THE BIGGEST LIE in Bodyweight Fitness and Movement
By VAHVA Fitness on March 31, 2019
Revealing the 2 biggest fallacies that have dominated the landscape of bodyweight fitness, movement and calisthenics since the beginning of time.
Your beliefs determine the level of your motivation but also the direction you are heading. Your WHY and purpose are the two primary forces behind your decisions.
When we first started training, a lot sprung out of insecurity - this is the case for most people who get into fitness. The ideas of not feeling enough and not being satisfied with the body were some of the reasons.
Of course very few admit this at the time but in retrospect it's often easy to see. Due to this insecurity and lack of experience, we were attracted to the superficial gimmicks.
Nothing wrong with this - it's often the process when you try something new and haven't yet seen beneath the surface and understood the depth of all things.
However, this path is ultimately very negative which will not work well in the long term because it's a never-ending pit to dig.
Insecurity and lack of self-esteem are good driving forces in the beginning but the WHY and purpose should evolve over time. Likewise, the training methods should be continually improving as well.
Next, we are going to tackle the two biggest fallacies that have been dominating the communities of bodyweight fitness, calisthenics and movement training since the early stages of these art forms.
Some of this may seem soul-crushing and negative at first but read until the end and you will realize that all of this is ultimately freeing and liberating.
1. FALLACY: Everyone can reach extreme skills, extreme strength and extreme flexibility
The MASSIVE problem in the bodyweight circles is that they are dominantly about the most advanced and extreme skills you can think of.
In fact, the entire art forms have been structured in a progressive way to reach the pinnacles of these skills. They are the WHY and purpose.
These extreme skills such as the one arm chin up, one arm handstand, planche, levers, splits and all kinds of tricks are the standard for progress but also the standards for the competence of the individual.
At the top rests the people who are the best at these skills and have the most impressive bodies. It's a hierarchical pyramid of pure strength and skill.
The biggest lie and fallacy of this community is that the average individual can also reach this status and achieve the same level of strength and skill.
In fact, this whole hierarchical structure relies on the fact that everyone believes they can also reach the top as long as they train hard, workout consistently and do it "the right way". Otherwise, a lot of the people at the top would not belong there.
The only problem is that most people are NOT able to reach the top or even get close no matter how much they train and how intelligently they do it.
The main reasons for this can be explained with plain physics and basic biology. Basically, not everyone is the same with the same potential in all areas of fitness.
In order to succeed in numerous bodyweight skills, you have to possess these inherit qualities:
1. THE RIGHT BODY TYPE
When it comes to manipulating your bodyweight in space, your physical size is a big factor when it comes to succeeding in numerous bodyweight feats.
Especially when it comes to levers, the shorter you are the easier it will be to learn and perform these levers. It will require less absolute and relative strength compared to a person who is tall.
Moreover, the structure of your body matters as well. If you have big hips and long legs, the lever suddenly became significantly harder compared to a person who is upper body heavy with skinny legs. This is why a lot of gymnasts have a very strong V-shape.
This is one of the reasons why we are not fans of advanced levers of any kind. They promote dysfunctional structural development (neglect your lower body and everything becomes easier) and success in them relies too much on the right body type.
When it comes to moving your body in general, the lighter and smaller guys and gals tend to look more gracious and fast. Speed in many ways is related to your size. This is why many heavyweight fighters are rather clumsy and slow.
A light and small body size is the easiest to move in space but lacks functional power that bigger and heavier bodies have. Of course there are exceptions but this is the general rule.
2. THE RIGHT GENETIC MAKE UP
The problem with many extreme skills and feats of strength is that they require the most extreme levels of strength.
The problem with this is that not everyone has the same potential for strength and as a result many of these skills are forever unattainable for many individuals.
The idea that you can just keep increasing your strength forever is not the reality. You can get stronger and stronger but everyone has different limits regarding how strong you can get.
Different sexes have a different potential for strength (this is obvious) but in the sexes the different individuals also have a different potential for strength. In other words, no one is the same.
