Are You Having Fun Getting Strong?
Getting strong appears to be a huge drive for many; male and female alike, yet doing so doesn’t carry much of an idea of fun.
The imagery that surrounds getting strong has an overly serious, regimented and extreme stigma. Yet, does this have to be so?
Here at the School of Calisthenics, we’d like to challenge that stigma and put some fun back into getting strong!
For years I (Seth) was your everyday gym guy, I did some boxing on the side and there was a point where I decided to take it all seriously, and I mean very seriously. Training twice a day was normal and eating the classic “broscience” diet of protein shakes, a la chicken and rice was my life. Up to a point, I enjoyed the grind and the endorphins that came with it. However, I’d become so addicted to the grind aspect of training that I could never take a rest day, and because going to the gym always had to be so serious, injuries start compounding upon one another. Honestly, having a fun day in the gym wasn’t an option. It was either “go big or go home.”
Since those days of wrecking my body, my perspective has changed and so has the way that I train. Often the question is asked, “Can you get strong or big with calisthenics?” and I myself asked this question before starting. What I realised was that I didn’t think it could, because I couldn’t see how a push up could make you stronger when you need to apply the principle of progressive overload. I would contend that the main reason why people don’t think they can build muscle or get strong with calisthenics is because they don’t know what options are available within calisthenics training.
When we talk exercises we think of the gym celebrities like bench press and squats, but we don’t think of archer pull ups or handstand push ups, do we? When it comes to building muscle, I came to find that the reason I struggled initially to do it with calisthenics was because my skill level had become so low from years of fixed plane, fixed machine exercises. At that point my shoulder wept at the idea of having to create stability in an unstable environment for itself. Not only so, I had completely butchered the once happy friendship between my shoulder, core and hips. Biceps had disassociated themselves from friends which ought to do most of the work in more compound pulling exercises, and my pecs had decided they had no need for any help from serratus anterior in pushing movements. So, when it came to calisthenics, I was starting 100 steps behind zero and this is often why a big gym guy may struggle more than a beginner with calisthenics at the start.
However, in time my ability to move well came back and using the School of Calisthenics Framework became a staple for how to structure my sessions and it has placed me on higher ground. With my newly found ability to move better and play around a bit without fear of getting injured, strength training became fun. Rather than avoiding hand balancing or avoiding trying something because it looked dangerous, I am now able to look at a movement and say “I’ll have a go at that!”
Calisthenics now allows me to train in places all over the world, indoor, outdoor, upside down and sideways! I can travel the world with a few light pieces of kit and build incredible strength. In the last year, I have travelled into 6 different countries multiple times and my training hasn’t been affected one bit. In fact, travelling with little pieces of kit has inspired me to explore new environments overseas, and have a go! I’ve made friends in France while doing human flags and trained with homeless guys in South Africa – teaching them muscle ups and superman push ups.
With calisthenics, you can train for “bar flows”, “push up flows”, cool static holds and have fun with endless hand balancing positions. Your body is the resistance and the more you practice the more skill and strength you can develop. Long gone are the days where I need to count seconds on my reps and make sure my form is spot on every single rep, lest my prime movers miss out on hypertrophy gains! I can happily get into single arm pulling progressions on any bar and try out some movements with flare.
If your bodyweight still isn’t enough; and after having used the “levers and angles” from the School of Calisthenics locker you still need more resistance, something as simple as a weighted vest can be used to add a new challenge.
Finally, if the flexibility of calisthenics and the play element of just giving things a go because they look cool hasn’t convinced you that it’s fun, then hopefully the community aspect will. I have met so many people over the years whilst training calisthenics and I have shared and learnt loads at home, in parks and in gyms.
So, grab a spot at your local park or at home with the family, start some ‘playtime’ having fun, getting strong and make friends through ‘play’!
‘PLAYTIME’ Example session
Here’s a short workout that can be done mostly at home or a local park with a pull up bar! The idea with ‘play’ is to allow yourself the freedom to explore new movements and be creative.
So rather than restricting yourself with reps and sets with specific rest periods, why not try 5 to 10 mins on each exercise in a fun circuit style workout. Rest when you need to and if you’re having more fun and seeing good progress on a certain movement give yourself the freedom to enjoy that more!
Example ‘play’ exercises / movements to explore (tutorials for all these included in our Strength + Play eBook)
Enjoy getting strong having fun!
*Don’t forget the FUN we’re planning for the Marbella weekend workshop! We have to confirm final places this week so if you’re interested you need to book today before we end the booking period!