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Calisthenic Movement’s Level 5 Mastery Program – Phase 1 COMPLETE (Weeks 1-4 Recap)

Level 5 Advanced Program | Cali Move

It’s 4 years since I first used Calisthenic Movement’s Level 4 intermediate program…… all seems a blur but when I think back to 4 years ago, there’s many fond memories that flood back.

And I’m sure you’re thinking, 4 years and you’re now only beginning level 5?! How long are these phases?! Rest assured the programs aren’t 4 years long. Regular readers will know I’ve used many of Calisthenic Movement’s other programs over the years in between, most famously their ever popular Mobility Program.

I also did their level 5 program after finishing their level 4 routine.

So I’m doing it again but years later?

Not quite.

While I was exploring their newer programs I stumbled upon the UPDATED level 5 program now named ‘mastery’. Initially I thought it must be very similar to the old template I did back in the wonder years but I dived in and found it was totally revised from scratch!

The minimal equipment and lower loading sang to me as I’d just finished a 10 week strength program for weighted calisthenics, in which I nailed a 60 kg pull up and 90kg dip. And there’s only so long you can do super heavy training without mixing up the stimulus and giving the tendons and CNS a break!

Add the Covid saga into the mix which has meant gyms shutting for at least a month here in the UK, and it sounds more and more appealing. Sure you can carry plates with you to parks all the time but it’s hassle and not ideal in colder temperatures.

The Nuts & Bolts Of The Program

The new & updated level 5 program consists of 4 phases, each 4 weeks long with test weeks interspersed between each phase. The test weeks were a neat feature of the old programs and always an exciting time where you got to pit the old you vs the new you, so to speak.

They’re also designed as an indicator for progress as well as motivation to push on and keep improving your performance markers as the program progresses.

The first phase is a 4 days per week split consisting of 12-16 work sets per session. The volume slowly increases week to week.

Once again CaliMove have done a nice job of working in basic patterns along with preparation work for skills down the line. This first phase sees the prep work for the handstand, press handstand, front/back lever, planche, one arm pull/chin up and even the human flag.

What about the lower body/booty?!

Don’t panic, there are lower body exercises in CaliMove’s programs. They know in order to be functional and athletic, lower body training is a must. Having said that, their leg work is kept to a minimum as the idea of the program is to get you closer and closer to the infamous and iconic skills we all want.

Pistol squats and single leg hip thrusts are the exercises of choice. When done right these are deceptively tough. Most people haven’t got the ankle mobility for FULL depth pistols and nowhere near enough active hip extension for full range hip thrusts – especially one one leg.

Where I’ve been hyper focusing on the pistol squat this year and built up to 10 rep sets on each leg with 20 kg, I’ve had to add weight to these sets but that’s not a problem. This is the beauty of experience in the fitness world as an athlete and a coach, you can make the calls easier and without doubt. Although as always CaliMove will always answer your queries if you email them unsure on something.

I’ve trained the lower body quite intensely over the last year or so and know my body well, so I’ve been working in some extra moves alongside the program – namely the Nordic curl, some single leg RDLs, calf raises and mobility work for the front splits, pancake and side split as per.

For those without a strong base, the volume in CaliMove’s original template would still be enough to maintain and build good lower body strength, without the excessive fatigue accompanied with heavy barbell lower body lifts.

When’s phase 2 & what’s waiting in it?

Phase 2 is coming up next over the next 4 weeks and things amp up in terms of complexity. The general structure seems to stay similar but the movements move up the progression ranks.

As a short side note, it’s been nice doing the lower volume because it’s meant I can play with skills like the handstand, still train some muscle ups and do some low volume work for levers, handstand push ups and one arm chin ups. I know the purists may protest I’m NOT FOLLOWING THE PROGRAM EXACTLY, but as I said, I’ve done this for years and am very accustomed to high volume/frequency training and can easily balance this by how I feel.

Maybe even ‘El Eggs’ himself might frown upon this but he has told me before it’s ok to do some cross training, as long as you’re respectful of your recovery reserves, or ‘regeneration’ as he puts it.

Interestingly, phase 2 sees the introduction of handstand blocks – allocated time to handstand practice. I’m quite excited for this as I’ve been finding it hard to put the time into handstands lately where they’ve not been officially programmed. I personally do better when I have set times and routines for the handstand, so these upcoming 15 minute blocks 4 times a week will force me to focus on my weight shifts, tucks, flags and ‘head in’ holds.

If you like clips from my training, check out the new YouTube video below where I talk through the last 4 weeks. Any support for my channel you can offer is eternally appreciated! I’m trying to up my production quality and content quality as the weeks and months go on.

Stay tuned for the phase 2 round up in a month or so!

Thanks for reading.

Calisthenic Movement’s Programs – (Mobility routines, skill programs, body transformation & home workout plans)

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.

11 thoughts on “Calisthenic Movement’s Level 5 Mastery Program – Phase 1 COMPLETE (Weeks 1-4 Recap) Leave a comment

  1. Dear JR,

    I always receive your blog entries with pleasure! Thank you for posting your insights and happy new year!
    I wrote you something like one year ago when I was sure to take a Calimove program but was not sure which.
    Now I’m going towards bundle 3 and yes, I repeated the last 3rd in 2 since we moved as a family to another place, I had no pull up bar and there is no better exercise to develop that strength then with bar or rings. So now finally I’m on track. I also did their mobility program which fits my yoga practice.
    Beside the training I work with kettlebells, expander and dembells. That’s why I’m very currious about the time after doing the 5 bundles. Is there something you recommend of the calimove program with weighted calisthenics and hypertrophy training?

