deconstructing calisthenics skills

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This last year, our team grew to include coaches from a multitude of disciplines. We feel that there’s a lot to learn from each of them and we didn’t want to close ourselves off by sticking to a single discipline.

Here’s something we’ve learned from our competitive gymnastics coaches:

They train athletes at competitive levels to achieve some of the most advanced skills humans can achieve. They need to structure the athletes’ training as effectively as possible. But trainers also need to guide them on their journey to unlock their skills while constantly assessing and adjusting their training for optimal results.

What is Deconstruction?

Breaking down a skill to its core components. We use deconstruction to understand, dismantle and analyze the skill from all possible angles. To determine what it takes to develop the skill;

  • Which muscles are involved?
  • How are they used?
  • Which ones need to be strengthened?
  • How does mobility come into play?
  • What kind of base-skills do you need to do this?


    The Movement Athlete was created with heavy input from competitive gymnastics coaches. Gymnastics movements can be highly complex and require very detailed deconstruction in order to teach. Successful Gymnastics Coaches develop the ability to guide athletes on their individual journeys while constantly assessing and adjusting their training.

    A great calisthenics or gymnastic coach consistently monitor:
    and growth

    Our gymnastics team has helped us distill the frameworks needed to assess, troubleshoot and personalize training adjustments. The Movement Athlete was built to gather and share this guidance and insight that has formerly been reserved for high-level competitive athletes.

    All these questions allow us to then deconstruct and understand in great detail how we can introduce this movement to a complete beginner with ZERO experience in order to build it up. 

    Rather than look at an individual’s specific abilities, we first deconstruct each skill and build a path that even the most unlikely beginner can succeed in unlocking the skill…if they follow the progression. 

    This is why our team of trainers and physiotherapists spend a lot of time deconstructing the movements we teach. 


    Let’s take a look at the handstand

    Check out this example of a Handstand. It’s a perfect example of a move that requires more than strength to achieve it, which is why we deconstructed the movement to its most fundamental structure. 

    To master the freestanding handstand, you need to meet a number of requirements, such as strength, mobility, flexibility, and core stability. 

    The problem is that it’s usually hard to know which of these elements are holding you back. How can you correct them, if you haven’t deconstructed the movement? 

     You probably have enough upper body strength to hold your body upside down and go into a handstand… Yet without core and body-line strength; without shoulder, wrist and hip mobility, and without flexibility, you’ll never be able to master your handstand. 

    Through trials and research, we
    know the precise ability you need to
    complete each physical move

    In the picture, notice that the hips are fully extended, the lumbar spine is in a neutral position, the shoulder joint is fully opened, elbows are at their full extension and wrists are at 90 degrees. 

    There’s a number of areas that you need to develop while performing the handstand. And lacking in one means that you will compensate with the others, like arching your back, similarly to the picture below.



    At The Movement Athlete Academy, our team of trainers and physiotherapists deconstruct each and every skill to the smallest detail of muscle tissues involved, or the mechanics of the human movement.

    We look at everything involved and, based on that, create initial requirements, prerequisites and a path to follow to achieve that skill – starting from an absolute zero. That ensures the development of all the different areas in the right order to eventually put it all together.

    As you go through this journey, you should be adjusting training based on feedback and on regular assessments of your last workouts.


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