For the last 8 weeks I’ve been using Calisthenic Movement’s hot new mobility program. With the amount of previous success I’ve had with their programs it seemed nothing other than sensible to give what’s supposed to promise better mobility, healthier joint function, handstand press and V-Sit prep, along with work for the front and middle splits.
If you’re a fan of CaliMove and have been watching their recent videos on YouTube you’ll have seen the scope of their content heading more and more towards mobility and flexibility over the last few months. As a team and company they’re very much students of the body and their practice; calisthenics. They pay high regard to movement prep and structural integrity.
As a former fat boy with hamstrings stiffer than train tracks, I’ve always been fascinated with flexibility and haven’t been naturally flexible by any means. Thanks to a new found respect and awareness (and teaching regular Yoga & Pilates classes) I’ve improved my overall flexibility to above average for a young, fitness loving male. But if I want to get to the levels I want to within calisthenics, I know I need much more loosening up.
Passive stretching can be boring and I’ve never historically done well without a plan of some kind to follow. When I wrote my review of CaliMove’s Level 4 workout program I had very little confidence writing my own plans, but some 18 months on I can say I’ve used many self made routines with good gains since. Nevertheless, would I rather let someone more advanced, experienced and intelligent than me program for me? You betcha!
I could write paragraph after paragraph about phase one but it wouldn’t mean shit without the money shots – the pictures.
Before the very first session I snapped unwarmed up photos of my flexibility in numerous key movement planes. They are as follows:
- Standing forward fold (with a rounded back; also known as a ‘pike’)
- Standing forward fold (with a flat back)
- Standing overhead reach (stay hollow & avoid lumbar extension)
- Standing ACTIVE shoulder extension (lifting against gravity)
- Cossack squat hold (each leg separate)
- Deep squat & reach hold (Ido Portal style)
If these mean very little to you by name, the following pics will show you all you need to know.
Before & Afters
No real noticeable change here but this has always been my Achilles heel with flexibility and there’s not a huge amount of pure overhead mobility work in phase one of the program.
Shoulder extension (necessary for the transition phase of a muscle up). Before:
Noticeable difference here – both visually and internally. My muscle ups do feel better and whenever I take my arms behind my back it feels a lot less ‘sticky’.
Pike fold (rounded back). Before:
A subtle difference. Although I have noticed my cold pike, as in my pike right out of bed, has got a LOT better and I need less of a warm up to fold nice and deep.
Flat backed pike (isolating the hamstrings). Before:
A definite improvement here! It is much harder to touch your toes with a flat back and I used to find this very hard to do and could only really get there on my stellar days. Nowadays, it’s still a stretch but I find the position easier and can get it without any extensive warming up.
Cossack squat holds (big tests of both ankle & adductor mobility). Before:
(note: the cossack squat pics were taken recently as I lost the file with these images)
Deep squat & reach (both sides shown). Before:
Probably the biggest improvement. There are 2 limiting factors with this move: thoracic mobility and ankle mobility. There is a lot of ankle mobility work in phase one which definitely paid off with the squat and reach.
How user friendly is the program?
The demonstration video is easy to follow and imitate, and the workout table provided is also easy to digest. The sequence flows nicely and doesn’t take longer than 20/25 mins – and that’s only in the last 2 weeks when the volume increases.
The equipment needed is minimal with the exception of a broomstick/bar/dowel rod and something to hang from, like a pull up bar. Some free space (floor space) also helps for the flow and animal movements but again, it’s not a particularly large space needed.
There are 3 phases in total. Each of them 8 weeks long. I’ve began phase 2 and will post a review at the end of each phase to see how much progress I make! It’s exciting because looking at what’s ahead, I can’t see how I won’t get more mobile as things definitely seem to get more complex from phase to phase, which is exactly how it should be.
Stay tuned for reviews of phase 2 & 3!
UPDATE: Since writing this post I have uploaded my review of phase 2 which you can read HERE.
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