First of all I must apologise for the delay with this review and I must also preface this with the admission that I did in fact complete phase 2 on time, but I failed to get the review written and the pics all taken. So the after photos you see in this post are actually very much the present (taken 19th of December 2018). Which in many ways shows the flexibility gained during phase 2 (AND phase 1) has very much stayed with me (spoiler alert!)
If you’ve not read my review of phase 1 you can do so HERE.
In regards to how the program is laid out, there are 3 phases in progressive fashion. Each builds smoothly on the previous one. And within the 8 week individual phases are 3 microcycles that build on one another nicely. So the body is never doing exactly the same thing for too long; the boundaries are being ‘stretched’ with progressive overload.
Ok, give me the results!
Let’s not beat around the bush and get straight into what you guys care most about; did this phase get me better flexibility than the last phase?
Here’s a sequence of before and after shots. You’ll see the pics from the end of phase one first and the current/end of phase 2 pics after.
Shoulder flexion (crucial for straight handstands & good thoracic mobility). Before:
My arch nemesis, overhead mobility – notorious for being an absolute grind to improve. At first glance this looks almost identical but a closer inspection reveals a subtle improvement; there’s less of the back of my head visible behind my arms and in conjunction more of the front of my head is visible too. Even a minuscule improvement like this I’ll take, especially when you consider the volume of upper body training I do. I’m always training muscle ups, pull ups and more……which are notorious for reducing overhead mobility.
Another key point to mention with mobility gains is they’re not always limited to visibility. Sometimes you’ll feel more freedom moving into a position and this is definitely the case for my overhead mobility. I do feel better upper back activation when I lift my arms up nowadays – the scapula is doing more of the work, like it should.
Shoulder extension (crucial for posture, clean muscle ups, back levers and even the mighty ‘Manna’). Before:
In similar fashion, shoulder extension doesn’t appear to visually seem too much better but when you look at the facts maintaining the level I have is impressive in itself: I have gained more upper body muscle across the chest, back and arms since the summer and haven’t done much direct mobility work at all since September, so to still be at the same level really does show the results are clearly long lasting. Which is what you’re striving for with mobility work. Anyone can work on their mobility like and pre-stretch for an hour and hit impressive flexibility standards………but can you do it cold? That’s the question!
Standing Pike fold (essential for V-sits, L-sits, pres handstands & toes to bar variations). Before:
Now the visible differences become more noticeable…..the distance between my forehead and knees is smaller and kissing my knees is becoming closer to a reality. Also keep in mind I have shoes on in this pic which adds about an inch of elevation, thus increasing the flexibility needed to reach the toes/ground.
Flat backed Pike (isolating the hamstrings!) Before:
Incredibly similar to the rounded back pike, the flat back pike is slightly better and again, shown in shoes with the inch elevation. The cool thing about this is it shows the gains are in the hamstrings as the flat backed pike is dependant heavily on hamstring mobility, whereas the rounded back version can be made easier with spinal flexion.
Cossack squat bottom position hold (key for middle splits, pistol squats & any straddle lever variations such as planche or front lever). Before (right leg):
With Cossack squats the ankles and the adductors are always the limiting factor. It’s also very common to have a notable difference between sides – which is definitely the case for me. My left ankle is quite a bit tighter than my right and this shows in the depth I can hit as there’s about a gap of a few inches between sides.
In terms of improvement, again, this doesn’t appear to be too drastic at first glance but if you look at the before photo on the left leg you’ll see my torso is twisted inwards towards the centre of the body, whereas the more recent photos show less of a twist. The twisting effect is the body simply trying to lessen the stretch at the ankle. And if you’re astute you’ll have seen my face looks more relaxed in the more recent photos as it’s now a more comfortable position to get into.
Deep squat & Reach (aids pistol squats, ankle mobility & thoracic spine mobility). Before:
The squat and reach is a wonderful all-in-one mobility assessment tool as it tests both the ankles and the thoracic spine. These are virtually the same which again, I’m pleased with as I’ve done very little thoracic mobility work or even ultra deep squatting like pistol squats for months. You also have to factor in the obvious difference in weather/temperature which is obvious from the photos alone. We’re always more pliable and mobile in the summer compared to the winter.
Length of sessions & user friendliness?
There’s a notable step up in both volume of exercises/movements and complexity in phase one from phase 2. I guess this is to be expected but the increase does add the need for more time allowance in which to do these routines. Although how long you rest between sets will make a difference here – CaliMove don’t give set rest periods, which I think is a neat feature. No position will be equally strenuous to everyone so giving rigid rest times would no doubt cause a dip in movement quality.
The first 6 weeks of phase 2 would have me doing sessions lasting 35-45 minutes on average. Depending on how important mobility improvement is to you, this may or may not be too much for your focus or attention span. The final 2 weeks sees the volume increased further (almost like an overload block) which pushes the length of the total workout time closer to the hour mark, providing you take breaks that are sensible. It’s important to note here that I know my body well and have quite a few years’ of focused training experience under my belt, so I wasn’t what we’d call ‘over-resting’.
As I’ve said before, the progression CaliMove have applied is clever and if you study the programming or have any programming knowledge, you’ll definitely appreciate the thought and intelligence that went into designing this mobility flow.
In summary, you will see a notable step up in both technicality of moves and volume of work in phase 2 compared to 1.
However, all this step up does is spark the adaptation process. And once the body adapts to stimuli, you get gains!
I would love to know your experiences with this phase compared to phase one. Stay tuned as I’m about to embark on tackling the final phase, phase 3. Where the moves get stepped up even further and you’re exposed to some pretty complex flows if the demo video is anything to go by!
The mission to better and freer movement continues!
If you would like to use this program yourself or try any of their other programs, check out their stuff HERE.
Also, to find out where my journey with calisthenics and all things movement began, have a read of my review of their level 4 intermediate program.
As ever, any questions you have please leave a comment and I’ll happily answer!
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