How To Iron Cross: A Complete Guide From Beginner to Master

In this guide, I will be walking you through each step on how to iron cross from
the absolute beginning to finally become a master of the iron cross exercise.how-to-iron-cross

To build up the iron cross the fastest and safest way possible, whether you want to do it in the gym, outside or in the gymnastic hall.

The cross is a popular and highly advanced movement often seen by gymnasts. It looks damn cool and you have got to be extremely strong to master this movement.

If you want to learn how to iron cross you first have to prepare your joints for the massive stress they are going to endure. Preparation is the most important facet in mastering the iron cross exercise. I’ve endured many injuries, especially the bicep tendon which is very annoying when you want to master something but an inflamed tendon keeps you from doing so.

Understand that with the iron cross your bicep must lengthen itself to almost it’s full length. You also pronate your underarm a bit which lengthens the biceps even more. Then, you put maximal force on the muscle which makes it extremely sensitive to injuries. This is something you have to understand in order to safely progress in this movement.

So you don’t jump up and just try. It’s a lot about developing the muscle strength and tendon resistance by doing specific exercises.

Now don’t worry. I’ve got a method for you to jump into the iron cross quite quickly. Getting the central nervous system used to the pattern of the iron cross is essential. In fact, this is backed up by science. So in order to learn how to iron cross, I’ve developed a step by step tutorial for you, both beginner and the more advanced.

This is something you can do in the gym, outside or in the gymnastic hall. That’s what makes it beautiful. I love the gym and also love gymnastics so that is the reason I combined it. Though this made it hard for me to exercise in the gym. I had to develop a method for myself to make it as easy as possible to do so. So here it is. Made as simple as possible for you. If you only have access to the gym and you want to master this movement. No excuse, you can do it in the gym. And it looks damn cool too if you are into the validation stuff. You will get a lot of compliments and heads turning at you so be prepared for that.

How To Prepare Yourself


First, you have to understand the body position of the iron cross.

Note that:

  • The arms are fully stretched out, no flexion in the elbows. Very important. Do not progress through the movements if you can’t do the exercise without proper form. Form, is extremely important considering the cross. The devil’s in the details.
  • Shoulders are open, elbows are pointing down. This is because this way you gain more strength just by the positioning of your joints. You lock out your arms with gives you a little bit more passive strength.
  • Wrists straight. It often happens, even with experienced gymnasts, they over-grip the rings by flexing the wrists. Officially this would cost you points in gymnastics. Now this is something you can decide your own.

This is the basic position of the iron cross.

What can you do to get the joints used to this and have the flexibility to achieve this?

  1. Stretch the shoulders.
    Sit on the floor, put your arms behind you as close to each other as possible and then move your butt to the front so you stretch your shoulders. Do this 3 sets 12-15 seconds.
  2. Find a bar or something you can put your arm on and take on the position of the iron cross. Get used to the movement without any resistance on it. By doing this over and over again, your central nervous system will pick up this pattern and get used to this. Only by this, you already increase your strength. This is the main component of how strength training works. Very important one.

Do these 2 things first to prepare yourself ideally 3-4 times a week.

The Principle For Progression – Strength Training


A lot of training out there focusses on an insanely amount of repetition. If you watch a video on YouTube they will often tell you that you need to do 20 – 50 or even 100 repetitions in something to progress to the next one. Why? You tell me. You only train endurance and coordination this way. This has nothing to do with strength.

The iron cross is next to preparation and stability, pure strength. Now stability and the right positioning of your body is something you will master quite quickly. So the strength is the factor that is the most important if you want to master the iron cross.

Strength Principles


Let’s take a look on how we build strength. According to science, you need to do low amounts of repetitions in order to establish pure strength. If you look at powerlifters in the weight training room they mainly focus on low repetitions and short and efficient workouts. Compare these with bodybuilders. They are longer in the gym and put the focus on higher reps to ‘pump up’ muscles.

This is not something you want if you want to master the iron cross. Sure you can do some volume work after the ‘main training’ to gain some size and maximize muscle growth. But the focus should be on the iron cross first and this is pure strength training.

The main reason though that people struggle to gain muscle is that they are focussed on pumping up the muscle. Look at the way gymnasts look. Huge biceps, shoulders and chiselled abs. They are insanely strong with low amounts of body fat and the right muscle proportion. This is what gives them the buff look.

Note that gymnasts barely train with weights. All body weight movements. It’s because they have to gain the strength in order to exercise those movements like the planche, iron cross, Maltese etc. With strength comes muscle. To maximize this muscle again: you can do some volume work after this.

So the main takeaway here is: focus on strength and you will gain muscle faster than ever before with bodyweight training.

The key to progress in your workouts:
Regarding the iron cross training you only perform 3 -5 sets and that’s it. You will be able to maintain maximum intensity with barely any performance drop-off. You need to rest at least 2-3 minutes between sets otherwise, your fatigue will be drained like crazy. The rest is a vital part for an efficient workout.

The Strength Principle:

So you want to gain strength. How do you do it?

With each exercise you do you will focus on repetition just like the weights. Let’s take weight training as an example. To progress in the shoulder press, you would optimally train in the 4-6 rep range. You would need to do 3 sets of the same weight (let’s take 30kg) between 4 – 6 repetitions. In the first training, you would do 5,5,4 reps. That’s great. The next training you would pick the same weight and max it out, now you reach 6,6,6.

Now you’ve reached the 6 for 3 repetitions with the same weight it’s time to move up the weight to 32kg. Repeat the process until you can stack the weight again to 34kg and so on.

This method works like crazy and you can see progress literally every workout.

This is the same principle we put to use here in the iron cross training. With every progression you do, see it as if you are adding weight to the bar and staying between the 4-6 rep range. This way you will see progression every workout and you do it in a safe way.

Now enough of the talk, let’s move to the progressions.

The Progressions


A perfect and safe way to start out if you are in a gym is to use the cable machines. Fully take on the form of the iron cross and progress from there. Ideally, you would start out this way but of course, it’s not essential if you don’t have access to one.

The way to do it is to hang the pulleys all the way up the top. Set the weight (not too heavy obviously) and start to feel how it feels. Progress this exercise and keep your arms straight all the time during the exercise. The form is essential. I will be hammering on this a few times throughout this guide because it is so important.

Beginner level 1:how-to-iron-cross
Now if you are a complete beginner and you have no experience what so ever with the rings, start here. If you are more advanced already you can skip this phase and proceed to the next movements.

In order to perform an iron cross, you need to be in control of the rings first, period. There’s no way around this.

Practice this by hanging the rings about waist height and try to carefully lean on them first. Lift your feet off the ground and try to hold yourself as still as possible for about 5 – 10 seconds. Focus on straight arms. In the beginning, this will be quite hard. The more often you do this, the better it will be. Master this as soon as possible. Elbows fully locked out.

You will notice, the more often you do this, the better you will become at it. This will go quite fast.

After you can hold yourself up there for about 20-30 seconds and you feel you are stable (not going anywhere with your hands) you can try to swing your upper body for a bit. Move your upper body back and forwards slowly while maintaining stability on the rings. I do want to emphasize on the following point: hold your arms straight at all time. Elbows locked.


Beginner level 2:
Once you’ve mastered the stability on the rings you can try some dips on the rings. If you can’t do any dips at all yet, do them on regular bars first. You should be pumping out 12-15 with ease on the bar.

If you can do about 6-8 dips on the rings you can move to the next progression. If you want you can do Russian dips. With your elbows out. This puts some more stress on your chest and prepares you for the next stages.

how-to-iron-crosshow-to-iron-cross


Beginner level 3:
Now like I said, in the beginning, we are going to focus on gaining the actual strength quickly by doing the movement as fast as possible but yet as safe as possible. So here we will be going into the position of the cross already but with support obviously.

Put your arms through the TRX cables or the rings so you have support around your elbows. You can put them as high as you like, though, make sure it’s not too uncomfortable. Now elevate your feet onto a support block. This can be a bench or a table or whatever. As long as your feet are off the ground so you can move downwards with your upper body.

