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Girls & Calisthenics: Is It Really A ‘Man’s World’?

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There’s loads of girls who can rock a 315 lb squat or hip thrust hundreds of pounds but how many can demo a muscle up or a handstand push up? Or simpler yet, clean reps of pull ups and double figures at dips?

Calisthenics & bodyweight training tends to be thought of as a ‘man’s world’ but that doesn’t stop the girls wanting a slice of the action. Even if it’s as simple as them appreciating someone else’s skills on show, they dig it. But for the gym going ladies it doesn’t take long for the desire to get the game started.

I’d already be retired if I had a pound for every time I met a girl at the gym who wanted to learn her first pull up……

While it’s common knowledge women aren’t as biologically suited to upper body strength as men, social media has shown us almost anything is possible with the feats of some girls. Over the next few minutes I will crush your skepticism and stop you being the girl who always screams she’s ‘JUST GOT NO UPPER BODY STRENGTH AT ALL!’

Even the strongest female athletes started somewhere and certainly weren’t born with upper body strength. You may instinctively think gymnasts could be the perfect antithesis to my entire argument but female gymnasts excel more in mobility, skill and co-ordination than raw brute strength. I know girls who can press to handstand but can’t do a pull up or a dip. How? Their mobility is exceptional it blunts the need for strength.

Some inspo for you…….

‘2old2train’ aka Kejt Najman

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Yesterday, during Street Lifting Poland Championships, I managed to improve my result in weighted chin up from Finland. +53kg in chin up, +45kg dip and +72,5kg paused squat (which is my best result after rupture of the ligaments) were enough to take first place, although it was a close call between me and @beastie.beib who was second (with some PBs). Thanks to @street_workout_glogow for organizing the competition and of course to my supporting team ❤️ – you're the best 💪 @jsmocy #streetlifting #streetliftingmotivation #weightedchinups #weighteddips #veganathlete #eattofu #plantspowered #jasnastronamocy #competition #weightsareforwomen #girlscompetewomenempower #streetliftingpolska

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I first heard of Kejt on the WordPress platform as she was starting out as a fellow blogger here ( Since then she’s blown up in popularity on social media and it’s easy to see why…….she boasts a full front lever hold, a 53 kg max weighted chin up, strict muscle ups and has done 15 dips with 16 kg added to her – plus an array of bodyweight skills.

She is definitely one of the leading female athletes as I know of very few women who can hold a clean front lever. If you’re still not inspired, let me also point out she’s over 35 years old.

‘larabanianpt’ aka Lara Banian 

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Trust the process

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Lara is a West London based personal trainer and calisthenics enthusiast. She boasts a new PR of 3 ring muscle ups (above), is close to a full back lever, can rep out 20 kg dips, along with weighted pull ups, explosive push ups and more. She’s coached by Theo Caldwell of the legendary PnP Fitness which explains much of her strength.

‘hefesto_girl_sw’ aka Chumakova Tatyana 

This girl is a real athlete. She’s competed in competitions, has a full front lever hold, does muscle ups at ease and has numerous bar skills under her belt. No doubt the Russian work ethic and dedication has something to do with her success……

‘ambersacrobatics’ aka Amber Goldsmith 

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HAPPY SUNDAY INSTAGRAM😆🤸🏼‍♀️🌎. . . Here’s a little snippet of my training today and a set that I hope to achieve by summer time! 🙊😝 time to work hard and get those gains!! 💪🏻 Amazing atmosphere today as per usual! 😆 so blessed to have the amazing Cali community around supporting me and pushing me always 🙌🏻🤸🏼‍♀️💪🏻. . . #coachlife #inversion #gymnastics #calisthenics #calisthenxgirls #acro #yoga #circus #handstand #fitness #fitnessmotivation #h2h #thisgirlcan #workout #workoutmotivation #strong #strongwomen #strongnotskinny #girlswithmuscles #presshandstand #gains #bodyweight #upsidedown #gymgirl #bargirl #statics #shapes #barflow #ukcaligirls #girlpower

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Amber is a gymnastics coach and former gymnast based in London/South East UK. I’ve met Amber many times in person and she’s as passionate as it gets about her craft. Known as a bit of a handstand queen, she’s mighty capable across the board when it comes to bodyweight strength, having done strict muscle ups on both the bar and the rings.

What I like most about this mix of girls is none of them can be labelled ‘masculine’ or ‘butch’; they’ve still very much female. That quashes the typical mantras surrounding women with any strength or women who lift, that they’re ‘basically men’.

And of course there are many more impressively strong girls on various social media platforms but these were my picks as I’ve followed their work for a while now.

But this begs the realistic question: You’re not anywhere near as strong as them at the moment, so where do YOU start?! 

As always, it all starts with the basics – pull ups, rows, dips and push ups. The bodyweight staples. Start at ground zero and embrace the journey. If you can, find a good coach to help break things down for you. Working on negatives works a treat, bands are your friends too. Simple progressive overload will take you far if you want it enough.

(HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING: Everything You Ever Needed To Know About Pull Ups – Getting Your First, Improving Reps & How To Make Them Superhuman)

Basically girls, calisthenics and bodyweight training is as available to you as it is anyone else. Sure, the guys might have a slight natural advantage in terms of how fast the progress but believe me, whatever they can do will look a million times cooler when you do it.

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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