As I described in my post ‘Working Out’, having a clear purpose for training each day is best form of motivation and inspiration. I also hinted at my current purpose: Advanced calisthenics. In simple terms that means bodyweight movements. In more detail, it means bodyweight movement that look impossible, and are very much impossible in the beginning. Now this post was suppose to be just about my training at the moment, but as I was writing I felt there was a natural progression into a deeper look into ‘purpose’.
I thought I’d go into a little more detail as to what I’m working on, where I get my ideas from, and provide some examples of some things you may like to try yourself. I don’t want to try convincing anybody that they should drop the iron at all, but you might find you really like some of these movements. So my training has now evolved into a more open ended view. I don’t think of ‘chest and arms’ Monday, ‘back and legs’ Wednesday and ‘Shoulders and abs’ Friday anymore (very basic example of bodybuilding ideology – not to be taken as a ‘serious’ routine). Instead, I end up training between 1 and 3 times a day. My primary focus now is on movements, not body parts. In this way, I can, and do, train whenever I feel my body can take it (Listening to your body is essential for avoiding injury).
For example, one move I’m working on at the moment is known as a planche push up. This is basically a push up where your legs do not touch the ground. Yep, just thinking about it will make you think how is that even possible? Well when I first tried, I almost faceplanted into the ground. However, I’ve learned a bit more about it and different ways to train for it. This move takes an incredible amount of core strength and upper body strength, so I work on them whenever I can. Core work at the moment consists of L-sits and planks. As for upper body strength, I tailor that around some of the other movements I’m trying to learn at the same time, to integrate them all together.
For direct strength relating to this movement, I work on ‘psuedo’ planche push ups. This is the same kind of movement except your feet are on the ground, or elevated. To distinguish this from a normal push up, you put your hands much lower than normal, down around your hips. I use push up bars to help with this but on the ground you generally need to put your hands facing outwards depending on wrist flexibility. In this way, you can progressively work on the upper body strength needed, increasing the difficulty by either placing your legs up higher or using a weighted vest.
Concurrent to this strength training, I will also do specific training, basically by just attempting to perform the move. So I’ll push my legs up into the air and work on either holding myself on the top position as long as I can, or really focus on keeping my body tight and bringing myself down slowly. I will upload a video of where I am at currently tonight. But if you wish to see what I’m talking about, just Youtube ‘planche push up’, you’ll find endless amounts of videos. My current resource for new ideas and training is by a calisthenics master in America called Al Kavadlo. He has an incredible resource of videos and articles on his blog at http://www.alkavadlo.com.
So, because my training methodology has completely changed, and I’ve shifted the focus from hypertrophy into strength and movement training, I generally avoid fatiguing my body too much. In this way I can do some form of training morning and night every day. I cannot always push myself excessively hard, and some days I’ll just take it easy and work strictly on balancing and core work, but the point is I guess that with this clear purpose I have, I am always motivated to train.
I wanted to explain a little more about my training to make you think a little more about why you train and what you wish to achieve. I briefly described goals that a lot of people have that are not a very good purpose. The best example is to ‘pick up chicks’. This is by far the worst reason to train, and it’s not just because of the vain aspect – working out is inherently vain – but that’s not a bad thing (by that I mean it is always about improving yourself). Why this is terrible is the fact that working out, putting on mass, ‘shredding’ does not in any way guarantee increased attraction from the opposite sex. And so what happens to someone with this purpose who after working out for a while, hasn’t seen any or much progress in that department? They quit, because the purpose just isn’t even real. The key point I’d like to make from this is that your purpose should be completely intrinsic, something from within you without any external influence.
These purposes are not only the most powerful, but also the most true to you. However, it will often take a huge shift in mentality to bring about this. What I mean by that is, often when you first think of working out, you think ‘yeah working out, it’s good for me, I’ll feel better etc etc’ but deep inside you actually don’t care enough. And you set about training hard, you buy new equipment, and you really dive into it. But, soon enough, you’re too tired to train, you had a bad day at work and want to just lounge around watching tv, and before you know it, you’ve stopped and you think ‘ah well I can’t continue now…’ This vicious cycle can repeat over and over for many people. It is imperative to have a complete intrinsic shift. And it is not easy. However it can be the best thing you ever do. This will in itself move your focus away from ‘oh man it’s 2 weeks into training and I’m exhausted’ to ‘I cannot wait til my next workout I am going to dominate it’. Stop thinking of the pain, the hurt, how ‘hard’ it is, and think about what you are achieving and what you can achieve. And what you can achieve is limited only by what you believe.