Now you do this exercise until you master 3 sets of 6 reps. You can increase the load of this exercise by putting the support a bit towards your wrists so more strength is required.

Note: You only progress with the right form. Even a slight bend in the elbow is incorrect and you should retrain. Make sure to stick with the correct form to save yourself a lot of trouble (injuries and retraining).

how-to-iron-cross


Intermediate level 1:
Once you have mastered this exercise you want to do the above with only the rings or TRX cables but yet keep support on the bench with your feet. Try moving your feet all the way on the bench so the exercise becomes lighter. Because now you are going to do the exercise with the rings in your hands, you stress the tendons more. For this reason, caution is required. So start off with your feet supported a lot. Ideally under your hamstrings/knee pits. This way you have a lot of support and the exercise is easy to do.

Now you go down until you are in the position of the cross. Push yourself back up and stick with the 4 – 6 range.

Progress this exercise until you are leaning only on your toes on the bench. If you go a little bit further every time (increasing the load, just like the weight training example), you become stronger in this movement.

Do this until you’ve masters 3 x 6 again and progress to the next.


Intermediate level 2:
Now once you can do this effectively with support of your feet on the bench, try to let go of 1 foot and do the same. Proceed until you can effectively do 3 x 6 reps.

Intermediate level 3:
Now, it’s time to get up on those rings! Hang them up so you can go into the cross. Put your arms through the cables so you support your elbows and do the movement in the rep ranges like stated above. If this is still too hard for you, you can grab elastics. I love elastics. This is the perfect method to train properly and is the same as weight training as you can slowly increase the load but still safely perform the exercise.

Note: If any exercise is too hard you can always make use of the elastics to build it up. I recommend using different colours (different resistance strength) in order to progress your way up. This is a perfect way to systematically move your way up the chain. You can see progression much better this way. It’s not just guesswork, you actually know what you are doing.

how-to-iron-cross

how-to-iron-cross


Advanced level 1:
Awesome if you made it this far already. Let me tell you that if you came here, you are very close to mastering the iron cross. This time, you are going to use the elastics and use the regular grip for the cross. Make sure to grab the right resistance that allows you to do 4 – 6 reps. Move your way up by lowering the resistance. For example, you start out with black, blue and green. Once you are able to do 3 x 6 repetitions, you move up by removing the green one and work it again.

This way you slowly start to build your strength for the iron cross in a safe way. Ultimately you will be able to only use 1 elastic.

how-to-iron-cross


Advanced level 2:
Once you are at the 1 elastic level and you built up your way, it’s time to go into a different style of training.

This time, you will hold for 5 seconds and let yourself drop down. Get the lightest resistance you can get and repeat it for 3 times

Master level:
Now you should be able to safely perform the iron cross. Time to say goodbye to the elastics and fully perform the cross. If you still struggle with this one try to add the elastics again and move your way up progressively with this training philosophy in mind.

how-to-iron-cross

Hope this article helped you out in achieving your goal. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to leave one below and I’ll reply back to you soon.

Talk to you soon,

Maurice
Founder of Masters Of Bodyweight
Skyrocket City

Kinobody Bodyweight Mastery Program Review: Scam Or Real Deal?

Product: Kinobody Bodyweight Mastery Program: Reviewbodyweight-mastery-program-review
Price: $ 39,-
Where to buy:
 Kinobody Official Website
What is included:
– Bodyweight Master Program itself (44 pages)
– Complete Nutrition Guide to get shredded with bodyweight training (Included)
– 10 Full workout training videos
Bonus: Join Facebook Group
Guarantee: 60 days 100% money back guarantee
My rating: 4,8/5

Not sure what kinobody program suits you best? Visit this free survey to see whether you should gain muscle, lose fat or recomp.

Product Overview


The Kinobody Bodyweight Mastery Program promises that if you follow the program that Greg has laid out for you, you will build a ripped physique that’s as powerful, functional, and athletic as it looks. All with just your bodyweight with only 3 days per week training.

Greg promises a way to live with absolute freedom through his strategies, without tracking your calories obsessively. Next to this he shows you a way to add muscle without adding fat through bodyweight training.

The book itself consists out of 44 pages. It is thorough and to the point. A picture of the content is right here:

bodyweight-mastery-program-review

Besides that, you also get 10 workout videos that walk you through the main exercises that make this program so powerful and effective as it is.

As a bonus you get to join the facebook group which consists of all members, including Greg, answering any of your questions regarding the program or fitness and dieting in general.

My Take On The Program


I bought this program because I’m a big fan of Greg’s stuff so obviously I was interested in this. I have tried it consistently for about 3 months now. And I can say the results are astounding. I was already aware of the training principle Greg, but his program is mapped out really well. Focussing on adding strength and keeping your workouts minimalistic is the key in progressing.

I took the Kinobody survey to figure out if this program suited me or not. It turned out this was the best option to go for.

Often people make the mistake of doing too much, like going to the gym 5/6 times a week. This might seem the fastest way for you to progress because you feel like you are ‘doing more’, but you have got to use your brain. Greg based his program on science. And believe me, if I tell you that his stuff goes against the status quo.

He teaches you how to train with his nutrition tips to get the maximum out of your workout. He does this by teaching you intermittent fasting and maintain a minimalistic training approach to achieve maximum super compensation through getting enough rest between workouts.

I’ve rated this program a 4.8 out of 5 because I truly love this program. I can say with full honesty that this is not a scam and it is truly the real deal. If you are like me and you feel like this whole fitness and dieting thing is there to make your life better, then you are at the right place.

If you have been struggling to get your progressions up in advanced bodyweight exercises, or you’ve been struggling with dieting. Tracking all your calories, eating small meals that never satisfy you. This might be a good fit for you. For me it was a huge eye opener. I still progress every single workout. Once you hit a plateau there are easy exercises described you can do to switch it up for about 2-3 weeks. After that you return to the program and the progression goes on. It’s quite easy.

Greg walks the talk and he lives the stuff he is teaching. He eats huge meals and nice foods through the strategy he found out and still looks like this:

bodyweight-mastery-program-review

Promoting intermittent fasting, less training in the week and enjoying your life while getting ripped. This is something you don’t see in most other programs. That is why I really like this program. The fitness industry is full of crap and scams. A lot of it is bro science.

Greg based his workouts and nutrition strategies on science and practice. Creating it in a way that is actually doable and enjoyable for the long haul. You can have a drink a couple of times in the week. You can have that pizza you have been craving for all week up until your cheat meal, while getting ripped at the same time and progressing in your workouts.

In this program you will find balance and a natural way of getting ripped and buff. Getting insanely strong and progressing fast through advanced bodyweight exercises.

You will train 3 times a week, about 6 exercises. Focussing on the 2 exercises you want to master first. This is because at the beginning of your workout you have the most strength so you want to make use of that. There will be a workout A and there will be a workout B. You will switch these every time. So you take on the same exercises and muscle groups 2 times per week and the other one the week after. This

The progressions you will learn are:

  • Full handstand pushup
  • 1 handed chin ups
  • Muscle ups
  • Pistol Squats
  • Front Levers
  • Leg Raises
  • Advanced 1 handed push ups

For an overview check out this video to get an impression on the workouts:

I’ve fully mastered the 1 handed pull up by following his program. I was stuck all the time and did not really know how to progress anymore. After watching Greg’s videos for over 4 years now, I always waited for a guide from him to show me how to do it. And man I’m able to actually pump 3 reps out.

I’ve always been struggling with getting ripped because I love to eat big. Those 6 small meals a day are not meant for me. So when I finally came across Greg’s stuff the results were astounding. No more training 7 times a week. No more 6 small meals a day. Hell no. 3 times a week training and 2/3 huge meals a day and this is the result:

bodyweight-mastery-program-review

I’m actually able to maintain it now while still enjoying alcohol and nice foods.

