Gymnastics Based Calisthenics Workout

October 22, 2016 by VAHVA Fitness

Gymnastics based calisthenics workout with some of the best gymnastic drills you can do for your shoulders and abs!

Hajority of the impressive skills you see in calisthenics workouts are actually from gymnastics.

Gymnasts can do some of the most impressive strength feats we've ever seen. Skills like front lever, back lever and planche originated from gymnastics.

The exercises demonstrated here will let you use gymnastics strength training for your advantage.

All of these drills will fry your shoulders (scapula) and abs. You can expect to see phenomenal results in both strength and size of your abdominal muscles, back and shoulders.

Many of the drills are done with straight arms: this is something gymnasts call straight arm scapulae strength (SASS) because a great deal of the work is done with your shoulder girdle.

Gymnastics Calisthenics Exercises

Inverted Pull

inverted pull for lats and abs
lats and abs inverted pull

In the inverted pull you start from high hanging leg raise position. Then with straight arms you pull yourself up to an inverted hang.

Inverted pull is an excellent exercise to isolate the lats and to also target heavily your abs. You may also feel the exercise in your posterior deltoids, triceps and chest muscles.

To avoid unnecessary bicep engagement, keep your arms straight. This will isolate the lats!

Do this exercise for 3 sets and 3 to 8 repetitions per set.

Half Press

half press planche

Keep your arms straight, lean forward and raise your hips up to the same level as your shoulders.

This is basically a half repetition of the press to handstand. You can also call this exercise a planche lean or a planche raise.

Half press can help you progress towards the full planche or the full press to handstand.

This exercise will also target your shoulders (anterior and lateral heads) and also improve your core strength. You can expect to increase your strength in push ups, bench press and overhead pressing.

Do this exercise for 3 sets and 3 to 8 repetitions per set.

Hanging Shoulder Dislocation

hanging shoulder dislocation

Hanging shoulder dislocation is an advanced shoulder mobility drill that is often utilized by gymnasts.

You need to use a very wide grip or gymnastic rings to do this. Although the exercise looks "dangerous", it's actually much safer than it looks.

However, I wouldn't recommend trying it unless you are an advanced trainee.

Front Pull

front pull
front pull exercise

Hang on a bar, pull yourself backwards and raise your hips until you are horizontal.

Front pull is a great drill to strengthen the abs and lats for both beginners and advanced.

Working on the front pull will not only help you progress towards a full front lever, but your strength in all pulling exercises like pull ups should go up as well.

Beginners can start by tucking their knees (bringing them close to your chest) and when you get stronger, you can start opening up your hips until you are as straight as in the front lever.

Do this exercise for 3 sets and 5 to 10 repetitions per set.

Inverted Leg Raise

inverted leg raise for abs
inverted leg raise

Take the inverted hang position as demonstrated in the video. Lower your legs as low as possible without dropping your hips, then pull your legs up to the inverted hang.

This is a killer abs exercise beyond comparison.

It's very unlikely to train abs like this, which is why you should feel incredible burn in your abs with just a couple of repetitions to the set!

The only other way to train the abs like this would be to do this on Swedish bars, or in a headstand. 

You can do inverted leg raises for 3 sets and 3 to 8 repetitions per set.

Scapular Pull

scapula pull

Hang on a bar, pull yourself back with your arms by leaning backwards. Keep your back arched and hips low!

Scapula pull will improve the strength and mobility of your shoulders, lats and the middle back.

This is a good drill to improve your front lever, but the strength built with this exercise will surely transfer to all other pulling exercises as well.

Do this exercise for 3 sets and 3 to 8 repetitions per set.

Arched Chin Up

arched chin up

Take a close grip of the bar, keep your back arched and do a chin up. 

Although you are flexing your arms here, you will primarily target your latissimus dorsi muscles.

This is because you are maximizing the shoulder extension which is primarily done with lats. Your pecs and posterior deltoids are also worked to some degree.

This is a good chin up variation to emphasize the lats. This will improve your strength in all chin up variations.

Do arched chin ups for 3 sets and 3 to 5 repetitions per set.

Bulgarian Pull Up

bulgarian pull up

Take a wide grip of the bar, raise your legs to a L-sit and do a pull up.

L-sit position will ensure your body stays upright, which means it's hard to pull horizontally (posterior deltoid) or retract your shoulders (middle back).

This means you need to pull your arms to your sides (shoulder adduction) while depressing your shoulders. It's not as hard as the bird pull up but it's hard!

This will blast your lats and teres major (side back muscles) muscles.

There is a big possibility your teres major muscles aren't as developed as they should be - bulgarian pull ups should fix that problem very well.

That's all for today, train hard stay safe.


samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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