Why Train Calisthenics Skills
The aesthetics of calisthenics is what typically draws people to bodyweight training. The physiques that calisthenics creates as well as the aesthetic movements that the athletes perform. Calisthenics skills often look superhuman and require an absurd amount of strength and dedication to unlock.
The calisthenics journey is a series of progressions that help us unlock skills starting at the beginner level, eventually taking us all the way to the advanced level, even elite if we stick with the process long enough.
Calisthenics skills are easier to acquire for shorter and lighter people
Most elite-level gymnasts’ average height is around 5’5, and weigh anywhere from 120-140
Don’t be discouraged by this because attaining calisthenics skills is possible for taller and heavier people. I am 6 feet tall and 190 lbs and have unlocked a plethora of calisthenics skills
Beginner Calisthenics Skills
- Elbow Lever
- Muscle Up
- Pull Over
- Skin The Cat
- Tuck Planche
- Pistol Squats
Intermediate Calisthenics Skills
- Back Lever
- Handstand Push Ups
- Human Flag
- Dragon Flag
- Archer Pull Ups
- Strict Muscle up
- Tuck Planche Push Ups
Advanced Calisthenics Skills
- Front Lever
- 90 Degree Handstand Push-ups
- Tiger Bend Handstand Push-ups
- Slow Muscle up
- One Arm Pull-Up
Elite Calisthenics Skills
- One Arm Handstand
- Planche Push-Ups
- Front Lever Pull-Ups
Rule #1 Master the basics
Build a foundation with the fundamental movements of calisthenics before trying to acquire even the basic calisthenics skills. Having a solid grasp on basic push, pull, squat movements will help reduce the risk of injury while training calisthenics skills as well as give you more strength and confidence to mentally prep yourself for your skills journey.
List of Fundamentals to grasp before starting skill training (Rep Requirements)
- Pull-ups – 12 reps full range of motion
- Chin Ups – 14 reps full range of motion
- Parallel Bar Dips – 12 reps full range of motion
- Push-ups – 30 reps full range of motion and core engaged
- Bench Dips 20 reps full range of motion and straight legs
- Squats – 40 full squats
- Lunges – 20 full lunges
- Horizontal Rows (Australian Pull Ups) 15 full range of motion reps with core engaged
Once the basics have been mastered it’s time to move on to skill training. Skill training is what makes calisthenics more fun than traditional weight lifting, while keeping training interesting and challenging.
Rule #2 Perfect form
Form is important for aesthetic purposes, but also for progression purposes. Take pride in making sure your handstand line is straight or your muscle ups are strict with as little kip as possible. Good form is a tell-tale sign of good strength and a solid grasp of the movement. Once you have a solid grasp of the movement you can move on to harder progressions. If you try to move past a progression before you are ready, it will take you much longer to get to the next level. To keep it simple, if we failed 6th grade we wouldn’t think that we are ready for 7th. The same thing goes for calisthenics skill levels.
Best ways to Monitor/correct form
- Train with people at a higher level and listen to their criticism
- Watch elite gymnasts perform the movements to understand what strict form is
- Study calisthenics athletes on Youtube, Instagram, or other social media
- Film your training sessions to critique your own form (Many times we feel we are doing a movement correctly when in reality we are doing it incorrectly)
- Seek Coaching to expedite the progress (For one on one calisthenics coaching click here to work with me…)
#3 Calisthenics Skills should come easy
As stated earlier in this calisthenics blog, the advanced skills are the aesthetic eye catching movements, but in most cases, these movements can be years away from a beginner.
It’s great to have lofty goals when it comes to calisthenics or life in general, but the mentality of laying a brick down every day with smaller goals is less mentally draining than the perspective of failing at larger goals you aren’t ready to tackle.
Calisthenics can be viewed as a series of micro victories. Each movement done with better form, or slightly harder progression completed can be viewed as a micro victory. These micro victories compound into bigger victories.
When training for a new skill, it shouldn’t feel out of your reach. The strength that you have built up over months or years of training should make allow you to accomplish these goals in a shorter time frame than if you start training for huge goals as a beginner.
Examples of brick-by-brick mentality
- Learning the handstand – progressto handstand push-ups – progress to 90-degreee handstand – progress to straddle planche -progress to full planche
- Getting proficient at L-Sit – Progress to toes to bar – progress to ice cream makers – progress to tuck front lever – progress to straddle front lever – hit the goal of the front lever
- Pull-up proficiency – straight bar dips – chest to bar pull-ups – high pull-ups – muscle ups
Examples of trying to progress too quickly
- Starting planche progressions before you can hit a handstand
- Trying to muscle up before you are proficient at full range of motion pull-ups
- Trying to back lever before you can hit 5 skin the cats