What I Like


The things I like about this program are:

  • The minimalistic approach that he teaches you. Only 3 times per week training and progressing faster than you have ever experienced before. I personally have not experienced any plateau’s.
  • The way he teaches you to eat. This allows you to actually eat pizza or fries from time to time and still lose weight. Without even feel you are dieting. Also being able to still enjoy some beverages. Your social life will not suffer from it. In fact, the complete opposite.
  • The fact that his program is based on science
  • It is easy to use and fun to do.
  • You can do it outside and in the gym, whichever you want.
  • Able to maintain single digit body fat effortlessly.

What I don’t Like


You might wonder why I gave this program a 4.8 out of 5 and not a 5 out of 5. The reason for that being is followed:

  • The way he performs the exercises is not the way I would do them. Checking it out from a physiotherapeutic perspective some exercises are not performed correctly. Meaning that the core involvement could be better from time to time which is better to prevent injuries.
  • Also, stuff Like L-Sits should be done with straight arms and not bend arms. This is small stuff but it does make a different. Ask a gymnast. You can get even more out of it if you embed these 2 things into the workout.

With that being said I come to the conclusion.

Conclusion


I would never promote anything that I do not fully stand behind. With that being said, I can say with full honesty and from the bottom of my heart that I highly recommend Greg’s program for anyone that wants to become strong at advanced bodyweight movements, build muscle or getting ripped at the same time, while still enjoying life. 

I’ve rated his program 4.8 out of 5 because of all the huge advantages that come with it. Even though I think some exercises can be performed better, it is still a program I would pay more for than the $ 39 bucks it costs. In my opinion, this price is peanuts for what you are getting. Imagine no more obsessing about your diet, eating the foods you love while getting ripped or building muscle and mastering the highly advanced bodyweight exercises.

Even if you don’t like it. You have a 100% money back guarantee for 60 days and still have all the information. Enough time to see some good results. You have literally nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I hope this review helped you out in making a decision about whether to buy the product or not. If you are interested in this product or you want to read more about it, visit this link.

I wish you all the best and thanks for reading my review.

Talk to you soon,

Maurice
Founder of Masters Of Bodyweight

How To Handstand Push Up The Fast Way: The Complete Guide

What is the best way to learn how to do the handstand push up? If you are a total beginner
and you want to be able to pump out 15 reps, full range of motion.how-to-handstand-pushup Check out this article.

If you look at a gymnast what is the first thing that you notice about their body? It’s most likely their biceps and shoulders. They have trained this mostly through bodyweight. So if you are able to pump out 15 full reps of handstand push-ups, you are likely to have some good shoulder development. Not only the development, but also the strength that comes with it. Which is beneficial for many other exercises.

Strong shoulders are rare in this world. Though it is a key sign of a well-developed physique. Strong shoulders showcase power and masculinity.

So what is the best way to build up this exercise? How to handstand push up the fastest way? A lot of people are stuck at a certain point and can’t get any more reps or they are stuck some other way. I’ll show you what you can do if you are stuck.

Let’s get into it directly.

If you are a complete beginner wanting to learn how to handstand push-up, you want to prepare your wrists. Obviously also, if you are more advanced, but especially if you are just starting out. Your hands need to adjust to the pressure on the joints. If you are in a handstand you should be aware that your full body weight is pressing down on your wrists in an extended position. This is a huge load they need to bare. So stretching and warming up is essential to prevent injuries.

I injured my wrists a lot in the beginning and this was because I felt a warming up was not needed. Learn from my mistake and please do warm up. It will save you a lot of trouble.

How to Warm Up the Wrists Properly


The best way to warm up is the gymnastic way. Get on your knees and put your wrists on the ground. Lean slightly forward until you feel pressure and stretch. Hold this for 15 seconds. Repeat it for 3 times.

Now do the same but put your hands inward. So fingers pointing at you:

Now put your hands on the outside part and press down a bit until you feel a stretch/pressure.

Repeat for 3 times, 15 seconds.

Now hold your hands and turn them fully each side. 20 seconds each side.

The Exercises


So what is the ultimate progression if you are a beginner?

  1. Push Ups – Different variants

You should be able to pump out some push ups. If you can’t do this, work these first. Aim for at least 15 push ups with great posture.

How to do push ups with great posture? Check out my diamond push up guide for proper core activations and hand positioning.

Your hands should be underneath your chest.

how-to-handstand-pushup

If you can do push-ups, go for the diamond push ups. This way your triceps, upper chest and shoulder take more load. Great way to prepare for the actual handstand.

how-to-handstand-pushup

  1. Handstand against the wall

This is a very important step to get right. You should be able to hold a handstand against the wall for 30 seconds, the right way.

What do I mean by the right way?

A lot of people hold their handstand against the wall like this:

how-to-handstand-pushup

Though you should be able to hold the handstand like this:

how-to-handstand-pushup

Note that my stomach is turned in and I have a slightly hollow body position. This is the position you work within the actual handstand push up. Your core is activated. If you are struggling with this, try it on the floor first.

Lay on your back on the floor and fully stretch yourself out. Now lift up your feet a little together with your arms. Flex your stomach slightly so you press your lower back in the ground. This is the position you should be able to hold properly. It looks like this:

how-to-handstand-pushup

If you are able to hold yourself the right way against the wall, try to fully extend your elbows for maximum muscle engagement. This way your shoulders get more work. You flex your shoulders in an isometric way (constantly flexed without the muscles getting any oxygen), which is the hardest form of contraction. A great way to start out.

You can do this exercise during the whole cycle. Even if you mastered the handstand push up, you can still practice this one. If you want to eventually do free handstand push ups you need the balance as well. So this is an essential exercise if you want to be able to balance yourself properly.

The next step in this regard would be to let your stomach face the wall. This way you force yourself in the slightly hollow position. Great for your nervous system to adjust the right muscle activation properly. When it comes to balance this is the part that is the most important. Letting your brain get used to the position you are in. Activating the right muscles at the right time. This is gained through repetition. Exercise this a lot and you will pick the fruits I promise you.

More on the free handstand in another article.

  1. Pike push ups on ground

This variant you are changing your angle so you have more shoulder engagement which is what you want. It looks like this:

how-to-handstand-pushup

how-to-handstand-pushup

Aim for 6 – 10 reps before progression to the next one.

  1. Elevated feet push ups

You can play with the height of this one. I recommend you aim for 1 meter in height. The higher you put your feet, the more shoulder and upper chest engagement you have. Aim for 6 – 10 repetitions before moving to the next one.

how-to-handstand-pushup

  1. Pike push up, elevated feet

Now it becomes more fun. This is starting to look like an actual handstand push up, but with less weight. You basically are not lifting the weight of your legs this time. Great exercise to activate and train the right muscles. Also, aim for 6 – 10 reps.

Put your elbows more inwards instead of outwards. As this is the way you will be performing your handstand push up in the later stage.

how-to-handstand-pushup

how-to-handstand-pushup

  1. Handstand push-up, negatives

Now you are going to do some negative handstand push ups. Try to go down in 6 seconds and put your feet back on the ground. Kick yourself back up and go again. build this up until you can do 8 negative repetitions for 3 reps.

how-to-handstand-pushup

  1. Handstand push-ups

Now it’s time to try the actual handstand push ups, on the ground first. This means you cannot go full range of motion yet, but this part is essential in order for you to go full range of motion.

Put your back against the wall, straighten your legs and keep them next to each other. I recommend taking off your shoes and find a wall you can slide your feet up and down easily. This is much more comfortable then putting 1 foot up the wall and bouncing back and forth.

Build it up until you can do 3 sets of 6 – 10 repetitions.

how-to-handstand-pushup

  1. Full range handstand push ups (parallel bars or blocks)

Now you are going to grab parallel bars or blocks so you can dip yourself further than on the ground (see picture). This is the hardest variant. If you can’t fully do this one yet, go 1 step back and try that with ankle weights.

how-to-handstand-pushup

If that still doesn’t work go and do this exercise with negatives for 6 reps. If you master this one, you will have some serious shoulder mass going on and look masculine and powerful.

Give it some time for each stage to fully build your handstand. If you have access to a gym you can make use of some supporting exercises like the lateral raise. If you plateau, the standing shoulder press works the same muscles as the handstand push up. Though with the handstand push up your core is differently involved. But you can try that one as an alternative if you have a sticking point.

