Monday, April 28, 2014

Bodyweight Programming for Intermediate Athletes

What constitutes an intermediate level bodyweight athlete?

That is a difficult question to answer really. Is it time spent training? Not really. I have seen people that I would consider intermediate level within six months, yet, I have seen others that I would still consider to be a beginner after two years of training. Generally after six months of solid dedication to Progressive Calisthenic training, most people are getting ready to challenge themselves with something bigger.

Eventually the basic movements become easy. Even 5x5 pull ups offer little challenge and you have began to explore harder variations or have added repetitions to all your sets. To be honest, you could theoretically stick to this template indefinitely. Swapping movements out for harder progression as you improve and become stronger. Eventually pull ups become archer pull ups, then one arm pull ups. Push ups become dips, then handstand push ups. Leg raises become strict toes to bar or even Manna. Squats become pistols so forth and so forth.

This is where I would begin to work in some straight arm training. I'm talking about Planche, lever and Manna. These fundamental straight arm support positions will be very humbling at first. They tax the shoulder girdle, biceps tendons and triceps like you have never experienced before.

So let's begin

At this point I would recommend a split routine. No not like a bodybuilding split. We train movements not muscles. 

Day one: Front lever, Planche, Push movement, Pull Movement

Day Two: Pistol Squat, Bodyweight Glute ham raise, V-sit, Side Lever (human flag)

I'll admit it, this template is heavily influenced by the Foundations program from I used this template for quite some time with very good results.

Now that we are implementing static holds things become a little bit different. At the first progressions of the front lever and Planche I would recommend aiming for 5x30 second holds but as you progress to more difficult versions you will cut the hold time down. Advanced tuck would be 5x20 seconds Straddle would be 10 seconds and full lay Planche and Front Lever would be 5-10 seconds. If you ever progress to victorian or maltese on the rings then you are a god among men and you should really be writing this article.

The early versions of V-sit and side lever are really movements beginning with tuck V-Sit leg extensions and Tucked side lever lifts, Progressing until you can hold the tucked versions for 3 to five seconds then beginning to work on the hold slowly extending your body from there Until you can hold a full side lever and V-sit

In conclusion

This is not the only template, but it's a damn good one and anybody who puts in the work will see great improvements in strength and body control. Same as with the beginner template I greatly stress quality of movement. First by learning a movement and then striving to clean it up until you can do it consistently with proper form. Stay connected and never sacrifice form for another rep. This only establishes bad habits and poor movement.

I have written about these bodyweight progressions in more detail Here. In an article that I will also revise in the near future.

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