More Than Lifting Podcast Episode 2: Movement Fundamentals, Low Level Drills & How To Get Started With Bodyweight Training Properly

In the More Than Lifting Podcast Episode 2, we talk about movement fundamentals & low level drills to get you started with bodyweight training. In the previous episode we discussed movement prep and mobility, in here we get on the bar and start moving around. We also cover legs and core training.



What Are The Fundamental Movement Patterns?


  • Calisthenics is mostly compound movements using multiple muscle groups
  • Broken down into movement patterns
  • Push Pull Hold (isometric)
  • Isometric is often incorporated into the movement with weight training but is more apparent as a standalone exercise in gymnastics
  • Another thing to think about is leg work in a gymnastics or bodyweight setting
  • Legs come down to squats and lunges which, when you think about them they always have a load in hand or on shoulders


Applying These Movements To Training


  • When you are training think about if you are pushing or pulling
  • These movements make up half of your body
  • Push is front and pull is back
  • So of you aren’t balancing these movement patterns you will end up with imbalances between the front and back of your body
  • Talking about imbalances in the gym environment
  • Kyphotic posture is rounded shoulders common issue which bench pressing makes worse
  • So a lot of people are actually making their posture worse by training into it
  • Think 1-1-1 but maybe 2 pull 1 push 1 hold to correct the imbalance


Fixing Posture And Balancing The Body


  • Training isn’t just to look good it’s to realign your body, all your bones and muscles
  • Posture affects more than movement, mood hormones and more as well
  • If you just work on the push you will just look like you have boobs
  • The continuing theme you can build it into function and still look great
  • Strength and mobility doesn’t mean freakish size
  • Athletic performance will degrade over time
  • But the levels we accept of degradation are appalling
  • Someone in their 50s who can lift their arms above their heads
  • That starts for some people in their teens
  • It can be corrected and the sooner you start the better
  • Balance is overused but it is a powerful concept
  • Pain sadness depression stress all of this comes from some form of imbalance
  • Skeletal function and musculature needs to be imbalance
  • Too much torque one side and too little flexibility can make something go snap
  • If you are imbalanced exercises will find you out
  • Pay attention to this form the start helps you to avoid trouble further down the line


Where Do You Start With Exercises?


  • Where do we start? Simple exercises for each of these movement patterns
  • Horizontal push (push ups) pull (inverted row)
  • These aren’t just one exercise there are variations ad infinitum
  • One arm push up? One arm row?
  • Next is pull up and dip
  • Make sure to use the full range of motion
  • Stay stable don’t dip or sag
  • If you don’t use full Rom you aren’t getting the most out of each exercise
  • Think about the movement not speed to 20
  • Good pacing steady and controlled
  • Up and down – eccentric and concentric
  • It’s almost like 2 reps compared to the guy racing to 20
  • Quality over quantity
  • Feel and pay attention to each muscle builds super neuromuscular connectivity meaning more effective and efficient activation of the muscles
  • Chris compares it to martial arts discipline
  • Regressions and progression
  • Tune in to the exercise
  • Just because an exercise isn’t building super mass doesn’t mean it doesn’t benefit you need other ways like muscle control


Incorporating The Isometric Holds


  • This brings us onto holds
  • Control and activation are really tested with holds or isometrics
  • Hanging L Sits or half levers are a great example and relatively easy
  • L sit pull ups fucking hurt but they are awesome
  • Watch out for leg cramping
  • It’s good to test yourself with variations and progressions
  • Moving while holding another part of your body really tests you
  • Back to push and pull
  • Isometric exercises are a small part of most people’s training but we will really get into them in the future