So in summary, these are the stages from ultimate beginner to advanced:

1. Push ups – different variants (regular and diamond push up)
2. Handstand against the wall
3. Pike push ups on ground
4. Elevated feet push ups
5. Pike push up, elevated feet
6. Handstand push-ups, negatives
7. Handstand push-ups
8. Full range handstand push-ups


If you want to have the master level of the handstand push up you should be able to do 15 full range handstand push ups.

Remember to always warm up your wrists in the beginning. And the stage 2 I recommend doing after you are done with your main exercise.

Hope this guide helped you out and you start seeing some results quickly.

If you have any questions or you feel something is missing, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you soon.

Cheers,

Maurice
Founder of Masters Of Bodyweight

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The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need On Core Strengthening Exercises: Back Pain Killer

Are you struggling with back pain from time to time? Maybe with radiation, maybe without. It could radiate from your lower back to your glutes or in your legs.

Or maybe you just want to build up a strong core to do great exercises. After all the core is the foundation of everything. In this guide I will show you the perfect core strengthening exercises – back pain will be history soon.

You might be feeling:Core Strengthening Exercises Back Pain

  • A stiff back
  • Soreness lower back region
  • Burning/annoying pain that never really goes away
  • Pain that sometime is worse than other times and you don’t know why

If that is you, most likely you have a weak core. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have weak abdominals. Your core is more than that.

You core exists out of:

  • Lower back
  • Abdominals (Rectus abdominus and your oblique’s)
  • Glute muscles
  • Intrinsic muscles that stabilize your spine (transverse abdominus and multifidus)

The last one is often overlooked. Maybe you have never heard of them before. Though these are the most important muscles you need to activate in order to get rid of your back pain. This guide will discuss how to activate the muscles the right way and give you core strengthening exercises for back pain. This is what I use most in my practice as a physiotherapist. Both with the world top of sports and regular people struggling with back pain. It’s the exact same phenomenon in both categories. How crazy is that.


You might think that people who practice sport on the highest level have an iron core. Though this is a big illusion and not true. If I train a new team on rugby for example we often test them on specific exercises like the squat, deadlift, plank, bridge etc. Basic exercises but enough for us to see where their weak links are.

Most of the time, nearly in every player the core is the weakest link. It’s crazy. After training it for 4-6 weeks they see instant gains in the gym and in their sport. Basically you ‘level up’. Only because of your core. Your foundation. 

So you want to feel pain free again or you just want an iron core. You need a basic structure. A foundation to build upon.

Imagine building a house. If the ground on which the house is build is not completely straight but crooked but you do build the house on it anyway, that’s not going to be good. Imagine what happens over time. Same goes with your core. You need the right muscle activation to stabilize your back. I’m referring to your internal core muscles (transverse abdominus and multifidus). Then you need them to work together with the outer muscles, like the lower back (quadratus lumborum and the erector spinae), obliques and rectus abdominus (abdominals).

When the foundation is solid (inner core muscles), you can safely build up your core and it will last. The back pain will be gone and you significantly decrease your chances of getting back pain soon again.

What often happens if you have back pain because your outer muscles take over the function of your intrinsic muscles. Because the intrinsic muscles are not activated properly and lack strength, the outer muscles take over. Now why is this a problem?

The intrinsic muscles have a much higher endurance than your outer muscles
and are basically build to stabilizer core-strengthening-exercises-back-painyour spine. Your spine NEEDS stabilization. So if the intrinsic muscles do not work properly, as smart as your body is, it will find out another way. It does this by letting the outer muscles stabilize your spine. Now the outer muscles are built for movement. Of course they have a secondary function of stabilizing your spine, but mostly they are their so you can do movements, like bending and extending your back.

When these muscles take over the function of the intrinsic muscles, they fatigue very quickly because they are not built to stabilizer your spine. They do not have an endurance like the intrinsic muscles. So they get overused. You see the problem here? This causes pain and you enter a vicious circle.

The Solution


 If you don’t have back pain and you just want a good core, the same principles apply. If you master this, you are ahead of 98% of the competition, guaranteed. Just look around in your gym where they do exercises that involves your core (which is basically all movements). They lack the proper core strength and proper muscle activation and sooner or later they are going to snap something up but they don’t know why. The sad thing is they could have prevented it.

So what are the advantages of a good, solid core:

  • Rarely experience back pain ever again
  • Get instantly stronger in most exercises
  • Get solid six pack abs (if you have low body fat)

Basically safe yourself a huge load of trouble and at the same time gain huge benefits. Win-win is what we call this. It only costs a little bit of effort. But if you ask me it’s more than worth it.

Let’s get into the exercises.

The Core Strengthening Exercises: Back Pain Killer and Iron Core Builder


An easy test to see if you have some activation at all is the pelvic tilt. This means the ability to tilt your pelvic forward and backward (which primarily is done by the inner core muscles).

Lay on the floor or on a mat and see if you can flatten your lower back flat to the ground by compressing your abdominals slightly, like the following picture:

Core Strengthening-Exercises-Back-Pain

Try to slide your hand underneath your lower back. This must NOT be possible. If you can somehow slide your hand underneath your back, you know you are not activating the proper core muscles and so there is no proper core activation like the following picture:

Core Strengthening-Exercises-Back-Pain

My hand is able to slide underneath and as you can see I have an arch in my lower back.
Note: Most people can’t do this simple exercise. Consequences are mentioned above.

So now you know how the pelvic tilt works it’s time to put it into practice.

The Exercises


  • Back extension (not like you know it, see detailed description below)
  • Seated row (adjusted as well)
  • Side ab machine (adjusted as well)
  • Dumbbell side bends
  • Ab crunches on bosu with ball (see detailed description)

This is the magic formula for most of my patients that suffer from back pain. If you understand these exercises and you do them consistently for about 4 – 6 weeks, you will notice a huge difference.

The exercises the way I’m going to explain them to you allow you to gain back control over your intrinsic core muscles and let them work together with your outer muscles. This is what you want. Your central nervous system needs to adjust to this pattern and this takes some time. Also because this is strength training, it takes at least 4 weeks before you notice a significant difference.
Generally, before the first effects of strength training kick in is after about 4 weeks.

  1. Back extension

You are going to perform this exercise not the way you know it. You probably are used to just bouncing back and forth. Though not this time.

Start out in the basic beginning position with your hands crossed across your shoulders:

core-strengthening-exercises-back-pain

Now you start to slowly move down, but you start from the top of your vertebra (the neck), rolling vertebra after vertebra, all the way down to the last vertebra in your lower back. Start with your neck first, chin on your chest

core-strengthening-exercises-back-pain

Now your shoulders. Protract your shoulders (push them forward so you hollow your upper back)

core-strengthening-exercises-back-pain

Now pull your belly in and bend your lower back all the way down

core-strengthening-exercises-back-pain

Now you go back up and start at the lower back. Maintain the hollow position you are in and roll up vertebra after vertebra. Lower back first, pull your shoulders backward second and after that your neck. Don’t over extend your neck at the end but go back to a neutral position.

Try to build up to 3 sets of 12 repetitions. Control the exercise. Don’t let it control you. That means do it slowly.

  1. Seated Row

You are going to not focus on the weight that’s on it but instead focus on your posture. Sit up as straight as you can with a natural spine position. For your feeling you must over- exaggerate. This will feel weird at first because you are not used to it.

Now throughout the movement you maintain this position without moving forward or backward. No change in position may occur. Pull the weight towards you and back again:

core-strengthening-exercises-back-pain

core-strengthening-exercises-back-pain

3 sets of 12 repetitions. Don’t set the weight too low, but set it at a weight so you can maintain a steady core and so there is no need to compensate by getting momentum from your lower back.

  1. Side Abdominal Machine

On this one you are going to sit up straight just like the back row machine. It’s easy to slack with this exercise, the majority of people do this. Though it is essential with this exercise to keep your posture straight, don’t be afraid to slightly exaggerate for your feeling. You will get used to this.

