Al Kavadlo on Progressive Calisthenics

by Al Kavadlo on January 21, 2013

(includes excerpts from Pushing The Limits)

All types of strength training operate under the same principle of progressive overload. Regardless of modality, the way one grows stronger is to begin learning a movement pattern with a relatively low amount of resistance and gradually add more as the body adapts.

In barbell or kettlebell training, exercises can be learned with a light weight to get a feel for proper technique before progressing to heavier poundages. This allows the lifter to learn the form without having to overcome much resistance. Due to the nature of bodyweight training, however, progress must be approached a bit differently.

A key principle of progressive calisthenics is manipulating leverage to vary the intensity of bodyweight exercises. Since there is no way to do a one arm push-up, pistol squat or one arm pull-up without a significant amount of resistance, we instead must practice variations in which the body is positioned in such a way as to create less resistance. As you grow stronger, harder variations can gradually be introduced.

In the videos below, you’ll see me demonstrating progressive calisthenics chains that can be used to increase one’s strength over time. I’ve done one video for each of what I consider to be the three most essential movement patterns: push-ups, squats and pull-ups. Though these clips go by quickly, a beginner should expect to put in a few solid years of training to advance from the variations at the start of each clip to the master steps shown at the end.

A veteran of the fitness industry, Al Kavadlo has recently been appointed as the lead instructor for the Progressive Calisthenics Certification. Recognized worldwide for his amazing bodyweight feats of strength as well as his unique coaching style, Al is also the author of three books, including Raising The Bar: The Definitive Guide to Pull-up Bar Calisthenics and the soon-to-be-released Pushing The Limits! Total Body Strength With No Equipment.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Previous post:

Next post: