2017 is nearly over and celebrations for Christmas are about all but a few days away. It’s always nice to head into a new year with inspiration and drive. One of my greatest sources of inspiration is the success of others. Interviews are one of my favourite things to do on this website becausebothyou, and I, get some amazing takeaways to apply to our lives and our training.
A few months back I interviewed Alex Lorenz of Calisthenic Movement and promised an interview with Alex’s business partner, and the other half of Calisthenic Movement, Sven. Well, today is your lucky day because I bring you a full interview with Sven Kohl.
We talk about starting a YouTube channel, what order you should learn calisthenic movements in, keeping your body fat low, improving mobility, handling injuries, goals for the future, optimal methods for achieving advanced bodyweight moves and where Calisthenic Movement is heading over the next few years.
You don’t have to be a calisthenics connoisseur to benefit from Sven’s wisdom, either. Sit back and enjoy our chat!
1. Everyone knows you from Calisthenic Movement, but what was the life of Sven like before CaliMove? Could you tell us about yourself and your background?
Sven:My Grandfather was a sportsman and a sports teacher so I gotinto physical training pretty early. In my teen years I did sports like wrestling and boxing. At the age of 18 I started with weight & bodyweight training in the gym. I did the typical “gym stuff” like deadlifts, squats, benchpress, but also bodyweight exercises like pull ups & dips.
In my 20’s I decided to become a physical therapist. I successfullyfinisheda 3 year educationand worked as a physical therapist for about 2 years, but it wasn’t my dream to work for someone else. The education itself was great and it helped me a lot in my future career as a trainer. I quit my job and started Calisthenic Movement.
2. What made you fall in love with calisthenics training? I know you had a gym background (weightlifting) before you started calisthenics.
Sven: To be honest, the typical gym bored me. I did over 8 years and it wanted to do something different. Calisthenics was perfect for me. It is a mix between strength and skill training and you can also build a good physique with it.
3. Was making a fitness YouTube channel always in your sights, or was there a pivotal point where you became especially motivated to do it?
Sven:I started the channel only 3 months after I started with Calisthenics. Back in the day it was a very little community and everyonein it made videos to show their progress or to show his “team” to the world. In the beginning it was strange for me.This was before instagram at this time it wasn’t normal that everyone shared parts of their life with others online so I was not used to that.It was very strange to film myself and load it up.
4. From seeing old footage of you, it seems you had a good foundation when you switched from weights to purely bodyweight. What strength level did you have from your days in the gym, when you started looking to learn the more advanced moves like muscle ups, levers and handstands? For example, 10 pull ups, 20 dips and a 10 second L-sit…….
Sven:I could do around 15 Pull ups, 25 Dips and was able to do a L Sit for 19 seconds. That’s it. No levers, not Handstand, no Muscle Ups.
5. I watched your ‘Evolution Of Workout’ video and you made INCREDIBLE progress from early 2012 to mid 2013! What would you attribute your success most to? Was it consistency, a certain type of training or diet that helped you make such good gains?
Sven:These were my “newbie gains” in combination with a good program. As I already told you I’ve had a certain amount of basic strength at the beginning.
The main problem was not the strength but the technique. For some movements (planche, handstand, levers) you need a good body perception & coordination.
So I had to get used to that. After nearly 6 years I’m still making progess when it comes to the technical approach.
6. Nobody can see pictures or videos of you without commenting on how ‘shredded’ you are. What do you find helps you maintain such a low bodyfat level all year? Do you follow a certain eating style, do cardio or just naturally have a fast metabolism? Any tips for people looking to get to single digit body fat and stay there?
Sven:I think it’s a good metabolism in combination with a good diet. I’m more of a skinny type, gaining muscle mass was really hard for me, that’s the downside. To lower my bodyfat I do the 8/16 intermittent fasting and vary my calorie intake every few days.
7. You have mastered some very advanced moves and seem to naturally be good at pulling movements – like front lever and one arm pull ups. Did you find these moves came easier to you than others, and were there any moves that you’ve found very difficult to master and make progress on?
Sven:Haha that’s really funny because pulling movements are my weak point. In fact it’s easier for me to do Handstand Push Ups, Planche and Handstand Presses instead of Leversand OAP.
Frontlever is really hard for me. I have to focus on it to maintain my level when it comes to this exercise.
8. I remember seeing an interview from a few years back when you said your goals at the time were:
– More One Arm Pull Ups
-Increase Full Planche Time
– More Straight Muscle Ups
– Learn Tiger Bend Push Ups
-Increase Handstand Balance
Could you tell us what your current bests are for those moves and which ones you might not have achieved?