With this exercise you target mainly your oblique’s (side abs). By having a straight posture during the whole exercise you force your central nervous system to let your oblique’s and intrinsic muscles work together. Which is what you want. 3 sets of 12 reps each side. Don’t grab a weight that’s too heavy. This is not about strength, it’s about the right muscle activation.

core-strengthening-exercises-back-pain

  1. Dumbbell Side Bends

Grab a weight not too heavy, stand up straight. Ideally in front of a mirror so you can see your performance and do it the right way. Then hold the weight in your right arm first and bend the right way. Do not ben your shoulder slightly forward or backward. This causes a rotation in your lower back which is not what you want. Let the dumbbell move down your leg up until the height of your knee approximately.

Move back up straight and repeat both sides 12 x for 3 sets.

core-strengthening-exercises-back-pain

core-strengthening-exercises-back-pain

  1. Ab Crunches on bosu with ball

Grab a ball or a bosu ball and lay on it with your lower back.

Throw the ball in a trampoline or to someone else helping you, and catch it above your head. Go backward and all the way until you almost touch the ground. Almost, but not fully. This is a great exercise for isolating your abdominals.

core-strengthening-exercises-back-pain

core-strengthening-exercises-back-pain

Try playing with the weight of the ball you throw and ideally aim for 15 repetitions for 3 sets.

If you don’t have access to a trampoline or you can’t do it with someone else, you can throw it against the wall and catch it or hold the ball and go back and forth.


This is the beginning routine I 90% of the time use as a physiotherapist and it truly works magic. These complaints are very common and often times a weak core is a huge part of the problem. If you master this, let’s say after about 6 weeks, you should be experiencing some great results.

Also if you want to use this as a sports person this is an absolute must to master before expanding to harder exercises. If you are into the body weight training a good core is essential. Especially if you want to pump out some dragon flies, if you want to master the planche, human flag, back lever, basically all exercises. Your core is the foundation you build upon. So get this right and I promise you, you will be ahead of 99% of the competition.

Hope this article helped you out and you start putting it into practice.

Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Also if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask and I will get back to you very soon.

Cheers,

Maurice
Founder of Masters Of Bodyweight

The 8 Powerful Benefits: Skipping Breakfast to Lose Weight Fast

There’s a lot of controversy going around nowadays whether to eat breakfast or not eat breakfast. The classic way to lose weight is to eat frequently, 6-7 times a day of which breakfast is the biggest meal. In my eyes this is completely bogus and in fact, it is a debunked myth.

I am going to show you the benefits of skipping breakfast and why you should do it too. If you are struggling to lose weight this is the best method for you, hands down.

Now I am not saying that eating breakfast is wrong. Of course not. It’s not that easy. There are different kinds of people and everybody is different. This may sound cliché to you, but it is the hard truth. If you have been struggling to lose weight quite a while now and you just can’t succeed. You may be hungry all the time and your energy is drained.

You might want to try this strategy with the benefits of skipping breakfast in the back of your mind.

Science In Skipping Breakfast


You probably heard that skipping breakfast causes you to gain weight for several reasons. In a study they state that skipping breakfast is better to lose weight than not skipping breakfast. And instead that skipping breakfast causes you to gain weight because of bad eating habits that are correlated with it.

According to the US guidelines you should also eat a nutrient rich breakfast, because it has been associated with overweight if you skip it. While consuming breakfast has been correlated with weight loss and maintenance of weight.

However, a recent study last summer shows the controversy that skipping breakfast does not causes you to gain weight at all. In fact, skipping breakfast daily for 4 weeks leads to a reduction in body weight.

This study shows why eating breakfast is not as important as you have been told. Because breakfast eaters tend to move around more during the day they tend to burn more calories. But they also seem to eat those calories every day.

More and more it starts to look like that science shows: breakfast may just be another meal.

So let’s dive into the benefits of skipping breakfast.


Science Aside, What Does The Practice Give Youbenefits-skipping-breakfast

Now I truly believe that breakfast is highly overrated. If you take a look at how we evolved, this will give you a clear vision of why I think that way. 1000’s of years ago we did not have food when we wanted it. We had to hunt for our food and usually ate big meals in the evening. There was no luxury such as breakfast.

In fact, breakfast is a relatively recent phenomenon. In my opinion it is the cause of the food industry wanting to increase their profits.

Skipping breakfast allows you to eat big satisfying meals so you can feel full on a diet. Eating chocolate, fries, pizza or even drink alcohol is actually possible this way, while still losing weight. You enjoy your lifestyle which is what it is all about. The weight needs to stay off. You need to enjoy your diet and not suffer from it.


Personal Results

I’ve been skipping breakfast for over 5 years now and it’s the best choice I’ve ever made. The first time I effortlessly reached single digit body fat was because of this. A diet should not be a diet but a lifestyle. With this principle in mind, it can actually be your lifestyle. A lifestyle so you can also enjoy and not eat rice, broccoli and dry chicken every day and only small teasing meals in between.

When you skip breakfast you are allowed to eat huge meals which satisfy you. Let’s get into it.

By the way. This is the result of skipping breakfast:benefits-skipping-breakfast

The first time in my life I saw my abs


The Benefits of Skipping Breakfast

  1. Growth Hormone Goes Up

When you skip breakfast your growth hormone increases drastically. Why is this beneficial to you? Because it puts your metabolism in a fat burning mode while saving up muscle protein.

  1. Norepinephrine increase

This causes a boost in metabolism and a mental alertness. Drink coffee with this and you will experience a great sharpness and mental alertness.

  1. Insulin sensitivity increase

This is perfect if you want to gain muscle of maintain the muscle you have gained and effectively lose weight. Because your insulin sensitivity improves, your body can safe carbs more effectively into your muscles and away from fat cells, which is what you want.

You should know that cortisol and insulin go together. When you wake up in the morning cortisol levels are very high (stress hormone). If you eat during this time (breakfast), you are likely to trigger hunger right after your meal. It’s much harder to control your cravings.

If you skip breakfast however (ideally eat 4-5 hours after you woke up)

  1. Trigger sympathetic nervous system

The sympathetic nervous system keeps you alert, focused and energetic. It also suppresses hunger because you are in an alert state. Obviously you can’t be in this state for too long but you won’t.

  1. Eat HUGE meals

By having only to eat 2 – 3 meals a day, starting with your lunch, you have a huge buffer to eat. You are able to eat until satisfaction. Now in my honest opinion and experience this is one of the biggest deals when cutting down to a low body fat percentage. Incorporate some of the foods that you love. It’s such nonsense to only eat broccoli, rice and chicken. Have some potatoes if you like. Have some ketchup or mayonnaise. Don’t stress out about your calories too much. Just aim for the ball park and you will be fine I promise you this.

Example meal when I was really hungry. Still being in a caloric deficit.

  1. No stress about your diet

This often plays a huge role when dieting down to a low body fat percentage. Being stressed out about your diet has an impact in your social life. I remember the times I cancelled diners and night outs because I didn’t want to drink or eating out did not fit in my eating window. What a pain that was.

  1. Eating the foods you lovebenefits-skipping-breakfast

Like mentioned a couple of times in this article already, you are actually able to eat the foods you love. Say you have to eat 2000 calories to lose weight (maintenance is about 2500). If you divide this up in 2 meals (which I recommend if you want to get ripped effortlessly), you have 1000 calories per meal.

BUT play it smart and it even becomes easier. I usually eat my first meal around 2 o’clock if I’m trimming of some fat. This meal is around 600 calories, full of protein and some carbs, which fills me up. Then I have some fruit in between and my last meal around 7-8pm, which consists of 1400 calories! That’s a big pizza.

Now, I’m not promoting bad foods. Not at all. I’m saying that you have the room for some bad foods every once in a while. When you are constantly dieting you sometimes have cravings, this is reality. When you look at it from this perspective and you use this structure you can control those cravings and put them to use. You can still lose weight when you have hard times.

  1. Cleanse yourself

One of the first things I experienced when I skipped breakfast was that my acne fully disappeared after 2 weeks! I had pretty bad acne at first and tried a lot of stuff to get rid of it. Funny enough, skipping breakfast was all it took. It showed me the power of the body cleanse. You see we are almost constantly digesting food, a huge amount of the day.

