Fit man mastering calisthenics

Mastering your bodyweight is not easy, especially if your goal is a Human Flag, a Frontlever or even a Planche. If you want to make the most out of your potential and make your gains lasting, you should take a look at the following 3 exercises to master calisthenics. All of them are straight arm exercises. This means that your elbow joints are always extended but not overextended. This is very important to build the necessary strength in your shoulders and the complete shoulder girdle. Most Advanced Calisthenics Skills are focused on these muscles and straight arm strength in general.

What you will learn in this article:

Try these 3 exercises to master calisthenics

Hanging Side Pull

Man doing Hanging Side Pull

The first exercise on our list is the hanging side pull. This move is the number one supporting exercise for the Human Flag. When you do a human Flag you need a lot of straight arm pulling strength on the upper arm. Without it you won’t be able to raise your body to a horizontal line. This mainly requires a strong lower trap but of course also other stabilizers of the shoulder and shoulderblade 

Another important thing you need is a solid amount of strength in your obliques to stabilize your spine. If your obliques are too weak you won’t be able to hold your spine in a straight position. The hanging side pull imitates exactly this movement but in a vertical instead of a horizontal body position. To do it right, start in a hanging position. From there you shift your weight to one side by pulling your shoulder blade down into depression and do a lateral flexion with your spine. 

As in the human flag you now activate your obliques, your lower traps and other shoulder blade stabilizers like the muscles of the rotator cuff. To avoid imbalances we suggest to switch sides after a few seconds. For example: 3 seconds on the left,  3 seconds on the right and so on. This move is not only good to improve your human flag. A strong active hang with the focus on one side is also important to support other exercises like the Archer or One Arm Pull Up.

Straddle Sit

Man doing straddle sit as one of the 3 exercises to master calisthenics

This exercise is not only a great mix between mobility and straight arm push strength, it also supports and even leads to calisthenics skills like the Planche or the Straddle Press to Handstand.

  • Man performing straddle sit as one of the 3 exercises to master calisthenics
  • Man showing the progression of straddle sit

Most people who never tried this movement before get cramps in their quads. Don’t worry if this also happens to you. That’s quite normal in the beginning and will get better with constant practice. It’s still possible to make this movement easier if the mobility part is the greatest issue. Here you simply start with bent legs and extend them from time to time little bit more. As you probably already noticed, in the basic straddle sit your thigh rests on your forearms. So this movement is very similar to a Frog Stand.

Man showing an easier progression to perform the straddle sit

But even if you use your forearms as support you still need enough strength to hold your body in the correct position. Never fall in your structures and always aim for a cat-like rounded back. This is very important to activate your serratus anterior which is one of the main workers in this movement besides the chest and the front delt. 

  • Mann doing the press to handstand
  • Man showing the progression of press to handstand
  • Man in handstand position during press to handstand

If you are able to hold this supported position with proper form for at least 20 seconds you can step up your game by lifting your thighs from your forearms. The stronger you are the more you can lift your body.  At this point you can use this exercise as direct skill training for the planche or for the press to handstand.

V-  to Inverted Hang

  • Man doing v to inverted hang as one of the 3 exercises to master calisthenics
  • Man showing v to inverted hang as one of the 3 exercises to master calisthenics

Similar to the straddle sit, this movement requires a good mix between strength and mobility. The combination between the V hang and the L Frontlever Raise has a lot of benefits. The V hang is great to target your abs and quads and of course it will support your mobility for the L and V Sit. The L Frontlever Raise on the other hand is a great exercise to work on your Frontlever and with that your straight arm pulling strength in general. Straight  arm pull movements like that are great to target your lats and traps without the help of your biceps. 

  • Man doing legs to the bar
  • Man doing legs to the bra to train for v to inverted hang
  • Man doing v hang single leg extension with left leg to prepare for one of the 3 exercises to master calisthenics
  • Man doing v hang single leg extension with right leg
  • Man ready to do tucked frontlever raise
  • Man doing tucked frontlever raise

The V to inverted hang is a really hard exercise especially for people who lack in mobility. So if you aren’t able to get into the V hang position, you can also split this movement into different exercises. To work on your mobility you could either do straight leg raises and try to improve your range of motion step by step, or do V-Hang single leg extensions. If you do them on swedish bars you can also make sure that your upper body stays in a nearly vertical position. With that you can really focus on the mobility aspect. To work on your frontlever and straight arm strength without the mobility component you could simply do tucked frontlever raises.

Of course these 3 exercises can’t replace specific calisthenics skill training but they are great to support nearly all straight arm calisthenics skills. Some variations like the Straddle Sit Press can even be used as direct skill training as well. 

How can I learn more calisthenics skills?

Man doing a calisthenic skill on bars

If you want more than 3 exercises to master calisthenics and wish to learn Calisthenics Skills like the Planche, the Frontlever, The backlever, the V Sit and many more you should get our Calisthenics Workout Program. The full package comes with 5 levels and is a step by step guide to become a Calisthenics Master.

Of course you get all the important details a good workout programs needs, and don’t have to worry about the right programming, the exercise selection, the amount of reps and sets ,the correct rest times and many more.  So no matter if you are an absolute beginner or an advanced athlete our complete calisthenics programs are the right choice for you. If you now want to know more details about the programs, just visit calimove.com.

Watch the video to learn these 3 calisthenics exercises

Have you already tried these 3 exercises to master calisthenics?

Follow us for more!

Scroll to Top