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The HOME RUN: Calisthenic Movement’s Mobility 2.0 (FINAL Phase Review)

A lot can happen in 32 weeks in any walk of life, but if you apply yourself and slowly but surely keep knocking domino after domino down, sometimes the changes can be unrecognisable; night & day different.

32 weeks probably seems a huge time span in today’s ‘do it yesterday’ world but it soon passes. As Earl Nightingale said…

“Never give up on a dream because of the time taken to achieve it. The time will pass anyway”.

When I first started out with Calisthenic Movement’s unseen, unpacked and brand new mobility program, the idea of finishing it couldn’t have been further from my mind. I was just excited to see what was in it, take it for a spin and the possibilities were endless.

Maybe there was a part of me that fantasized for a brief moment of a new version of me, bullet-proofed like never before, more mobile than ever before and most importantly, a healthy non-injured version of me, even less likely than ever to have to go through all the misery of being injured again.

Then I pinched myself and got on with the very first session in the program…

It feels like I’ve just blinked and now I’ve finished the final session of the final phase, of the most up-to-date Calisthenic Movement program in town!

If you read my last update covering all my adventures with the last phase (phase 2) of the program, you’ll know how excited I was to be pitting myself against a particular list of moves. (Get up to speed here: An Update On CaliMove’s Mobility – Mobility 2.0 = COMPLETE).

Phase 3 From The Beginning

Things kicked off nicely in the first few weeks of phase 3 as we saw the arrival of ‘hollow rolls’, ‘back bridge circles’, ‘squat figure 4 drops’, MORE sitting leg raises and advanced ‘deep squat reach’, along with so much else.

What was really refreshing was having the session length drop down from near 30 minutes over the gradual build up throughout phase 2, to 15 minutes maximum now. Which opened my eyes to how good a concept this could be even in more conventional strength training; gradually adding volume to a manageable peak, then dropping it back down to repeat the process!

And if you’re rolling your eyes thinking ‘man, that’s just basic periodization you’ve described there!’, you’d be right. But how many of us have actually used or applied it long enough to gain from it?

You come back in with a hunger and appreciation for doing less but with more focus than before. This then serves as a great launchpad for another successful training phase. Then it’s rinse and repeat!

Week to week the routines stay pretty similar, with a slight tweak every 3rd or 4th session. Even then the tweak is only some movement substitutions; the structure stays pretty constant.

Then the workload starts scaling up gradually right until the end of phase 3.

‘Little Strokes Fell Great Oaks’

Phase 3 was super consistent for me. I kept tallying up completed routines whenever and wherever I could. If I missed any, I’d do 2 in one go sometimes or I’d select a routine where the equipment/space demands aligned with what I had available.

This consistency not only paid off in the long run but coincided nicely with being successfully signed off from the physio for the rehab of my bicep tendon injury. For the first time in almost 2 years I feel like I’m making actual progress again.

I can extend (even hyperextend) my elbows under load without pain, I can fully flex my elbows without pain – and more importantly I can push the end ranges of my shoulder flexibility without pain.

Which leads me nicely to the age-old topic of the bridge/backbend. In phase 3 you start off with what’s supposed to be ‘back bridge walks’ – basically walking back and forward, with full control, in a back bridge position.

Obviously this was my first modification. I still don’t have a trainable or usable floor back bridge. I can bridge but I can’t stack the shoulders over the wrists nicely without elevating the feet.

A loaded bridge with the wrists sliding along a baking hot floor in Morocco

So I did lots of bridge work at a level where I would progress. I would do either elevated back bridge holds or back bridge push ups with the feet elevated. These in conjunction with some of my own bridge/shoulder opening exercises sparked some pretty good bridge gains for a guy who couldn’t get his head off the floor a few years back (legit).

About 2 months difference between pics & substantial differences!

Not to mention a guy who at times due to the elbow issues I was having, couldn’t even place his hands in the lift off position to even try to bridge.

(Compared with a much more beautiful bridge; note the more pronounced extension through the spine, despite the massive instability)

While there’s still lots to gain with this move, I feel the dominos are falling and the complete inability and uselessness I started with, which was brilliantly highlighted by the program, led me to really knuckle down and put things right.

Don’t get me wrong either, CaliMove have many bridge regression options for this move but my thinking was: the position is so bad in general (and has been my whole life) it needs special dedicated attention, while I’m still young enough to do something about it.

