Make Your Own Workout

by Al Kavadlo on May 7, 2013

Every day I hear from people who’ve read my books and want to thank me for writing them; these messages mean the world to me. As I discussed in my path to the PCC, the driving reason behind writing my books (and articles) is to connect with like-minded people with whom I can share my experience.

While most of the folks who write me do so to tell me how my guidance has helped them achieve new levels of strength, improve their body composition, or even take out a new lease on life, I also get messages with suggestions and criticisms. The most common complaint I’ve received regarding my books is from people who are disappointed that I haven’t provided more detailed structure on how to progress through the various exercises presented therein.

This is understandable. After all, between Raising The Bar and Pushing The Limits!, I’ve presented over two hundred different exercise variations for various goals and fitness levels, yet only a handful of sample routines.

However, this is neither an accident nor oversight; It’s a purposeful decision. While many fitness guides spoon-feed the reader with rigid specific regimens to follow, I’ve chosen to empower my followers by leaving the suggested program design open-ended.

My readers include folks of all ages, genders and athletic backgrounds. Each one starting off at a different place with individual strengths, weaknesses, goals and levels of commitment. The number of variables makes the amount of possibilities endless.

All of these people can get stronger with the same fundamental movement patterns, but each will do so at their own pace. I can’t predict exactly how everyone will progress. Trying to box all potential trainees into a one-size-fits all program will inevitably leave some folks progressing too slowly, while rushing others through the paces at a rate that is inappropriate for them.

Additionally, there are a myriad of unpredictable factors that can affect your workout on any given day: what you’ve eaten recently, the amount of sleep you’ve had, stress levels – even the weather. When I train clients in person, I come into the session with an idea of what I am going to do with them, but I always wind up making changes and improvising based on what is actually happening in front of me. I can do a lot for my trainees, but I can’t see into the future!

A workout regimen on paper is a good idea, but it’s still just an idea. You have to put your plan into action to get any benefits. And once you start doing that, it might not go exactly as predicted; you are inevitably going to need to make modifications. In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn’t be more different.

Of course people need guidance and books are a wonderful resource. However, ignoring your body’s signals in favor of following a preconceived formula written by a stranger is taking a good idea too far. This is what I love about progressive calisthenics; in PCC, we teach pliable bodyweight progressions and exercise chains, not strict protocols and formulas.

Building your body isn’t the same as assembling that bookshelf you bought from Ikea. We aren’t all starting with the same pieces and we aren’t all building the same identical object. You really need to get to know your body for yourself in order for any fitness program to work.

In fact, it’s not actually the program that works at all – it’s you. Now let’s go get those reps!

About Al Kavadlo: 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 Pushing The Limits! Total Body Strength With No EquipmentRead lots more about Al on his website:!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Previous post:

Next post: