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Calisthenics as a movement has been gaining more and more ground lately, with greater numbers of people discovering that they can work out with traditional gymnastic rings and other equipment or bodyweight alone.

As part of the Escape Your Limits podcast, Escape has interviewed calisthenics icons such as world champion, Chris “Tatted Strength” Luera and CEO of the World Calisthenics Organisation, Brendan Cosso. We’ve seen first hand how difficult the training is, so below you’ll find some of the best fitness tips for progressing with calisthenics training.

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Chris Tatted Strength Luera

The importance of progressive overload.

A key component of any serious exercise regime is the concept of progressive overload. By continuing to increase the stress on your muscles, you’re effectively guaranteeing that they’ll continue to grow, rather than become complacent with the amount of work you’re putting them through. That’s why today’s article is about a few of our top tips for progressing with calisthenics training.

Tip 1: Don’t stop at the rep level.

Reps are great, and there’s nothing more satisfying than busting out 3 sets of 10 like it’s nothing, when a few weeks ago you could barely manage 6. But by confining your training to only rep-based work, you’re robbing yourself of an awesome opportunity to fatigue your muscles even more and to really explode in growth. That opportunity is static holding, and it’s suitable for beginners as well as experts.

It really is as simple as it sounds. A hold is an exercise where all you try to do is ‘hold’ the position – think of holding yourself in the over-the-bar portion of a pull-up, for example. By integrating holds into your calisthenics routine, you’ll be helping to train your muscles into ‘remembering’ what it feels like; and we all know how important muscle memory is.

You can add a few sets of holds to the end of your workout once you’re all repped out. This can be a solid way to push yourself harder, even if you’re already too tired to do more reps.

Tip 2: Take your time with progressions.

Beginner movements in calisthenics include some of the basic exercises, like push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups. But not everybody can complete a full range of motion rep for these movements from the very beginning.

Likewise, once a simple push-up or pull-up is too easy, there are advanced variations of the exercise that can be implemented to ensure you’ll continue to progress. These various stepping-stones of exercises are called progressions, and they’re an important way to make sure your calisthenics routine will have the desired effects.

It’s important not to rush the progressions, though. By trying to do something too difficult before your body’s accustomed to the strain it’ll be put under, you’re running the risk of incurring a long-term injury that could set back your training by weeks, or even months. 

While it can sometimes be tough not to jump ahead (especially when your current routine feels too easy), make sure you take your time and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Sticking to the recommended progression schedules will pay dividends down the line.

Tip 3: Get enough rest after a workout.

We’re all familiar with the dopamine rush exercise produces in our brains. It’s a large part of why we keep coming back to whichever sport we enjoy the most. It can often feel so great, in fact, that we want to do it all the time, and a common beginner mistake is to set yourself back by accidentally overtraining.

Whatever you do, don’t rush your schedule. If your plan only says to train three times a week, then be sure not to overstep the mark, no matter how enthusiastic you may be feeling. Getting adequate rest is one of the single best things you can do to ensure that you continue to progress with your calisthenics workouts. Muscles grow when we’re sleeping, after all; not when we’re working out.

Let us know what you’d like to see.

So there you have it… Fitness tips for progressing with calisthenics training, no matter what physical ability you’re at. While some of the advice may already be familiar to you, we hope that you’ve at least wound up with a better understanding of what inspires athletic progress. As ever, do get in touch if you’ve got something else you’d like to contribute that we didn’t cover. 

For more fitness tips and advice to advance your training, check out the blog homepage.

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