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Other/Mixed Adding Calisthenics to Barbell 5x5 Linear Progression

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)

awito

Level 2 Valued Member
Hey all,

I'm coming back to lifting after a couple of months of break due to health problems I encountered. I started doing a 5x5 Linear Progression program to increase my strength with the basic movements (squat, bench, deadlift, row, overhead press) back to my previous levels.

But with the weather getting nicer, and considering the fact that I live right next to an "outdoor gym" where I can go do pull-ups, dips, and all sorts of other calisthenics, I was thinking about doing something like this on weeks when the weather is nice:

Day 1: 5x5 - squat, bench, row
Day 2: Calisthenics
Day 3: Off
Day 4: 5x5 - squat, OHP, deadlift
Day 5: Calisthenics
Day 6: Calisthenics
Day 7: Off

My question for you all is how best to do this while supporting my 5x5 full-body lifting sessions. I don't want to overdo the volume/intensity, so that I don't harm my progress when I'm working with a barbell. However, it would be cool to also progress my dips and pull-ups as I'm progressing my barbell movements in the gym. Problem is, I don't even know how many dips or pull-ups I can do after my lay-off!

So what do you guys think I could do for my calisthenics days? Maybe two ladders per exercise per training session, but with my hardest sets keeping a minimum of 2-3 reps in the tank to avoid overtraining?
 
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watchnerd

Level 8 Valued Member
I've inter-mixed 3 days a week of weighlifting training (snatch, C&J, push presses, pulls, squats) with 2 days of gymnastic work (ring push ups, ring rows, ring dips, ring pull ups, pelican curls, ring roll outs) without any issues.

The key for me was to manage the intensity and treat the ring work as active recovery and skill work, rather than going ham.

I didn't program it -- intentionally -- just went to mild fatigue, 2-3 RIR / RPE 7-ish.
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
I am currently doing barbell + calisthenics, though the bulk of my upper body work is from the latter. I do barbell squats and deadlifts, and sometimes OHP variations, including landmines. For the calisthenics it's pike pushups, pushups, dips, pullups and body rows. I am starting to mix some handstand work back in, as I have spent the last year correcting some shoulder mobility issues.

I second @watchnerd 's thoughts. It's about managing intensity and volume. I manage the blend I do best when I really check in with my body and actually listen to it. It's all too easy to load the barbell heavier than I should and/or add too much volume with cals. The frequency of training you have listed above is about what I do. What works well for me is to allow the frequency to drive the volume. That is, don't try to pack too much volume into one calisthenics session. Just let time dictate how much you can do within your recovery capabilities.

I confess I haven't been able to program it that well, but just try to auto-regulate by paying attention to how things feel. If I were you, I would:

a) start lighter with volume and intensity, and only add if things feel "easy" after a couple weeks. Doing 5x5 of three barbell moves twice a week can be a complete program if you're loading heavy enough. Adding calisthenics to it can easily sneak into your recovery reserves if things aren't kept in check.

b) experiment with a few different set/rep/ladder schemes with your cals and see which allows you to feel fresh from calisthenics session to barbell session over the weeks. For example, if it is my barbell day, I limit my bodyweight volume to 15 reps or so. If it's my bodyweight-only day, I typicallly do more volume but try to stop when things start to grind.

c) decide whether you want to prioritize barbell or calisthenics for the whole program, or for each week, or for blocks of time. Progressing both at once is likely going to be too much to recover from. So, one has to be lighter than the other, or the contrast between the two has to be pretty great. For me, doing lots of pike pushups gives me a lot of what I want for my upper body pressing, so I do lighter landmines with the barbell for active recovery and shoulder mobility/health. Sometimes I'll flip it and load the barbell more, but do a lot less upper body cals.

d) don't be afraid to cut back on any training day if you are still feeling the effects of the previous training day. Instead of a "training" day, make it an active recovery and technique practice day. The frequency you have listed above means that even if one day is light, you'll be getting another training day soon enough anyhow.


Hope it helps!
 

Mark Limbaga

Level 8 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
I'd focus on recovery..

If I may ask, why do you wanna add cals to an already proven system??
 
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watchnerd

Level 8 Valued Member
OP full disclosure:

My training age is very high -- I've been training and competing in Olympic weightlifting for 9 years. So adding some moderate calithenics to a routine I'm pretty adapted to isn't a big net increase.

So while mixing barbells and cal might work if you're already adapted, if this is your first ever 5x5 program or other barbell strength program using linear progression, as @Mark Limbaga says, it might be too much:
 

awito

Level 2 Valued Member
I'd focus on recovery..

If I may ask, why do you wanna add cals to an already proven system??
A few reasons:

1) It's nice outside, the sun is shining, I'd rather go outside and do dips and chin-ups, work on my tan a bit, rather than go from my home/office to the gym 3x per week.
2) I'd like to progress more movements than just the "Big 5."
3) I believe adding dips and chin-ups will lead to a more well-rounded physique and more practical strength than just bench presses/OHPs/rows.
4) I believe a mix of intensities/rep ranges may lead to better overall results.
5) In the past, when I did SL 5x5 and Greyskull LP Phraks Variant, I found that the volume was a tad too low for my chest. I want to experiment and see if adding a couple of days of dips could help with that.
6) It would be cool to finally learn how to do 20+ or even 30+ full ROM chin-ups and dips.

As for recovery: wouldn't going from 3x per week down to 2x per week for the barbell movements do a lot for recovery? As long as, of course, I keep the level of effort relatively low on chin-ups and dips (never less than 2-3 RIR)?
 

jozko

Level 5 Valued Member
Why do you insist on regular 5x5? What about barbell 5x5 for lower body, and calisthenics only for upper body? If you keep your sessions short, you can even have two session a day, one in a lifting room and one outside. Or you can focus on street lifting disciplines - squat, weighted pull ups and weighted dips and do them in 5x5 fashion, although bringing weights to outdoor gym is somehow impractical.
 

