Join the tribe of Movement & Calisthenics Athletes – people just like you that are working with their own body weight to get strength, lose fat build muscle, recover from injuries and live their best lives!
Many people start with a good attitude and strong motivation when they first begin their calisthenics training. They have big dreams of doing pull-ups, planches, and getting into the perfect shape that they see on TV. However, after just a few weeks of training, they get discouraged because they do not see any progress in their workouts. 😢
There are many reasons why you might be hitting a plateau in your training no matter where you are in your calisthenics journey.
☝️In this article, we will discuss some common mistakes made by trainees, beginners to advanced, that can hinder progress – so if you want to keep up the excellent work, then read on!
❌Mistake number 1 – Not training with a proper, structured program
Sample of The Movement Athlete‘s pull-up training plan
Doing random exercises during your workout will not be effective in the long term. 🎯A training program must guide you through the process, ensuring that each muscle group or component is worked out correctly and all your energy is focused on achieving a goal (whether to gain muscle, lose fat, both, or learn a new skill).
👊Following a training program sets up a direction where your workouts are headed and lets you be more objective with your training. This translates to more concrete results rather than training aimlessly.
But not all programs are the same.👎
First of all, it should induce progressive overload with each workout.
Progressive overload in the principle of making each session more challenging than the previous one. Here’s a brief of what you can change each session to make it harder:
- Increase by at least a single rep
- Decrease rest periods
- Increase the intensity of an exercise by using progressions
For more methods of following a progressive approach, check out the article below:
Not having proper progressions built into your workout plan will also lead to stagnation because your exercises will be limited.
Progressions are sets of exercises with increasing or decreasing difficulty to help you reach an exercise goal. This is the bread and butter of bodyweight training.
With weight lifting, progress can be made by increasing weight.
In calisthenics, we use progressions. We have tons of ways to alter the difficulty of an exercise, but the general concept is adjusting our body leverage to put ourselves in a more mechanically disadvantageous position.
⚡️Adaptive and personalized
A progressive program won’t do any good if it’s not both adaptive and personalized.
A one-size-fits-all training program can actually do more harm than good. We can’t easily categorize a person among beginners, intermediates, and advanced. There are too many factors and spectrums within those three domains.
⚡️A personalized training plan.
Read more on this article: Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced programs and how it is hurting your progress.📍
Another characteristic that an effective program should have is adaptiveness. It must be able to adapt to your ever-changing situation.
Let’s face it. Progress is not linear, and we can’t always give our 120% each workout session. It isn’t possible with the many responsibilities we also have in our lives.
The solution is an adaptive program that can provide a program that lets you schedule while not leaving you burnt out in the long run.
Life is not a race, and so is your fitness journey. Take it slow with an adaptive program such as the one from The Movement Athlete.
❌Mistake number 2 – Too many exercises
The phrase “workout ‘til you drop” is overrated!
Here’s a common beginner mistake that even some advanced athletes make, doing too many exercises.
🙌When you’re highly motivated, it’s easy to gather up the energy to work out and train for every possible calisthenics move that exists.
However, the problem is when you go overboard and try to do lots of exercises in the same workout. This can only lead to overtraining, which leads to injuries or, even worse – stagnation.
I’ve seen this happen with certain athletes where they don’t make progress because they are doing too much stuff without even a single rest day at all!
There are two problems with this mistake.
- One, doing too many exercises will not help you develop enough towards a specific goal.
For example, if you’re aiming for muscle growth, your primary exercises must be geared towards that goal while having some of the accessory exercises to further focus on muscle failure.
🤜Same thing if you want to maximize your strength gains. You have to hit the sweet spot of high-intensity bodyweight exercises while supplementing it with muscle-building exercises to increase the potential of your muscle to develop strength.
Doing too many exercises that target many goals will make you fatigued even before you achieve the main focus of your training session.
- Two, your muscles, nervous system, your body, in general, requires adequate rest.
Doing too many exercises, especially if you’re just starting out will leave you burnt out and sore every day.
If you’re training the same muscle groups, such as a full-body workout, leave some rest days in between. At least 24-48 hours of rest per muscle group is the ideal course that allows recovery and maximum development.
❌Mistake number 3 – Wrong exercises for specific goals
One arm planche is only possible if you train for one-arm planche… (but first master the full planche!)
This one is pretty similar to the mistake above.
The exercises you do should focus on what you want to master or achieve.
⚡️Master the fundamentals
First of all, master the basics of calisthenics. It won’t do you any wrong. Training with the basics sets the best foundation for maximum progress so that you can gain strength, mobility, muscle, and other elements to live your best lives in a safe and efficient manner.
✊ Fundamental is a must for harder exercises. Here’s the brief of the basics:
- Handstand (wall)
- Core exercises (back, abs, side, bodyline)
Once you get this down, you can proceed to your specific goals.
⚡️Training for specificity
If you want to learn the planche, your exercises should be geared towards the planche.
If you want to learn the front lever, your program should stay focused on the front lever.
If you want to lose fat, build muscle mass, your progressions should be geared towards that goal.💯
You will not learn planche if your routine consists of 1 planche exercise, then diamond pushups, pull-ups, and front lever work.
