Calisthenics can be a great way to build strength and increase your body’s mobility, but as Ryan Sadilek from the Minus the Gym YouTube channel points out, there are plenty of rookie mistakes that can prevent beginners from seeing real progress. In a new video, Ryan breaks down the nine bad habits he had to shake in order to achieve his goals.
“If you’re training a lot, if you’re gripping bars a lot, especially when you do explosive movements, you’ll develop calluses. But in the beginning, my calluses would build up and then tear, and that was the absolute worst. I couldn’t train upper body for a week or so until it healed.” Ryan recommends using gloves, which also have the benefit of adding wrist support.
Not adding weight soon enough
“As soon as you get an exercise to over 8 reps, you’re out of that strength-building range… once you creep up to 10 or 12 reps, you’re working on endurance,” says Ryan. “If you want to keep building strength, consider adding weight.” If you don’t have a weighted vest, he suggests just wearing a full backpack to start.
Cheating on range of motion
Focusing on the number of reps you want to achieve can sometimes lead to “cutting corners” and not fully extending or locking your arms in a move like the pushup or dip. But Ryan warns that this means you won’t be building the necessary strength to keep progressing, and will end up holding you back.
Not using progressions
Ryan recalls how he struggled to get anywhere with his handstand, until he broke it down into a series of moves like the frog-stand, which helped him build forearm strength, and the headstand for core strength. “They brought me to a handstand much faster than if I just kept kicking up over and over,” he says.
Not using assistance
Adding a band in specific exercises as you continue to progress can be hugely helpful, and you shouldn’t let ego get in the way.
The “bodybuilding mindset”
“I come from a background of lifting weights, so a lot of my focus was on striving for gains,” says Ryan. He explains that he was doing high-volume training for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, which helps you look bigger, but doesn’t necessarily help you build strength and develop new movement skills.
Training too often
“If your goal with calisthenics is to look muscular and have a good physique, then training often is a good idea,” he says. “But if you train the same movements and the same muscle groups, there’s no way you’re going to build consistent strength. If you’re in this for skills, then you’re going to want to make sure you don’t train too often, and give yourself the rest you need.”
Ryan admits he would previously try a workout for a couple of weeks and then switch to another one, until he realized he wasn’t going to see any results this way. “Do your research and put together your own routine, or find a program and just follow it through,” he says. “Stick to it, and just make minor tweaks that you think will help you stay on track.”
Not training mobility
“This is ahuge problem that’s going to hold you back and kill your progress,” he says, “because you’re going to pursue a skill or exercise that you just can’t do. If you don’t have that range of motion, you won’t get that exercise.” Ryan advises training mobility just as frequently as you train strength, and making it a consistent part of your routine.
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