All posts tagged starting calisthenics

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5 Tips When Starting Calisthenics (I wish I knew these when I started)

Hope you are having a fantastic weekend.

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.

Attack Life and Get Stronger!

– Luis Carrillo

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