Friday, September 27, 2013

How to gain Muscle Mass with Calisthenics? Part 1 - Workout

If I was given a dollar for every time I've heard:

"Hey man, how can I gain serious muscle with calisthenics?"


"Hey dude, is it possible to gain mass with Street Workout? I think gym is better."

or even

"Calisthenics only works for defining muscles, you won't build muscle mass, because you are limited to your own body weight."

I would have a ton of dollars, seriously, Bill Gates would jealous.

So, as a response to all of those (understandable) concerns, here it is, my definitive answer:


But that's just too easy. So let's develop, shall we?

First of all, it's okay not to believe it's possible to build serious mass with calisthenics. Why? Because extreme street workout it has been popular for a short period of time. Whenever you see a ripped dude or a fit chick, the first thing that comes to your mind is: He/She lifts. And that's okay, society nowadays has implemented this Gym = Win concept into our daily lives. And it's difficult to believe that you can get in the best shape of your life without touching a weight. So without further ado, let's see how you can do it:

- Do you even lift bro?
- No, I pull myself up.

The most important thing you need to know is this:

Resistance is resistance, regardless of the object utilized to apply it.

Repeat that to yourself. Resistance is resistance.

Your body does not differentiate between a lat pull down and a pull-up. It does not differentiate between your body weight and an external object such as a dumbbell.

That would be stupid right? Your body can't say:

Oh wait, wait, wait bro. You are doing a handstand pushup, you're not doing a shoulder press... I'm not growing dude. Nope. It's either you use weights or you stay the same.

What a rude body that would be...

So yeah, it's a matter of resistance. It's a matter of how much pressure you apply to your muscle fibers, and how you do so.

So how do I apply more and more pressure?

How do I gain muscle with calisthenics?

1- Extend the TUT (Time Under Tension)

A very simple yet effective way of applying more pressure to your muscle fibers is to extend the time these are under tension.

Let's say you can do 50 fast pushups in a row. That's great! But doing a huge amount of pushups every day is truly not the most effective way of getting tearing your muscles.

Instead, try to do 20 slow pushups. When I say slow, I mean really slow. Follow this general guideline:

- A eccentric part of 4 seconds (eccentric = negative)
- A contraction when the muscle is fully extended of less than 1 second (so you don't rest)
- A concentric part exploding up (concentric = positive)
- A contraction on 1 second when you are fully contractedSo for example, on a push-up: 4s going down / Contract about 1s when you're down / Explode back up / Contract 1s on top.

The tempo here would be: 41X1

On a pull-up, you would start the repetition on top of the bar, so the first number means when you go down (negative).

This makes it much more difficult.
There are two really important things here you need to undersand:

- Why do I only apply a slow tempo (4s) on the negative part of the repetition?

It's simple, the negative part is when you are extending the muscles, when you are stretching them out. That means it's actually the part when you are tearing your muscle fibers, and creating micro-wounds that will heal later on.
On the other hand, the concentric part of the exercise (the positive part) is when you are contracting your muscles, making them tighter. And that does not mean tearing them down (at least not even close to as much as the negative part does).
So I would rather work on my explosiveness when going up, it's harder than it looks.

- Why do I need to contract the muscle?

You always need to focus on contracting the muscles you are using. Out bodies are lazy and will try to find a way to complete the exercise as easy as possible. Try this, instead of doing normal pushups, try doing them while squeezing your hands together. Just like if you were trying to push the floor down and to the center of your hands. This will activate the chest a lot more, you'll feel it's a lot harder, and it's definitely more effective.
So, a hard contraction on bottom and top position will assure more blood flow to the muscles, you will feel the burn, the pump, and you will get a far more effective workout.

2- Progress on your exercises

That's the beauty of Street Workout, the fact that you can progress and learn new moves that, not only will they be fancier, but they will punish your muscles even harder. So whenever you feel comfortable with a move, try progressing to a harder one (e.g when you get to 15 easy pull-ups, try doing the wide).
This will make you push yourself further and harder. Your body will have to adapt and overcome those factors to grow stronger and bigger.

