Building Bodyweight Skills: March Programming Notes

Breaking From Barbells

This month we're focused on developing Gymnastic/Calisthenic Strength. There are tremendous benefits to strength training using only body weight, including the increased potential to develop muscle types that aren’t as well addressed when working with barbells.

In a nutshell, there are three muscle-fiber types in the body: Type I, Type IIA, & Type IIB. Gymnastics has a higher propensity to develop muscle Type IIB, which generate the most power and force. In addition, gymnastics training requires the body to work in perfect unison, and demands a tremendous amount of balance, flexibility, and strength to be expressed.  

It’s All About Progressions

When training with barbells, you can easily increase or decrease the intensity by changing the weight. If something is too heavy, simply drop some weight and get back at it.

Gymnastics is a completely different animal in that we need to be able to identify the appropriate progression that will enable you to build capacity in a safe and effective manner. Since you are leveraging your own body weight to complete movements, you need to be able to understand how levers work in order to manipulate the load to feel lighter or heavier.

Here’s a couple examples:
If standard push-ups are too difficult, you can do push-ups off of an elevated surface (like a box) to decrease the load angle and make the movement possible. If Toe-2-Bar is too challenging you can perform Knees-2-Elbows in order to build the baseline strength required to eventually execute the T2B.

We will be showing you a tremendous number of progressions for each strength movement - aim to pick a progression that enables you to perform 3 sets of 5 reps successfully.

The Little Things Count

One thing to keep in mind is that every single body part has a place regardless of what the movement is. Part of the goal of most gymnastics movements is to create tension in the body (this helps with balance and rigidity). A common fault I see is when athletes fail to point the toes away from the body in movements like the pull-up, handstand, and hollow rock. Pointing the toes activates the quads and if you’re guilty of this not doing this regularly, you’ll probably start to cramp the first few times you give it a try. Stick with it, and in time you will bloom like a beautiful flower. 

Feedback

Per the usual, if you have feedback to share hit me at ranier@marvelouscrossfit.com. I am waiting to hear from you. :)