Sven:In some movements I’ve improved. The Handstand for example. This is a never ending story, I get better every year. But to be honest some of the moves like the bar muscle up I don’t do anymore (at least not regularly). When I master a movement and I can do it very clean for a couple of reps I switch to another challenging movement. I like to learn new stuff or improve movement to a point where I can do them very clean for a couple of reps, but I am not the “Sets & Reps Guy”.
9. Is there a certain style of training you like most when it comes to mastering/developing these moves – maybe things like GTG (Grease the Groove), high frequency, ultra specific training or even just a general approach?
Sven:GTG is great if you want to learn or improve a certain skill, but it is very boring and also very hard to manage.
Warm Up for only 1 set and then wait, and this around 5-10 times a day…..
At the moment I split my training into bent-arm and straight-arm training.
Day 1: One Arm Pull Up Exercises and some Basic Pull Movements + HSPU + Ring Dips & Archer Ring Push Ups + Lower Body Mobility
Day 2: Lever Training + Planche and Press to Handstand Training + Pistol Squats/Archer Squats
This is only an example. I vary my training every few weeks, I know my body very well and know when I have to do less or more and change something. For beginners or intermediates I wouldn’t recommend to do it this way. It’s better to stick to a solid program until you have the expierience and even then it’s not the best option for everybody.
10. What’s your take on training the basics? Do you still do days where all you do is basic pull ups, dips and push ups etc… for high reps? Do these still hold value even at an advanced level?
Sven:Basics are a must, even if I’m not a fan of “Sets & Reps”. You can’t do the hard moves every training. This will kill your body in the long term.
I include “easy training” sessions or implement basic exercises into my workout.
11. If someone has a ‘solid foundation’ and wants to go on to learn more intermediate moves, do you believe there’s a sensible order for achieving these moves? For example, the L-sit, muscle up, handstand and back lever are often grouped said to be the next step after the basics. Or do you feel you could just work on more advanced moves like front levers and planches if you wanted to train for them?
Sven:Handstand is a no brainer. It’s more about balance so you should start as early as possible with it. When it comes to the other movements it’s hard to say because some people are more mobile, some are stronger at push and some are stronger at pull, but in general I would say to start with L Sit, Backlever and Muscle Up.
12. What are your current goals for the future? One Arm Handstand, Iron Cross, Manna or even a mobility goallike middle splits etc?
Sven:I am 33 years old so my goal is to maintain my level and physique and don’t injure myself haha 😀 But of course I have some wishes for the future: One Arm Handstand is on my list. At the moment I also like skill combination sets. You can see some of them on our instagram account.
13. El Eggs is famous for his flexibility (and blue shorts!) But from what I’ve seen, flexibility hasn’t come as naturally to you. Have you worked on your mobility and what style of flexibility training do you like most?
Sven:I don’t like passive stretching that much, I am more of an active type (mobility). I also implement mobility training into my workouts. It’s a slow process, but in the last years I improved my hip and shoulder mobility a lot.
14. Did you find a lack of mobility to be a limiting factor at some points in your training career?
Sven:For some movements it can be a limitation. For example toes to the bar or a V Sit. If you lack in mobility you have to compensate it with other muscles, this is not effeicent. So when it comes to those movements it’s much harder for me than it is for El Eggs, but I wouldn’t say that my mobility is bad. OnlyEl Eggs is very goodin it 😀
15. Calisthenics comes with a high risk of injuries. Have you had any injuries and what advice do you have for anyone struggling with an injury?
Sven:Yes, even as a physical therapist I had to deal with it. If you push your limits it can happen, but it wasn’t that bad that I had to quit training for a while. The good thing is that I know what I can do to regenerate, I can therapy myself to a certain point. In the past I had to deal with a golfers elbow and some shoulder problems. In this time I couldn’t do One Arm Pull Ups or Handstand Push Ups. Some young guys out there feel invincible until they injure themselves for the first time, it happens to most out there who train very hard to get better.
My tips are:
1. Start low, increase slow (El Eggs’ quote ;D) Don’t rush it. Even if you get better very quick. It’s not only about your muscles. Structures like ligaments & tendons need a lot more time to adapt.
2. If you have to deal with an injury don’t quit your training at all. Of course it depends on the injury, but in the most cases you will regenerate faster, if you move your body and work on your mobility. Do easy movements you can do without pain and increase the level slowly step by step. (Always consult your doctor first).
