Ok! Calm down, I just wanted to get your attention…. geez. If anything this is going to be an empowering article about how your weight should be directly supported by your goals and performance and not just for looks and insecurities. I am actually offended that you’re offended, how very dare you!

Good day Sir!

…….

………….

I SAID GOOD DAY!

Anyhoo, if you’re not a soft touch, let’s continue.

Recently I went with some friends to an awesome parkour gym and tried some of the cool stuff that goes on there. I have not done a lot of things that involve me swinging and jumping off bars onto other bars; pull ups, turnovers, muscle ups and kipping would really be the height of my general bar work. I came to the realisation very quickly that yes, I was having a lot of fun, but this is not what I have trained in before and if it was something I would want to pursue, I would be much better losing a few kilos first. If i continued at the weight I currently am my shoulders would crap themselves, and bearing in mind I do have REALLY strong mobile shoulders.

21245286_10155835844983606_554738021_n

The issue isn’t my shoulder strength, it’s the accumulated force acquired by my fat ass flying through the air, and this goes for the famously evil kipping pull up also. There are studies on the percentages of bad things being increased and stuff.. they’re kinda interesting to read about but at the end of the day, everyone is built differently and we all come in a vast majority of shapes and sizes. An exact percentage of impact for your individual bodyweight & shoulder make up of you springing off a pull up bar is pretty hard to measure, just trust me when I say it’s higher than you want.

When you jump off a box that’s quite high you feel the shock in your body as you land, it’s not nice. Do you ever notice that when you’re too high up, that instinctively you don’t even want to try to jump down? You shimmy to the edge and climb down as much as possible. Why do we not give our shoulders the same respect as our ankles and knees?

When practicing something like parkour, callisthenics or gymnastics, until you gain precision through practice you’re going to make mistakes, and it’s these mistakes that can become quite costly to your general joint health. Building a solid foundation of strength is ridiculously important if you want to be able to do cool stuff later on in your training (and I don’t mean next Tuesday). In the video below there are a few ideas on how to build strength on the bars, rings and floor to not only give you better joint strength and awareness but also build muscle through repetition. When is the last time you ever had a straight arm shoulder pump day?

 

This is the groundwork you can start to put in while you’re cleaning up your diet and getting lean as possible. The lighter you are the easier you will be able to manoeuvre yourself through the air. By no means should you just say “I can’t do that” or that you’re “too heavy”, if you really want to do callisthenics just START! There are a million things you need to get proficient at before you can do the fancy things, so the sooner you start the stronger your foundation is going to be.

In my opinion everyone needs a coach for no matter what they want to do, we need teachers, we ALWAYS miss details. So if you really don’t want to waste any time, sign up to a class, and if you want to go the extra mile and get private sessions also, DO IT! I always aim for 3 things for any skill:

1. Private tuition
2. Class and training environment
3. Self practice

It really doesn’t matter at the end of the day what you choose to do, if you are sensible about it and get guidance you can have a damn good stab at anything as long as you fulfil the prerequisites. So adapt to what you want to do, if you really love handstands and gymnastics and want to make that your primary practice then LOOK at the guys that do it! It’s not just because of the training method, it is lifestyle habits and sensible recovery methods.

21244516_10155835845013606_2036668419_n.jpg

If you want to be good at something start taking control of all the things that you can now and you’ll get there sooner than you think, weight should NEVER be a factor. Everyone has an inspirational story inside them when they get up off their fat ass (I was fat once so I can say that, you see).

Thank you for reading!
Keep being awesome!
The original Chub Chub
Tom

 

 

I love seeing people get excited when they purchase their wee callisthenics program online; a “Get your muscle up in 40 seconds” program, or some other jargon. Ok chief, who was that program written for? You? Well the person that designed it has never met you, heard of your training history, know any kind of imbalance you may or may not have…. and they’re gonna give you your quick fix front lever skin the loop de loop?

Eh, no.

I poke fun of course, all programs you follow are a stepping stone to you experimenting with yourself and I love it, I loved it when I did them and it definitely added structure to my sessions and kept me focused. I don’t like wasting my time anymore though. What I have found over the years is that going directly after your deficiencies is the best way to make progress. Everyone has a part of a certain ability, you just have to locate which parts you DON’T have and get them, then you can focus on the movement as a whole.