3- Progressive Overload

This is key to gaining muscle. You will not get better unless you aim for getting better. Progressive overload means increasing the difficulty of a workout every time; for example every week.

So let's say for example last week you did 16 spartan pushups. Next week try to do at least 17 or 18 repetitions. This is a simple way of making it harder, but there are others:

- Increase sets, not just reps
- Decrease rest times under exercises and sets
- Increase the difficulty of the exercise (e.g. do decline spartan instead of spartan)

These are just some effective ways I've found to increase difficulty every time. Which brings me to the next point:

4- Track Your Workouts

That's right, it's simple. Just get a piece of paper or a Word Document on your computer write down everything you do. Reps, sets, rest periods, extra weights... and even how you felt during the exercises, what you want to improve next time etc. You don't need a fancy chart to do so, just do it.
This is one of the most important tips. It doesn't take much time.

Also, doing this will allow yourself to watch your progress over time. Isn't it great when you look back some months ago, and what used to be your workout is now your warm up?
That's on of the best feelings you can get, and will motivate you to keep going even harder.

If you don't see progress then it's time to change something on your routines.

Are you training hard enough? Are you progressing? Are you sleeping enough?Are you eating accordingly to your goals?

These are some of the questions you should ask yourself.

5- Add some extra weights

Another one of the most popular ways of increasing tension on your fibers is to increase your weight. Don't do this until you feel comfortable with your training sessions and you want to level your game up. A nice way of doing it is to get a backpack and load it with some dumbbell plates. First add about 10% of your body weight, and keep increasing the weight every now and then.

That's it! These are some of the ways I have used to gain muscle with calisthenics, and it has worked greatly! So please, whenever anyone tells you "you cannot gain muscle with bodyweight training" send them to this post! Make them smarter and wiser.

That is all for today, now go out and spread the word: Fitness and a healthy lifestyle is what's cool.

Train Hard brothers.

"First they ask you why you do it, then they ask you how you did it."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

How To Start Street Workout - Complete Guide

So, as a request from a lot of you guys, here it is, the Complete Guide on how to start working out with Street Workout!

I'm going to try to keep this as simple as possible, but I'll do my best to give great info!

1- Equipment

I'm guessing a lot of you already know this, but SW requires little to no equipment. However, there are some great stuff you could consider purchasing to make your workouts smoother and fun:

- Pull-up bar: The foundation of calisthenics. If you want to be your best, you will need one of these. You can find then at a local park. But as I'm guessing lots of you workout at home, I really (really) recommend getting a Door Pull-up bar. It's great both for beginners and intermediate (E.g. Iron Gym Bar).

- Dip bar: Again, basic equipment. You can use two steady chairs (I used to do this) or maybe use two tables. Dip bars require imagination!

- Gloves: Even though lots of practitioners see gloves as a pussy equipment, if you are gonna go hardcore, you will need some. Destroying your hand will only prevent you from working out (and we don't want that). The best gloves are the cheapest ones believe it or not.

- Resistance bands: Great piece of equipment  it can add another level of fun and variety to your workouts, I recommend the ones with which you can change the resistance band.

I'm not going to talk about weights yet, just because this is a beginner guide, and beginners should forget about weights in calisthenics for a while!

2- Find Your Max Reps

Warm up, get on the floor and do max pushups, then rest (take your time) and do max pull-ups, then rest again and do max dips. Do the same with knee raises and handstand hold against the wall. Also, find your max in squats and lunges, although this might take some more time. Keep your form perfect. Do not cheat your reps. We need to find your perfect form max, anyone can add 10 reps to an exercise while cheating, but we don't want that.
After you have done that, write them down!

3- Find Your Goals

Do you train for strength? Speed? Looks? Power? Endurance? Just to be healthy? Find your goals and adjust your workouts to that.