16. What training advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you first started working out, either with calisthenics or generally?
Sven:Take your time young lad 😀 Don’t rush it. I know you like working out and you are really passionate about it. But progress comes faster if you don’t overdo it andgive your body time to adapt.
17. What would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learnt over the years from life?
Sven:I’ve learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses and what I want to do with my life.
18. Where do you see the future of CaliMove in a few years from now? A bigger team, more programs, more workshops??
Sven:We are working on a lot of new projects. But I can’t tell you about all of it at the moment. We will come up with more programs on a complete new platform. New videos, new design, better presentation, easier to understand etc..We will also step up our game in every other point (YouTube, Workshops, PT etc.). At the moment we’re building up our own little gym (@black_white_gymin Leipzig, Germany) this is also a great improvement for us.
It’s always fascinating chatting to great people and I’m forever amazed at how willing to talk they are. We all have busy schedules and making time can be difficult. I’d like to say a big thank you once again to Sven for chatting to me and shedding some light on what it takes to get to a very advanced level in an ever-growing community.
Something I also found very fascinating was the occasional discrepancy between Alex and Sven’s views on certain subjects; which shows wonderfully how you can have differing views within partnerships and still be a great team.
CaliMove have a Christmas sale on from 22-26th of December, for anyone looking to try their workout plans and products. If you wish to read more about their workout programs, please read my review of their level 4 intermediate plan: How Good Are Calisthenic Movement’s Programs? (A REVIEW)
Edit:Since the interview CaliMove have now released their much promised mobility program! For a review of the first phase, READ THIS: Calisthenic Movement’s BRAND NEW Mobility Program Has Landed (Phase 1 Review!)
FURTHER UPDATE:CaliMove now have a BRAND NEW Body Transformation Bundle available! These are 40 week plans taking care of everything you need; from nutrition, exercise progressions, strategies to build muscle and/or cut fat. They’ve divided the plans into the following levels………….
Check them out!
Calisthenics, Interviews, Motivation, Strength, Wisdom
Calisthenics, exercise, fitness, Interviews, strength, Workouts, YouTube
JR @ Straight-Talking-FitnessView All
The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.
Sven Kohl, the founder of Calisthenic Movement, is a state-certified fitness trainer and licensed physical therapist.What is calisthenic movement? ›
Calisthenics exercises range from simple movements like squats that don't require any equipment, to advanced movements that require a bar such as pull-ups and muscle-ups (the same as a pull-up, except you pull your entire torso above the bar), and even more complex exercises similar to gymnastics.Who is the leader of calisthenics? ›
Brendan Cosso - CEO/Founder - World Calisthenics Organization | LinkedIn.What are the foundation moves of calisthenics? ›
- 30 consecutive push-ups.
- 5 consecutive pull-ups.
- 50 consecutive squats.
- 1 min hollow body hold.
- 1 min reverse hollow body hold.
- 2 min dead-hang hold.
We are brothers: Yannick (left) and Michael (right). We founded Calisthenics Family in 2017. Our passion for Calisthenics started at the beginning of 2016 and we switched completely from fitness to the challenging sport Calisthenics.What are the benefits of calisthenics? ›
Calisthenics actually increase your resting metabolic rate, as well as enhance and develop muscular and aerobic endurance. Not only that, but it is more effective at developing lower-body coordination compared to Pilates within the same period of time.What are the most important muscles for calisthenics? ›
As we mentioned earlier, it's a calisthenics skill. Expect to use your whole body the whole time performing the movement, but the major key players are the back, chest, arms, and core. Core and not only the abs. All of these muscles must be extra strong and so is the rest of your body.What is the goal of calisthenics? ›
It's designed to improve strength, flexibility, agility, balance, coordination, and aerobic conditioning — just about every skill you need to be a fit human being.What are the big 5 calisthenics? ›
The five basic exercises bench press, deadlift, squats, shoulder press and pull-up are generally known as the big 5 of strength training. Due to the adjustability of the resistance, the lat pull-down is often used instead of the pull-up.Who is famous for calisthenics? ›
Bruce Lee was a pioneer of calisthenics, which encompasses cardio and bodyweight exercises. Bruce Lee became an iconic actor and martial artist before his death in 1973 at the age of 32.
The dynamic, compound movement of calisthenics requires a great deal of strength. Plus, with the right technique, you can add enough resistance to increase muscle size and strength.What is the secret to calisthenics? ›
☝️Push yourself with progressive resistance
And although it's so obvious in weight training when you just add weight, it must be rigorously applied to calisthenics. There is a simple rule in getting better. You constantly need to go further, you need to push yourself, you need to go beyond whatever you have right now.
