As I let you guys know in the last email I went to the LA Ftiness Expo last weekend and got to meet some cool athletes in the calisthenics community like the whole THENX Crew, Demi Bagby and Nonny Nonemacher.
2 of my friends whom I workout with competed in battle of the bars so it was great to see them give it their all in the bars. You cans see some of the battle here:
Now I never realized how small the calisthenics community is and some of you might not even be aware of it.
Groups like barstarzz and bar brothers have given it popularity but it’s still not that big.
Ive gotten more involved in this sport in the last 5 months and I will continue to share tips on how to achieve skills such as the muscle up, handstand, lever and other skills.
My friend asked me yesterday how do I get started in calisthenics so I wanna share 5 tips that I knew when I started calisthenics:
5 Tips When Starting Calisthenics
#1) Master the basics: Pull ups, push ups, lunges, planks, dragon flags, dips, etc. All these are the basic exercises which more advanced skills like levers, muscle ups and human flags are built upon.
So master those exercises, do them with good form and build up your base of strength so when you attempt a muscle up it is a lot easier to progress knowing how to do 10+ pull ups vs barely being able to get 5 pull ups and kip your way up the bar and be prone to injury.
#2) Find a calisthenics group: I started making really big progress once I started working out with other guys who were more advanced than me. They always encouraged me to push myself more and to try the progressions that helped them achieve skills such as handstands and muscle ups.
#3) Define your goals: Define if you wanna build muscle, gain strength or get better at a specific skill.
==> If you wanna build muscle doing slow and controlled reps for 4 sets of 8-12 its a good rep range. Once you can do more reps than 12 start doing weighted body weight exercises. It’s simple but this works the best to build muscle since you wanna keep your muscles under more tension to induce growth.
==> For strength it is all about training your nervous system. Doing 4 sets of 1-5 reps of weighted reps will help you build up explosive strength. You can do this with pull ups, dips, push ups or any exercise: Grab a weight that you can only rep out of 5 reps max and try to explode up on every rep.
==> Plyometrics are also fantastic for building strength: Work on doing clapping push ups, pull ups and even dips. The first progression would be to learn to let go of the bar or ground and then catch again. You only need low reps for this too – 3-5 reps since you wanna be exploding with as much force as possible.
#4) Focus on mastering one skill at a time: If you want learn how to muscle up, handstand and back lever all at the same time it is possible but it will take a lot of hours of training. If you are limited on time I would suggest picking one skill and working on the progressions for it everytime you workout. If you wanna get good at handstands at the beginning of your training sessions practice frog stands, headstands, wall assisted handstand holds and free standing handstands.
Focus on one skill and you will make faster progress vs trying to learn everything at once.
#5) Learn Retraction, Protraction, Depression & Elevation: So this is the big one! For exercises such as the planche you need to learn how to protract & depress your scapula. This is very fatiguing if you are not used to it.
For handstands you need to learn how to both protract and retract while upside down as well as elevate your scapula for proper alignment.
This is a good video to get more aware of these planes of motion:
Try them out while doing an L-sit on the floor or parellets/dip bars so you get an idea of what is your weakest area.
Once you learn to be more aware and in control of how your shoulder blades move you will have better alignment when executing any calisthenic exercise.
That’s it for today, I think I gave you too much info and it might be tough to process it all at once, specially #5 so take your time and really think about your goals.
Feel free to reply to this email if you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.
Core Exercises You Probably Aren’t Doing 4 Stronger Abs:
#1: Furniture Slider Push Up Walks: These are killer for your core & you don’t have to do them weighted like I did or do the push ups. You can simply walk with the furniture sliders for distance. If you don’t access to furniture sliders you can try to use towels on your feet or your socks if you are gonna do these on a wooden floor.
#2: Plank Pancake Stacking: Stack up a bunch of plates and switch them from one side to your other one while holding the plank position the whole time. This one starts out easy but depending on how many plates you stack up the difficulty increases and you can also do them slower to make them harder. This one is great since it forces you to work on rotational strength and stability which is crucial for sports that require sprinting from any angle.
#3: Dragon Flag Negatives: This is the best core exercise to learn core control and if you are training to achieve skills such as levers and the planche this is the exercise that has the most carry over since you are forced to keep tension on your core, hips, and ankles at all times. When doing this exercise make sure your hips are up and your toes are pointed to keep your body in proper alignment at all times.