4- Eat right

I'm not asking you to go crazy on diet, just adjust it to your goals. If you want to gain muscle mass / weight then eat more than what you're eating now. If you're trying to lose weight, eat less calories! Also, forget about junk food, go step by step. First try not to drink sodas for one week, then try not to eat sugars for another week etc. Keep progressing. You will not progress unless you have a healthy diet that fits your goals. I will go more in depth about diet in another post.

5- Start your workout

This is what I want you to do: Focus on the basics

This is extremely helpful and will get you much faster to were you wanna be. Without the basics in place, your progress will be slower and you will most probably injure yourself. I wish I would have started by doing this.

So yeah, a general guideline would be this:

--> Warm Up
Some basic jumping around, do some easy exercises to get your blood flowing. If you want to, stretch, but don't go crazy, don't injure yourself. At the end I always like to do 50 jumping jacks to push further.

--> Time For The Basics
There are many ways to approach this, but this is my personal one. Now that you know your max reps, cut them in half. So let's say you can do:

14 push-ups
4 pull-ups, 6 dips,

30 squats,

40 lunges,

20 knee raises,
10s handstand hold.

Cut those reps in half, and go one exercise after the other. Do supersets. Your goals here is to go through all the exercises at least 3 times within one hour (adjust the time to your needs). Do this until you get a decent amount of reps on every basic exercise. The strength you need will come, and you'll be a beast. Just be patient.

--> More detailed information about Mastering The Basics: CLICK ME!

6- Adjust The Difficulty

But what if I can't do pull-ups or handstand holds? You might be thinking. Well, lucky guy, the beauty of SW is that it has lots of progressions. Just lower the difficulty of the exercise and do it until you are strong enough. For example:

- Instead of pull-ups do negative pull-ups, then increase the time of the negative

- Instead of handstand do pike pushups, then elevated pike pushups

- Instead of regular pushups, do them on your knees
- Instead of dips on parallel bars, do them on the edge of a chair, later one elevate your feet for greater difficulty

Just find a way to make the exercise easier but challenging to keep progressing.

7- Track Your Progress

This is really important. Track the reps you do on every single workout. Write them down, as well as your sets, feelings (yes, feelings) and personal notes. Every 2-3 days, try as hard as you can to add at least 1 more rep to every exercise. This, my friend, is called progress.

8- Stop Worrying

Don't be afraid of trying. Don't be afraid of failing. Because you will try, you will fail, but you will try again, and again until you get there. If you don't, I'll kick your ass, personally (<3). Stop worrying to working out by yourself, you don't need a fancy chart to know a workout is good.

9- Be Consistent

You will never ever get to where you wanna be if you aren't consistent. Just because you don't see results in the first couple of weeks it doesn't mean you are "not meant for this". Stick to your workout and your diet. I promise you, you will see results.

10- Be Realistic

You will not get like Corey Hall, Swiss, Hannibal, Zyzz etc. in a matter of weeks. Results take time, a lot of time. We are not here to make a 60 day goal or a 90 day goal, we are here to make working out a lifestyle.

11- Start

It's simple, just start. You don't need a Monday or a new year to do so. Just start.
Do what you can with what you have, where you are, and strive for progression, not perfection.

12- Keep It Fun

You will not keep working out if it feels boring, nor will enjoy your workouts. Keep them fun, play some music, challenge yourself, scream, jump around. Working out has to be an enjoyable pain.

13- Get Motivated

Keep connected with other people. Find some workout partners if you can. If not, then go to a forum like this one and get ready to learn! This is my personal inspirational list of people:

- Les Brown
- Eric Thomas
- Barstarzz
- Bar Brothers
- Corey Hall
- Swiss
- Hannibal 

- Zyzz
- Daniel (FitnessFAQ's)
- And many others

I will also treat motivation in another topic soon.

That's it! Now you have no excuses! Let's get this started.

