In his latest video, YouTuber and bodybuilding coach Eugene Teo takes on a calisthenics workout, and soon finds that raw strength alone is not enough to master this famously tough discipline. With the help of calisthenics athlete Daniel Vadnal, Teo practices the proper beginner technique for each of three calisthenics staple moves: the muscleup, the handstand pushup, and the front lever.
Teo’s first attempt at a ring muscleup proves fruitless. For bodybuilders who have a base level of strength but perhaps not necessarily the mobility or skills of a calisthenics athlete, Vadnal recommends starting with the “baby muscleup”, a regression where you practice the pulling-up motion from kneeling to a dip, with a false grip, while keeping your toes on the ground.
“It’s not going to be a taxing exercise, it’s not like a big squat or a deadlift, or anything like that,” says Vadnal. “We’re just practicing the technical proficiency of the movement.”
Next, Vadnal walks Teo through the correct form for a handstand pushup, starting by training against a wall to build the necessary technique to later attempt a freestanding version. He advises starting around 3 to 5 hands out from the wall, giving yourself sufficient space, as the freestanding handstand pushup is not 100 percent vertical, and some room for a slight pivot of the body is needed. He also recommends tucking the elbows when performing the pushup.
If you are unable to attempt the wall version, the pike pushup functions as a regression of this exercise. “Like a conventional barbell overhead press, you do it in one fluid motion,” Vadnal explains.
Finally, Vadnal coaches Teo through another classic calisthenics staple, the front lever. His top tips include not adopting too wide a grip, pulling the knees up into the chest, and keeping them there while trying to straighten your back. “Always start with straight arms and locked elbows,” he says, adding: “It’s better to do a tuck and then extend out.”
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