Handstand push-up on rings
In practice, everything done on the rings is much harder. There's no doubt about that. Performing the handstand push-ups on the rings already feels impossible for the average calisthenics athlete.
Calisthenics exercises can be performed by people of all ages. In fact, starting calisthenics at 40 or 50 can help you to stay in shape and improve your overall level of fitness. It's actually beneficial to do calisthenics in your 50 because you can avoid age-related muscle loss.What is the physique of someone who does calisthenics? ›
What does a calisthenics body look like? You will get a lean, shredded, proportionately balanced, athletic, and muscular body from calisthenics because it target multiple muscle groups at the same time.Can anyone be good at calisthenics? ›
Anyone can practice calisthenics. In fact, you've probably done it before with basic movements such as squats and lunges for training legs, to Russian twists and leg raises for strengthening your core.Why is calisthenics called calisthenics? ›
The origins of calisthenics lie in ancient Greece where it was used by warriors, and its name is a combination of the two Greek words for beauty and strength.Is calisthenics still popular? ›
It's popularity dropped though as the bodybuilding era started to take precedence over the fitness industry, and although bodybuilding is still hugely practiced around the world, the art of Calisthenics and controlling ones body weight has started to make a strong comeback within the mainstream fitness arena.Is calisthenics part of Crossfit? ›
The main difference is that Crossfit is a specific workout routine that has been marketed as a commercial product since 2000. Calisthenics, on the other hand, is just a general principle that has been utilized since the very beginnings of physical training (though not always under that name, of course).Why calisthenics is stronger than gym? ›
Since you're using only your bodyweight, calisthenics is a lot safer option compared to weight lifting. There's less stress on your joints. You'll also get stronger since calisthenics exercises strengthen your joints. You'll have the minimum risk of getting injured compared to getting crushed by a 100kg weight.
When done right with proper form, calisthenics can give seniors the functional strength they need to improve posture, increase stability, increase bone density, maintain existing muscle mass, prevent falls and injuries, and provide a way to have better control over chronic diseases and conditions.Are calisthenics stronger than bodybuilders? ›
However, in general, bodybuilders are usually stronger than calisthenics athletes in terms of ABSOLUTE STRENGTH. This is because the amount of resistance you can add to your weight lifting training is not ever limited, while in calisthenics, you are limited with your body weight.How long should a calisthenics workout last? ›
How Long Should A Calisthenics workout be? Calisthenics workouts only need to be 30 to 40 minutes to be effective. This is enough time to train all three broad categories of calisthenic exercises including the push, pull, and leg muscles.How often should you do calisthenics? ›
It is recommended the duration of 6-10 weeks, 3 workouts per week. The exercises per circuit will be 10-15. The circuit can be performed for 2-3 laps, with a recovery of 30-90 seconds between exercises and 2-3 minutes between laps.How does calisthenics affect your body and mind? ›
All movements are authentic and natural.
But beyond the strength and beauty of a symmetrically trained body, Calisthenic gymnastics improves and develops skills such as balance, flexibility, endurance, coordination and physical and spiritual control.
Calisthenics is Fun
Fun is subjective, but calisthenics teaches you to move your body in many ways, utilising your strength and skill levels. We've trained 100s of students who have all said the same thing, doing calisthenics is a fun way to workout and therefore feels like less of a chore to exercise and get strong.
- Weight Increases. One disadvantage of calisthenics is the lack of increases in weight resistance. ...
- Muscle Isolation. Calisthenics can provide resistance to certain parts of your body. ...
- Variety. Although there are different types of calisthenics that can increase muscular fitness, you may become tired of your options.
The squat is frequently referred to as the king of all exercises. And for a good reason. It works some of the biggest muscles in the body, such as the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and core. Strengthening these muscles allows for easy movement and prevents injuries.What are the 6 best calisthenics exercises? ›
- Jumping Jacks. Standing straight with your feet together and arms at your sides is a good way to start. ...
- Prisoner Squat Jumps. With your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed out, stand tall. ...
- Lunge Jumps. ...
- Bicycle Crunches. ...
- Sit-Ups. ...
- Side Lunges. ...
- Donkey Kicks. ...
- Triceps Dips.
The 5/3/1 workout is a powerlifting program designed by powerlifter Jim Wendler. The key concept is to slowly build strength through four barbell weightlifting exercises: the parallel squat, bench press, deadlift, and the shoulder press, also known as overhead press or military press.
