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William Clarke

Just starting!

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William Clarke

Hello all! I've been reading a lot of the stuff on the forums here, and greatly enjoyed what I gleaned from everyone's wisdom on here. I finally decided to become a member the other day. I figured I could learn a lot more and maybe help someone out.

A quick (not really quick, haha) back ground about my fitness journey: I have been playing soccer since I was in 1st grade, but after I finished my high school soccer I decided I was going to end my soccer career due to not being very great at it and receiving plenty of injuries due to poor warm ups and poor programing. I started doing track and field in high school. I really enjoyed track and field: the atmosphere of everyone trying to improve and help others improve (even my competitors helped me with various things), and the focus on fitness, not just skill (like what we did in soccer). I was always know as the calisthenics guy in track... I rocked the fitness tests with pull ups, push ups, and burpees. I was the fasted sprinter on my team my sophomore, junior and seinor year... which wasn't all that impressive, because my best 100m was a 12.02.

I started getting into strength training my junior year. I didn't know anything and ended up injuring myself (sprained shoulder+jumper's knee). My strength training exposed my weakness: I had collapsed arches from soccer injuries, weak hamstrings from shallow squats and a previously pulled hamstring, some shoulder injuries, and wrist tendinitis. It was pretty ugly for being a junior in high school. I worked around and through the injuries. In my seinor year of high school I had done a ton of research on re/pre-hab. I also read a ton about strength training (Starting Strength and tons of articles and forums). I kind of became a coach of my track team because I actually knew more about sprinting/strengthening and rehabbing than my coaches (kind of sad). I got into benching, pressing, dead lifts, squats and pull ups. Sadly, my previously injured shoulder and imbalanced programing caused me to have a bit of impingement in my shoulder. I rehabbed it a bit, but benching never seem quite right with my shoulder (until recently).

Now, my freshman year in college I finally took care of most of my injuries. Hamstrings are getting stronger, shoulder rarely hurts (only hurts when I'm poorly warmed up and do some kind of bad form press), knee pain is rare, but my feet are still flat. I can squat 260 for reps, dead lift 330 for 1, bench 185, press 100 for a couple reps (I know, it's wimpy) at a body weight of 160-165.

Because upper body weight training never felt great on my shoulders, I looked into calisthenics a bit more. I brought Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low. I really enjoyed it, and considered buying foundation 1, but I figured they were every similar books and I don't have a ton ton of money to spend on fun reading. I tried handstand stuff, but got really sore wrists. Everything else seems pretty awesome.

I am really excited to get into Gymnastic Strength Training™, because I could see myself doing this for years... and honestly, it's a ton more fun than lifting weights (except dead lifts, haha). I plan on having squats, dead lifts and sprints as my main lower body exercises, Gymnastic stuff and barbell over head press (until I'm better at handstand presses) for upper body strength training,

My long term goals are:

Front lever/front lever pull ups.

Straddle planche push up.

Free handstand push ups.


One arm chin up.

405 pound squat.

500 pound dead lift.

...and maybe eventually an iron cross.

My shorter term goals are:

8 Ring dips+45 pounds.

8 pull ups+45 pounds.

5 Tuck planche push up.

8-10 second Back lever.

10 strict muscle ups.

5 second Single leg front lever

10 Advanced L-sit/l-sit on rings.

1-3 handstand push ups (and 135 press for 8-10)

315 squat

405 dead lift.

A half decent free standing handstand.

Currently I'm at:

6 ring dips (getting easier)

10 pull ups + 15 pounds (not too challenging)

Planche: No idea!

2 not-super strict muscle ups.

16 second tuck front lever.

18 second tuck back lever.

250 squat for reps (increasing weight every week still)

315 dead lift for 3 (gonna deload after I hit 325 for 3)

Hand stand: 1-3 seconds.

Current plan:


Squat 3x5

Barbell press 3x8

3 sets of front lever+row 3 sets for 8-12 reps

Cool down

Pike stretch+compression

Straddle stretch+compression

Hip flexor stretches

Over various stretches


Squat: 3x8-12

Ring or weighted parallel bar dips 3x8

Romanian dead lifts 3x8-12

3 sets of back lever and weighted pull ups


(Gym is closed)

Box press 3x5-8

Front lever 3 sets+weighted inveted rows

Back lever 3 sets

Ring dips 3 sets (working up to 3x8, then working on RTO dips)

Conditioning: I work a manual job 30-35 hours a week. Pretty good conditioning, but I might add some sprints I the spring.

As for muscle ups, I might add them in my warm up... haven't thought about it because I did my first non-kipping one today!

As for handstands: I'm not sure what to do. I tried working on them for 5-15 minutes a day on the floor. My wrists hated it. Maybe low parallel bars?