More ‘W-T-F-C-I-D-T’ (Why-The-Fuck-Can’t-I-Do-That) Moments!

Since we’re talking weaknesses, it’s only right I air my dirty laundry and share with you this edition’s banana skins. Last time it was the butterfly to pike stand, which I’m pleased to say is no longer the banana skin it once was, but now the new trip mine is the ‘hurdle sit switches’.

These are easy in theory: you sit in a classic hurdle sit position and then you actively lift out and switch sides. Using no hands or assistance.

It’s killer.

(Hurdle Sit Switches – a level of hip rotational control I’m far far away from having)

But the big thing here, as before with previous phases, is enjoying the humbling it gives you. It’s quite funny, it’s human nature to look ahead with curiosity and trawl through the upcoming program and its exercises. Some you know you’ll be fine with and others look ‘juicy’; you know they’ll be a challenge for sure, and in between all this are the ones that fly under the radar. Ones which seem easy but leave you flat on your face.

Who knows what that move could be for you?

That’s what makes the journey through the program so intriguing. You don’t know what you’ll uncover about your body’s capacities and limitations alike.

Incidentally, phase 3 saw the return of another tricky move for me, particularly in recent times, the seated/lying stick dislocation – aka some people’s run of the mill warm up drill, and others’ painful & impossible task.

If we go back 3-5 years, my dislocate was pretty solid. I could grab the stick well within the insides of its full length and do comfortable reps with weight, either standing, seated or face down. Thanks to injury though, I became completely unable to do this movement with a stick and had to use a generous band, at an embarrassing width just to do these when they were in the earlier stages of the program.

Now back to dislocate reps with a stick again at a respectable angle.

At the time of writing though, they’re back to being accessible, comfortable and I feel like I’m able to progress them again. Much of this is thanks to the rehab I’ve been doing outside of Mobility 2.0, but it’s thanks to Mobility 2.0 that these moves are on my radar and the hunger to be able to do them is there again.

Progress: slightly narrower grip & light load.

Are shoulder dislocates the be all and end all? Wil being able to do them get you the dream girl, the muscle up you want and make your friends not bitch about you?

Probably not. But they are a solid display of shoulder health, range of motion and movement capacity. Which leads me to a line I said out of my own mouth just the other day…

“Nowadays I’m more bothered about what I can’t do, or what positions I can’t get into, than what I can lift. Period.”

This is basically a rewiring of my mindset. In the past it was wanting all the flashy advanced stuff at the expense of intricate weak links I didn’t know existed. I wanted higher numbers of total muscle ups, bigger pull up poundage’s, flashier combos, yet all the while I was slowly losing the ability to do simple things our bodies were designed to do.

As I said in both previous reviews, the bigger picture can so often be missed when it comes to the allure of a new program. People are wondering if they’ll get side splits or be able to unlock front & back walkovers…they’re asking if getting a V-sit or press to handstand is possible at the end point, or even before the end point.

But the real beauty lies in a short routine designed to keep, and improve, your control and ranges of motion through all areas of the body, that you don’t have to think about, you just follow along.

And if you do just that, massive changes are possible. You will experience those magical moments where out of nowhere, you can just get further into a position than ever before. Or you can just sustain a posture with a level of ease that was unfathomable previously.

Real world example/comparison of a seemingly unrelated movement level up; the tuck handstand. Left = bent arms with more closed shoulders (and not able to hold for more than a second or so). Right = arms locked with more open shoulders (and held for repeated sets of 10 seconds!)

These moments are so exciting and are the rewards for turning up day after day, doing what you can even if it’s not a record breaking session (80% won’t be I’m afraid), and trusting the long term process. Heck, if you were in the position I was in, it’s even more special; moves you used to have but didn’t value desert you and you have to work for them back, to then see them shoot past where they were before.

Heaven.

Breakthroughs?

This is the section that really matters: what’s improved and by how much?

I think a nice way to start would be to cover the things that were once impossible but now possible. They’re still works in progress but at least we have the needle going in the right direction….

1. Archer Squat Flow (No Hands Needed Now!)

This was straight up impossible for me when I first saw this combo and tried it. Even warmed up with ultra loose ankles, I still couldn’t drive up from my butt being on the ground to the active bottom position of an archer squat. I could lower down with some kind of control but coming back was a flat no-go.