When you give your body some room to do a bit more work on cleansing and getting rid of waste in your body, you will see the results. You might experience a headache the first weeks or be a bit nauseous. This is because your body is getting rid of the waste that has been in your body for a while.


These are some of the benefits of skipping breakfast. As you can see they are quite powerful. In fact, this was gold for me and took me many years to finally find out.

The way your body works is different though. So check out what your best timeframes are and how frequently you should eat. Though keep in mind that your body needs to adjust first. Don’t expect to change overnight. Get used to the patterns first.

Show some dedication and you will be alright. If you are serious about this stuff, set a timeframe. Like 3 weeks to experiment with this. Slowly add up the hours you are not eating. Start with one hour after waking up. Then build out to 2, and so forth.

Hope this helped you out. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to leave them below and I’ll get back to you.

Talk to you soon,

Maurice
Founder of Masters Of Bodyweight

Change Eating Habits To Lose Weight In 4 Simple Steps

Weight loss is not achieved by a quick fix like something that’s called a diet.change eating habits to lose weight
It should become your way of life.

Change your eating habits to lose weight by doing the same thing at the same time every single day for a month.

Let’s learn how to make it so that you automatically start eating in a way to lose weight, so that you improve your health, improve your energy, be more confident and become more attractive automatically, and set up your life so you don’t get distracted by all the unhealthy foods and habits which keeps you from losing weight.

The best way to make sure you will change your eating habits to lose weight is to create a new routine. To make it habitual, so you don’t have to think about it. This should be your number 1 priority if you want to keep your weight off.

You want to just wake up every day and eat in a way that makes you lose weight with the least amount of effort possible.

Now as it turns out, we already are doing the same things at the same time every day anyway. We’re already creatures of habit. The trick is to figure out how to do what you want to do instead of what you just picked up along the way and now you can’t stop yourself from doing.

It takes 30 days to create a new habit. This means that in order to change one you actually have to focus on it every day for 30 days. After 30 days it’s all set and you just wake up and you do it automatically.

The Action Plan On How to Change Your Eating Habits


So here’s the action plan, the steps to creating a new habit so you can lose weight automatically every day so you can increase your health, improve your energy and feel more confident.

Step 1:
Choose a new habit that you’d like to create. For example: Stop drinking soda with sugar and change it to water, tea and coffee only.

Or eat at certain times a day: morning, lunch and dinner and allow yourself a fruit snack in between.

Step 2:
Set a time every day, ideally, first thing in your day to plan ahead and think about your food intake and exercise plan the next day.

Visualise at what times you are going to eat and do an exercise. Ideally, you know exactly what it is you are going to eat at what time the next day.

Step 3:Change Eating Habits To Lose Weight In 4 Simple Steps
Write down what you eat and how much you are guessing that is in the foods. Also, count the drinks. When you are uncertain, check it out on the internet.

Do this for 30 days and you will know exactly what you are getting in and how your body works. A really cool app that I like to use is called MyFitnessPal.

This literally has all the foods in the database you can think of and it’s free to use. You can track everything you do, how much you eat and check back for weeks to see your progression. Highly recommended.

Step 4:
Do your routine every day for 30 days in a row and it will be set for the long term.

Gradually add another thing, for example skipping breakfast. Why skip breakfast? Because this way you will lose weight much more efficiently and it will be a joy instead of a struggle.

Eat 2 – 3 big meals a day is what you want to aim for. Some strategic fruit snacking in between is the best way for you to lose weight almost effortlessly. More in this in another article.

In Summary


Now it’s time to act to get this into place in your life so you start doing what it takes to get the energy increase you want, become more healthy, feel more confident and become more attractive.

So take out a piece of paper and start writing what you need in specific detail. If you want to start exercising every day, write down how you are going to get ready, what you are going to wear, where you are going to exercise, what the routine is going to be.

Then, mentally visualize yourself doing your new habit, your new exercise routine, 3 times in your mind. Imagine it in your mind clearly until you can see the entire thing and you see what you have to put in place to get yourself to do it.

Next: put it in your calendar for the next 30 days. Put it in your computer, your phone and unplug them and turn them off at night so that when you wake up in the morning, if you by chance get pulled over to the computer or the phone, it reminds you to go and do your exercise first.

Feel free to leave a comment below and share your thoughts. What is it you struggle with most?

Talk to you soon,

 

Maurice
Founder of Masters Of Bodyweight

 

The Ultimate Diamond Push Up Benefits

A popular push up technique is the Diamond Push up. A popular technique for
several reasons.diamond-push-up-benefits It’s a harder variant of the push up exercise where technique plays an important factor for good execution and maximum benefits.

Some of the diamond push up benefits are strong triceps, strong chest, strong front part of your deltoids and also a variant that is often overlooked: A strong core.

As you can see the diamond push up benefits are quite awesome and it makes it an exercise definitely worth to master.

I can tell you this, most people perform the exercise the wrong way. The reason for this is often because of the core strength. A factor which plays a huge role in performing it the right way.

When you do this exercise the wrong way you will never get the absolute maximum from it. Most likely you are compensating another way, with muscle groups that are stronger than the one that should be performing the task. Your weak spots stay weak this way even though you think you are performing it the right way.

At a certain point you come across a sticking point and for some reason you can’t progress. Of course there are several factors that can be the cause for this problem. But as I’ve often seen in the practice with my patients, it’s pure technique.

The Ultimate Diamond Push Up Benefits


Once you have mastered the diamond push ups the correct way (which I will show you below), you will have some great benefits.

Your chest muscles will be strong. You are targeting your full chest. Your triceps will be strong and your front deltoids will be strong. Your nervous system will reprogram your body and mind to function better this way. Make these muscles work together which makes you instantly stronger, no muscle growth even required. The nervous system is very powerful and plays a huge role in strength training.

Also your core will be solid, you will be ahead of 99% of the people out there, guaranteed. And if that’s not enough, you will decrease the chances of injury to the lower back to the utmost. The most common injury in the lower back is because of a weak core. Master your core and man, you will pick the fruits.

A more detailed description of this below.




Diamond Push Up The Right Way To Optimize Benefits


  1. Push your chest out, shoulders backwards
    This is harder than it looks like. Most of us deal with weak shoulder blade muscles that makes retraction (pulling the shoulders backwards) hard. A common problem is the shoulders that hang forward. They are not centred the way they should be. This is because of weakness of the shoulder blade muscles and tension of the muscles on the front (chest, neck muscles, etc).
  2. Movement of the shoulder blades
    When you come down on the ground the shoulder blades need to come together, which makes the exercise harder. When you push yourself up the shoulder blades go out of each other. If you want to gain optimal results you can push yourself out even more. This makes the range of motion greater and you involve more of your shoulders and chest into the exercise.
  3. Perfect core position
    Now this one is where most people fail. Look around in the gym or wherever they perform such exercises and look really closely. You will notice almost everyone does this wrong and it’s a damn shame. Everybody thinks they are doing it right but they are not. Now I don’t want to be a form-nazi here but the core is so important because you can gain a whole lot of strength out of it. And of course it prevents you from back pain.

To see how you do it, make a little video of yourself if you are serious about your process and watch your core closely.

You are in need of the pelvic tilt and maintain a slight hollow body position that makes your body function as 1 piece so you get the maximum out of the exercise.

The following pictures show you what is meant by the pelvic tilt:

diamond-push-up-benefits

I should not be able to slide my hand underneath my back. If you are not able to flatten your back fully to the ground that means your core is too weak and it needs some training.

diamond-push-up-benefits

The correct way.

My hand is not able to slide underneath my back. I’m compressing my inner core muscles by pushing my lower back into the ground, to maintain a stable spine position which is essential. This way you will be stronger and prevent back injuries.

  1. Flex that ass
    It’s important to also flex your glutes. Most people are not able to do this. The glute muscles are a vital part of your core. Once mastered, you will have an iron core and kill it in the diamond push ups. Imagine you need to hold a piece of paper between the cheeks.
  2. Full Range Of Motion and Watch the elbows

Make sure the hand positions are underneath your chest and you are not leaning back like the picture below:

diamond-push-up-benefits

As you can see my hands are not fully underneath my chest. This is cheating and it makes the exercise easier.

