The Meathook

by Al Kavadlo on March 31, 2015

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Al Kavadlo Meathook

PCC Lead Instructor Al Kavadlo demonstrates the meathook.

Using all of the body’s musculature together as one cohesive unit is among my favorite aspects of bodyweight training. Iso-lateral calisthenics moves like the “one arm push-up” are misleadingly named, as they require strength throughout the entire body—not just one of its appendages. Few iso-lateral moves demonstrate this full body harmony better than the little known (and perhaps more aptly named) “meathook” exercise.

Hooked on Calisthenics
Though a full body movement, the meathook still emphasizes certain areas. It requires tremendous grip strength as well as monstrous shoulders and lats, plus a powerful core. If you don’t have those attributes yet, practicing toward this move can help you build those areas along the way.

Before you are even ready to begin working toward the meathook, however, the first step is to be sure that you have a solid foundation in push-ups, pull-ups and hanging knee raises. I recommend getting to at least 30 push-ups, 20 hanging knee raises and 10 pull-ups before you even consider attempting the meathook. (Those numbers may look familiar.) I also suggest you get comfortable with full range-of-motion, straight hanging leg raises before working toward a meathook. You should to be able to get your shins all the way to the bar before you move on to the next step.

Al Kavadlo Hanging Leg Raise

Get comfortable with full range-of-motion, straight hanging leg raises before working toward a meathook.

Wipe Out!
The windshield wiper is a very challenging exercise in its own right, but it is also a crucial lead-up step toward the meathook. Once you’ve met those initial requisites, your next step is to start working on windshield wipers. Begin by hanging from an overhead apparatus, then raise your shins to the bar and begin rotating your legs and hips toward one side. Aim to get your legs parallel to the ground before reversing direction and lowering them to the opposite side.

Once you get comfortable performing several windshield wipers in a row, you’re almost ready to attempt the meathook, which you can think of like a static windshield wiper held on just one arm. Naturally, before you’re ready for all that, you’ll need to get comfortable performing a basic hang on one arm. These can be surprisingly tough when you are starting out. I advise you to use the progressions in Convict Conditioning 2 to build toward a one arm hang if you aren’t there yet.

Al and Danny Kavadlo Windshield Wipers

The windshield wiper is a crucial lead-up step toward the meathook.

Hook It Up
Though grip strength is an important prerequisite, remember that the meathook involves a lot more than just the ability to hang on to the bar. Your lats and shoulders need to be very strong and stable to hold the meathook, plus you will need powerful abdominals and obliques. Do not attempt this move until you’ve built up to a solid one arm hang and can do several consecutive windshield wipers.

Once you’ve satisfied those requirements, you are ready to rock and roll! Begin by grasping the bar tightly, then perform a windshield wiper toward your dominant arm. When your legs are all the way over to the side, lift your hips toward your elbow, folding your body around your arm. It may take some trial and error to get a feel for finding the “sweet spot” but at a certain point, you will feel your balance shift.

Al Kavaldo Windshield Wipers

The elbow of your primary arm should wind up down by your hip.

Once your hips are in position, begin to loosen the grip on your secondary hand, gradually transferring all of your weight to the other arm. When you feel confident enough to completely release your secondary hand from the bar, do so carefully.

You’re now holding a meathook – Congratulations! Stay here for a few seconds, then slowly reverse the movement and try it on the other side.

If you are unable to take your other hand away, try removing a finger or two instead. Over time you can work toward relying on your secondary arm less and less as you progressively build the strength to perform the full meathook.

Once you’ve gotten the “hang” of getting into a meathook this way, you can start building up to longer holds and experimenting with different methods of getting in and out of position. The meathook can also be useful for bridging the gap toward one arm pull-ups and the rarely seen one arm back lever.

There are many uses and applications for this move; feel free to experiment and get creative!

***

About Al Kavadlo: Al Kavadlo is the lead instructor for Dragon Door’s Progressive Calisthenics Certification. Recognized worldwide for his amazing bodyweight feats of strength as well as his unique coaching style, Al is the author of five books, including Raising The Bar: The Definitive Guide to Pull-up Bar Calisthenics and Pushing The Limits! Total Body Strength With No Equipment. Read more about Al on his website:www.AlKavadlo.com.

 

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The Hand Truck Workout

by George Corso on March 24, 2015

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George Corso Handtruck Workout

My clients count on me to be an innovative trainer. In fact, I’ve always enjoyed finding new and effective ways to work with people way before the trend of ‘being different just to be different’ became popular. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when my client Lorraine came in for her training session at my studio carrying a dolly that she grabbed from her dumpster at work. Her dad had made it but decided to get rid of it so she brought it with her and said “I have a very bad feeling that you can make good use of this”. Immediately my wheels started turning with all the fun ways I could use this thing. I took my time and experimented. I found movements that were safe and distinctly purposeful for my clients.