If you have a specific goal, then you have to train specifically for that specific goal.
For example, in the planche calisthenics journey, a routine would include exercises such as:
- ✔️Planche leans – to train specific forward lean
- ✔️Tuck planche – for specific strength for planche
- ✔️Leg extensions – to train the lower body segment of planche
- ✔️Scapula pushups – to strengthen the scapula, which plays a major role in the planche technique
❌Mistake number 4 – Too many changes in the routine
It’s good to have a variety of exercises in your routine. It’s also good to switch it up from time to time, but this doesn’t mean you need to change your workout routine every day, every week.
Too many changes in your routine will lead to uneven progress. This is because the human body gains muscle memory only when it has repeated a particular exercise pattern several times.
If you make too many changes in the regimen, you’ll be training different muscles groups with each workout – which means no big advances are likely to happen through this method of calisthenics training.
At the same time, doing the same exercises over and over again without any changes can also lead to a halt in your progress.
📌As a good general rule to follow, train with a set of exercises for 4 – 6 weeks get a deload week; then you can move to a new program OR use the same set but with higher intensity.
❌Mistake number 5 – Doing too much too soon
Make sure to build a solid foundation (push-ups and core strength) before trying out, even as basic as the wall handstand
When working with your own body weight, it is also possible to do “ego lifting” of the weight lifting and gym world.
This is doing advanced calisthenics movements or harder progression when you are not ready enough.
Not only can this lead to stagnation, but you can also hurt yourself with torn muscles or joint pain that can set your progress way back!
🥺 Never overestimate yourself. Follow a calisthenics progression from the bottom then to the next progression without jumping too soon.
Similarly, you don’t have to do too many reps, which leads to failure all the time. Leave a rep or two in your tank when you finish a set.
💪You can build muscle, gain strength without pushing to failure all the time.
❌Mistake number 6 – Doing too little
Finding your workout too easy? Then that’s what could be holding your progress.
On the other hand, don’t be too relaxed with your training.
Your muscles 💪won’t grow if they are not challenged. So aiming close to failure to get a proper amount of training volume is a good benchmark when working with body weight.
👍Choose the correct intensity that also and meet the proper volume. It’s a mix of different techniques as long as you meet the appropriate amount of stimulation.
As I said earlier, it’s not good to overdo things, but you also won’t make any progress if you’re training under the necessary load.
Keep things challenging.🔥🔥
❌Mistake number 7 – Not getting the right nutrition
Looks yummy! Tons of calories, but is this really what you want and need as regular fuel?
Factors outside your training also have a massive effect on your goals.
They say that “abs are made in the kitchen.”💥
Technically, we all have abs, but they are just hiding under a good layer of fat.
If you want your six-pack to show you, you need to shed those fats away.
Follow this general guide for general goals:
💪Muscle gain = Caloric surplus (Calories should be over the number needed to sustain your body weight)
🤸♀️Fat loss = Caloric deficit (Calories should be below the number needed)
👀Body recomposition (muscle gain + fat loss but slower progress) = Slight caloric deficit (100-200 calories + high protein)
Another thing is your macronutrients. Get in the proper protein, carbs, and fats your body needs.
A proper diet sounds confusing, but you can simply eat whole foods, some “cheat foods” in moderation, and you will make progress.
Of course, if you want the fastest progress possible, then yes, following these general guidelines will boost your way in your journey.💯
❌Mistake number 8 – Having bad recovery habits
Get the proper amount of high-quality 😴zzz’s every night!
No matter how smart we train and how good we eat, we will not grow if we don’t leave proper recovery for our bodies.
💪Our bodies get stronger during our rest, not during our workout. Most people need around 7-9 hours of good quality sleep.
Aside from that, your day-to-day stress should be managed. Having an overly stressful life has a massive impact on your recovery and will hinder any gains you make.
✊If you’re having a hard time in other aspects of your life, you can take a step back with your bodyweight training for a bit. Even if it’s just for a day or a week or two, take a step back rather than find your progress and motivation lost for a lifetime.
Stress is a killer. Take it easy.
❌Mistake number 9 – Not consistent enough
This one is kinda like doing too little but is a killer in the progress department BIG TIME.
👊Whether you’re working on calisthenics, in the gym with weights, or training other skills like guitar, if you’re not practicing/training consistently, you will never make any headway in your journey.
Consistent training builds up over time no matter how small you put in your daily, weekly, monthly activities.🎯
One day per week of training, no matter how intense your session is, is never a good thing. It’s not enough.
When first starting out, allot a small portion of your time consistently. Over a period of time, you can increase the time, move to progression, add more reps, and you will gain headway.
Make a consistent effort, and you will definitely feel and see the improvements soon.🏆
To sum things up:
Training hard is good but training smart is better!
✅ Calisthenics is an amazing approach, but it’s easy to forget basic principles and concepts that allow maximum progress in our bodyweight mastery journey.
These tips not only work with calisthenics but also with any other training method.
✅ Take a smarter approach to fitness, and you will surely make progress over time.
✅ Stay consistent and stay patient. What you do every day, no matter how little, matters and builds up.
🔥If you need more help, check out The Movement Athlete and begin your journey with a proper assessment of your current capabilities.💪💪💪