Skills And Basics In Calisthenics, What Should You Train?

Hello ProjectCalisthenics! You’ve got the Barkage of the Hidden Gains Village here today. I have been training calisthenics for a little over 5 years now and am excited to share some of the knowledge that I have acquired along the way. For my first article, I will be talking about the differences between basics and skills and how to optimize both to allow you to build muscle and gain strength in the skills.

What are skills and basics?

In calisthenics, there are 2 types of exercises: skills and basics. The term “basics” usually refers to the 4 most basic calisthenics exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, dips, and squats) and their variations. The second type of exercise are skills. Skills are much complex than the basic exercises and are often sought after due to their beauty and how gravity-defying they look. Some examples of skills include: Muscle-up, front lever, handstand, planche, etc. In short, the basics are meant to be utilized to build strength to achieve the various skills.

Skills and Building Muscle

The common consensus is that skills aren’t good for building muscle and basics are. However, I highly disagree with this. Skills are extremely high-intensity exercises. To keep things very simple, in order to build muscle, you want to work until failure and then your muscles will come back stronger. The fact that skills are so high intensity makes it easier to work till failure and makes them very effective for building muscle. And let’s not forget that training skills is really fun as well!

With that said, there are still a few things to point out with skill training and building muscle. Number 1, a lot of calisthenics skills are isometric. This means that there is no change in the length of the muscle when it is contracted. Research has shown that movements with concentric and eccentric contractions are more effective for building muscle. Therefore, it is important to select more dynamic exercises when training for skills. The second thing to note with skill training is that they are skills, which means that they have a skill component. For example, let’s say that you are training to achieve the handstand push-up. Not only does this skill require a sufficient amount of strength to perform, but it also requires you to be able to balance on your hands. This skill component can make it difficult to train this move.

My Approach skills and basics

Before I finish off today’s post, I will share the method that I have personally found to be the most effective when trying to train skills and basics.

  • Attempts: I will always start my training session with attempts of whatever skills I am trying to achieve. I will go for attempts of these skills until I am unable to attempt them anymore.
  • Accessories: After I have exhausted my attempts, I will do easier progressions of the skill I am trying to achieve. For example, if the skill I am aiming for is planche, then for the accessories I will do sets and reps of easier planche exercises such as tuck planche push-ups, planche lean push-ups, or tuck planche presses.
  • Basics: At the end of my training session, I will always train basic exercises. If I started with attempts of a pull skill such as front lever, then I will do pull ups at the end. And if I started with attempts of a push skill such as the planche, then I will train dips at the end.

This method allows you to effectively combine sets and reps style training with skill training, which will allow you to efficiently build muscle and strength in the skills.

Thanks for checking out this post and I hope you have an awesome day 🙂

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