First and foremost, you must have the fire in you; you have to motivate yourself and be dedicated. Calisthenics, and specifically working with bars (dip, pull up, etc.) requires strength, skill, and low body fat. What most people don’t know is that your diet is a tremendous part of your bar training; it has to be a lifestyle. Eating the right amount of nutritional food will help build your muscles stronger and faster while also helping you drop fat. Then you have to master the basics: pull ups, push ups, and dips. When I really started taking my training seriously, I started doing push ups daily. I began noticing that I was ringing in over 300 push ups a day in a variety of variations: neutral, wide, diamond, etc. Since push ups are one of the best overall total body workouts, it helped develop my strength and I was able to build the necessary foundation to execute other, more difficult exercises much more easily. The main thing that you want to keep in mind, as a beginner of calisthenics, is that you should always have the mindset of a student because there is always room to grow and improve.If all you had was 20 minutes to devote to training today, what attributes would you spend that 20 minutes working on? What would this program look like?
Calisthenics make the ligaments and tendons stronger, allowing bar athletes to lift tremendous amounts of weight in addition to easily moving their bodyweight. It gives you extreme inner strength, muscle endurance, balance, flexibility, power and explosiveness, helping you work muscles you never knew you had.
When you use typical bodybuilding weightlifting techniques, you isolate individual muscle groups. Calisthenics allows you to work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Historically, people have stayed in shape by utilizing their natural environment to build their strength and conditioning levels. Calisthenics is the same; you can walk to a park or even stay in your room and build an incredible body by simply using your bodyweight.
One of the main reasons why I do calisthenics is because it gives me the ability to move my body in any way I want to. There is never a plateau in my training. Once you understand that any movement is possible through training, the possibilites are endless. When I am on the bar performing different moves, I move when I want to move; I try to be the bar and flow with the bar. When I am on the dip bar, I try to challenge myself by doing complex, dynamic moves that I have never done before.
Sometimes I like to take my struggles out on the bar; it depends on how my day may be going and how I feel in that particular moment. On days I might be feeling more relaxed, I am calm and smooth on the bar. Other days I may want to break the bars out of aggression, this is when my moves become more complex and creative. You always want to have fun and step out of your comfort zone by overcoming any fears that you may have at the moment.
Calisthenics is not just working out or a sport to me, it’s my life. This is what I live for everyday. I breathe, eat, and sleep it. If I take a day off my training, even if I’m tired, sore, or hurt, I feel like I’m off my game and slacking. To be a real bar athlete, you have to take it as a lifestyle. I feel like bar athletes are the most dedicated and strongest athletes in the world. To get to this level takes hard work and dedication. This does not just happen overnight. You have to be consistent with your training and have the patience and belief that great things will come. If you don’t have this mindset, then this sport is not for you. Even though calisthenics is fun, I take my training very seriously. When I’m training, it doesn’t matter if I’m in a good or bad mood because I block out everything, I’m in my own world. When I’m in the zone I cannot get distracted, it does not matter what is going on around me.
The passion I have for this sport is insane. As much as I train, I never know when to stop. I feel like I have not trained enough until all my body parts are hurting. I will never stop doing this, it is a high everyday. All I want to do is inspire people and let them know that if you work hard, you can accomplish whatever you wish. I don’t believe in luck, I just think that if you believe in yourself and challenge yourself you can be great.
The Downward Facing Dog is one of the most commonly used yoga postures for a reason...it rocks! If done well this posture works the whole posterior chain, releasing the hamstrings and stabilizing the shoulders. Put this posture into movement with the Bear Squat and you are in for a treat!
Check out one of Raed Barance's videos:
This article was featured in the Oct/Nov 2011 Issue of the My Mad Methods Magazine. "20-Minute Metcon: Unconventional Bodyweight Training for Dynamic Strength & Flexibility" was written by the John Wolf. Learn more about the My Mad Methods Magazine by Clicking Here
Raed "Ice Water" Barance, trainer and My Mad Methods Magazine Contributor, trains out of San Francisco and creates some of the most cinematic and unique bodyweight videos online. Find out more
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