Calisthenics has its early roots in England and Europe, however the sport as we know it today came to prominence in the Victorian gold rush era. Called Physical Culture at the time, its aim was the promotion and enjoyment of physical fitness.Who is the heaviest calisthenics athlete? ›
|Full Name||Simon Imhäuser|
|Weight||86 kg (189.6 lbs)|
Due to the lack of isolation exercises in calisthenics, the structure of the average calisthenic workout is somewhat different from bodybuilding. Usually, it is the most intense exercises that are performed first, allowing the exerciser to face each repetition with fresh muscles.Does calisthenics help in a fight? ›
It builds athletic muscle and functional movement, rather than isolating individual body parts to pack on mass. And calisthenics keeps your body moving through natural movement patterns, angles, and ranges – all of which will help you become a stronger, more powerful MMA fighter.Can you get ripped from calisthenics? ›
The simple and short answer is “yes, of course you can”. The longer answer to building muscle with calisthenics needs some more detail and context as to why, how and, we'd also question whether building muscle should or shouldn't be your goal.Why cant you get big with calisthenics? ›
Calisthenics is amazing for building functional, full-body muscle but there is a limit to the amount of sheer mass you can gain with calisthenics. Calisthenics will build as much muscle as free weights to a point, but if you want to push past that point then you'll need to train (and eat) like a bodybuilder.Is calisthenics the fastest way to Build muscle? ›
Is calisthenics really good for gaining muscle? Calisthenics is really good for gaining muscle, especially in your upper body, and especially if you've dealt with joint pain or just aches and pains in the past. Don't get us wrong, weight lifting can be great for building muscle as well.Should I do calisthenics fast or slow? ›
If you're looking to build muscle quickly, whether you've been training for years or are just starting out, then doing slower reps is the way to go. Workouts with slower reps cause your muscles to experience more time under tension, much more than with faster reps.What is the hardest muscle to work out? ›
- Obliques. Pretty much everyone does the standard ab crunches, but crunches aren't going to develop your obliques. ...
- Calves. ...
- Forearms. ...
- Triceps. ...
- Lower stomach.
The goal of calisthenics is to master lifting one's own body. The fatter you are, the more difficult this becomes. Once you begin training regularly in calisthenics, the subconscious mind makes the connection between a leaner body weight and easier training, and regulates the appetite and eating habits automatically.
Bodyweight exercises and lifting weights help build strength, but they do so in different ways. For example, weightlifting is better for building ABSOLUTE strength, while calisthenics is better for developing RELATIVE strength.What is the origin of calisthenics? ›
The origins of calisthenics lie in ancient Greece where it was used by warriors, and its name is a combination of the two Greek words for beauty and strength.How was calisthenics invented? ›
Ballistics was put on a solid scientific and mathematical basis by Isaac Newton, with the publication of Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687. This gave mathematical laws of motion and gravity which for the first time made it possible to successfully predict trajectories.Why is calisthenics so strong? ›
A major benefit of calisthenics is that it involves compound exercises. This means it uses multiple muscle groups at once. It requires a high amount of movement, allowing you to burn a lot of calories in a short period of time. The result is lower body fat, which increases muscle definition.Why calisthenics is healthy? ›
Calisthenics actually increase your resting metabolic rate, as well as enhance and develop muscular and aerobic endurance. Not only that, but it is more effective at developing lower-body coordination compared to Pilates within the same period of time.Are people who do calisthenics strong? ›
Calisthenic training can make you very strong in terms of relative strength. If your goal is to build strength, you must use the appropriate rep range for strength training. Choose exercise variations where you can perform no more than 4-6 repetitions per set.Why do military use calisthenics? ›
All branches of the military require daily calisthenic exercises from their recruits and for good reason: it builds speed, stamina and strength.What does science say about calisthenics? ›
The claim: increase muscle strength, mass and endurance
Furthermore, another study in 2017, which was published in Isokinetics and Exercise Science, found that calisthenics helps improve posture, strength and body composition without the use of major training equipment .
🏆 Builds amazing natural, balanced physique:
Calisthenics exercises demand tons of effort from your body. As a result, your body composition and structure adjust naturally to meet the demands of training with calisthenics. Think here of the body of a gymnast: strong and muscular, yet lithe and agile.
Calisthenics — known to the ancient Greek Spartans of 480BC as kilos sthenos ('beautiful strength') — are exercises relying solely on bodyweight and gravity. Well-known examples include press-ups, pull-ups and chin-ups.