After a lot of thought and even more practice I came up with 24 useful ways to train with the dolly. Most of them stem from the prone position but each one remains unique with different neuromuscular firing patterns. Like all bodyweight training regimes, every exercise is a progression to more advanced movements. These movements are all accomplished with a “slow is smooth, smooth is fast approach. (Thank you Phil Dunphy.) They all not only require stability, but also an understanding of how the muscles of the body have to behave as one cohesive unit.

Here are the exercises in order from beginner to advanced.

THE PLANK WALK. I believe that the plank walk is the most important exercise of the 24 exercises I have listed. This one movement will set you up for all of the rest. It is excellent for developing control and discipline and it teaches a client how to become patient when learning and performing a new exercise. The plank walk is performed by keeping the body rigid while the forearms are resting on the dolly. The only parts of the body that are moving are the feet and ankles while you SLOWLY move towards your destination. It is imperative that this be mastered before moving on.

The next 4 videos demonstrate the plank walk:

  1. Plank Walk
  2. Injured Bear Crawl
  3. Wheel Barrow
  4. Reverse Wheel Barrow

Series 1 Hand Truck Workout

Be sure to continue to move slowly during the next progression.

THE TRAVELING PUSHUP. Now we will be adding additional movements. In the introductory phase we kept the body rigid while traveling with the dolly. Next we will be moving the body in different planes of motion while emphasizing control. Bodyweight practitioners discipline themselves to move with utmost precision in order to reap the greatest rewards. This is important to convey to the newcomers to this kind of conditioning.

The next 4 videos demonstrate the traveling pushup variations:

  1. Traveling Pushups
  2. Travel Bus Driver Pushups
  3. Single Leg Wheel Barrow
  4. Rotational Wheel Barrow

Series 2 Hand Truck Workout

THE TRAVELING V WALK. During the next series of exercises there is more emphasis on the transfer of weight onto the shoulders. This series is ideal for the client who wants to progress to walking on their hands in an inverted position. These selected exercises will definitely help them attain that goal. The traveling v walk will specifically strengthen the wrists. It also aids in teaching the client the proper forward lean that is needed while also adding flexibility to the wrists.

The next 4 videos demonstrate the traveling v walk and the variations:

  1. Traveling V Walk
  2. Traveling Inch Worm
  3. Tuck Walk
  4. Swimmers


Series 3 Hand Truck Workout

THE 360. The next series is called the 360 because there is a shift from developing strength towards developing stability.   These exercises require control and concentration from the client. There is an emphasis on 100 percent body compression as well.

The next 4 videos demonstrate the 360 and its variations:

  1. 360
  2. Side Walk
  3. Bus Drivers
  4. Single Arm Walk

Series 4 Hand Truck Workout

THE LEG SEQUENCE. This series emphasizes balance and leg strength. I was trained as a track sprinter and have come to the conclusion that it is important to isolate the hamstrings and fire up those fibers first by performing some bridges before moving on to squatting and lunging techniques.

The next 4 videos demonstrate the leg sequence:

  1. Hip Bridges and Leg Curl
  2. Straight Leg Bridge
  3. Injured Animal Run
  4. Pistol Sweeps


Series 5 Hand Truck Workout

PRESSING. These last 4 exercises will require that clients move while pressing. Your clients will need adequate shoulder stability and full body awareness before moving on to this advanced series. If your client has stalled in a particular calisthenic movement, these applications may help him or her to achieve a goal that at one time seemed impossible, or your client may just feel like these are achievements on their own! Either way, whatever your level, proceed slowly and own the move!

The next 4 videos will demonstrate the press sequence

  1. Hop off the Press
  2. Rotational Hop Press
  3. Sweeping One Arm Press
  4. Press and Slide

Series 6 Hand Truck Workout

You can pick up a dolly at the local hardware store and easily incorporate it into your training. Use your imagination and come up with variations specific to your clients’ needs. I use this piece of equipment in group training, with one on one, and during my own training. My clients love to tell me how much they have come to hate the dolly but always admit in the end that they love the results they are seeing!!!!

 

***

George Corso, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, PCC, RKC, I360, WKC, is the co-owner and founder of CORSO. Over the last 15 years, George has been a successful varsity track and field coach, working with athletes to reach district and state championships. He actively trains in the art of Jeet Kune Do (JKD) as a level 3 student. George can be contacted at george@corsofit.com.

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