Beginner to Calisthenics at the ripe old age of 42

Discussion in 'Bodyweight' started by IggyM, Nov 4, 2019.

  1. IggyM

    IggyM Double-Digit Post Count

    Hello everyone, Quick intro as i'm not sure what section to put it under..

    42 yr old that has done sports all my life and now its time to take better care of myself and it was mentioned to try Calisthenic's, After i thought i was fit and strong it seems i am not and struggle to do even 1 pull up *hold head down in shame*

    I have read alot about what to do and where i should be etc but none to say how to start or if i'm doing it right or wrong. You tube videos are helping and my excuse is ill start tomorrow or later and never do so i've decided to join a team and push myself to stay motivated and monitor my progress with pictures and vlog's etc.

    My end goal its to be about to do the planche's and handstands and muscle ups etc ( long way away before i can do this) so i will now just stick to my simple work out of push ups sit ups and squats and attempt aided pull-ups, Any help would be much appreciated as i cant seem to find any gyms that do classes in the Leicester area and i sometimes feel i'm alone when doing this.

    Another goal is to lose weight and correct my average diet and learn along the way as to what i'm doing wrong which i know i am as this time last year i'm exactly the same weight, I've been up and down between the year and i know i can perform better.

    Anyway enough of me say hi i will upload pics as soon as i can and start my journey.... possibly on instagram too

  2. Hasbro

    Hasbro Triple-Digit Post Count

    There’s lots of options for self instruction but the 2 books I’ve used are Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade and Get Strong by Al and Danny Kavadlo. Both involve progressive movements that can take you from beginner to advanced if you put in the time. CC is a bit more thorough and offers more progressions but both are solid programs.
    Benjamin Renaud likes this.
  3. IggyM

    IggyM Double-Digit Post Count

    Brilliant cheers mate ill check that one out...

    Silly question but is it as simple as just get on with it and workout most days to get stronger etc
  4. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Certified Instructor

    @IggyM, welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

    I will respectfully disagree with @Hasbro on his recommendations. The book which explains the StrongFirst approach to bodyweight exercise is called "Naked Warrior". The focus is not on particular progressions, although those are given, but on understanding strength - it is taught using the same principles our kettlebell and barbell certifications, courses, and books are based on, and if you are interested in learning how StrongFirst teaches bodyweight strength, this is where you should start.

    You might also consider attending our bodyweight one-day course or our bodyweight two-day instructor certification - you will learn a tremendous amount at either.

  5. Hasbro

    Hasbro Triple-Digit Post Count

    Well it can be as simple as that but you need a structured plan that’s been proven by credible people to get the best results. Yes you could simply continue doing push-ups, squats, sit-ups, and pull-ups several days a week and you would probably get stronger but you’ll get much better results following a proven training plan. Also look through the article section on this site. There’s lots of good body weight info there too.
  6. Bauer

    Bauer More than 500 posts

    Hi @IggyM

    Welcome! Calisthenics can be great and so can be barbell or KB training.
    StrongFirst programs usually focus on near-daily training with a focus on precise technique and tension (hardstyle).

    What you "should" do depends quite a bit on your current abilities and limitations. Getting a FMS screen might be a good starting place. Practicing the Naked Warrior moves, too.

    Personally I have found great value in doing crawling progressions (from Original Strength) to get me started. Crawling (both "baby crawling" as well as "leopard" or "spiderman crawling") covers mobility, stability, coordination, strength, and endurance -- probably highlighting and correcting your respective weaknesses.

    Whatever you choose do to: Get started, get a feeling for your current point A and then educate yourself about good ways to get from your A to your B.
  7. IggyM

    IggyM Double-Digit Post Count

    @Bauer hi and thanks, to me i thought my abilities were good until i tried to do a pull up and quickly realised this is not the case so for me i would like to start at the bottom and learn correctly the best ways to progress, is there programs to follow in Strongfirst?

    @Steve Freides Hi and thanks as well, I would like to attend somewhere but i doubt they are in the UK (midlands area)

    @Hasbro i will check them out thanks mate
  8. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    I'll also add my welcome...

    You have landed in a good place here at StrongFirst.

    And while there are many paths, programmes, and teachers that will get you to where you want to go, the StrongFirst and allied modalities are the ones promoted here.

    They work....
  9. IggyM

    IggyM Double-Digit Post Count

    @offwidth Hi mate and thanks, Looking forward to my journey i've been interested in Calisthenic's for years but just never started and now is the time....

    I will check out the programs and stay motivated
  10. Hasbro

    Hasbro Triple-Digit Post Count

    The book @Steve Freides recommended (The Naked Warrior) is definitely one that anybody interested in any form of strength training should read. The principles taught are valid not only for bodyweight training but apply to barbell and kettlebells. I highly recommend it too but be advised that it only focuses on 2 bodyweight movements....the pistol (one legged squat) and the one armed push-up.

    So if you’re looking for instruction for anything more than that you’ll need to supplement with other sources. Either of the 2 books I listed would work very well with the principles in the Naked Warrior.