#4: Weighted Hollow Holds: On the video I used a 30 pound weight and it had me dying after 5 seconds of holding this hollow hold. If you have ever wanted a great low ab exercise this one is killer. Play around with the weight to make it hard or easier.
What all these exercises have in common is that: They work on core stability an strength.Training these exercises will have a lot of carry over to:
Improving your sport
Lifting more weight since you are able to keep your core engaged for longer and they
Also will make learning more advanced bodyweight skills like planche, handstands and levers a lot easier.
Pick one exercise and try it on your workout next time & let me know how it goes!
I am driving 7hrs tomorrow to visit a strength coach in Santa Cruz, CA in order to learn how to lift more weight without adding bulk & also to learn how to use hypnosis in your workouts to break PRs & burst trough training plateaus! It is going to be EPIC!
Can’t wait to share what I learn with you soon.
Today I wanna give you a “Freestyle Workout”
And if you have never “freestyled” then you are in for a big surprise since essentially you make up your own rules.
You can see the workout video here:
💀 Here is the Arms & Back Punisher Workout 💪
➖➖➖➖ Super-set #1
1A) Muscle Up Flow x 1
1B) Farmer Walks x 1
Repeat Super-set 4 times (with 1 min rest in between super-sets)
2A) Parallel Bar Freestyle (Dips) x1
2B)) Pull Up Side to Side Walks (explosive) x1
Repeat Super-set 3 times (with 1 min rest in between super-sets)
4) Handstand Push Ups x 1 Max set
You will want to “freestyle” with the muscle ups & dips (That’s why there is only 1 rep labelled)
All that means is is that you create a flow and do an exercise right after your muscle up.
Example: Muscle up to front lever or muscle up to straight bar dip.
You can add 1 or 3 exercises right after your muscle ups & create a “flow”
Modify everything at your level, if all you can do is 3 pull ups then freestyle that. You could do a pull up to a pull over or a pull up to an L-sit (there are no fixed rules)
➖➖➖➖ Give this workout a try or next time you do your workout; add a flow.
Pick one exercise like pull ups & do a flow/freestyle with that one exercise.
I guarantee this will be a fun & tough challenge that will only help you get stronger & build more muscle from the added time under tension.
Let me know how it goes and if you have any question feel free to reply to this email!
The muscle up is an explosive move & you wanna train your nervous system to be explosive on command. By adding weight you train your nervous system to generate more force when doing pull ups.
The explosive pull ups will also train your nervous system to generate more force and teach yourself how to catch the bar once you let go of it.
Next time you are at the gym do:
3 sets of weighted pull ups for 3 reps. (focus on on exploding really hard)
3 sets of 3-6 explosive pull ups (like I showed them on the video here)
Since you are training your nervous system you wanna keep the reps low and the weight/intensity high.
#2 – Bar Pull Over:
This move will help you get used to being on top of the bar and also teach you the proper mechanics you should have at the top of the muscle up. You can see my bar pull over tutorial here but I will talk more on how to do this exercise tomorrow 🙂
Next time you are at the gym do:
5-10 sets of 1 pull overs (Focus on going slow on the negative part of this exercise)
Once of top of the bar do 3-5 straight bar dips
#3 – Straight Bar Dips:
Straight bar dips are hard! The first time you do them you might barely be able to dip down a bit but over time you will expand your range of motion and be able to to go lower.
You can do these either at the top of bar after doing a pull over or find low parallel bars & practice there.
Next time you are at the gym do:
3 Sets of 5-8 Straight Bar Dips (Focus on quality not quantity; if all you can is 2 reps with good form then do sets of 2 reps)
Practice those exercises next time you workout & you will be a lot closer to getting a muscle up.
If you have any more questions feel free to reply to this email!
“For the longest I didn’t want to share this. I was afraid, ashamed and horrified about myself but the only thing that will set me free is the truth.”
Those pictures up there are of me.
From 2012 -> 2015 -> 2017 (In August)
I wanna share the story of how I went from skinny to fit to fat with you.
2 years ago (in 2015) I was fit. I had gained muscle from training hard and went from a skinny 140 pound kid to a strong 150 pounds in 2 years.
I was making regular youtube videos, sharing my workouts and all the things I was learning with you guys and that is how you found me.
Life was great back then. I had lots of time to train, create and learn but I wasn’t making a lot of money so I had to find a job.
