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Testing my maxes: Skinning the cat & grinding out handstand push ups!

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I don’t normally do this. I don’t normally upload clips of my own training, but I think it’s high time I changed that. By sharing my own progress with you I achieve so many things……I show what’s possible with consistency and dedication, I allow the opportunity of critique and feedback from readers – which is only a positive, and I start laying a foundation for futuristic progress timelines.

Many of you know I’ve been training calisthenics only for well over 6 months now. Recently I finished Calisthenic Movement’s level 4 intermediate bodyweight program. I done a full review (which can be read HERE). For level 5 I thought it would be cool to keep you updated along the way and give you a glimpse into the kind of training I’ve been consistently plodding away at for the last 21 weeks.

Yep, 21 weeks of consistently following a program.

At last weeks test week (7 weeks ago) I managed 16 skin the cats on rings, with the form being looser than today. Today I managed 18 with slicker technique. It’s a shame I didn’t have footage of my set of 16 from last time, but hey, I guess I won’t have that problem anymore now I’m recording them 🙂


At the stage of development I’m in at present, I’ll take a 2 rep increase. It was actually my grip that let me down in terms of not getting to 20. Sometimes it’s not always about numbers but about how the exercise feels in terms of perceived exertion.


If I’ve got a weakness, it’s handstand push ups, or overhead pressing strength in general. These felt so hard. Last test week I got 3 reps and this week I got 3 reps. It’s difficult to dissect any degree of progress because last time felt like I was going deeper towards the floor, but this time I wasn’t arching my lower back anywhere near as much on the pressing back up phase. I flirted with the idea of going for a 4th, but sometimes you just know the range of motion will decrease further and render the rep pointless.

Progress or not?

These definitely need some serious attention. It’s no coincidence that I’ve got tight lats and poor overhead mobility either! My shoulders and lower/mid traps have to work so hard to not only oppose the weight of my body, but also the tightness of the lats.

On the plus side, it makes me find the front lever a joy to train. My tight lats love it. But that’s exactly why I should be training overhead strength and not more lat work.

So there we have it. A nice 2 rep increase on skin the cat and the jury is still out on handstand push ups. Considering how busy life has been recently, I’ll take that! I’ll be back on Friday with footage of a max L-sit hold and an all out set of paused pistol squats. I have 41 seconds and 14 reps to beat. Will I do it? Find out on Friday.

For more information on Calisthenic Movement’s Programs CLICK HERE.

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

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