In the art of calisthenics, there are numerous factors to consider. Core strength, grip strength, flexibility, agility and many more.
Since this form of exercise carries a wide array of different movements and holds, you will certainly require a solid foundation of strength in all these areas to be successful in doing them all.
That being said, allow me to introduce you to a very important form of strength. It is specific to calisthenics and is incredibly essential if you want to work your way up to the top tier levels of this sport.
It is known in the calisthenics community as straight arm strength and I’m going to tell you all about it!
More specifically, in this article, I’m going to explain to you what straight arm strength is, the importance of straight arm strength and lastly, how you can develop it yourself! Let’s get into this everyone.
What is straight arm strength?
If you’ve been doing calisthenics for long enough, you will probably be aware of all the many holds there is. Holds such as the front lever negatives, dragon flag, tuck front lever all have something in common…
In this case, all these holds and more require a solid foundation of straight arm strength but what is it exactly?
Straight arm strength refers to the strength and durability of all the muscles from your hands all the way up to your forearms. The muscles in question are typically under-worked in the absence of very specific calisthenic movements hence most people having very poor straight arm strength.
The importance of straight arm strength
As mentioned earlier, a good portion of the calisthenic exercises is actually static holds. These holds are extremely difficult to pull off and require a tremendous amount of core strength, not to mention practise.
While these holds do require a tremendous amount of core strength, they also require a lot of straight arm strength…
In terms of calisthenic success, to pull off any of these holds, you will need that tip of the iceberg, the icing on the cake, the icing being that solid foundation of straight arm power.
You can have the world’s strongest core muscles but without straight arm strength, you will struggle to try to pull off any of the holds this sport has to offer.
How to build straight arm strength
Unfortunately, building straight arm strength is no easy task. Not only will it take hard work and time but it will require complete on-point technique.
That being said, it is not impossible…
Here I will provide you with four exercises. These exercises must first be mastered with the technique before they are practiced rigorously in order to successfully develop more straight arm strength. Without further ado,
let’s get into this!
- Practise reverse muscle-up negatives. Perhaps a little unorthodox in terms of practise techniques but this method will help all the same. To utilise this method, get yourself into the last part of the muscle-up position where your arms are bent. Whilst straightening them out, lower yourself back down. Do this as slowly as you can to develop more straight arm strength.
- Try doing static ring planks. As stated in the pointer, you will need gymnastic rings to complete this exercise. Assuming you have them, let’s get into it. First things first, you will need the rings hanging from a beam and lowered fairly close to the floor. Next, grip both rings with one in each hand and position yourself in the plank position with both arms fully extended. Over time, you will develop more straight arm strength.
- Be sure to do the RTO ring fly pulses. If you’ve mastered the exercise above, this exercise is a very nice step up. To begin this exercise, attain the same positioning as you did with the exercise above. Now, here’s the twist that makes this exercise harder, slowly widen the width of your arms in front of you! Extend them as far as you can go until the point where you struggle. Hold this positioning for as long as you can.
- Last but not least, dumbbell Zanetti fly. This is perhaps the greatest movement on this list as it not only contributes towards a stronger straight arm but it gives your core a fantastic workout too! To begin this exercise, lie flat on your back – (this can be on a bench or floor). Press both legs together and raise them up about half a meter. Whilst holding this position, grab a pair of dumbbells with your palms facing up and hold them out to your side. Next, separate each arm from your body by about half a meter and bring both arms all the way up until the dumbbells touch each other. During the movement, for maximum effectiveness, ensure that both arms are completely straight.
Things to consider…
Firstly, if you suffer from joint pain, poor joints, arthritis, and/or poor blood circulation, I would recommend that you stay away from trying to develop more straight arm strength than you have. Doing so could cause your conditions to exacerbate and/or you could hurt yourself when attempting this.
Secondly, ensure that a warm-up set is done every time before you start practicing the above exercises. If for some reason your joints and tendons are stiff and/or cold, you carry the potential for injury if you do not warm up.
Lastly, do not overdo it! Listen, there is only so much abuse your body can take before it crumbles. In this case, the body will crumble in terms of fatigue, brain fog, muscle loss, and less overall strength.
Granted, it would take a lot to get to this point but it is still possible and worth keeping in mind when you go forward with your program in the future.
Before you began this article, you were most likely a little confused as to what straight arm strength actually is. In fact, you were probably just as clueless on where to even begin and this is perfectly normal, we all start somewhere.
It is for this very reason that I have formulated a perfect guide on the matter, to help anyone out there who is uninformed on the matter, just like I was.
So, if you’ve reached this point, you will now not only understand the basics of straight arms strength but you will understand the importance, how to develop it, and lastly, important things to consider before starting.
Now that I have set you up for success, get out there develop some truly fantastic straight arm strength!