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Fitness Questions From Instagram (October 2020)

(Thoughts on training splits, ideas for minimal equipment but maximal conditioning & thoughts on flexibility for yogis vs martial artists………)

What’s your thoughts on training splits for calisthenics? I know it’s a vague question but I’d like to self program and get it as right as I can. How do you personally program your sessions and those of your clients?

The first thing I do when trying to find the right fit here is ask how many days you have available to train? And by that I mean proper training where you’re focused and feeling fresh/strong enough to smash the task ahead of you. Anyone can ‘train 6-7 days per week’ but how many of those ‘sessions’ are actually worth a hoot?

You can get by with as little as 2 sessions per week in some cases – which works well for the busy person and can actually work very well for the more advanced athlete. There’s rarely a need for more than 5 sessions per week unless some of those sessions are gentle mobility or skill practice.

At the beginner level full body can work well as it forces you to focus on the main compounds and the most bang for buck moves. Although past a certain level I find it can be tough to go hard on a lower body exercise AND upper body moves in the same session. It’s here that splitting things up can allow you to get more specific as you need it.

Assuming you have balanced goals, an upper/lower split can work well. You do 2 sessions per week each for the upper and lower body. They can be split accordingly:

Monday = upper body

Tuesday = lower body

Wednesday = off

Thursday = upper body

Friday = lower body

Saturday/Sunday = off


The same as above but with TWO DAYS between the first and second upper/lower block. So You’d take Wednesday AND Thursday as rest days and then only Sunday as an off day between the last lower day and the first upper day of the next week.

Push, Pull, Legs can work too but does drive the training days up to 6 per week! This isn’t calamitous but you need to be pretty astute with your intensity throughout the week, so as not to over-train. I’ve used this approach myself except I would do a leg day every 5th day instead of 2 every 7 days. This makes quite a difference to recovery/fatigue management as lower body training is not only more taxing but tends to tax recovery resources more than upper body training.

An approach I currently use quite effectively is a ‘Pull-Push-Lower-Mixed’ system. This calls for 4 hard training days per week and allows a 5th day for things like mobility or handstand work, or both! When you’re hitting it up to 6 times per week it can be hard to find the time – and desire – to work on the things you need to that fall outside the scope of ‘main training’.

So, to summarise, choose one of the above that fits best with your genuine availability to train. Self-programming is nice to do and try every so often but I also think it’s good to let someone else take the reigns every so often, wheter that’s in the form of personalised coaching or using paid programs from the internet.

(RELATED READING: Training Splits For Calisthenics Athletes – What’s BEST?)

Do you have any ideas for super effective conditioning workouts I can do while away and without any equipment? Something to really hit the spot, please!

I sure do! Let’s see if we can really hit the spot like you need!

The first two moves that come to mind for absolutely ZERO equipment training and maximal energy output are sprints and burpees. You can use one or the other or combine the two into one session.

If you have access to the beach while you’re away, sand sprints can be awesome as they lower the chance of injury thanks to them forcing you to run slower. The same goes for hill sprints – hill sand sprints are even better!

That said, if you don’t have access to sand or a hill, flat sprints are fair game just be careful not to go at 100% speed/intensity.

The beauty of these moves is they don’t need to be done for much volume at all to be effective. This also means a nice short workout that puts you in ‘catch up mode’ for up to 48 hours after.

Ideas for setting up are: 4-6 sets of 50-100 metre sprints with 2-3 mins rest or 4-6 sets of 10 second sprints (at 90% intensity) with 2-3 mins rest.

You won’t need to go higher in sets really unless you’re very sprint conditioned.

If you want to use burpees after the sprints, I’d recommend doing so many reps on the minute. Anywhere from say 3-5. You can make the burpees tougher by adding in a push up and even a tuck jump to the jump, should you wish!

A 5-10 minute ‘EMOM'(Every-minute-on-the-minute) should be plenty after sprints as well. This workout will have to be done with 2-3 days between them though, or there’s no way you can go hard enough. And the ‘going hard’ is what makes this so powerful.

I was thinking about flexibility the other day and wondered your thoughts on why since moving into yoga from martial arts, my flexibility is still there but my muscles feel so much softer instead of taught and tight, if you know what I mean? How is it that the flexibility can be the same but feel so different?

This is an interesting one! I think flexibility, like other aspects of training, has a strong specificity component. Not to mention the types of flexibility, too.

You mention martial arts flexibility and that’s largely dynamic. Basically rapid, quickfire contractions into the end range then returning to a resting position, or sometimes repeated over and over for reps.

Whereas with yoga -particularly yin yoga – the stretches are largely passive and static in nature for the most part.

Many authorities have attested over the years to seeing people with amazing dynamic flexibility yet not being able to touch their toes passively. And the opposite too; those with god tier seated or standing pikes that would struggle to kick someone in the balls!

The flexibility you have is always going to be relevant to the type of flexibility your body deems it needs for its regular tasks. Over the years you have made your body more passively mobile while maybe at the expense of your dynamic range. Although that’s not to say you couldn’t get your dynamic range back, or even have both to an extent…….

Although one will always be better than the other, which is a result of training style, genetics (fascial pliability) and the frequency you practice each type. I know you’re not too bothered about having both and more interested in how and why the shift has occurred.

If you’d like a question answered, the easiest way to do so is to DM me on Instagram (@straight_talking_fitness). If you’re not on social media you can go old school and email me: – or even leave me a comment down below with your question.

For specific help or coaching inquiries, be sure to visit my Let Me Help You page.

Thanks for reading!

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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