Kinda Experimental Program

Coach, I noticed lately that gymnastic style training is getting popular, and you seem to know a fair share of it, especialy for performance and looks.(The eye needs some candy too;)

So I’m getting into this gymnastic stuff,I guess it could give some nice benefits like freakish core-strength and great bodily proprioception.
Also heard that you can up the frequency quite a bit because there is far less spinal loading. in stuff like pull/chin/muscle ups even decompression of the spine.

But no way I’m dropping barbell training! I love deads, squats and hang snatches far too much. You need to be able to tolarate a heavy load i guess.

So, for a fairly big guy (6’8 and 245), do you recommend gymnastic training, mostly rings and floor, to gain upper-body and core strength and proprioception( something I lack greatly as a uncoordinated kid)?

If so, how would i try to implement it?
Heard l-sits, HSPU and muscle-ups do wonders.

Hope to hear from you coach

I’m in the midst of experimenting with a few things myself, so here’s my thoughts.

Firstly, the gymnastics stuff just augments the barbell lifting. Unless you have aspirations to become a gymnast, I think this is the way it should be for most anyone else.

I use weighted pullups and weighted dips on the rings, nearly daily, with a very slow progression in weight. With both of these, my goals are to develop tendon and ligament strength and precise control. Viewing this as just “accessory” work to your main barbell lifting makes it easier to hold yourself back and avoid progressing too quickly on these. The pullups are done to a dead hang, then up until the elbows are in line with the torso, up and down relatively slowly under full control. The ring dips are similar, going until the top of the rings are basically in line with my armpits.

Before starting to dip on the rings, I would work up to being able to hold yourself stable at the top for at least 30 seconds. There’s a lot of stability things your body needs to figure out before you start pushing it through any amount of movement.

As far as non-ring work, hollow body holds, and their opposite (on your belly), are really good to work on your core endurance and stability. You can progress these by keeping your knees and arms in and bent, and over time, working to having them both extended. And then just work at holding these for a few sets with increasingly longer times.

I would take a look at the Foundation One course by Coach Sommers at GymnasticBodies. It’s fairly straightforward, and emphasizes the idea that you need to slowly build up stability, control and connective tissue strength via gradual progression. People hurt themselves by trying to do too much too soon, since a lot of gymnastics stuff looks far easier than it really is, and you need strength in places that few people (other than gymnasts) have. You may not have seen it yet, but a number of otherwise intelligent lifters have managed to hurt themselves by trying to do Iron Crosses on the rings… without actually building the foundation to do that.

Hello Lorez could you describe more your training? Weighted ring dip and ring chin work everyday along with barbell? How is your physique/strength responding to this thanks

Thanks for the input guys, I should’ve asked for your insights too when I started this topic.

LoRez, i feel you’re on something. Barbell would probably be needed to built the strength foundation.
A reason T-Nation readers might be getting more intrested in BW stuff is Max Shank, he inspired me for sure, maybe you guys too, please let me know.
As far as I understood he claims:

  1. Great carryover: for example: a HSPU would do more for all of your overhead pressing than a military press could ever do.
  2. Increased proprioception: LoRez already makes a reference I recall. Seems to make sense, gotta know where your body is.
  3. Increased frequency: due to lower spinal loading
  4. It’s freakin’ awesome to be able to coordinate your body in and out of some positions as a real life skill.

I’m very intrested in some of your opinions on these topics!
I guess the first few months gymnastics will be a great deal skill work, before i could load them well.
While Max is more of a variaty guy for upperbody, it seems awesome to fit in some CT ideas and take 2/3 movements and focus on frequency, added weight and skill perfection.
Do you guys agree?

To be honest, my gym goals are in order: MA performance, athleticism,‘real world strength’(farmers at hearth;), aesthetics. And having fun in the gym! (Sometime I snooze in all warm and fuzzy thinking about a program like his Ultimate Athleticism workouts with gymnastics, front squats , hang snatches and strongman stuff…the feels:))
So, considering this, after a few months of getting strength up and doing skill work in gymnastics, can bw work take care of upperbody?

Sorry for the huge rant guys, but info about this topic is so scarce I turn into a depriviated hyena when I feel someone drop some info. …

Looking good is still high in value tho!

Ok, you both made me laugh a little bit.

Basically, I don’t really think rings or gymnastics stuff is going to turn you into a ninja. (You’d probably be better off with parkour/freerunning or something like that.) That’s not to say it’s not awesome in its own way, but I don’t think it’s some holy grail or anything.

There really is almost nothing out there about combining strength-based work with rings. I’ve dug through a number of places, but can find very very little. Lots of crossfit things, and a fair amount of gymnast things, but all that is bodyweight and for either endurance/reps or skill work.

Short story is, I moved, my rack went into storage, and all I had to work with was a barbell. So for several months, I was just doing an overhead press variation, and a deadlift variation. I then got some rings for Christmas, and after getting past the initial excitement of wanting to be a ring gymnast and do all this awesome stuff, I added in ring dips, ring pullups and hangs for time. Recently, I also added some wrist roller work, with a fat bar wrist roller suspended in the rings.