Mobility In Push And Pull Movments and Rang Of Motion


  • Negatives or eccentric movements where the agonist muscles are getting longer
  • Horizontal push and pull are easier than vertical push and pull
  • Any gradient in between will be somewhere in the middle
  • Don’t forget to keep your core engaged to stay nice and flat
  • Film yourself to check form it’s great for feedback
  • Look for the end of sets where form worsens, this highlights little imbalances too
  • Don’t forget to warm up
  • Chris is scared of dips
  • Mobilisation is really important for dips
  • You’re bringing your shoulders right behind you so shoulder mobility is very important
  • If you can’t lift your arms back behind you that shoulder mobility needs to be worked
  • But one good thing is that you can stretch for it, and there are exercises you can do to improve the mobility too such as a german hang
  • Another thing you can do is mini reps which you can slowly build into greater ROM
  • Getting use to holding that position and taking your weight will help that as will negatives
  • Negatives for Pulls are jumping to the bar and lowering for reps,
  • Negatives for dips are the same, jump to the top, slowly lower yourself
  • Negatives are a great way to build strength and mobility and are a big feature in calisthenics
  • Another thing you can do is use resistance bands which are very popular for lever and advanced skill development but can easily be used for pulls and dips too


Core Exercises, Strength And Stability


  • The thing about your core is you don’t really push or pull with it
  • Your core will always be in use for stability
  • But you can do dedicated exercises like hanging leg raises
  • Leg raises can be done supported or hanging
  • Leg raises force you to use your whole trunk because you aren’t resting or supporting it anywhere so it is a very effective exercise
  • Another one to try is flutter kicks
  • Lay on a bench or the floor and making a kicking motion as if you were swimming
  • Your core is not just your abs, there are a shit load of muscles in the middle of your body all around it
  • Core has become a buzzword but people don’t understand exactly what it means, they think six pack
  • Warming up your core is also really important, do dynamic work for your core
  • Also do some stability and balance work to get all the muscles fired up properly
  • Check out the getting started page for exercises


Bodyweight Leg Training


  • When it comes to bodyweight exercise, a squat doesn’t seem too tasking
  • But it can be hard to progress past a certain point, but there are examples of very challenging exercises you can do
  • Pistol squats are a great example
  • This is a challenge for strength mobility and coordination a very difficult skill to do especially for reps
  • A Lot of bad form in squats
  • Still do lunges step ups and loads of variations, mix up the tempo
  • Plyometrics like jump squats are also good
  • Play around with pace, intensity, time, reps, skill difficulty
  • It can still be good to add a weight and just keep it simple if that suits you
  • There are other basic leg exercises but there isn’t much more than squats or lunges
  • Legs mostly push, they don’t tend to pull much in real life
  • The muscles do work but they aren’t as much of the focus in the movement
  • You can generally pull more than you can push,
  • lowering tends to be more skill based in the pistol
  • Good ROM with the squat means you will be alright at the bottom of the pistol, but the negative or eccentric or lowering phase will still be really difficult
  • Remember to drive with your heels! Not your toes
  • Think of gripping the ground with your foot, big toe and heel
  • There are progressions to pistol squats
  • Step ups are a great start, focus on the pull up to the top, using hamstrings and glutes
  • Same for the negative, practice that activation
  • Then try lowering to touch the floor and drive up, this preps each leg for the pistol
  • There are other ways but that is nice and simple to try out
  • Trust in balancing on one leg, it is a bit weird when you don’t spend a lot of time on one leg.
  • You will start off shaky
  • Now we do pistol squats for fun
  • We pistol into sitting on the floor, and we pistol out
  • It feels quite comfortable
  • It’s the same for picking up, we just fold in half because we have that natural mobility we don’t need to bed our legs
  • It is a totally natural movement that most people can’t do


Movment Fundamentals And Skills Training Mindset


  • There is more to this than lifting, more than just throwing a dumbbell around, it is mobility it is skills it is functional movement
  • Otherwise you get stuck in the ‘how many kg’ game
  • You can’t quantify a handstand as a strength exercise, there is so much more to it
  • And weights can be fun every now and then
  • You want to spend 90% of the time doing big compound movements that give you the best results
  • Don’t be the guy who starts on bicep curls
  • They start like that then try to do pull ups after and can only do 3
  • They pre fatigue the weakest muscles of the pull up
  • Sometimes injury prevents the compound exercises and then maybe doing isolated work can be good
  • But your arms are secondary to shoulders
  • Without shoulders, you have pretty useless arms
  • Focus more on your bigger joints, hips, shoulders, core, and the arms look after themselves
  • That’s about it


Wrapping It Up




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