L-sit/manna work: any ideas how to program this in? Maybe combine it with hanging leg raises?

Yeah, so any ideas or tips would be appreciated! I'm a newbie!

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Buy Foundation 1. Many, many people here have it and love it. By the end of Foundation 4 you will be able to do front lever, straddle planche, human flag, manna, single leg squat, rope climb, and 90 degree pushup. It is seriously awesome! However, if you're tight on money or just want to design your own program, look at Killroy70's template (however, even he thinks that Foundation is much better).


As for the handstands, buy Handstand 1. If tight on money, just use the search function on here.


Welcome to the forum !

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William Clarke

Thanks Awareness! I really want to buy F1 and H1. Sadly, it's not in my budget for now. Maybe once this semester is over I'll buy one or both.

I'll look into killroy70's template sometime this week or next week.


Do you, or anyone else know how effective overcoming gravity by Steven Low is? I already have that book, so I was wondering if that book would suffice until I can afford F1 and H1?

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William Clarke

Haha, thanks for noticing, I fixed that typo. *facepalms*

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Connor Davies

I bought Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low. I really enjoyed it, and considered buying foundation 1, but I figured they were every similar books and I don't have a ton ton of money to spend on fun reading. I tried handstand stuff, but got really sore wrists.

They're not the same thing at all.  Overcoming Gravity is a how to guide for programming bodyweight workouts, whereas F1 is a complete program that starts from the very basics.  It has a ton of mobility work and should be good for your shoulder.  I think pretty much everyone around here agrees that Foundation is superior.  It has you doing the work you actually need to do, rather than just the fun stuff that you want to do.  Plus, it gets you to your goals injury free, which is not a claim most programs can make.  You said you want an iron cross, and one way to look at F1 is prep work for the shoulder so you can train the iron cross productively without hurting yourself.


H1 is also fantastic, the wrist work alone is great for preparing your hands for handstands, but all of the mobility work is gold.  If I was you I'd try to refund my copy of Overcoming Gravity and buy F1 instead.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but The way I see it now I was wasting my time before I got on the Foundation program. 


As far as your actual program goes, start with planche leans for your planche work and work up to 60 second holds.  Don't worry about adding weight to ring dips, it ruins the instability element that makes them so fantastic.  Instead, work on turning the rings out at the top of each rep, through bulgarian dips, eventually finishing at rings turned out dips.  Also, as your legs get bigger and heavier the lever elements get harder, so if you really want a planche and a front lever I wouldn't recommend a lot of deadlifts or squats.  You can still do it, it will just be a lot harder.


And finally, a manna is a lot rarer than an iron cross.

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Murray Truelove

As someone just starting GST the best advice I can give is BE PATIENT. The forum is full of adults who started training from material like BtGB and rushed into advance forms because they were strong and got injured - Myself included. It's very easy to think that because you can do weighted pull-ups that you are strong enough for front levers and back levers, however most of these put a strain on your elbow that it wont be used to. I got tendinitis. 


One of the reasons that F1/H1 are so widely recommended is the program offers progress without injury. By the time you come to an exercise you are prepared for it.


I say all this to reinforce the important of the prerequisites (they're stickied). Progress through these slowly and surely and you'll be fine but don't start cheating times just to move on. It can be dishearteningly slow at time but stick with it.


Good luck with your GST journey, you'll find the forum full of helpful people with some great advice.


I'm not very good at programming but Killroy template was used a lot before the foundation series came out, in essence pushing/pulling strength + static holds.

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William Clarke

Thank you all! You guys helped convince me F1 and H1 were worth buying. Luckily, I made enough money over this semester to buy both H1 and F1! I plan on starting Tuesday of next week. F1 looks relatively easy, but I heard of people saying the same thing being greatly humbled. I know I could test out on most of SLS work and some of the others, but I feel like my mobility will benifit from starting form PE 1 on everything except RC and HBP.

As for H1, it is exactly what I wanted! A way to progress into a great handstand, meanwhile building built proof wrists. Looks superb.

One thing I like about the programs is that the workouts look pretty short, which is great for a working college student such as myself.

I will plan on doing some extra lower body exercises for now. I really enjoy dead lifting and squatting and I believe they improve my overall athleticism. After all, I probably will never be a pro gymnast, so I want to be a very well rounded athlete.

Here's what I plan on doing for squats and deads:


Squat 3x5-8

Bodyweight leg curl: 3x8-12


Dead lift: ramp up to one set of 5

Bodyweight leg curl: 3x8-12

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Connor Davies

.....I know I could test out on most of SLS work.....

Go on then!  I thought that too, but adding the mobility work on top and doing the whole thing without a break is way harder than you think.


I though cossack squats were easy, and I thought twisting squats were easy, but together....

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