure it’s challenging enough for them.
Dr. Tilly summarized not personalizing a training program as:
“Slamming a square block into a triangular hole may not be the best choice. The whole “1 step back for 2 steps forward later” and building a house on a concrete foundation versus sand analogy is a good fit here”
A recipe for disaster in terms of safety & hindering athletic progress & performance development by months
We are individuals, with different characteristics – one-fit-all training will not cut it!
No only you will not progress effectively, but you’re also risking injury.
Do you need any other reasons why a cookie cutter workout should not be used again?
So why on earth are we are still not personalizing these workouts?
In his article, Dr. Tilly talks about a coach’s ego. That’s it’s the culture and the way we always doing things, but the biggest problem is that:
IT’S EXTREMELY HARD.
When you get a bunch of people coming for a workout, you would have to analyze every single one of them and give them personal options.
For the coach it’s IMPOSSIBLE.
How on earth can you personalize a training program for every single person based on their PERSONAL STRENGTHS, MOBILITY, FLEXIBILITY, and HISTORY?
That calls for a serious, hours-heavy and expensive personal training program.
Well… unless you can leverage technology to do just that…
And this is why personalisation is at the HEART of what we are building inside The Movement Athlete.
As you join the program, you will be run through a comprehensive athlete assessment to figure out EXACTLY where you are on the progressions and create a fully personalized training program just for you.
But that’s not all.
As you do your workouts, the system will adjust sets and reps based on your personal feedback, making sure wherever you’re at the workout is optimal for your progress.
Click here to learn more about The Movement Athlete.
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