Another common thing often seen in the diamond push up is leaning too much in with your core. You might be thinking you are doing it right but still lean in too much. This is what I mean:

diamond-push-up-benefits

As you can see this is another form of cheating and also hurting your vertebra in your lower back. So a big no.

The following picture shows you the correct way of the beginning position of the diamond push up to achieve maximum benefits:

diamond-push-up-benefits

Look closely at this picture and in specific to the core. If you watch closely you can see a slightly hollow position in the abs, but the back is flat. This is what I mean by the core exercises mentioned above. Master this and you will be ahead of 99% the people, I promise you. The core is something that is overlooked by so many people and you have such a great benefit mastering this. Not to mention the six pack abs that comes with it.

As you can see my hands are not fully underneath my chest. This is cheating and it makes the exercise easier. Another common thing often seen in the diamond push up is leaning too much in with your core. You might be thinking you are doing it right but still lean in too much. This is what I mean:

As you can see in the picture above: (checklist)




  • Glutes are flexed.
  • Core is solid, straight back.
  • Elbows 45 degrees outward (bit hard to see from this angle).
  • Hands underneath the chest
  • Chest is out and shoulders backward

If you master this exercise the right way, the ultimate diamond push up benefits will tremendous.
You will have:

  • Solid triceps strength.
  • Solid chest strength. Also great for the upper chest development
  • Solid front deltoid strength
  • Great core strength
  • No lower back pain
  • Overall a beautiful athletic body is what you will build. Balanced out by targeting the right muscle group with solid strength. The source code to building a great physique.

Your central nervous system will adapt to this pattern and it will become easier and easier every time you do it. You will learn you central nervous system to adjust and to make your body function as 1 whole. This will increase your strength greatly and prevent your lower back from injury.

I hope you enjoyed reading this guide and you will be putting it into practice. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, I will respond to you.

Talk to you soon,

Maurice
Founder of Masters Of Bodyweight

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The Official ‘How To Calisthenics’ Guide

In this ‘How To Calisthenics’ article I will explain the fundamentals of calisthenics.

When it comes to this type of training there is a lot of overwhelm and not much information out there available yet. If you are a beginner it is hard to know where you should start and what you should do. This ‘how to calisthenics’ article tries to clear things up for you regarding calisthenics and the fundamentals you need to know.

Let’s start with the basics

how-to-calisthenics

Definition


“Gymnastic exercises to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement”

The word calisthenics originate from the Latin words: ‘kallos’, which means ‘beauty’ and ‘sthenos’, which means ‘strength’.
Calisthenics is a form of physical training consisting of several exercises, which are often rhythmical movements. These movements are intended to increase body strength and flexibility using only one’s body weight for resistance.

The type of calisthenics done today is without a doubt the elite of gymnastics. I have not yet heard of another athlete that is stronger, more agile, more flexible, more powerful, or more mobile than these. The interesting thing about gymnastics is that their strength can almost be seen as a by- product because they normally only train for their event or discipline and not for the sake of being strong as heck.

Most gymnast train hours and hours a week which is not for the person who just wants to be able to perform a front lever, handstand push ups or a planche. So in order to understand how to calisthenics some knowledge of gymnastics is required.

The Most Important Fundamentals


When I say the word ‘basics’ I am talking about your body. Your body has got different building blocks programmed inside that can be used to achieve greatthings. What is meant by this can be explained by a simple example:

When you watch a video on YouTube about gymnastics or calisthenics you often see a type of movement that combines strength with other elements, like balance and flexibility for example. If we take a look at a handstand push up, you need the right type of elements in your body in order to perform this movement.
You would need to:

1. Maintain the position you are in
2. Push yourself up and down
3. Balance on your hands
4. Know where your body is in space (proprioception is what we call this)
5. The right amount of mobility in your shoulders
6. The proper activation of your core muscles.

how-to-calisthenics

Why am I showing you this example? This is because the Fundamental Motor Principles are a must for you to understand in order to differentiate yourself from the crowd. When you understand these principles, calisthenics is much easier to learn and you know why you do certain exercises. You will progress faster this way and prevent injuries.

The Fundamental Motor Principles are 5 physiological elements that are there to help you perform in a certain sport. In a nutshell they contain:

  • Strength:
    With strength is meant ‘muscle strength’. Within a body there are several forms of muscle strength. For example maximal strength, explosive strength and strength endurance.
  • Speed
    Speed in this regard is meant as the speed of movement of a joint. Obviously this one works together with strength very closely but also how fast the body performs a certain chain movement.
  • Endurance:
    Anaerobe (intensive but short efforts like a sprint or lifting weights up until a certain point of repetitions) or aerobe (effort that lasts longer than 2-3 minutes)
  • Mobility:
    Obviously how limber you are, but also the range of motion of your joints. If there is a limitation on the range of motion of your joints it will influence the way you exercise a certain sports. In gymnastics this is very important.
  • Coordination:
    Fine tuning of your motor units of the muscles. These are different fibres in your muscles that are being controlled by nerves. By doing a movement over and over again, the body learns better and better what muscle fibres to activate. So a certain movement becomes easier the more you repeat).

To answer the question: ‘How To Calisthenics’ really quick:
Nearly all movements there are in calisthenics, especially the highly advanced ones, learn the body to work as a complete unit (the above principles mentioned working together).

Take the planche as an example, you require all of the muscles in your body to act as one, with maximal tension required to perform the movement. If you compare this with a bicep curl or a bench press you can instantly see the difference. There is much more skill and complexity involved within the planche movement.

As you can see, you need to become a master of combining the 5 fundamentals mentioned above. It is truly an art form and it’s really fun to do if you do it the right way.

how-to-calisthenics

4 Unique Aspects You Need In Calisthenics


1. A great emphasis lies on straight- arm strength which is exactly what it sounds like.
Strength with your elbows fully locked out. This puts a huge strain on yourhow-to-calisthenics elbows and all the tissue it surrounds. This makes it very injury sensitive. When you take a look at gymnast what is usually the first thing you notice? What freakishly huge biceps they have. Do you think this is caused by bicep curls? No way. Straight- arm strength all the way. The tension on the lengthened muscle (biceps) makes it increase in size and strength drastically and also makes many of the more advanced calisthenics and gymnastic movements possible.

You focus a lot on straight arm strength if you want to differentiate. Calisthenics is street style type of workout and they don’t perform the movements as neatly as gymnasts do. However, this does not mean they do not have straight arm strength.

2. The second aspect is that the hands are involved in almost every movement that there is. This is a contrast to bodybuilding and other weighted forms of exercise

3. The core is in my opinion the most critical aspect in whole calisthenics. Sadly enough, in most people the core sucks. That is safe to say. When I went working with the world class of sports as a physiotherapist we used to test all teams that came for training and revalidation on core. It is safe to say that 90% of new teams that came in the most problematic part of their body was their core.

Core training is not defined as simple sit ups like the media wants you to believe. You to properly activate your intrinsic muscles that stabilise your vertebrae and let them work together with the big global movers like your abdominals and bigger back muscles. These intrinsic muscles are skipped by 99% of the people. This is a huge cause of injury in the lower back. Once you develop a great core (like a gymnast) I can almost guarantee you will seldom experience back pain.

4. The shoulder blades. The shoulder blades?! you might ask.. The shoulder blades are the basic of real upper body strength. The ability of a person to stabilise and control your shoulder blades. As with calisthenics and gymnastics you need become a master of the 4 movements that your shoulder blades are capable of doing: depression (shoulders sink down), elevation (elevating your shoulders), protraction (rounding your upper back and push your spine and shoulder blades apart) and retraction (puff out your chest and pull your shoulders back).

When the muscles around your shoulder blades are well developed, any strength in your upper body will be able to be transferred with way better efficiency. Next to core, this is the most important one, but least understood by many.

How To Get Started?