So, currently:

  1. deadlift variation (mid-shin mat pulls with chains), trained in the style from the book Power to the People. For a given day, do a max set of 5, drop 10% (~30lbs), do another set of 5. Next session, add ~5% (15lbs), do the same. Keep adding weight each session to hit a new peak, then drop to 70% and restart a new cycle.

This schedule has gotten a bit messed up, as I’ve been changing my overhead programming and training in a different gym twice a week. I may change the routine up, not the lift.

The mat pulls seem to work better than the deadlift, and the chains keep the weight heavy through the whole ROM. Otherwise, the start of the lift is heavy but the finish is easy. Goal here is to maximize muscle stress through the whole movement. These are done touch and go, very controlled.

  1. overhead press variation (strict press from rack, or clean and press… varies). I’m using the routine from the book “Hepburn’s Law”. Basically, 8 sets of 2, working to 8 sets of 3. Then 6 sets in the 4-6 rep range. Then a final “pump” set. The book explains it well, but this is 2x a week.

  2. ring pullups. Grip starts out pronated, moves to neutral as I finish out the rep. These are done using the 3RM schedule from Pavel’s “Fighter Pullup” routine. See the “3RM Russian Pullup Program” section here: How to Increase Your Pull-Up Power

I do that, then add 5 lbs and start over.

  1. ring dips. Same thing.

  2. fat-bar supported wrist roller. I just recently added them in, but this is to increase my grip strength, and to improve my wrist strength. Wrist strength has been an issue for pressing, so I’m trying to fix it.

That’s pretty much it. A little bit of arm stuff here and there (one-arm pushdowns), to try and even a few things out.

The dips, pullups and presses seem to be making a lot of changes in my upper body. The dips especially, since on the rings I seem to hit everything from my arms to my lats to my chest, as well as a whole bunch of “stabilizer” muscles around the shoulder joints (teres, supraspinatus, rhomboids, mid and low traps). On parallel bars, I don’t get anywhere near the muscle involvement as on the rings.

The mat pulls with chains basically hit everything else on the midline of the body, from the neck to the calves. There’s actually a fair amount of quad and abductor involvement too, for being primarily a posterior-chain movement.

I like the combination of everything I’m doing right now; it seems to hit what I want, and make me better where I want.

LoRez, haven’t you missed some variation fot fun/development?
As I understand you just deadlift lift of blocks, press, dip, pull up and do some assecory stuff for your forearms, doenst seem really all-round. Don’t you miss some deeper squats for example, for full rom quad work and movement pattern training? Or do you purely train for aesthetics, and do you feel the deads are enough for legs?(nothing wrong with that!)

You seem to have some experience with combining rings/oly lifting too, just saw you had some conversation on it with CT at his log around october.

You maybe have some things you noticed?
You said something about feeling athletic and improved posture, sounds awesome!

So fascinating to see how the “curl and get guns” Bb community is changing.
Seems the emphasise is shifting to all-round athleticism.

Maybe Crossfit did some good after all…just maybe…

If you do big lifts ramping up (zone 1) to a daily 1/3/5/8max (whichever) and then do accessory bodyweight work, either loaded for heavy sets (zone 2), and/or constant tension with short rests (zone 3), you would have very complete sessions that have been discussed by a few others here.

Havent read any feedbacks, but mine is that zone 1 fires you up like only heavy barbells can do, zone 3 brings the sick pumps while staying cool on the joints. If I had more training and rest time I’d fit in more zone 2 work, I can only do 1-2 amrap barbell sets with lighter weights which is fine imo

If you do big lifts ramping up (zone 1) to a daily 1/3/5/8max (whichever) and then do accessory bodyweight work, either loaded for heavy sets (zone 2), and/or constant tension with short rests (zone 3), you would have very complete sessions that have been discussed by a few others here.

Havent read any feedbacks, but mine is that zone 1 fires you up like only heavy barbells can do, zone 3 brings the sick pumps while staying cool on the joints. If I had more training and rest time I’d fit in more zone 2 work, I can only do 1-2 amrap barbell sets with lighter weights which is fine imo

That sound pretty nifty indeed (sorry, I’m not gonna try to spell that, I would murder your name).

So say you will work up to a military press @90%, and then bust out a few sets of HSPU? Seems like a back-off set of awesomeness.
That seems worth a try! Not such a pump chaser, so guess more zone 2 work (read somethings about it but haven’t done my home work quite enough).

Before I forget this: CT talked in his first log about ringwork (with sigil i guess).
He says it works like hell for a short time, but muscle mass seems to stagnate, even drop after a while.
Well, I personally could live with a slimmer and more athletic and agile body (been pretty…massive all my life)
, yet can we pack some more mass with a ramp? Nice experiment to try out, maybe you know some stuff?

btw is this ramp with backoff like CT’s famous layer system. Im gonna search for it right away!