    And the Original Strength material @Bauer spoke of is excellent too and works well in conjunction with other strength training or even as a stand alone program. Don’t underestimate the power of crawling.
    Bauer likes this.
  11. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Certified Instructor

    @IggyM, we are everywhere. :)

    StrongFirst GB on Facebook is the link to our UK people - please send a message via their Facebook page, let them know where you are, and they will tell you what resources we have available to you.

    Please also note you may benefit from working with one of our certified instructors in person. A quick search for SFB instructors United Kingdom on our web site shows 6, including one member of our leadership and several Elite level instructors. Go here

    Find an instructor | StrongFirst

    and make sure the country says United Kingdom and the Instructor Rank says Bodyweight.

  12. IggyM

    IggyM Double-Digit Post Count

    @Steve Freides brilliant thank you, Ill check out Facebook later when i'm home
  13. Kaisersemmel

    Kaisersemmel Double-Digit Post Count

    @IggyM: You can start with bodyweight rows to strengthen your upper back and work on your pull ups using static holds and negative pull ups. Simply jump up and hold the top position with your chin above the bar. Don't overdo it and let your form slip. Once you feel somewhat confident in the upper position you can add in controlled negatives and strengthen your muscles over the full range of motion. For that you can use conventional rep schemes like ladders.
  14. IggyM

    IggyM Double-Digit Post Count

    Brilliant thank you, does it matter how many you do or is it just a case of what I can manage at the time or shall I aim for as many as I can?
  15. Kaisersemmel

    Kaisersemmel Double-Digit Post Count

    Of course it matters :D Like with most things you should ease into it to see how you respond. Do about half of what you think you can do during the first week. If this works out do 3/4 the next week. And if that works out you should have a decent idea about your capabilities.

    The BW rows can be treated like all other exercises and used with conventional rep schemes. Sets across, drops sets, ladders, pyramids, whatever you like. You can also adjust the difficulty by changing your angle and/or adjusting your foot position.

    For the static bent arm holds I would pay extra attention about not overdoing it when you start. Once you got a feel for them I would simply do one all out set (without letting your form slip!) to set a baseline. Then do 4-6 sets of half of that time 2-3 times a week and re-test every 2 weeks or so.

    Pull Up negatives are more challenging than BW rows so pay extra attention to not overdo things if you are also working the rows and static holds.

    I don't know what your goals and reps schemes are for the other exercises. But just looking at your goal to work up to pull ups:

    - 30-50 total reps for the rows and increasing the difficulty once you can hit 50 reps in 2 sets.
    - work up to a 30 sec bent arm static hold using the method described above
    - once you are used to the 2 exercises above start working up to a total of 20-30 reps with the controlled negatives alternating your grip every workout
    Benjamin Renaud and Bauer like this.
  16. IggyM

    IggyM Double-Digit Post Count

    Great thank you
  17. Peter Yeates

    Peter Yeates Double-Digit Post Count

    Hi, @IggyM , I started around the same age as you and have found it to be a worthwhile use of my training time, and definitely muscle-ups and handstands are fun to train and rewarding when you achieve them, saying that I have found the movement patterns of calisthenics take a lot longer to learn then traditional lifting / strength training. I personally have to constantly remind myself that improvement is in millimeters, and have the patience to stay with each progression to feel right before moving forwards.
  18. IggyM

    IggyM Double-Digit Post Count

    @Peter Yeates thanks and yes i will take each progression slowly and make sure im 100% before i move onto the next, The main goal is to be healthy fit and strong and lose a little weight in the process
    Peter Yeates likes this.
  19. Benjamin Renaud

    Benjamin Renaud Double-Digit Post Count

    Hi @IggyM, I personally tried getting my first pull-up/chin-up from doing flexed hangs and it never worked for me without adding in bodyweight rows. I did rows on rings, a TRX and a bar and found the bar to be the best transfer to doing pull-ups or chin-ups after.

    What I noticed is that more than rep goals or hold times, concentrating on using my back muscles in these exercises made all the difference. I also found that it was easier to get a good activation of the back muscles on easier progressions (higher bar or rings) than on harder ones. Once I had my muscles firing properly I got a lot more results from doing harder progressions. Practicing active hangs daily will also help you get your first rep.

    For example, the first time I was able to do 1 chin-up I started greasing the groove with singles and quickly got to 8 reps max in a set, but also ended up with elbow pain because I was using my biceps way too much and had to go back to rows to get proper activation.

    These are good articles to get yourself started.

    One Good Rep: How to Perform the Perfect Pull-up | StrongFirst
    How to Progress Yourself to Your First Pull-up | StrongFirst
    Peter Yeates and Bauer like this.
  20. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Certified Instructor

    @IggyM, although I've told this story many times here, I'll repeat it. When I started lifting weights, I was able to do 2 pullups. After about 6 months of deadlifts and presses, and no pullup training, I was able to do 12 - that's a big increase.

    One thing you'll notice about our programs is that they focus on doing a few things very well. If you learn to do a few, well-chosen lifts very well, you'll more than likely experience the kind of carryover I experienced with regard to pullups.

    Caleb G., IggyM, Boosh32 and 3 others like this.

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