Start calisthenics with the basics. A lot of people want to attempt the advanced body weight movements right away because they are really cool. This obviously does not work. Progressive overload is the key, just like in weightlifting. When you are new to the gym you don’t start bench pressing 300 pounds right away. You start by the basics and by getting used to the machines first. Get your posture right. Basically get familiar with it.
You need the right building blocks and get a solid foundation. Compare it with a house. If the foundation of a house is all mud and water and you build up a beautiful house on it, it will eventually collapse.

Get strong at these exercises firsthow-to-calisthenics
– Leg raises
– Pull ups
– Dips
– Push ups
– Hollow body position
– Jack knives

 

Notes:
When you first start out it is utterly important you focus on the right posture, mainly with the core exercises. Hollow body position is a basic gymnastic exercise where they train to activate the intrinsic abdominal muscles to stabilise the spine. This is the way you DON’T get an injured lower back.

When lying on your back on the ground or on a mat, focus on pushing your lower back down to the ground so that it flattens with the floor (pulling your belly button inwards). This is a little movement and there is not much strength required, but coordination instead. A proper activation of the right muscle group.

Once you can hold this for 10 seconds you lift up your slightly from the ground. You will notice the change in resistance in your abdominal area. If you want to test if your back is still flat on the ground, try getting your hands underneath your lower back. This should NOT work because your back should be flat with the ground. If you do manage to slide your hands under your lower back, go back to the basics.

Once you master this one you can lift your hands above your head and straighten them all the way like a handstand. This way you will experience even more resistance in your core. Try to hold this one for 20 seconds.

Your Diet


Your diet is very important if you want to be successful in calisthenics. The less fat you have on your body, the better you are in performing bodyweight movements. Excess fat is completely useless and serves no purpose. A big plus is it looks really good when you are at single digit body fat. To understand the diet and how you should eat, see the diet section.

Rest and Recovery


This is more important than you think. Calisthenics is a very injury sensitive sport and therefor you should take it easy in the beginning and rest properly in order to fully recover. You tendons and ligaments will endure a lot of stress and need to get stronger as well. The blood flow in these tissues is very low so recovery is huge. A common injury is tendonitis. This is an inflammation of a tendon and often called an overuse injury.

Your body gets fitter and stronger in the intervals between the training session, not during the training. Your body is an adaptive organism. Given enough chance it will recover from almost anything.

 

About Me

Hey, my name is Maurice and I’ve been into Weight Training, Calisthenics and Gymnastics for over 8 years now. I’m a physiotherapist and personal trainer and have worked with the world class of sports.

The reason I created this site is to help people like you becoming a master in bodyweight training, stay at single digit body fat year round while still being able to enjoy life to the fullest.

I am going to share my personal experience with you and what I have discovered over the years through my own “trial and error” experiences.

I also ask that if I ever say anything that captures your interest, that you get involved within my site. I love to talk
about bodyweight training/calisthenics, dieting and health.
If you have any interesting that you want to share or any opinions of any content I have created on my site, please do speak up. I love feedback in every form.

masters-of-bodyweight-about-me

So now to me and my journey to success..

It all started out as a young guy wanted to look good in the gym. I started working out when I was 16 years old. I experimented a  lot with different diets but nothing really ever sticked. They were all doomed to fail and I didn’t really have a lot of success at the time. When I was 18 I decided to take things more seriously. I started structural training more and said to myself: Whatever it takes, I’m going to get into single digit body fat while being strong as heck. I went dieting for 14 weeks straight and finally achieved my goal: 7% body fat. Though this was more disappointing than I had hoped. I was constantly craving for foods, felt depressed and I was not enjoying life. I was litterally in a crisis at the time. I didn’t know what to do because I wanted to maintain single digit body fat so bad, I couldn’t let go. Especially because I thought I would be happy once I got there..

Eventually I had to let go because it was not sustainable anymore. I gained back the weight big time in a matter of 1 – 2 weeks. It felt horrible. I worked so hard and it all failed at the end. One thing was for sure: I would never go through such an experience again.

Lost All Motivation


After that I decided to train for pure strength and keep my body fat around 10% which I found quite easy to maintain. Back then I found a program that suited me. I really believe in the minimalistic approach. Minimalistic is not negative. It’s very effective and the holy grail of fitness in my opinion. Why do I find this? I have tried everything, 7 days a week (sometimes 2 times per day), 6 times, 5 times, you name it. Eventually I went 3 times per week and my strength gains went through the roof. Every training I could ad a little more to the bar and progressed constantly. Up until the point I was ‘satisfied’ (and injured).

At that point, I had no motivation anymore. I had no goals.. I achieved my lowest body fat level possible and I’ve gained the strength I wanted. I did not know what to do. And above all, I could not go through that struggle again to maintain single digit body fat.

The Switch To Bodyweight Training


Going through life and still consistently going to the gym, I stumbled across this calisthenics thing. I saw a video on YouTube and I was hooked. It looked so damn cool. As a kid I always thought of Gymnasts as super humans. Only the cool kids could do gymnastics is what I always thought. When I saw that video, the little kid in me got hope. Doing some research and watching more videos I had the believe that this was actually possible.. I could also do this! The goals I had achieved in the gym made me believe anything was possible. So I slowly switched to calisthenics. I combined it with the weights, because I was afraid to lose muscle mass.

I started training properly again and experimenting a lot with bodyweight training. The problem was, after 1.5 years of training progression was so incredibly slow. There was no real guide for me that showed me where to start and what the proper progressions were of each movement. This really demotivated me.

World Class Of Sports


At the time I went to South Africa working as a physiotherapist. I went with a friend to work with the world class of sports. We worked with teams like the South African Sprinkbok Sevens, The Britisch Athletes, The Dutch Hockey Team and olympic gymnasts.

Since I went to South Africa with a friend who practices gymnastic and who could easily maintain single digit body fat year round, I decided what the heck.. I am going to train with you. During my time there I went with him to train gymnastics at a competitive club. We trained 4 times per week. One training lasted 3.5 hours and it was killing me at first, I litterally puked the first couple of times.. But I did continue. A couple weeks in, I noticed it went easier. The stretching was still hell though, not to mention the injuries that I went through because of the adaptation of my body.. but I noticed progression. I really started to enjoy gymnastics and it went pretty well.

My outlook on the training completely changed. A whole new world went open for me.

After 2 years of gymnastics I got really busy with work. Working full time as a physiotherapist and having my personal training in the meanwhile for fun, I had no time anymore to practice 3.5 hours a day, 4 times per week. I decided to continue the gym again and keep maintaining and progressing the strength exercises and flexibility I obtained during my gymnastic period.

There was one criteria for me though: Enjoy the process and be smart about it through what I have learned.

Now I’m progressing faster than I’ve ever done before. Combining the science I’ve learned in the gym with the things I learned about gymnastics, is gold. I read a lot of books that keep giving me great insights within the training realm, dieting and health. Especially all the tips I’ve received from the top gymnastic athletes are extremely valuable and helped me out big time.

I finally achieved my goals:
Maintain single digit body fat year round while still enjoying life and progress in the hardest bodyweight movements.
masters-of-bodyweight-aboutme

 

This means I still drink alcohol, eat foods I love and only train 3 times a week while progressing faster than I have ever done. Inever knew this was possible. Especially when I think back at the time I went to single digit body fat for the first time and how much effort it took me to get there.. I could never have dreamed of these results.

I figured it is time to give something back to the community. Since I love to help people that are going through the same struggle as I went through. The obsession with the gym these days I find totally unnecessary and delusional. If you think it will bring you happiness once you achieve your goals, you are dead wrong. The path itself should bring you happiness and the journey on it’s own should bring you great joy. That is what I believe in and stand for. I have experienced both sides of the spectrum and I will choose this side every single time.

masters-of-bodyweight-about-meIf you ever need feedback or support regarding your training, dieting or health, I would be more than happy to connect. Leave your comment below and make sure to visit my site regularly as I am always updating it with new relevant content to help you progress and achieve your goals.
I wish you all the best and thank you for taking the time reading about my personal life.

Cheers,

Maurice
Founder of Masters Of Bodyweight