In order to reach the advanced strength feats such as the one arm chin up or planche, you need to have the right muscle fiber type and the correct CNS (central nervous system) composition to perform them.
The people who have the most explosive fast twitch muscle fiber type tend to perform the strength feats the easiest.
What's more, some of these feats put so much resistance on your joints that you even need to have exceptionally strong and dense bones to perform them.
Exceptions Don't Make the Rule
What has happened in the bodyweight fitness, movement and calisthenics communities is that the exceptions have become the accepted rule.
What this means is that the strength and skills of the genetic exceptions have become the accepted standard of these communities. Most people should not and cannot place their expectations on the exceptions.
"If someone else can do it - you should be able to do it as well. Just follow the progressions and train hard." - this violates the universal rule: not everyone is the same.
If you don't reach the skills, you aren't training hard enough, consistently enough and smart enough.
Too bad this is all BS. You can train hard for a decade, as hard, as smart and as consistently as anyone can train and you may never reach some of the skills unless you are genetically disposed to do so.
We talked about this with Steve Maxwell and it's called the "survival bias". The people who are genetically disposed to learn these skills AND can survive the training without breaking their joints will eventually reach the pinnacle of these skills.
In case you are not genetically gifted, badly neglecting your legs and using illegal substances (which we do not condone) may turn the scale in your favor but even that may not be enough. And either option is definitely not healthy.
What has happened in the past 10-20 years while these communities have existed is that the genetic cream has unknowingly or knowingly abused their position at the top.
It's not hard to do when the entire bodyweight community continuously confirms this biased and distorted view of the reality and gives the genetic cream the utmost respect.
| "Genetic cream" in terms of being able to excel in the skills of calisthenics. No one is perfect and many times the person who wins in one area of fitness often loses in another. More about this later.
Some of the biggest channels on YouTube are about calisthenics. Bodyweight fitness has started to rival the bodybuilding and fitness industry.
Of course, these channels are not all bad but they do rely on perpetuating this illusion. Their marketing relies on overselling these fallacies. If you had no hope learning the planche, why would you buy the planche program?
Now, people will find some individuals who don't have the optimal body type but have still succeeded in several bodyweight skills.
There are some individuals who may not have the optimal body type (such as they may be tall) but then they always have the extreme genetics in some other areas such as how their CNS and muscles are wired for strength.
Also, when you have a big following you can pick the exceptions from your audience. Bring them to the same room and make them all do the stunts. Now it further confirms this illusion that "everyone can do it".
2. FALLACY: Everyone needs to reach the extreme feats
Now a lot of people are disappointed. Many are angry. Fortunately, it is better to face the truth sooner than later because then you can start making real progress within your potential.
The second fallacy of the bodyweight fitness is that you even need to reach these extreme skills, strength or flexibility.
The hierarchical structure of these communities rely on the competence in these skills but outside the bubble, there is really no reason to master these skills unless you really want to and actually can.
Bodyweight fitness communities have oversold the value of these skills. These skills and extremes have become the "standards of strength" and also the standard of competence in the hierarchical structure.
Somehow, these extremes determine your physical prowess, athleticism and even your manhood if you are a man. The person who is better in these extremes is considered the better athlete and even the better teacher.
In reality, the competence in these extremes has little to do with either one.
This is just flawed mental cognition to the extreme. If the best athlete was always the best teacher, the best coaches in sports would be elite athletes.
Of course, a good teacher has to walk the walk and be competent in what he or she does but the teacher is also judged by the results he or she can produce for his or her students.
Another fallacy is to think that extreme feats mean that you are universally athletic.
If extreme feats were the standard for athleticism, all elite level athletes would be performing one arm handstands and heavy back squats which they are not.
For example, a heavy back squat may or may not mean anything. A good vertical jump means you are explosive but explosiveness is only one area of athleticism.
An extreme skill means you are very strong in the specific skill but that doesn't necessarily mean you are well-rounded or balanced at all which real athleticism is more about.
