You learn by doing.
That is only half right. You learn by doing if you model your “doing” after somebody’s example that has “done it.”
Most of where I’m at in the year 2018 with my bodyweight training is a result of reading other people’s books, watching other people’s YouTube videos, and/or trying other people’s exercise programs. There is certainly no shame in trying to find proper instruction for something you want to do. In fact, it’s a bad tactic to try and learn something from somebody who has never actually done it. It’s one thing to regurgitate the process step by step from a text book, and it’s quite the other to have a person who has “been there” explain, “…okay, you do this, and THIS is how it should feel…,” or, “…if you feel this that means you are doing it wrong, and you need to do it this way…”
In my opinion, it’s the cuing that really defines effective instruction and training. The human body is such an amazing machine, and there are so many different permutations for the movement its capable of. Just this morning, I was in awe of Baby Breaking’s hip mobility as he is able to execute a cross-legged forward fold and get his entire torso to the ground (he’s learning how to sit up right now). At first, I thought he broke himself. Then I saw he was completely content. Babies are just really flexible. So, you want a person who understands the biomechanics of the exercise movement you are training, and who can adapt his/her instruction to what your body can and can’t do. If I can’t do a forward fold from a cross-legged position, I need a person who understands the x-ray of the exercise to tell me, “…you know, you can sit on a yoga block for now until your hips open up more…”
Back to my original point – proper learning happens with proper modeling. So, if you want to do something, find a person that actually DOES IT, and then see what they do. Ask them questions.
“Hey – how do you do that?”
“What does it feel like when you do that?
“What did you have to do first before you were able to do that?”
When it comes to bodyweight training, I don’t shy away from reading blogs, buying books, or watching videos created by people that are doing the exact stuff I want to learn how to do. In some cases, there isn’t one clear set of progressions or paths. Therefore, diversity in your learning and reading will expose you to many different ways to skin the cat.
Some of the people/groups I track and follow in the bodyweight training community are:
- Al Kavadlo – author of Stretching Your Boundaries and Raising the Bar.
- Zach Even-Esh – Underground Strength Coach.
- Mike Fitch – Global Bodyweight Training.
- Paul Wade – author of the Convict Conditioning series.
- BarStarzz – amazing bar calisthenics athletes.
- Thenx – another amazing bodyweight and bar training group.
- Athleanx – Jeff Cavaliere is a great instructor and has paid programs, in addition to tons of free content on YouTube. If you want to learn proper cueing for exercise – this is a guy to check out.
And, finally – if I’m curious about different ways to progress in an exercise, I’ll just do a random YouTube search for that exercise, and watch some videos. Some of the instruction out there is pretty good. Some of it – not so good. If the person describing the movement can actually do the movement, and then takes time to discuss proper set up and execution, and describes the cues along the way, that generally is a good instruction. If the person says that the way to do a muscle up is to grab the bar, get your upper body above the bar, and then push up, then the instruction is pretty poor. As you watch more of these videos, you’ll be able to weed out the bad ones pretty quickly.
If you are trying to learn a move, don’t just rely on videos that demo the move – try to find videos that explain the move. For example – in two of my posts, I’ve demonstrated some of my favorite push up and pull up varieties. I’d hardly call those training videos. I point out a cue or two, but its not a full X-ray of the exercise. If you saw something you liked, I’d recommend doing a YouTube search for that exercise, and find a trainer that gives step by step cueing instruction. I’d eventually like to get to the point where I give step by step instruction, but I’m just not set up for that yet.
Today’s exercise routine is courtesy of a recent book I purchased called, “Raising the Bar.” I’m a fan of Dragon Door Publications because it features a lot of books about different modes of exercise by people that not only do it, but do it well, and in most cases, train it. The books aren’t perfect, but they do provide a ton of useful information for the price. I was able to get my RTB book for only $9.95 plus shipping (it was on sale). That was quite the bargain from its usual price, so I snapped it up. I wanted to see what Al suggested for one arm pull up progressions and muscle up progressions. As expected, the advice he provided differed slightly from what I had read and viewed before. So, mission accomplished. Found an alternate perspective.
At the back of the book, Al described some of his “favorite” exercise programs. One of them he called “the basics.” It is very no-frills – 3 exercises, 10 reps each, 5 sets total.
Simple enough. I think I’ll try it…