Can you teach me some Tricks please

So can you teach me some Tricks

I can’t count how many times as a Personal Trainer/Coach I have been asked the questions “So can you teach me some tricks?” or my other personal favourite “So whats the trick to that?”

Its not just newbies to the world of fitness who ask me these questions either, I have had qualified Personal Trainers who have asked me to teach them tricks on the Rings or Bars. They might want to learn how to roll around in the Rings (which are an unstable apparatus so therefore dangerous when used incorrectly) or they might want to learn how to do a Bar Hop (hopping over the bar from a Muscle-Up position) and re-grabbing the bar before you drop to the floor on the other side. The problem is that most people who are asking about this are people who can’t do a Muscle-up (Rings or bar) yet or maybe not even a Pull-up.

 My general answer to these questions is that you need to get strong, conditioned, mobile and develop good technique before we start thinking about learning any tricks. After all if you can’t do a strict Pull-up yet for example then you have no business trying to do a dynamic Bar Muscle-up.

I’m not just saying this because I’m trying to be difficult. I am doing it because I have a sense of responsibility and I don’t wish to see people getting hurt or having Personal Trainers who don’t really know what they are doing, passing on these ‘tricks’ and potentially hurting other people out there. I understand that we all want to be able to do the cool stuff, when I started out doing Bodyweight Strength training I wanted to as well however thats not where we start.

So if we aren’t learning Tricks straight away, what do we need to do?

So the first priority before we start to look at learning tricks is to make sure that we are physically ready to be able to handle the increased loading on our joints, tendons & muscles that dynamic movements bring.

How we do this, by focusing on developing Strength so that the body is physically strong enough to be able to do the movements required. For example we need to be able to do Muscle-ups first before doing a Bar Hop or Muscle over.

We develop the required Flexibility and Mobility to enable us to use the correct Range of Motion for any given exercise. An example here is If you don’t have the capacity to retract your shoulder blades and bring your elbows behind you, you will struggle to do a Ring Muscle Up even if you are strong enough. You need to be able to a Ring Muscle-Up before you can even think about doing a Forward Roll in the rings.

We will focus heavily on conditioning. This is as much for injury prevention as it is for muscular endurance and being to do movements with good technique when fatigued. Conditioning of the joints and connective tissues is just as important as being strong and flexible. If you are strong but don’t have the necessary conditioning through the elbow joint for example you are far more likely to develop Tendonitis.

Lastly but not least we will do a lot of work on Technique. This is for a number of reasons, injury prevention, correct motor patterning, utilising your strength in the most efficient way for the exercise you are doing and to make it easier in the long run. If you have poor technique in a Bar Muscle-Up for example you may end up internally rotating your shoulders which can impact upon your Upper Traps, lead to shoulder impingement issues and make the movement far less efficient and therefore harder to execute.

Remember peeps you need to master the basics first before we shoot for the stars!


Jason Ahipene

Calisthenics Coach


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