Category Archives: Body Weight Exercises

The Top Five Ab Wheel Exercises

Standing Ab Wheel RolloutA lot of people know that I’m not a fan of fancy training equipment – that’s part of why I love bodyweight exercises!

The ab wheel, however, is one of the few calisthenics accessories that I deem worthwhile. It’s a very simple, portable piece of equipment that can help facilitate a fantastic full-body workout.

That’s right, the “ab wheel” actually works much more than just your abs. The exercises below will challenge your arms, shoulders, chest, back, glutes and even your legs, as well as your midsection.

Ab Wheel Plank
If you’ve never used an ab wheel before, this is probably where you should start. Get into a standard push-up position, only with your hands gripping the handles of the ab wheel instead of being placed on the floor. You may be surprised at first by how much the instability of the wheel increases the difficulty of the plank. (If you aren’t able to hold an ab wheel plank yet, you can modify the exercise by placing your knees on the ground instead of your toes.)

Walking Ab Wheel Plank
Once you get a feel for holding a plank on an ab wheel, you can experiment with moving in that position. Take small steps and grip the handles tightly to avoid tipping over. Maintain a straight back the whole time, keeping your hips in line with your shoulders and legs.

Kneeling Ab Wheel Rollout
This is the gold standard of ab wheel exercises. Begin in a kneeling position with the ab wheel beneath your chest, then roll the wheel away from your body as you pivot from your knees, bringing your hips and torso down toward the ground. Avoid arching your back or piking your hips in the air. The lower you go, the harder the move becomes, so feel free to start with a partial range of motion at first. Eventually the plan should be to reach your arms completely overhead with your body hovering about an inch above the ground.

Reverse Ab Wheel Rollout
For this variation you will once again begin in a plank position, except with your feet on the handles of your ab wheel instead of your hands. From there, carefully tuck your knees toward your chest, then extend your legs back into a plank position.

Standing Ab Wheel Rollout
This is the granddaddy of all ab wheel rollouts! Extending the range of motion by raising up onto your toes significantly increases the difficulty of an already tough exercise. As with the kneeling version, avoid arching your back or piking your hips in the air when performing this exercise.

Watch the video below for more:

If you would like to get an ab wheel like the one I’m using in the video, check out Fitwood. They are currently offering a ten percent discount to my followers! Simply use the code AL10 at checkout to receive the discount.

The Top Five Push-up Variations for Building Strength and Muscle

Push-up1The push-up is one of my all-time favorite exercises. It’s simple, effective and doesn’t require any equipment besides the floor beneath your feet.

Push-ups are fantastic for building strength and muscle in the entire upper-body, particularly the chest, shoulders, triceps and abs.

My other favorite thing about push-ups is that they can be infinitely progressed/modified to keep your muscles guessing…and growing!

Though there are countless variations on the basic push-up, the following five are among the very best for building strength and muscle:

1 – Classic Push-up
The classic two arm push-up will never go out of style! Make sure you maintain a straight line from the back of your head to your heels throughout the entire range of motion. Also be sure to lower yourself all the way to the bottom and achieve a full extension of your arms at the top.

2 – Feet Elevated Push-up
Elevating your feet during a push-up changes the weight-to-limb ratio, placing more of your weight in your hands, and thereby increasing the strength and muscle building potential of the standard push-up.

3 – Archer Push-up
This variation finds one arm doing the bulk of the pushing while the opposite arm remains straight, acting as a kickstand of sorts to help stabilize the body. You can think of the archer push-up almost like a self-assisted one arm push-up.

4 – One Arm Push-up
By removing one arm from the equation entirely, you automatically double the amount of work performed on your other arm. Taking away a contact point also forces your abs and other core muscles to pick up the slack, thereby giving added benefit to this challenging movement.

Check out my full one arm push-up tutorial for more.

5 – One Arm/One Leg Push-up
Taking away a leg makes the one arm push-up even more challenging, and can help take your strength and muscle gains to the next level!

Remember to use cross-body tension to stay balanced during this difficult variation. That means that when you are pushing with your right arm, you will balance on your left leg, and vice versa.

Watch the video below for more:

The Top 5 Pull-up Variations for Building Strength and Muscle

Al Kavadlo Pull-up MuscleIt’s no secret that pull-ups are my favorite exercise. There are an endless number of ways in which you can alter or modify the classic pull-up – and I love them all!

Still, the question remains: What are the very best pull-up variations for building strength and muscle?

Though all types of pull-ups work the entire upper-body (including the abdominal muscles), the following 5 variations are the very best for building strength and size:

Pull-up
The classic overhand pull-up has been a strength training staple for as long as the concept of “working out” has existed. Focus on driving your elbows toward your hips to fully engage your lats.

