The Ultimate Guide To Calisthenics Skill Training!

Mastering calisthenics skills provides a sense of achievement and progression. Setting and accomplishing goals, whether it’s holding a handstand or achieving a muscle-up, can be highly rewarding.

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What Are Calisthenics Skills?

There are two categories of calisthenics skills: strength skills, where strength is the primary factor (e.g., planche and levers), and skill-based exercises, where skill is the primary factor such as handstand. Skill-based exercises can be trained daily without interfering with your strength training. On the other hand, strength skills should be treated as a part of your strength training and can not be trained on rest days without affecting your recovery significantly.

Step 1: Building Basic Strength

The first step for getting into skill training is building a solid foundation of strength, without this you will not be able to progress with skill training. Doing basic movements such as push ups, dips, inverted rows, and pull ups will help you with this, follow a well-structured program (such as the recommended routine) for best results.

Programming Calisthenics Skills

1. Set Goals

To begin learning calisthenics skills setting goals is a must, picking 2-3 skills that target opposing muscle groups is optimal. Focusing on more than 2-3 skills will divide your attention between too many things and lead to slow progress. Read this post to learn more about setting goals in calisthenics.

2. Exercise selection

Now that you have decided which skills you want to pursue it is time to pick relevant exercises that will help you learn them. There are two main types of exercises you can do to train skills; dynamic exercises and static holds. Static holds are more specific to the skills you are working towards (unless it is a dynamic skill) but don’t build as much muscle as dynamic exercises. Therefore using both static and dynamic movements is preferred. Check the chart below for hold times for static skills.

Max hold = Test your max hold for a given position -> perform holds in the “hold time range” & sets that match with your max hold. When you can hold a position for 20 seconds, move on to a harder progression. You can use the following progression: tuck -> advanced tuck -> (one leg ->) straddle half lay -> (half lay ->) straddle -> full

3. Incorporating skill training into your routine

By now you should have a pretty good understanding of which types of exercises you should do to learn the skills you want to learn. The next step is to incorporate the exercises into your routine so you can start making progress. Reserve a specific portion of your workout for skill training, if getting better at a skill is your main goal do so first in your workout when you are most fresh. Perform 2 or more exercises for the given skill you are working on, and supplement with exercises to strengthen specific muscle groups related to your chosen skills. Doing one dynamic exercise and one isometric exercise is optimal, this can be front lever raises and advanced tucked front lever holds (if your goal is the front lever).

What Order To Learn Calisthenics Skills In?

The order in which you learn calisthenics skills can vary based on strengths, and weaknesses. Keep in mind that this is a suggested order, and you can adapt it based on your goals and current abilities.

L-sit and handstand are two good goals to work towards for beginners. Muscle up is a good goal when you have built some good basic strength. After this back lever and front lever are some good longer-term goals.

For more inspiration, you can check out the Steven Lows Overcoming Gravity charts with exercises and skills in order here.

Final Thoughts

Effective calisthenics progress requires tracking progress. Use a training journal to note skills, sets, reps, and areas for improvement. Record videos regularly to analyze form and track form improvements.

Rest at least 3-5 min between sets, this way you can maximize your performance and avoid form breakdowns in your skill training.

Achieving proficiency in advanced bodyweight exercises takes time, dedication, and consistent effort. Patience is key to learning calisthenics skills.

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