Sunday, April 27, 2014

Programming for beginners

Hello again.

     It's been almost four months. Not going to let this happen again. The truth is, I have so much that I want to put into writing that it's actually giving me writers block. Every time I sit in front of my computer I can't think of where I want to begin. I have been dealing with this for years and every time I sit and actually get the first word down, things begin to flow. It always begins with a single step. Just ask Frodo Baggins. But the first step is the hardest (unless you fall and break your leg 10 steps in).

Anyway, lets talk about programming.  How do you put together an effective training program? Specifically a calisthenics program. First thing thing you have to do is ask yourself

Am I beginner, intermediate or advanced?

Well, if you have to ask yourself this question, chances you're a beginner. Easy enough. That leaves intermediate or advanced. Well, if you're advanced then you most likely already know more about calisthenics than I do so you probably aren't reading this article anyway. GOOD FOR YOU!

Well sir that only leaves intermediate.

I wish it were that easy

Ok so this is how I would group my own students.  Beginner is usually from day one to six months - one year of steady training. I personally would group you according to proficiency of movement no how many reps you can bang off.

Beginner: An beginner is someone who does scaled down versions of the most basic movements.
Pull ups, Push ups, Hanging leg raises and Squats. So until you can consistently perform these movements with full range of movement and proper form you are a beginner.

Programming for a beginner is a simple manner. Your goal is to master the basics and that is all. Don't over think it. Pull ups, Push ups, Hanging leg raise and Squat. Concentrate on range of motion with proper form. Quality and consistency. When learning a movement I aim for 5 sets of 5 reps. When I can do 5 repetitions of a movement for 5 sets I move on the the next harder progression. Again thats 5 sets of 5 reps all with proper form. There is no magic in 5x5, it's just a benchmark when I achieve it, I move on

But should I do sets of one movement at a time or do them all in a circuit?

That is a bit of a toughie. I have read literature that states that you should not train circuits if strength is your primary goal. Yet I have seen many truly strong athletes who do circuit style training. Personally, I develop strength better when I do all my sets on one movement before moving on and I find circuits are a bit better for aesthetics and conditioning. Decide which is more important to you and choose accordingly.

Chances are good that you will advance in some of the basics faster than others. 5x5 squats will probably come pretty quickly. Good job! Now you could should move on to the next progression. Think Bulgarian split squat. Sounds pretty badass doesn't it? Anything with another country in it's name instantly gets street cred. Bulgarian split squat, Korean dips, Russian mafia interrogation tactics (JK on that last one, it's not really an exercise).

Bulgarian split squat TAADAA!!
Why is it so hard to youtube an exercise video without getting some douche with his shirt off in a gym after hours demonstrating everything in a set of Nike Shocks? Thats it, from now on all my exercise videos are going to be me with my shirt off demonstrating in a pair of moon boots.

I wanna see you BodyRock in these Zuzanna Light!

But I digress. What I'm saying is that when a movement becomes easy enough that the basic 5x5 standard is reached then don't be afraid to move on. You could continue to do more reps but then we are starting to work more towards hypertrophy and I would consider that more of an intermediate training level.


Three days a week. That's all you need. Heck I consider myself to be fairly advanced and I still only train strength three days a week. Train these fundamentals each strength day. Pull up, Push up, Hanging leg raise and squat. Preferably in that order.

Well that's The basics. Now you can take this article and file along with all the other beginner calisthenics blog articles on the Ntarwebzz and do with it what you will. Once you master these your basic movements, Contratulations! You're most likely still a beginner. Only now you have laid the foundation necessary to build up to intermediate movements. You have began to develop the muscular and tendon strength to be able to progress injury free and you are beginning to develop an appreciation for quality of movement.

Coach Summers says that in gymnastics, form follows function.

To me that means you first learn a move and then you must strive to perfect it.

And here we are, I initially set out to do an article on programming for beginner, intermediate and advanced athletes. But as usual I found I have too much to say and this would have became an obnoxiously longwinded article. Maybe tomorrow I'll put out an article on programming for intermediates. It's gonna be the shiz.