Well it’s just that I recall reading another dude asking CT not too long ago, and CT’s answer was that it’s fine with his zone 1-2-3 approach (I think the question was about ramping up zone 1- doing double progression zone 2- doing growth factor/supersets zone 3)

IMO ring dips,flyes&pushups, ring chinups&rows, L-sits, front levers, pistol squats, handstands… are pretty hardcore if you do a few sets to exhaustion with short rest (so zone 3), as I said I haven’t tried heavily loaded bw stuff (zone 2) but as long as you can add weight why not ? people have built huge strength with weighted chinups/pullups or dips, and doing long sets of HSPU is a huge feat

I just love the 30seconds of tension - 30seconds of pause for a few sets as finishers. But since it’s pretty easy to recover from BW training I might try more loaded stuff soon.

One thing I’d say is crucial is how you plan the training over the week, months, year with this style.

One workout of zone 1 - > zone 2 → zone 3 (ring work) might feel amazing but then what do you do tomorrow? Repeat same movements for zone 3? And then day after?

If you choose a big movement like decline tilt bp from pins, finish off with weighted ring dips and ring flyes your pushing musculature is beyond “worked”. Next day you do SGHP…do you do ring dips again in zone 3? Will that impede recovery following days?

I’m saying this because that’s what I did and the poundages on my big “layer” lifts have stagnated. Sometimes strength drops.

So it’s an experiment for me as well.

I like the idea of ramping to a max (zone 1) → doing a double progression or cluster or AMRAP in 20 min → then do ring work for volume.

I think if you do the actual layers program you probably can’t get away with anything more than 50 ring chins/dips and even that might kill your recovery. Think about it, ramp to 3RM → 3 clusters (essentailly hitting failure on heavy weight) → high density lifting (more near failure work) and then you do AMRAP of ring dips/chins?

So something has to be subbed out for the ring work to be included.

But yeah will definitely echo that heavy barbell (one lift) + lots of ring work (done SUBMAXIMALLY in my opinion) makes for a very fun, athletic workout that produces great aesthetic results.

CT said ring work over the long term will cause you to shrink. THis is some pretty damn unique and true insight. I’ve gone from looking notifcably juicy to now sleeker…that might or might not be more “aesthetic” but I just can’t drop ring/gymnastic work because it’s so fun.

This sounds like we are getting somewhere! I’m reading into the zone stuff now.
I’m still in doubt to pick up max shanks book, i was thinking that if we can combine what this guy preaches witb some of CT’s insights we might be on the way of getting perfect athletic development.
I just feel Thibs knows so much about training for strength, power and hypertrophy, it is obscene. Every year he seems to have had another 20 years of experience.

But this Shank guy, feels like an Dan John reïncarnation. He always gets me to my feet. Simple yet sophisticated, very intruging.

Maybe their ideas can’t be combined, but something tells me that we could get the best of both worlds if we try hard enough.

Look at this guy

And this guy

Lots of ring videos on line. Physqiues vary. But ideally I want to basically do integrated ring work as a “warmup”/activator and then do the barbell work.

ANd then this guy, pretty juicy layers power look:

Your structure really determines how you can integrate ring work I think. I"m small boned/short so the ring stuff feels right whereas big dudes might blow a gasket doing a straddle lever lol. Similarly I need to do the heavy barbell training to look “jacked” otherwise I’m just lean/sleek…great for ladies but not gonna win any physique competitions

Sigil before my last post i didnt see your latest post, so it isnt really with the newest insights…

Something I see is with this layer system you
1)hammer a movement/muscle group really hard
2)it seems to be a body partsplit.

Maybe it’s more reasinable to do a ramp, and then do some ‘heavy skill work’ and do this with higher frequency.
Say: ramp up a military press to 90% with just triples/doubles/singles/descending scheme, and than do some ‘practice’ of HSPU. And say this HSPU stuff will be a double progression.
Seeing this as a 5 skillbuilding back-off sets. No griniding too much, start just bw, and just 5 sets of 7.
building up slowly and adding weight however possible.

Yeah pano I really like that. So on bench days you could do ring maltese pushup “skill work”. And then on deadlift/SGHP or squat days you could do lever “practice work”.

Honestly I haven’t tried this approach because I feel like for maximum physique effects you have to have that “muscle olibteration” feel or whatnot.

Otherwise you can just practice reps of 3 forever and look ok but not standout.

You are too fast for me, dangit!:wink:

Im not really frail of bone structure: sometimes i guess, i had surgery when i was young to keep my legs from growing more than they already did. Im just a giant trapped in a smaller giant lmao.

But this looks good, you seems to have quite some experiments yet!
maybe you should look up anthony mychal. He mixes alot of gymnastics and barbell training.
just a caveat: if you still have something to do that day, dont get strangled in his philosophy/dragonball z essays, those things rob hours of your life!

Lol yeah ANthony and I know each other. He has some good work on gymnastics/barbell. ALso a tall guy so the ring work is fairly impressive

I just like to hear CT talk about it because his stuff is magic, like gospel literally. He does claim that he’s no experton BW but we’re trolling this thread trying to get him to be haha

You keep beating me to the clock with those comments.

Of course you have to progress. But i mean that there is nothing wrong with starting low to set ourselfs up for longterm progression. Just like normal double progression: when you hit your objective, add weight. Just start off with skill work. We wanna be getting stronger now and in 5 years, so better not do the old crossfit trick and obliterate ourselfs when starting from scratch and never get good at the basics