Base Strength for Calisthenics

RB84

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
Hi All,

I am new to the forum so apologies if something similar has been posted before (I have looked but cant find a thread that answers my questions).

Can someone advise me on a simple bodyweight routine focusing on upper body (I do a lot of running and cycling so wont be neglecting legs) that will help build a base level of strength to help progress towards some more advanced calisthenic movements. Ideally I would like to train 3-4 times a week.

Thanks for your help.
RB84
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@RB84, welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

Pavel's book, Naked Warrior, focuses on the one-arm pushup, and that would be a great movement for you to work on. You might consider taking our StrongFirst Bodyweight One Day Course, or the Two Day Instructor Certification - you can find more information, including the schedule, on our web site here, just click the Home button or the StrongFirst logo at the top of your screen.

NW includes ways to work up to a 1APU - a highly recommended read for you.

Last but not least, is there a reason your strength training needs to be bodyweight-only? BW-only is the most difficult modality in which to adjust the level of resistance.

-S-
 

RB84

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
Hi Steve, thanks for the quick response and the recommendations. I'll definitely have a look at the Naked Warrior book. Re: SF Bodyweight Course, I am UK based and they doesn't seem to be any dates for London at presents, however, I will keep a look out.

I use to workout religious, 6 days a week splitting sessions between body parts, this was more for aesthetics then anything, however most of the gains where not what I would consider to be functional strength and whilst I like fit I couldn't run more then mile. So, I switched to triathlon to improve my aerobic fitness and left the gym world behind.

Why BW: I have recently moved to new house which has space for some limited training equipment, I have a pull up rack, dip station, gymnastic rings and a 12kg kettle bell (fortunately I have some excess cash to purchase more equipment so any recommendations would be appreciated). I did initial set out to buy a power rack, bench, Olympic bar and weight plate but the space was just not big enough.
 

Marc

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline is one great programme.
However there are also similar other great routines out there. There is more than one way leading to Rome and it depends on your goals.

What are your current numbers?

Speaking just very generally, I'd say the following numbers are decently strong (all exercises are to be done controlled and strict):
-pullups (overhand grip): ~10
-dips on bars: ~15
-pushups: ~30
-squats: at least 50

Are you there yet?
 

RB84

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline is one great programme.
However there are also similar other great routines out there. There is more than one way leading to Rome and it depends on your goals.

What are your current numbers?

Speaking just very generally, I'd say the following numbers are decently strong (all exercises are to be done controlled and strict):
-pullups (overhand grip): ~10
-dips on bars: ~15
-pushups: ~30
-squats: at least 50

Are you there yet?
I am literally start over again so want to start with the fundamentals and progress them until I have the strength to start practising the more advanced movements. My numbers are not anyway near the ones above so what routine would you recommend so I can progress toward those numbers. I have looked at loads of websites and YouTube videos, the content is great but it’s just a bit confusing as to where to start.
 

RB84

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
I am probably about 50% on all of those moves, except for BW Squats. I reckon I could
push out 50 as my legs are quite strong from triathlon training.

I am confident in all of the movements, they use to be the core elements of my previous weight training workouts. Pull ups will need some work as I mainly did Chins instead.
 

Marc

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Well, to keep it simple, I'd say aomething like this would work pretty well:

1a. Dips: 3 sets --> work up to 3x~12
1b. Pullups: 3 sets --> work up to 3x ~10
For dips and pullups stop each set 1-2 reps shy of failure and try to up the reps over time
2. Squats: 3 sets --> work up to 3x ~50
Just do every set until you cannot keep a fast yet controlled pace (i.e. stop once it gets shaky and grindy).
3a. Pushup: 2x max rep
3b. BW row: 2x max rep

Finish up with lunges for distance/jump squats/burpees/jump rope. Do that for 5 mins at a perceived intensity of 60-100% (depending on what you're up for that day. But don't force yourself to go 100% all the time).

Do that 3x/week.
 

RB84

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
Well, to keep it simple, I'd say aomething like this would work pretty well:

1a. Dips: 3 sets --> work up to 3x~12
1b. Pullups: 3 sets --> work up to 3x ~10
For dips and pullups stop each set 1-2 reps shy of failure and try to up the reps over time
2. Squats: 3 sets --> work up to 3x ~50
Just do every set until you cannot keep a fast yet controlled pace (i.e. stop once it gets shaky and grindy).
3a. Pushup: 2x max rep
3b. BW row: 2x max rep

Finish up with lunges for distance/jump squats/burpees/jump rope. Do that for 5 mins at a perceived intensity of 60-100% (depending on what you're up for that day. But don't force yourself to go 100% all the time).

Do that 3x/week.
This is brilliant and exactly what I have been looking for. Thanks Marc.
 

q.Hung

More than 500 posts
Marc has good list, and i would like to add handstand ( with the wall)- one minute comfortable handstand would be nice.

And how about doing the ladder for calisthenics. for example (10-15-20) for push up, (4, 6, 8) for the dips and (1,2,3,4,5) for pull up. some squat as a warm up, and practice hinging between upper body exercise.
 

RB84

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
Thanks for all the above suggestions.

Can any of your recommend any equipment that would be worth purchasing? Currently I have a Pull Up Mate, Gymnastic Rings, Speed Rope and a 12kg Kettlebell.
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

@RB84
It depends on what you are trying at achieve, what your budget is, the place you have, etc...

Basically, a pull up bar can offer a lot of things. With it, you can hit...pull ups, plenty of ab work (hanging leg raises, front lever, etc...). Paired with ground work (push ups, squats, core) you can cover more or less anything.

If you travel a lot, resistance band are worth buying as well.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

RB84

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
Hello,

@RB84
It depends on what you are trying at achieve, what your budget is, the place you have, etc...

Basically, a pull up bar can offer a lot of things. With it, you can hit...pull ups, plenty of ab work (hanging leg raises, front lever, etc...). Paired with ground work (push ups, squats, core) you can cover more or less anything.

If you travel a lot, resistance band are worth buying as well.

Kind regards,

Pet'
Thanks for the response Pet, I would say I have a specific goal in mind, mainly to increase strength and eventually pull off some of more advanced calisthenic movements. Marc, gave me a nicely structured routine to work on, see above posts. In terms of budget I have roughly £250 available.
 

vegpedlr

More than 500 posts
DMPM

Combine sets of swings with BW moves for a push and a pull. Do it with or without goblet squats for mobility. Get a heavier KB and have at it.
 

Maine-ah KB

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Simple and Sinister is great if buying a few kettlebells is an option/you have a available space to practice (I was always nervous about practicing with kettlebells when I lived in an apartment/ so I would do bodyweight in the winter times when I couldn't get outside)
these articles/plans outline some solid plan B's.

Karen Smith, strongfirst resident expert on bodyweight strength train has this program. haven't done it but everything she does is gold.
Surprise Yourself With Strength on This Bodyweight Training Plan | StrongFirst

Aleks Salkin, smart guy. I did a version of this kind of program and the movements build strength and flexibility. don't be afraid to alter the movements to your level (ie. box pistols, normal chin-ups etc.)
Four "Naked" Exercises For A Freak Greek Physique
 
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