Train Hard.

"First they ask you why you're doing it, then they ask you how you did it".

Sunday, September 15, 2013

There Are No Secrets

What if I told you the secret to success in Street Workout, huh? What if I told you I know the exact formula to greatness? Would you believe me? No?

Well, here it is:

Consistency + Hard Work + Passion = Success

But there's a slight problem, ain't it? Of course, that's no secret. We all know that, we have all heard that at least once, but we still look for shortcuts, for fast ways of achieving our goals, we still look for magic supplements that will turn us into Hannibal For King... but there are none.

Ain't that great!? You can now achieve your goal without cheating! That's the greatest thing ever. Just think of the feeling you'll get that day, when you'll look at yourself in the mirror and say:

"I made myself. All of what I've achieved, I did it through consistency, hard work and giving everything I got at every moment."

And that, my friend, gives you the best feeling ever.

Anyway, moving on, let's define what I mean by that formula:

- Consistency: Probably the most important part of the formula. If you are not consistent, you will not achieve anything in life. And don't take me wrong, I've been sooo inconsistent in my life, like most people, but no more. You have to realize that your path to success is a real path. Every training is a step forward, every lazy rest day is a jump back.
When I ask people "Do you train?", all I hear is "Yeah well, I'm kinda messing around, I've been very busy lately and blah blah blah"... Stop it! It's go hard or go home here. You will not get better unless you give consistent work.

- Hard Work: Another key aspect to success. It's great to workout every day, but how you workout is also important. A lot of people like to go to the park, do a set of pull-ups, talk to some friends, to some more sets of any given exercise, and then go home. Not only that, but the will then brag about working out 2-3 hours a day. The thing is you don't need a 3h workout to progress. Sure, if you can, then go ahead! But if you don't have that much time to workout (most of us don't) a 30-60 minute workout can be more than enough. It's all about how much you give. So raise up the intensity of your workout and give it all you got. It's a must that after every workout you should be laying on the floor, exhausted.

- Passion: Here's were most people fail. You need to have heart, you need to feel and focus on every rep, on every set. You will not be successful in life unless you truly want what you want to achieve. And motivation is very important indeed, but we will talk about that in another post.

So there you go, tattoo that formula on your brain. I want you to get up and think of what you want. I want you to turn your dream into a goal and, over time, achieve it. We do not have dreams here, we have goals, and every day is a new opportunity to make them a reality.

Train Hard.

"When you want to succeed, as bad as you wanna breathe, then you'll be successful." - Eric Thomas

Lucky You!

Seems like you found BAR UNIVERSE, a place where we breathe, eat and sleep Calisthenics. Here, you age, gender and past don't matter; what matters is your passionperseverance and willpower.

On this blog I'm going to try to make Calisthenics available to all of you guys. Nowadays the Internet is full of information, and newbies are often confused. So there's only one rule here: KeepItSimple. I will gradually explain to you how to start, how to live a life of bars and enjoy it as much as you can, so stick around!My posts will mainly be focused on Workout, Diet and General Tips, but there will be lots of variety too. Just to keep it dynamic and interesting.
So first of all, who am I? I'm a 17 year old bar addict, simple. I discovered this world around a year ago, and I was instantly amazed by it. I've always been interested by fitness, martial arts, tricking and any other mind-body related sport, and when I discovered Calisthenics (Or Street Workout) I though to myself daaym!: indeed, I had discovered what has been my true passion during the last year. 
I've done lots of errors in the past, I'm far from being an expert, but I've probably been where you are now, and if I can help making your path towards success brighter, I would be very proud of my work. Personally, I started practicing around 1 year ago, but I consider my true start to be around 6 months back, that's when I started to take it seriously.Enough of myself, stick around if you want to make your life go a step further, if you want to test yourself, if you want to discover what you can do, and if you want to unleash your limitless potential.
No matter what your goals are, we will make them happen.

Train Hard.