I quickly got a job and that led into having 2 jobs. This was great and now I had a lot more cash that I could invest into my food, my education and gym memberships.
I joined a powerlifting gym at this point and my strength gains were increasing too fast.
I went from deadlifting 225 to hitting a one rep max of 405 in less than 3 months.
I felt on top of the world. I was making a lot of money and also getting stronger.
During this time some of my friends were really big into craft beer. I had never been into beer before but little by little after hanging out with them I started to really enjoy beer (specially stout and sour beers)
After a few months of hanging out with them I became obsessed with beer. Not because I liked to get drunk or feel buzzed but because there was so many styles of beer out there and I simply wanted to try them all. It was a new art form that I was excited to discover.
Eventually I got to the point where I was going out 3-4 times a week to drink and have fun at festivals and breweries. I had a lot of fun but this new passion destroyed my body.
I was working a lot and after work it was either go to the gym and train or go out with friends and drink. At first it was an easy choice:
I’ll just do it all – Work, go workout and then go out. And that worked out great for the first year.
But eventually the more I went out the less I started to train simply because I felt like S#!t. I was eating junk food all the time, sleeping super late (2:30AM-3AM) and was constantly in a state of drunkness.
Fast forwarding to 2016 I had put on over 10 pounds of fat and had lost a lot of my muscle. I was depressed and felt ashamed.
I once was known for being an energetic guy that all I wanted to do was workout and hang from trees. And now I was a skinny fat guy that was overworked and his definition of fun was going to get a few cold ones with the boys.
I had hit rock bottom.
At the beginning of the year I had made the resolution of training again to get stronger.
During January I moved out with my best friend. We had a cool apartment and I started meal prepping again. I brought my gymnastic rings and kettlebell to train with me.
“I didn’t have a place to hand the rings in the house so I wrapped them around the stairs next to the elevator”
Since I had to pay rent I stopped going out regularly. I was cooking, going to work and when I came back home I was either working out or doing some computer work.
My life was slowly getting back some structure.
Our lease ended in April and I moved back with my parents.
During this time I got lazy again; since I didn’t have to pay rent anymore I could go out and spend money again so I started going to eat a lot of restaurants and trying out crazy fat food like bacon wrapped burritos and ice cream chicken sandwiches.
It was fun discovering fun new foods but again this was wrecking my health and energy levels.
After eating all kinds of Instagram worthy foods I started to feel dissatisfied. The fun that I once had trying new foods got boring and everything tasted the same: Just cool looking grease balls.
After the summer I found some pictures of my old self when I was fit and also some older ones when I was skin and bones. I saw that I had made a huge transformation and started to self reflect on my life.
What was I doing with my life?
I was just consuming and not really contributing much to this world. I taught back when I was making YouTube videos on the regular and that is when I felt the most ALIVE. That is when I was motivating people to take action and change their bodies.
Here I was a once strong guy that had everything going for him and now I am looking in the mirror and my abs are covered by an abundance of constant beer, bacon and donuts.
I felt disgusted into what I had transformed into.
Finally on August 8 I woke up dissatisfied and joined a gym. It had just opened a month ago and the place had all kinds of monkey bars to hang from.
I nervously go there to sign up and start going there almost everyday.
Whitin the first week of training there I meet some guys doing crazy calisthenics movements: 360 Muscle Ups, Levers and Handstands on rings.
I was able to do a muscle up before but these guys were frestyling on the bars and basically flying.
After that training session I felt alive. I wanted to get stronger and I knew that if I wanted to do crazy skills like these guys then I needed to start training with them.
For the past 2 months I’ve been training to get my muscle up and I am able to do them again. But after gaining weight and getting weaker this movement is a lot harder.
I’ve decided to re-start my calisthenics journey and here we are now. I am writing emails to help you guys and making regular YouTube content again.
I feel excited to train and share. I am still not at the level I want to be but I am excited to train everyday.
I will be sending regular emails to help you get stronger based on everything I know and learn.
It’s been a long email and I just wanna say thank you for being subscriber. Thank you for being here for me and reading my story. It was tough to share all this personal information but the truth is what will set us both free.
If you are in a similar situation or needed a kick in the ass to go train then I hope that my story inspires you into action.
I am here for you so feel free to drop a comment and ask m anything.
Can’t wait to see how much progress we make together.