In , Christopher Sommer the founder of Gymnastic Bodies posted an article on Dragon Door that introduced the fitness world to the benefits of gymnastic-style training. But was that really where bodyweight training all started? Well… no. Bodyweight training has been popular for a long time.
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Tweet Movement is cool. The problem is many of the skills and moves you see those guys and girls do have taken a lifetime to develop. One of the missing links for the rest of is often mobility. Many may know of his most famous book Building the Gymnastics Body. For example, have a look at an L-sit.
For that you need to be able to sit upright with the body held at an angle of at least ninety degrees. How many of you actually have that much hamstring flexibility or thoracic extension?
Given that the mid-range score for active straight leg work in the FMS gives you about fifty degrees at the hip the first thing people will need to do to accomplish the L-sit is stretch. Reading Building the Gymnastics Body, it is easy to get a little despondent, as many of the so-called beginner skills and conditioning exercises are actually quite advanced. They do a muscle up just to get in the start position for the rings.
The muscle up is to gymnastics what tying your shoes is to running. So Building the Gymnastics Body is, in many cases, a step too far for most as a starting point. I hesitate to call these watered down, but they are. They offer a great step-by-step guide to achieving gymnastics skills, starting at a very low point — ideal for most. The thing that really stands out for me is that every single exercise has a corresponding mobility drill to assist with its development.
Probably the skill most wanted by trainees is the ability to do a handstand, and Coach Sommer has just delivered again in the form of Handstand One H1. I bought H1 a day or so after its release and then spent a day or so reading. One of the things I am most interested in with this dual approach is to see what else it allows you to do. The added mobility and supple strength from the handstand series should translate to better overhead squatting, barbell snatches, and other double overhead work.
Typically when you need to start doing corrective work on people with the FMS system, you will need to address shoulder mobility early on. I know that single kettlebell work is a tremendous tool for working in a corrective manner while still getting in a tough session.
One of the strong points of the H1 system is that every single exercise comes with an accompanying video, so you can see firsthand what it should look like.
Overall though, both the Foundation One and Handstand One courses are exceptional value to me. They contain a great systematic way of progressing skills and physical abilities that address the strength and mobility required simultaneously.
For instructors looking for new ideas on bodyweight strength or for ways to add more difficult options into a Primal Move class , both of these courses are ideal.
Book Review: "Foundation One" and "Handstand One" by Christopher Sommer