    All the best to you,

    • Hey Gregor, I remember! Wow, where has the time gone?

      Very cool to hear you went on to do the program in full! Did you find any notable improvements in mobility and strength across the 2 programs?

      Are you asking what comes after the 5 bundles or what I recommend doing alongside the bundles for more progress?

      • Hi JR, so nice that you remember! I forgot: all the best for you to the new year! Wish you more training gains and insights and a beautiful community that is in exchange with you and all the best overall!
        Thank you for your questions:
        Concerning improvement in strength yeah! mobility was mostly there already. Since I can see the improvement especially from bundle 2 to 3 now I’m very dedicated, so that I train in whatever condition (even my kids playing around-therefore it is great to have the 2- 2,30 breaks, to support and for little household actions, or even sometimes practicing my instruments, e.g. a challenging phrase). I’m applying also my knowledge and experience with the buteyko breathing method into the training and that is very supportive.
        Alongside the core and overall strength training of the calimove training I started using simple weights for hypertrophy training alongside. So you understood my real question behind what I wrote:
        My question is more what you recommend alongside the bundles for more progress.?
        I clearly love the training with weights even though I just apply this a little bit now and it feels so good in combination with the bodyweight exercises. But I’m very unexperienced with e.g. dembells.

        All the best,

      • Thanks Gregor, happy new year to you and the kids too! May this year be better than last and may you achieve all you set out to!

        Glad to hear you done well on bundle 2 and are enjoying bundle 3, as well. You’re very lucky that mobility isn’t the limiting factor initially, it usually is for most adults. Keep it that way haha. I will also have to look into the buteyko method? As I’ve not heard of this before!

        Ah ok, I understand your question better now! That is a tough answer as it depends on many factors and what your goals are and weaknesses are? For me, I do things outside to target weak points – like triceps as a random example or extra handstand work but then I am used to a fairly high workload. I wouldn’t advocate doing loads of stuff outside of it. I would add one or two things as you see fit and try to find the most ‘bang for your buck’ choice; whatever moves you closer to your goal basically 🙂

      • Dear JR, thank you very much-very helpful! At the moment I do max 1-2 exercises outside the main program. So that fits with your advice.
        All the best to you!

      • Hi JR,

        thank you for your quick answer!
        (my reply comes much later)
        What you advise me, is what I’m doing: one extra thing with weights outside the main training and that is alright with the overall process. Also do rope jumping that is another great add.
        What I just realize with the rounds increasing in the calimove program is to watch the number that tell, how intense you should do the rounds. That really adds to the training if I follow that 😉

        All the best,

      • Hey Gregor,

        Very good point indeed, you absolutely need to keep an eye on the intensity marker!

        I take it everything’s going well still with you on the program? No recovery issues?

        How much longer do you have in total left to go?

      • Hi dear JR, thank you for your questions! Yes everything goes well, especially since I listen more to my body concerning warm ups and breaks. When I create a recovery issue I have a good recovery routine that lets me go back after out most 5 days, normally fine within 2 days. So that’s why I also listen more…
        Concerning the program, there are normally 4 exercises and 2 of them combined. Due to less time for myself I interlink the 4 exercises when it is upper body and leg work. That works fine. The intensity marker also helps to keep a subtle breathing and for the breath not to go too wild. Results are visible and I gained definitely more power. Finally I also have a good pull up bar at home and palettes for dips etc. I’m now at the end of bundle 2 and in about 2/3 weeks heading towards bundle 3. After that bundle 4 and 5-so probably another 2 years, I guess.

        All the best to you!

      • Brilliant, nice to hear you’ve found a recovery approach that works for you! I also find 2 days tends to be the sweet spot to feel good again. Mind you, this is often after 5 days of straight training haha.

        That sounds great too, always exciting when you move towards a new program – especially a harder/more advanced one! Crazy to think of it in that time-span also, but you’re right, it will most likely take two years or so!

        Make sure you take as many photos and videos as you can. I regret that in some ways, that I didn’t take enough pics and vids from my very earl days 🙁 just having the option to display a transformation would be amazing!

      • Thank you JR! Until now I have not documented it. Mostly I’m so focused doing it in our daily life circumstances and challenges that I don’t think about that. And yes, definitely, I will do it-great idea!
        One question, concerning the training you just posted about Calimoves Level 5 Mastery program. Is that the one I’m currently also doing (bundle 1-5) or is that another one (they call it complete Calisthenics program-is that what you mean with mastery?)? Or do you do a complete recap?
        Did you also do another program of then except mobility?

        Thank you for being in touch!

      • These things can happen! Just thought it was a good idea to maybe think about it, as you may kick yourself down the line for not doing it!

        Yes! It’s the same level 5 that will be in the bundle you have. I actually have two templates because I’m that old skool (haha) – one from the old days (2016/2017) and the current one! I’m just running the 4/5 different phases within the most up to date version of level 5.

        Thus far I have done level 4 (old version), level 5 (old version), mobility program (from start to finish – including advanced versions) and am currently doing level 5 (most recent version). I was flirting with the idea of running their elite transformation program but it didn’t align with my goals (calisthenics skills) so I decided against it basically!

        But maybe one day though! I really rate their programs overall, if you couldn’t already tell haha. And I agree with many of their training philosophies.

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