Chin-up
This underhand version of the classic pull-up is a great way to add emphasis to the biceps. It can also be a less difficult variation for beginners who struggle to perform pull-ups with the overhand grip.

Commando Pull-up
For this variation you will grasp the bar with your hands facing one another in a close grip, and your body positioned in line with the bar. This means you will have to pull yourself toward the side on the way up, which creates a unique challenge. Make sure to alternate which side of the bar your head passes with each rep.

L-sit Pull-up
The L-sit pull-up is a fantastic way to increase the demand on your abs, while also increasing the strength and muscle building potential for your entire upper body. Due to the change in leverage, all of your muscles will have to work harder than in a standard pull-up.

Archer Pull-up
The archer pull-up is an advanced variation that involves keeping one arm straight while relying primarily on the opposite side to do the bulk of the pulling. Begin like you’re performing a very wide pull-up, but bend only one of your arms as you pull your chin over the bar. This means your torso will shift toward that side while the opposite arm stays straight. The hand of your straight arm may need to open and roll over the bar at the top of the range of motion, depending on your wrist mobility.

Watch the video below for more!

Hand and Wrist Warm-ups for Handstands

Al Kavadlo Straight HandstandWhen performing handstands, elbow levers and other handbalancing exercises, the hands and wrists bear most of the burden. For this reason, it is important to warm them up properly before your handbalancing practice.

In the video below, I demonstrate six simple warm-ups you can perform for your hands and wrists before beginning your practice:

–Wrist rocks
–Wrist rolls
–Wrist circles
–Side-to-sides
–Reverse side-to-sides
–Fist spreads

I recommend performing each of these movements 10-15 times in each direction before beginning your handstand training. Also feel free to perform additional reps while you rest in between efforts.

The exercises in the video go by fairly quickly, so you may need to watch it a few times.

Happy Handstanding!

Why Calisthenics Training?

There are so many reasons to love calisthenics! From the freedom to workout anywhere, to the playful element of bodyweight training, to the positive energy of the calisthenics community, there are more reasons than ever to embrace calisthenics.

In this new video, my wife Grace Kavadlo and I discuss some of our favorite things about bodyweight workouts, and share some motivational tips.

We’re working out!

STREET WORKOUT

Street Workout Book

STREET WORKOUT – the first official Kavadlo Brothers collaboration – is now available!

STREET WORKOUT covers everything you ever wanted to know about progressive bodyweight training using nothing but your own environment. Danny and I discuss everything from basic exercises like push-ups, pull-ups and squats, up through advanced exercises like muscle-ups, planche progressions the human flag.

If you’ve never read any of my books before, this is the one to start with. And if you have read and enjoyed any of my previous books, I promise you are going to love STREET WORKOUT!

Here’s what people are saying about STREET WORKOUT:

“Al and Danny Kavadlo—bodyweight coaches extraordinaire—have done it again. Their new book Street Workout is an incredibly comprehensive collection of calisthenics concepts, exercises and programs. In addition to their masterful demonstrations of every exercise, the Kavadlo brothers’ colorful personalities and motivational talents leap off of every page. If you’re serious about bodyweight training, you’ve gotta get this book!”
–Mark Sisson, Author of The Primal Blueprint

“Al and Danny Kavadlo are acknowledged worldwide as masters of urban bodyweight training, so it’s no surprise that this book is, without question, the new “bible” of the movement. This work is the greatest manual on progressive calisthenics available on the market today. It’s loaded with incredible progressions, stacked with tips and techniques, and overflowing with philosophy and wisdom. The programming sections are beyond extensive. Street Workout is THE magnum opus of the two greatest calisthenics coaches on the planet today. All serious athletes and coaches must buy this book!!”
–Paul “Coach” Wade, Author of Convict Conditioning

“I truly LOVE this book – it is utterly sensational and brilliant! Al and Danny Kavadlo have a fun and informative way of explaining and demonstrating the key calisthenics exercises for a fit, healthy and happy life. Their sharp instructional images are joyfully inspirational and always motivate me to bust out some reps on the spot! I truly wish there had been a comprehensive workout guide like this when I first discovered the miracles of bodyweight training.”
–Marcus Bondi, Two Time Official Guinness World Record Holder (Weighted Chin-ups & Rope Climb)

“Once again, an outstanding addition to our field of fitness from Danny and Al. I am a barbell/kettlebell guy first and foremost, but the Kavadlo brothers have finally convinced me of the pure value of using the body only as load.”
–Dan John, Author of Never Let Go

“This book brings together the vast knowledge and experience of two guys that definitely embody the whole street workout culture – hardcore, sometimes gritty but always extremely welcoming, with a whole lot of individual style and flare.”
–Mike Fitch, Creator of Global Bodyweight Training and The Animal Flow Workout

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Explosive Calisthenics

Explosive Calisthenics, the third book in the Convict Conditioning series, is finally here!