Then almost from nowhere in this phase I was able to do it on my right side and not only once, but repeatedly! More evidence of what can happen when you put the ground work in at a level suited for you, then back off for a small period, come back and attempt again and BAM, you can do it!

2. Overhead Squatting/Squat & Reach (Anything Involving Extending Your Spine In A Squat Position)

This was just impossible for me for the longest time. The entire deck was stacked against me. Tight lats, restricted thoracic mobility in all planes, weak shoulder flexor muscles, previously tight ankles for a period (sorted now) and the fact the very position itself forces a stretch from both ends, as the squat tends to pull the pelvis towards a posterior tilt, thus stopping you from arching/extending the low back and cheating more overhead range.

Currently vs earlier in phase 3

This is one of those with so many factors influencing your ability to find an ‘optimal’ position but in my case it was a few key factors…

  • My recent dedicated work to tibialis anterior strengthening/working my calves through more length
  • Months’ worth of work mobilising my thoracic spine in multiple planes across various exercises
  • Significantly levelling up the strength of my shoulder flexors with moves like wall facing handstand tuck slides, back bridge push ups, trap 3 raises & even cross bench pullovers
  • Finally the piecing together of what it should feel like to try and extend the spine while squatting, along with actively using the right muscles to keep the shoulders flexed, HARD.
(Even the pancake has improved as I can now reach further forward/overhead & extend my spine further, as well as abduct (widen) the legs further.)

3. Hip ROTATION (Squat Figure 4 Drop, Hurdle To Cross Sit Etc)

It’s often said ‘if you want to increase flexibility in a joint you need to go after rotation‘. Simply put, people spend 90-100% of their time chasing flexion & extension, with little to no thought given to the rotational capacity of a joint.

I think part of the reason for that is rotation being a slightly more complicated beast.

Do you need more external rotation, internal rotation, or both?

Is your passive range good but active lacking?

What’s the best drill(s) to go about improving said deficit(s)?

I’m a prime example. I’ve done little to no rotational work for the hips outside of gentle 90/90 drills in the classes I teach. When it comes to the shoulders, I’ve dabbled a little more with developing internal rotation, along with strengthening external rotation – but the latter being more forced upon me due to injury (too late really).

So is it any wonder I struggled with the aforementioned hurdle to cross sit, or the squat figure 4 drop? These are integrated movements demanding active control through range; a nightmare if you’re new to all this!

But the story does have a happy ending, as towards the final push of phase 3 I managed to get to being able to come in and out of the bottom ranges of both movement sequences, unassisted, compared to my starting point of barely being able to control the lowering portion of the move, unassisted.

And this is without any direct or bonus work on hip rotation or the movements themselves. Rather, just chipping away the program and trying to be a fraction better each time.

Drawbacks/What I’d Like To See/Objectivity

I wanted to save this section until the final write up as if I’d tried to do it sooner, I would be speaking from a place of inexperience. And only a fool does that. Now I’ve completed every. single. workout. of. the. whole. program. I can speak from full experience and look at the big picture as a whole….

(Where are the big skills?)

One of the biggest questions I’ve been asked throughout this journey/review series is whether or not there’s any specific work for bigger gymnastics-esque skills – splits, back bridge, handstand/press to handstand etc. And as I’m sure you can see by now, the answer is no. Maybe you think that’s a bad move and I must admit I wasn’t sure either, initially.

It’s cool to know there’s a big end goal and a reward for all your hard work, consistency and application, sure. Except in this case there isn’t a sexy reward. You’re not guaranteed a split or backwards walkover. You might get one of those by default, depending on where you started coming into the program but the only reward you really get is 32 week’s worth of mobility prep/conditioning, that serves as a springboard to go on and chase further advanced goals, should you wish to.

I was just like you at the start, bemused there was no ‘big skill’ work laying in wait but my view is different now. You could say the journey has changed me? I now think if the carrot of sexy split training was laying 24-32 weeks down the line for me, would I have skipped ahead? Quite possibly. And if I didn’t skip ahead, would I have rushed through the first phases as fast as possible, trying to get to the ‘good stuff’?

Most likely.

Maybe there’s a case for CaliMove bringing out more specific mobility programs in the future, for those who’ve done Mobility 2.0? But I think we both know everyone would jump to the advanced stuff without putting the groundwork in first.

(Is it worth the money?)

This one has been DM’d to me and emailed me to me a fair bit. For context, the program is either $107.99 to buy outright or you can buy it via monthly instalments of $22.79 for 6 months.

