How to Train for Calisthenics Skills?

Regardless of the whether you are a beginner or advanced, if your goal is to learn a skill, such as the handstand or muscle up, you should train for that skill at least 4 times a week for no more than an hour. The duration of your skill training session could be anywhere between 25 and 60 minutes long. Some skills require more effort than others and that’s why it makes sense to train them for a short period of time once a day, multiple times a week. Prolonging a workout could be detrimental to performance. Shorter but frequent session ensure you don’t overtrain your muscles and keep your central nervous system (CNS) stimulated.

Focus on learning one skill at a time but do a combination of exercises that’ll help you acquire strength you can eventually transfer to doing that chosen skill. These are called accessory exercises and recruit the same muscles your chosen skill does but in a less intense way. For example, if you want to learn an L-sit hold, prepare the triceps and shoulders by doing press ups, the core and hips with V-sit holds on flat surface (acclimation sets). In your working sets, focus on training the same muscles by doing harder exercises like leg rases or knee tucks to L-sit on parallel dip bars until exhaustion. Finish off with chest dips or more press ups if there’s any energy left.

Allow yourself plenty of rest in between the sets – 5 minutes max and no less than 30 seconds. It’s ok to rest when strength training. It gives the CNS a break before it has to fire at full speed and signal the muscles to work as hard as possible. Every time you train a skill, such as a lever or planche, you need to be fully rested so you can give it your best shot. When the quality of the attempts descreases or you can no longer execute an exercise with adequate form despite being fully rested, either move onto an easier but transferable skill or end the session to avoid injury.

Let’s take a look at my handstand training as an example. I warm up for 5 to 10 minutes with a combination of dynamic stretching and light exercises such as press ups and frog pose holds. That prepares my wrists, triceps and shoulders. Then, I do handstands for as long as I can perform them with good form, resting 1 minute in between. That usually lasts 10-15 minutes and tires my shoulders the most. Next, I move onto pressing to a handstand from a frog pose hold for another 5 to 10 minutes with 1 minute rest in between. That gets my triceps and shoulders tired even further. When I get too tired to press myself up, I go back to holding handstands in a straddle position, or finish off with a few 30-second L-sit holds. Then I’m done and I go home to eat.

Looking for a Calisthenics Personal Trainer? Contact Vlad D.

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