For a strict ring muscle up for example, if you break it down into parts you need:
1. A false grip
2. Pull up
3. Transition
4. Dip

Untitled-1.jpg

So if you’re crazy hot at pull ups and dips, is a program full of pull ups and dips really going to get you your muscle up? Or is a program of you doing Russian dips for your transition and false grip rows and wrist strengthening exercises going to get you there faster? If you’re good at pull ups and dips I know you’re going to do pull ups and dips anyway, the LAST thing I am going to give you is pull ups and dips.

Did I just give away how all my private clients seem to get muscle ups so fast? Yes. Do I care? No. If 1000 people read this probably 13 will actually take this onboard. It’s what we do, the guy with the triple shredded washboard 8 pack must know more! He’s sexy!! In real life I’m sexier, I’m just not that good at photoshop or hanging out at beaches… I hate sand.

When it comes to the limbs, legs and arms are really slaves to your ‘core’ ..still hate that word, always reminds me of bums’n’tums classes. If your core is dysfunctional you are never really going to have great control over any of your extremities. For lower body I would use single leg exercises to check balance and also if you’re overly dominate to one side. Obviously you’re always going to have one side that you prefer but if you can do 30 one legged squats on one leg and only 5 on the other, well, do you see where I am going with this?

Using the pistol squat or airborne lunge is great for a lower body push, for a lower body pull you can have single leg deadlifts, and even mixing up which side you’re holding a kettlebell in will start to locate some weaknesses in your anti-rotational strength. I was playing around with this movement the other day:

Single leg clean & bottom up press

When it comes to upper body it is crazy important to test your arms individually, especially if you are really barbell dominant with your training. Neck and shoulder injuries are so easily avoided if you just test a few simple things. The bottom up press is a great one, if you can press a 20kg kettlebell in one hand but only a 10kg in the other then there’s your issue that needs addressed, and honestly, until you have sorted out that issue I wouldn’t go back to the barbell. If you can bench press more than your own bodyweight for ten reps but you can only do three pull ups, there’s another thing needing worked on – unless you’re a competitive lifter, then that comes down to trade off. Single arm rows, single arm presses, one arm push ups, all great things to test, and again something I would use regularly in my warm ups and cool downs.

Here is another example of experimentation with my overhead pressing, no issues on right arm but left presented weakness when fully rotated to the right side:

Always do what you love and what you’re good at, but if you’re already good at something the upkeep of that skill is relatively low, devote more time to your weak areas and you’ll ultimately start running out of them.

I am at such an exciting time in my life right now! Personally, professionally and physically. Think about this, we all have a body and a brain, no one person is any different or more special than the other, inside each of us there is the ability to do anything, provided we put the time in and educate ourselves better.

At one point someone had to invent everything, and that someone can be anyone. When gymnastics was invented, someone started it, then people started participating in it and making it better, growing it until it has became the sport it is today and it is STILL evolving.

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-13-57-56

What I mean when I say I invented gymnastics is that after I invented yoga for stretching, I decided I wanted something that would not only challenge my core stability but also strengthen all of my joints though their full ranges and keep me strong and mobile. I went to a gymnastics club a few years back and basically found out I didn’t have any of the physical requirements to do any of it. I could only do the basic progressions, a badly out of alignment handstand walk and just about climb a rope…. So clearly gymnastics was for losers……

Those basic exercises I was shown didn’t really seem important to me until I decided to start my flexibility venture. I had started striking out with all my lifts and ended up with a serious back injury. I couldn’t get stronger, I didn’t have the capacity because although I looked ok, my body was broken.

Skipping forward to now, I do daily mobility, I have learned so much stuff over the years and only recently has it clicked that actually it’s all the same stuff. Everything is angles and either push or pull or isometric. Body dominance has now became my goal. It started off with a few shoulder circles and hip rotations but all of a sudden my creativity started to flourish because of the daily approach and wanting affirmation from random Instagram followers to justify my awesomeness. These shoulder circles have since became front levers and L-sit to handstands, advanced gymnastic movements, how were they created? By asking myself the question “What happens when I press on this thing and rotate? Oh look! That was fun”

15857105_10155007653968606_555376213_o

Devoting time to experimenting with your body is something I am very passionate about now and teach at my courses. You can invent logical progressions over time that will lead you to better things later on down the road, which is what training should be about. Don’t just do things for fatloss, have a goal in mind and lose fat as a by-product because you’re having fun, you’ll have more chance of sticking to it!