As with any question regarding money it always comes down to more sub questions…

  • What’s your budget?
  • What are your priorities?
  • What’s the price of the rivals/competitors?

The biggest counter argument to buying programs online these days is the sheer amount of free information available online. While this is true, piecing together a sensible and suitable routine from all of this information, is a completely different story.

The routine needs to be periodized, time efficient, scalable and ultimately safe & effective. The knowledge and time in the game required to decipher and filter out the scale of mobility info on the internet, would take hundreds of hours’ of practical & theoretical experience, all to save a few dollars!

Priorities always comes down to how bad do you want it and are you willing to simply move one foot in front of the other? How many times have you or someone you know, said, ‘this is the year I work on my mobility deficits!’ with all the best intentions in the world, yet no idea how to take the very first step to get the dominos falling.

With a systemized program the guesswork is taken out and you no longer think, you just do. If you’re a busy high flyer spinning lots of plates under the umbrella that is your life, this will be just what you need.

Programs like these are the closest thing to the ultimate fast track to mobility improvement, 1-2-1 coaching, which costs substantially more as this is tailored to you, your movement is monitored, assessed and instructed accordingly. This will cost you hundreds of dollars a month if it’s from a truly credible source.

In regards to main competitors, 2 spring to mind: 1) FitnessFAQSs & 2) Gymnasticbodies as both have programs geared around mobility, with the main differences being FitnessFAQs has specific programs (Side Split Pro & Back Bridge Pro), whereas Gymnasticbodies has a more generalised foundational program aimed at gymnastics development.

Now let’s look at cost…

FitnessFAQs programs are lifetime access for $95 and Gymnasticbodies is an ever rolling monthly fee of $30 or an annual fee of $180. So they’re all in the same ball park except with Gymnasticbodies you have to keep paying for life, whereas with CaliMove & FitnessFAQs you have lifetime access.

CaliMove is aimed at making you a better mover overall, not just making you flexible in one specific area (as is the case with FitnessFAQs) and Gymnasticbodies is orientated more towards gymnastics. Which is not to say they don’t touch on general mobility needs, but we can be pretty sure they don’t approach it quite as all over as CaliMove.

Another key point is Mobility 2.0 is specifically designed to be used alongside other programs or training interests. So it doesn’t drain or compete with your recovery reserves – and really it’s only the last week or so that becomes more challenging as the workouts become a mix of 2 workouts in one session.

So as you can see, it comes down to the priority as the prices are all competitive really. And as I always say, nobody values free information these days anyway. Yeah the naysayers claim everything is on the internet if you dig enough, but you won’t value it even if you dig enough to not only find it all, but understand it all.

Because there’s no buy-in from you. This is more key than you think, even for more experienced people like myself. The financial investment holds you more accountable and programs your subconscious to value the content far more than you would, if it was just given to you!

A last point of interest/factor to consider

Some of the movements, positions and even combos can be tough to get better at where you don’t do them that much overall throughout the program. In my own case, things like cossack squat mobility (lifting on and off the ground in end range), back bridge walks/circles (walking while in a full back bridge/lifting in and out of a back bridge in a rotational fashion), just didn’t get better from the program alone.

It was the tibialis work I did outside the routine that helped the ankle mobility, and it was the specific thoracic spine work I did outside the routine that helped the shoulders open.

This isn’t a criticism of the program, more a firm highlight of the fact the program is quite general and will only take you so far in areas where there might be specific weakness & tightness. On the flip side though, the program could serve as a diagnostic tool for screening where your efforts should go next upon completing it.

So for me it’s more bridge work, more ankle/hip rotational work and more work on my right side single arm active hang, to name a few.

What could it be for you?

All in all Calisthenic Movement’s New Mobility 2.0 Program has been a blast to take part in and a great achievement to finish off. When did you last stick to and finish a 32 week routine to the letter?!

I’ve improved, been challenged, know what I suck at and what I’m reasonable at. I’ve learnt so many different combos that I’ve used in my own coaching/classes, and completely rethought the value and importance of a daily and regular movement/mobility practice, long term.

So much so, I’m planning to rerun the program from the very beginning but make use of more modifications this time through. This way the ‘easier’ stuff is a new challenge!

What’s stopping you from having your turn? Or have you already been working through the program like me?

Please share your experiences and as always, if you have any questions, let me know.

Who knows what the next new Calisthenic Movement Program will be….

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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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