top of page

In 2020 our use of the internet to help us carry out tasks that had until then been more commonly carried out in person increased dramatically, for obvious reasons. While internet shopping was nothing new, the situation we all found ourselves in inevitably led to us relying on on-line shopping platforms more and more. Similarly, while video conferencing was not a new concept, the need to stay out of large groups led to work meetings and social occasions alike shifting to Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meetings. And of-course, gyms were closed, personal trainers unable to meet with their clients in-person, so a move on-line was also necessitated in the health and fitness arena.

Now 2020 was a particularly rare set of circumstances, so when those circumstances abated and we were able to return to in-person PT sessions and live ‘in the flesh’ classes one could have expected a gradual market shift away from online, but no…In the period covering 2021 to 2027 the on-line fitness industry is due to grow by just over 35% each year globally from $0.7 billion, to $4.5 billion (The Express Wire, December 2022). Covid or no covid, the trend of working out using some kind of online service or platform shows no signs of slowing, and for good reasons which we’ll go over in more detail below. First lets quickly define the two more common types of online coaching.

1. Distance Coaching – You have the same consultation and bespoke goal setting/needs analysis process that you would receive from a traditional personal training service. From this point you receive your own bespoke workout plan to complete in your own time. Each session you record footage of yours

elf completing key parts of your workout and submit this video footage to your coach along with any written notes you think relevant (this is often neatly packaged within an app of some kind). Your coach can then provide feedback on your submitted footage and notes with any form adjustments/advice. They will also use this to continue writing your programming into the future weeks depending on your own level of progress and needs that may arise as you continue your training.

2. Live Online PT – This is much the same as an ‘in real life’ personal training session however your trainer is with you via video link rather than in-person.

So, what are some of the best reasons to receive your coaching on-line rather than in-person?

  • If you have a busy schedule, it may be hard to fit yours in with that of your chosen PT/Coach. Good coaches that get results for their clients are highly sought after, and most people want to see them in the slots they have before or after work, which there are only so many of. In the distance coaching model, you’re both freed up to train and give feedback, respectively, as and when you can.

  • Often you can’t find a coach locally that specialises in what you want to train. If you decide to source your coaching online, you have a much wider potential pool of coaching talent to draw on i.e. anywhere in the world (as long as you speak the same language).

  • If you have a limited budget to spend on coaching distance online coaching is usually a much more cost effective than in person sessions – for some the benefit of this cost effectiveness out ways the benefits of a higher cost in-person service.

  • If you simply lack knowledge of how to programme for yourself to reach a specific goal but are confident with your execution of basic exercises then live, on the fly coaching is less relevant to you. You simply need someone to define and set you on the path rather than someone to walk it with you at every step.

So, to summarize the main benefits of the two main forms of online coaching are:

1. Distance Online Coaching

  • Bespoke programming and feedback that pivots to meet your specific needs as and when they arise.

  • Good balance between cost and receiving a bespoke service.

  • Workout whenever and wherever is convenient for you.

  • Wider pool of coaches than just

your local area.

2. Live Online PT

  • Bespoke programming and feedback that pivots to meet your specific needs as and when they arise.

  • High contact time leads t

o in depth coach knowledge of all of your traits (physical, psychological, personal etc.) leading to the likely the best programming in the long term.

  • Immediate fixes for technical issues, live, in-session. This is great for technique heavy work like handstands

and muscle-up etc.

  • For certain personality types, direct 3rd party motivation during the session is useful.

If you’re interested in learning more about online coaching from Cali-Strength click HERE. Leave us some details about your goals whether it be unlocking the muscle-up, handstand or even your first pull-up and we’ll get back to you asap.

Happy Training!


54 views0 comments

When starting calisthenics as a beginner, or any kind of strength training for that matter, the array of information available can be bewildering. This can lead to a lot of confusion and the adage, paralysis by analysis can set in… This blog is designed to give some basic guidance on what your main priorities should be as a person newer to resistance training of any kind, with some specifics towards calisthenics also…

1. Do skills and hard exercises first!

Often when training in the park or at the gym, you might see someone do something along the lines of… a big set of dips, kinda rest for 30 seconds or so, then try and kick up to handstand for 5 mins without much success. Another example: a set of pull-ups to failure, then a minute or so later try and hit a muscle-up for multiple attempts. This is not an attempt to belittle this person because they are a beginner, far from it. Better to be trying than not at all right? But there is a better way to approach this. In most cases if you’re trying to get better at a complex skill that requires you to be mentally and physically fresh, do not do it when fatigued. As a rule of thumb it is usually best to start a workout with the most complex movements, exercises and/or skill. This concept follows through to strength movements as well as the skills mentioned above. To use an easily understandable example if you were planning to train legs with barbell back squats and leg press in a training session, the squat would in almost all cases (maybe aside from injury rehab situations) be the exercise to start with. To move the barbell efficiently by changing the joint angles of the hip, knee and ankle in such a way that moves the barbell in straight vertical path is a far more mentally and physically challenging task than moving the fixed path of the leg press.