People generally consider power the standard of athleticism but even power is genetic to a large extent. If power was the only standard for athletic ability, the power athletes would be the best athletes which they often are not.
What is Your Athletic Type?
The reason why we love watching Mixed Martial Arts such such as UFC is that all kinds of body types and genetics are present there. The strongest and most explosive athletes are rarely the best.
Sometimes the best fighter in the division is an endurance athlete who is just more technical and crafty than others. Sometimes, the champion is in fact the explosive power athlete.
Strength endurance athletes tend to be the most dominant in UFC because they are strong but do not wear out like the power athletes. For example, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Daniel Cormier are not really that explosive but they are still the best.
In boxing, it is the same. Power is fantastic but sometimes the best boxers like Vasyl Lomachenko are endurance athletes.
Ultimately, the best athlete is the one who understands his or her strengths and weaknesses the best and builds the style on this. Self-awareness creates champions.
The point here is that a different athletic type is NOT better than the others. Just because someone has better genetics for power doesn't mean the person is a better athlete (unless the athlete is competing in a niche power sport).
Even power has a weakness and it comes at a cost of endurance.
How do you find out your athletic type?
In the beginning, you don't even know it. You simply have to try a lot of different things and eventually things will start to click. You are simply inclined to thrive better in some areas.
This is why Movement 20XX covers all areas of fitness and allows you to discover not just the world of movement but also yourself.
Moreover, just because you may not be exceptional in power, doesn't mean it's an area you should neglect. You should aim to get as strong and as powerful as possible in every area of fitness.
Even if you can't reach "100 points" in power, it's better to have 70 points in power than 20.
The New Era of Self-Awareness
Bodyweight fitness is suffering from the same problem as the fitness industry. Everyone is playing the comparison game without realizing that everyone is different and comparing yourself to others is pointless.
In other words, everyone is trying to be someone else and no one is happy with what they got because many times they do not even know the gifts and talents they possess.
Some powerlifting circles are very negative as well where people shame and look down on people who are not particularly strong in the big lifts after training for several years.
These communities are basically lacking very basic self-awareness. Everyone has different gifts and talents when it comes to fitness.
It's possible that you do have the perfect genetics for power and even the body type for many extreme feats. Still, even if you do, the extreme feats should never be the priority because if they are, you will sacrifice your health and posture to reach these skills.
This is why we recommend making health, posture and performance the priority in training. Ultimately, all good things come from these 3 things and allow you to maximize your potential in other areas as well.
We really started to get happy with ourselves and our bodies when we started to prioritize these 3 things and stopped comparing ourselves to others.
The comparison game destroys your self-confidence and self-esteem unless you are the very best. If you are the best, your self-esteem relies on destroying the self-esteem of others which is a very toxic and unfulfilling way to live life.
Although most extreme feats are out of reach for a lot of individuals, you can and should get strong, flexible, mobile, well-coordinated and fit if that's what you desire.
There are still COUNTLESS of feats and impressive skills you should be able to learn. Everyone can build a good looking body with a nice muscle tone and low body fat. Everyone can get strong and athletic. These are for everyone.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, you should focus on your own personal progress. Progress creates happiness and someday you may in fact be amazing.
What we are doing at VAHVA Fitness is that we are teaching the universal basics that maximize your universal potential.
We have been saying it for a long time that our training is for everyone from the bottom level to the elite level. Not for the genetic few.
We do teach plenty of skills but they are skills that do not rely on the body type (levers) or extreme strength (one arm feats or heavy weight).
Furthermore, the better we get the more we realize that what ultimately makes you happy is being a complete and well-rounded athlete and a mover.
If you are into martial arts, dance or sports, you should be able to eliminate all of your injuries/aches and boost your performance in these arts and sports to a whole another level.
Health is wealth, and although extreme feats are out of reach for many, everyone can learn to move their bodies well and dance like they really mean it.
The most beautiful, the strongest and the most powerful version of you is the real you who has maximized the potential that is within you.
Thank you for reading and stay strong.