Obviously it has taken over 6 years of training and building a good foundation to be able to safely apply ‘my’ ideas, and know that I won’t hurt myself. So always seek out trainers and teachers,. If you’re not sure about something then draw on someone else’s experience, but there has to come a time in your life that you have to trust your knowledge and own experience that YOU can then create and make things better.

You’ll be surprised at what you can find out about yourself.

image

 

There really is nothing cooler than someone hopping up on a set of rings and doing a muscle up. Most people can deadlift and squat to some degree, a majority can do pull ups, but in the world of getting acknowledgement for being a legend, the strict ring muscle up is King!

I still remember the first time I ever saw one (and I would have already deemed myself pretty strong at this point) and thinking “that dude is a beast!”. I wanted to take him out and buy him drinks just in the hope that he would like me! Then I saw a 10 year old girl do one… Naturally, I just wanted to kick her in the face. So clearly this girl couldn’t be stronger than me, so she must have been cheating! Which she was, she was using this thing called “technique” and what made it even worse was this other thing called… “Practicing”.

The progressions I am giving you here I teach to all my athletes, and every one that has devoted time to them has got their first muscle up, generally around 6 weeks.

She was using this thing called “technique” and what made it even worse was this other thing called… “Practicing”.

Even if you already have your muscle up, these progressions are great for tidying it up and helping you achieve multiple reps. A super secret programming technique for you: whichever ones you suck at, do them the most.

FALSE GRIP RINGS ROWS

One of the most important parts of the muscle up is the false grip, if it’s not solid you’re going to have a really hard time with your transition to the top.

Remember, set up is King! Wrist stretches should be done EVERY DAY in an extended and flexed position so you should have no problem attaining this. You HAVE to train the pull in this position or you will just not get through to the top, even if you can do 20 unbroken pull ups and dips, it is the wrist position that gives you leverage, turn out at the bottom and turn your knuckles to face each other then pull to your chest maintaining the grip at all times.

LEGLESS ROPE CLIMBS

If I see you climbing a rope using your legs it pretty much takes all of my willpower not to beat you to death with a lacrosse ball and rubber band! The BEST exercise for pulling and grip strength is the legless rope climb. If you can’t do it then scale it so that you’re still having to pull with your ARMS, unless your goal is to get better at standing up while holding on to something. Almost try to pull the rope to your stomach and the slower you move the better, think like a ninja.

RUSSIAN DIPS

The transition is the tricky part of the muscle up, and it’s generally were most people will get stuck when they’re having their first attempt, the Russian dip is a great way to break it down and just focus on that one part. Again, slower is better and you can really hit this one with some high volume, keep as low as possible during the transition from elbow to press and try to have a really long neck the whole way through the movement. It’s all about shifting your weight and moving your body as one unit, so your hollow body position is key here! Keep your elbows in close to your sides, this applies to the push up also.

THE BABY MUSCLE UP

The baby muscle up is putting the movement together with the feet still on the floor for a slight bit of assistance, opt for the tip toes rather than the ball of the foot or you may subconsciously push through your feet too much. Keep the rings as close as possible to you and break it down into 1. Pull to chest 2. Transition and 3. Press, feel the weight shift in your hand and make sure to maintain that false grip! The higher the rings are the more challenging this exercise is.

NEGATIVE MUSCLE UP

Again, this is putting the full movement together but in reverse. Take your time with this one and try to get that feeling of where your weight needs to be at each stage of the movement, be as ninja as possible! If you’re just dropping down in the transition part then go back to the baby muscle up until you get more strength, when you can do this movement with really good control you are well on your way to your first muscle up!

L-SIT LIFT OFF

I accidentally came up with this one day when I was practicing L-sit muscle ups. I had started to get tired then all of a sudden I starting stringing massive sets together, it took me a good 5 reps to realise I was actually just cheating. Set up with your false grip in place then drive through your heels to give yourself a boost to the rings, it’s all about the weight shift again, stay really tight through the middle and use the legs as a counter balance for the transition to the top of the rings, to make it slightly harder just don’t use your legs as much!

I’ve lots more progressions that I have used over the years but these days I spend more time getting rid of exercises to keep things more simplistic. So to recap, you’ve got your grip, your pull, your middle transition for below to above the rings, your dip and your lockout! All there in a nice bundle! Thank you for taking the time to read! And again don’t be afraid to follow my Coach page, I am forever posting tips on the silly things that everyone seems to miss! I hope to see you posting your first muscle up soon!

Check out my Facebook Page for more muscle up progressions!
And you can check out my original article on Boxrox here!