2. To begin with focus on using compound exercises, with good form, that train the basic movement patterns…

As a beginner in your first few months of training, you are so sensitive to the stimulus that will come from resistance training that you really don’t need to spend time in your workouts hammering lots of isolation exercises (exercises that use 1 joint and focus on a single muscle) like biceps curls, triceps extensions, seated leg extensions etc. to see good muscle and strength gain. Compound exercises are exercises that use 2 or more joints and spread load over several muscles e.g. squatting that incorporates knee, hip and ankle joints, or pull-ups that incorporate shoulder and elbow joints.

Here is a list of the main basic human movement patterns and examples of exercises that will train them with calisthenics or free-weight or machines.

a. Push – Uses the muscles of the chest, triceps and anterior shoulder as the prime movers. Pushing exercises can be split into vertical push e.g. pike push-ups or overhead barbell press and horizontal push e.g. push-ups or flat bench press.

b. Pull – Uses muscles of the mid and upper back, biceps and posterior shoulder as the prime movers. Can be split into horizontal pull e.g. bodyweight rows a.k.a. Australian pull-ups or bent over barbell row and vertical pull e.g. pull-ups or Lat pull-downs.

c. Squat – Uses the quads, hamstrings and glutes as the prime movers (predominantly quads). Pistol or shrimp squats are examples of calisthenics squats and barbell squats or leg press could be gym based examples.

d. Hip Hinge – Uses the hamstrings and glutes as prime movers. There aren’t any purely bodyweight exercises that provide enough load on the prime movers to create a good stimulus (single legged glute bridges will however train similar muscles) which is a good argument for calisthenics focussed athletes to incorporate one of the following gym based exercises like barbell deadlifts or single legged dumbbell Romanian deadlifts.

e. Lunge – Similar prime movers as the squat but reduced emphasis on the quads due to less knee flexion, lunges also require more stabilization due to the split stance. Bodyweight Bulgarian split squats can be used in calisthenics, walking dumbbell lunges are a gym based example.

f. Rotation – Prime movers are the obliques and core. Russian twists and cable wood chops are examples of calisthenics and gym based exercises respectively.

3. Ramp up volume over time don’t go crazy straight away.

Volume is simply the amount of work done in a given period (one workouts, a week of workouts etc. and can be measured in a few different ways but the easiest to understand total number of reps). When you start training you’ll be very responsive to the stimulus from training so overdoing the amount of volume you do in a workout for a muscle group can be time in-efficient. That is to say the progress gained from volume at a certain point in a workout diminishes and at certain point the negatives from doing that volume outweigh the positives. Equally if you jump straight in on day 1 with 20 sets purely on a single muscle group the DOMs (delayed on-set muscle soreness) will likely be horrendous! Your body only needs a little to grow at first, as it adapts it will need a little more to grow, and so on. Think of the amount of volume required for you to grow as a range, not a finite amount, so a gradual progression overtime from somewhere near the bottom of that range to somewhere near the top makes sense. If you start at the maximum amount of volume (or even higher!) that a muscle group can recover from before you come back to train, where can you go from there to progress?

Also, Contrary to a once widely held belief, you do not need to constantly go to failure to build muscle. In fact if you’re newer to training your technique just won’t be optimal (which is fine!) so going to failure too early can be dangerous with some exercises. The main thing to focus on to make good consistent gains is that what you’re doing is challenging and safe. An easy way to start is to ramp up the amount of reps you do slowly over several weeks gradually. As you progress, naturally you will come closer to failure as the weeks go on and eventually get to failure after a lot of practice with the movement. Going to failure is fine here and there (and can be a useful stimulus), but doing it too often is very fatiguing for your body and psychologically taxing.

4. Do the basics well, keep it simple and consistent…complex programming and progression is unnecessary.

Following on from my point number 2, as someone new to training you really don’t need to complicate things in terms of exercise selection and the reps and set schemes you use. In a gym there are often a lot of ways to do basically the same thing…a push up, barbell bench press, dumbbell bench press, machine chest press all do basically the same thing when it comes to stimulating growth so don’t stress too much at the start which one to pick if your main goal is to build muscle. In the future there maybe good reason to pick one of these rather than the other but for now go with the one that’s convenient and enjoyable for you.