Once again, my brother Danny and I have the honor of appearing on the cover of another Coach Wade book, as well as being featured models.

Senior PCC instructor Adrienne Harvey and PCC Instructor Grace Menendez are also well represented in CC3. It’s nice to finally have some females in a CC book!

With his trademark blend of old-school philosophy, hard-earned wisdom and in-your-face humor, Coach expands his infamous system of progressive bodyweight programming to break down the most coveted explosive moves, including the back flip, kip-up and muscle-up. If you want to know how far you can go training with just your own bodyweight, you owe it to yourself to get this book!

Explosive Calisthenics is my personal favorite book in the CC series! Watch the video below for demonstrations of some of the exercises covered in the book and make sure to get your copy before they sell out!

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Zen Mind, Strong Body

My new ebook, Zen Mind, Strong Body, is now available!

Zen Mind, Strong Body is the ultimate Al Kavadlo collection, containing 26 of my favorite articles from the last 5+ years of this blog, as well as many never-before-seen photos, lots of inspirational quotes and some new sample workouts!

This book covers everything from my views on diet and supplements, to machines and free weights, to cardio options, to mental training and more!

It also includes a brand new foreword from Global Bodyweight Training creator Mike Fitch.

Here’s what people are saying about Zen Mind, Strong Body:

“Al Kavadlo’s Zen Mind, Strong Body is a breath of fresh air in a stagnant forest of rote physical training books. I have had the good fortune to train and learn from some of the best in the world, and Al Kavadlo is among the few people I would travel and pay money to train with.”Dr. Chris Hardy, author of Strong Medicine

“Al Kavadlo is a master of bodyweight training and calisthenics. If you want to gain strength and improve flexibility, and do it all without a single piece of gym equipment, Al’s the expert you should turn to.”Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint

“Zen Mind, Strong Body by Al Kavadlo should be the first book you look at when considering the world of bodyweight work.”Dan John, author of Never Let Go

“Zen Mind, Strong Body expertly covers the methods, the moves, the nutrition, the equipment, the benefits, the philosophy and even the culture of bodyweight training. If you are a newbie uncertain about whether to explore bodyweight, or an advanced athlete looking for a new take on the most ancient conditioning method, this is now the definitive go-to book.”Paul “Coach” Wade, author of Convict Conditioning

Click the book cover to get your copy! (Paperback version will be on sale in March.)

Also available for Amazon Kindle!

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Diamond-Cut Abs is Here!

My brother Danny Kavadlo‘s new book,
Diamond-Cut Abs, is now on sale in both paperback and ebook formats!

Everyone is talking about Diamond-Cut Abs!

Diamond-Cut Abs condenses decades of agonizing lessons and insight into the best book on ab-training ever written. Hands down.”
—PAUL WADE, author of Convict Conditioning

“Danny has done it again! Diamond-Cut Abs is a no-nonsense, results driven approach that delivers all the goods on abs. Nutrition, training and progression are all included, tattoos optional!”
—ROBB WOLF, author of The Paleo Solution

“If you want the abs of your dreams, stop looking for the quick solution everyone claims to have and get ready to learn how to maximize your efforts towards your very own set of Diamond-Cut Abs.”
—MIKE FITCH, creator of Global Bodyweight Training

More PCC Workshops Announced!

It’s been just over a year since the first-ever Progressive Calisthenics Certification was held in St. Paul, MN.

In that time, my brother Danny and I have led PCC workshops all over the world, including Sweden, Australia, Ireland and Germany.

We just wrapped up our first cert in my hometown of NYC and there’s a lot more excitement ahead!

Here are all the events we have scheduled for the rest of 2014 and 2015:

October 26, 2014:
Kavadlo Bros 1-day Workshop in NYC*

*Not a PCC event

November 7-9, 2014:
PCC in Milwaukee, WI

January, 23-25, 2015:
PCC in Encinitas, CA

February 27 – March 1, 2015:
PCC in Mountain View, CA

March 27-29, 2015:
PCC in Minneapolis, MN

April 17-19, 2015:
PCC in Munich, Germany

April 24-26, 2015:
PCC in Alessandria, Italy

May 1-3, 2015:
PCC in Dundalk, Ireland

May 15-17, 2015:
PCC in Dallas, TX

June 5-7, 2015:
PCC in NYC

More workshop dates will be added soon!

Follow the PCC Blog for updates and new calisthenics articles every week!