Dayz

Level 7 Valued Member
A few reasons:

1) It's nice outside, the sun is shining, I'd rather go outside and do dips and chin-ups, work on my tan a bit, rather than go from my home/office to the gym 3x per week.
2) I'd like to progress more movements than just the "Big 5."
3) I believe adding dips and chin-ups will lead to a more well-rounded physique and more practical strength than just bench presses/OHPs/rows.
4) I believe a mix of intensities/rep ranges may lead to better overall results.
5) In the past, when I did SL 5x5 and Greyskull LP Phraks Variant, I found that the volume was a tad too low for my chest. I want to experiment and see if adding a couple of days of dips could help with that.
6) It would be cool to finally learn how to do 20+ or even 30+ full ROM chin-ups and dips.

As for recovery: wouldn't going from 3x per week down to 2x per week for the barbell movements do a lot for recovery? As long as, of course, I keep the level of effort relatively low on chin-ups and dips (never less than 2-3 RIR)?
What are your lifts at at the moment? If you're a beginner or lifts are at beginner level, or, if your lifts are still improving, milk and enjoy the easy gains. But save adding movements for when it's actually needed. If you have an ace up your sleeve, you don't want to reveal it when you're already going well, making progress. Save the ace for when you need it, ie when you stall.

The fox that chases too many rabbits catches none.
 

Mark Limbaga

Level 8 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
A few reasons:

1) It's nice outside, the sun is shining, I'd rather go outside and do dips and chin-ups, work on my tan a bit, rather than go from my home/office to the gym 3x per week.
2) I'd like to progress more movements than just the "Big 5."
3) I believe adding dips and chin-ups will lead to a more well-rounded physique and more practical strength than just bench presses/OHPs/rows.
4) I believe a mix of intensities/rep ranges may lead to better overall results.
5) In the past, when I did SL 5x5 and Greyskull LP Phraks Variant, I found that the volume was a tad too low for my chest. I want to experiment and see if adding a couple of days of dips could help with that.
6) It would be cool to finally learn how to do 20+ or even 30+ full ROM chin-ups and dips.

As for recovery: wouldn't going from 3x per week down to 2x per week for the barbell movements do a lot for recovery? As long as, of course, I keep the level of effort relatively low on chin-ups and dips (never less than 2-3 RIR)?
Fair enough....

Would you be open to a different 5x5 variant that includes pullups and uses dips in place of bench pressing ? That way you're meeting your wants and needs halfway
 

Hung

Level 7 Valued Member
On that schedule I would treat the first two cals days as active recovery, like Westside's extra workout.The last cals day you can really push the volume.
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
A few reasons:

1) It's nice outside, the sun is shining, I'd rather go outside and do dips and chin-ups, work on my tan a bit, rather than go from my home/office to the gym 3x per week.
2) I'd like to progress more movements than just the "Big 5."
3) I believe adding dips and chin-ups will lead to a more well-rounded physique and more practical strength than just bench presses/OHPs/rows.
4) I believe a mix of intensities/rep ranges may lead to better overall results.
5) In the past, when I did SL 5x5 and Greyskull LP Phraks Variant, I found that the volume was a tad too low for my chest. I want to experiment and see if adding a couple of days of dips could help with that.
6) It would be cool to finally learn how to do 20+ or even 30+ full ROM chin-ups and dips.

As for recovery: wouldn't going from 3x per week down to 2x per week for the barbell movements do a lot for recovery? As long as, of course, I keep the level of effort relatively low on chin-ups and dips (never less than 2-3 RIR)?
Good reasons, imo.

A couple thoughts:

-Like @Dayz was getting at, I think you may make better gains by prioritizing one or the other, even if you do both throughout the week. Twenty to thirty chins/dips will get you strong and put on some muscle/definition, for sure. How far away from that rep range are you?

-I have found that by focusing on just getting stronger, either by adding weight or doing harder bodyweight moves, my RM for pushups, pullups and dips, etc went up on its own.

-As to your last question, I think it's a matter of how great a discrepancy there is between your barbell strength and how difficult or easy the cals feel for you. Think about the recommended strength levels for the Quick and the Dead: a bodyweight bench press or a minimum of 20 steady pace pushups in order to do a program that calls for a minimum of 60 reps per session, with the first and last rep having the same amount of power. So for BB + Cals to not erode your recovery, one can't feel very difficult.

-Autoregulation- this is hard to learn, and I think harder to master (Speaking from experience), mainly because it's a mental game. Like I wrote above, you can do the program you wrote, but the volume and intensity of things will have to be closely monitored and likely adjusted based on performance and how you feel.

Also:
I'm coming back to lifting after a couple of months of break due to health problems I encountered.
You don't want to jump into a high-frequency program like that after health issues. I don't know the details, but I would ease into things.

"You can always do more the next day/session, but you can't undo what you did today."
 

LukeV

Level 6 Valued Member
You’re planning on doing some stuff that’s very elbow intensive including three days in a row every week. Of course it’s hard to predict what will result given actual workout intensity and recovery is highly individualistic. I recommend you monitor your joints and tendons and either take days off or adjust the program without concern if soreness results.
 

Kev

Level 6 Valued Member
GSLP is a 5x5 linear progression and it recommends frequency method callisthenics. Frequency method is dead simple. If you can do 20 push-ups before it becomes sloppy, do 10 and do multiple sets of these over a day. At least 20 sets. Then add a rep each time. The Greyskull LP has a whole frequency method program integrated into a 5x5 barbell protocol.
 
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