You may also see others using certain techniques such as drop sets (dropping the weight of an exercise at, or close to failure to extend a set), agonist super-sets (performing 2 exercises for the same muscle group back-to-back with minimal to no rest between) etc. These things can be useful but are generally better used for more advanced trainees whose response to the stimulus of training is lessened compared to that of newer trainees. As a newer trainee your muscles will be very responsive to the new stimulus from training and as long as you are consistent and keep showing up, you’ll continue to make these ‘newbie gains’ for many months. So, keep it simple and pick 2-3 exercises for a muscle group/movement pattern (see point 2) and stick to those for at least 8-12 weeks getting more proficient with them as you go. To progress just try and do a rep or two more than you did last time, or maybe add a set or add a small amount of weight. Even just improve your technique and keep all else the same as this is also a form of progress!

If you’re looking for help getting you on the right track with your training to hit those 2022 goals, head over to the contact page to start the FREE consultation process.

129 views0 comments

This blog post is 3rd in a series on strength training read the 1st HERE and the 2nd HERE

First let’s give a basic definition of phase potentiation. Phase potentiation is the splitting of longer periods of a training that are aimed at a specific end goal, into shorter phases that focus on a subset of skills and/or adaptations. Each phase supports, or ‘potentiates’ the next phase of training, rather than

trying to progress all of the adaptations we are seeking at the same time. The analogy ‘being a jack of all trades and master of none’ is a good fit here. Focus on one adaptation in a phase for a set time period and you’ll progress quicker in that area, and if you sequence the phases properly, each phase will support the next.

In sports, the end goal is usually a competition, so the training program uses the date of the competition as the main factor that decides all the months, weeks and days of training that precede it. Essentially take the date you need to be ‘in shape’ for your sport, and work backwards to sensibly plan the training program. If we are a recreational strength trainee then the equivalent of our ‘competition’ is likely a max strength test. This could be a 1RM test, or in our case as calisthenics practitioners looking to unlock advanced skills/movements, our max strength test will either be testing to see if we are able to perform the skill/movement itself or testing if we have achieved a n

ew theoretical 1RM in the progressions that lead up to the skill e.g. we use feet elevated pike push-ups to lead up to attempting a chest to wall assisted HSPU as our 1RM test.

The 3 phases that will appear in all phase potentiation style programs for strength training include Hypertrophy, Strength and Peaking. There can be others, including ‘general physical preparedness’ and ‘power’, depending on the sport/activity but they are less applicable in our case. The purposes of these 3 main phases are as follows: -

Hypertrophy – Add new muscle tissue, using high relative volumes and moderate intensity. Exercise selection will be more varied at this point, you will do some of the main lifts your training to get stronger in but also a higher relative amount of accessory work to build your weak points that could be limiting factors in the next phases. Generally sets will be in the 6-12 rep range and intensity between 65% and 80%, give or take. Depending on how advanced a trainee you are this phase could last a few weeks for less advanced, to several months for those more advanced that need to build more volume over this phase due to them being

closer to their bodies maximum potential muscle mass.

Strength – Take the new muscle tissue grown in the previous phase and train your nervous system, to allow maximal contraction of the new muscle. This facilitates lifting greater loads (my last article explains this in more detail). This is achieved by decreasing average volume (sets x reps) and increa

sing average intensity (weight lifted or difficulty of progression used) as per the examples show in my previous article. Your volume of accessory movements decreases to allow good recovery between sessions for the new high intensities. Reps per set will mostly be 3-6 with intensities increasing to between roughly 80% and 90%. Again this phase could be several week to several months depending on your ‘training age’.

Peaking – Volume is significantly lowered in order to drop as much fatigue from the weeks of training previous. Intensity is highest in this phase to promote the neurological skill of maximal motor unit recruitment, 90% and above of your 1RM and reps of 3 or less. You do very little or no accessory work, focussing on your main

lifts/movements. This phase should be the shortest as the low volume will eventually lead to losing muscle mass gained in previous phases if continued for too long, often just a couple of weeks.

If you peak well you should be well recovered with minimal fatigue and simultaneously you’ll be bigger and stronger than you were when you started the program. Now is the time to go for a new 1RM, or in the case of the calisthenics athlete, test to see if you can hit that handstand push-up, one arm chin-up or planche push-up you’ve been chasing! After you’ve tested, rinse and repeat the process. When you start your new hypertrophy phase the percentage intensities would be similar or the same but as your new 1RM is higher, your loads or progressions of a bodyweight exercise should be higher than when you started your last hypertrophy phase.

Thanks for reading!

90 views0 comments
bottom of page