Rings, bars, levers & a mini obstacle course

Ring work

Last weekend I went to the final session in a series of three bodyweight workshops that was run by Strength Ambassadors and featured guest coach Fi Silk who is a UK bar champion athlete and all round badass who has an enviable collection of cool gym kit.

I felt a little sad that it was the last workshop as I have really enjoyed the bodyweight training sessions.  Even though I can barely move my upper body the next day after training with Fi and Sally I always look forward to it!  The final workshop had a great group of attendees and there was a really good energy and atmosphere that afternoon.

After a warm up of shoulder dislocates, shuttle runs, jumping jacks, burpees (I love burpees… said no one ever?!), shoulder rolls, hitch hikers (arms bent at right angle with thumbs down and you move your arms so your thumbs point upwards), bear crawls, frog squats and holding our bodies in a hollow hold (head and legs off the ground, arms are straight out) we were ready to go.

The first techniques to work on were pull ups and starting off with scapular retraction so we could engage our back muscles.  My pull ups are very much a slow work in progress.  I’m still using a pull up band but I had a go at using a band with less resistance and even though I didn’t get as many reps as I normally do I felt quite good.  One of my goals is to be able to do unassisted pull ups before the end of the year.

The next technique which we moved onto were the back and front levers using the Olympic rings.  I really loved this!  Fi showed us the first progression which is called ‘skin the cat’.  I actually used to do these as a kid with my friends in the playground and I haven’t done them since so I have to admit I was a bit nervous as I was convinced my shoulders were going to pop.  To do the technique we used the Olympic rings and it involves hanging from the rings and raising your legs up towards you in a tuck position and going over backwards and letting your legs hang or you can keep them tucked.  Fi advised us to start doing these and to hold for 15 seconds.  I was so excited the first time that I managed to even go over backwards that I ended up doing a full backwards circle on the rings and landed neatly on the ground with both feet.  It wasn’t quite what we were supposed to do but I have to admit I felt like a BAWSE and had a big smile on my face – haha!  We spent some time doing it with a partner to assist us and I managed to hold my bodyweight as we were supposed to.  We could then start to straighten our legs behind us in the back lever position, no surprise to hear these were hard but I really liked trying to do them.  We then went into the front lever which I found a lot more difficult, so Fi showed us a progression that involved putting one leg straight in front of you at a time instead of having both legs straight.  After the levers we were able to have a bit of freestyle time on the rings for fun and I realised that I could do a ‘skin the cat’ and then straighten my legs and be in a vertical line whilst upside down on the rings.  I had actually tried to do this earlier in the year and failed miserably because I couldn’t hold my weight on the rings at all then so I was really happy to be able to do this – yiipppeeee!

My first attempt.  Thanks to Sally Moss for taking the picture

My first attempt at a back lever. Thanks to Sally Moss for taking the picture

After the first session we then had a break and Sally started to bring out lots of jump boxes and setting up some barbells resting on plates ready for the second session which would kick off with an indoor obstacle course which was really fun.  After the first go the teams got mixed up and we went again.  I really enjoyed the obstacle course, it was a lot of fun and at the end if anyone wanted to have a go at doing the course again but the final time it would be timed they could, the guys went and were absolutely flying through it.  Unfortunately I had ripped open my left hand on the bars so was feeling a bit sorry for myself and didn’t go again.

Next up in the session were L sit progressions and L sits using the boxes.  We also had a competition and were split into two groups again to see who could do a box hold the longest in each group.  My arms were complete jelly afterwards.

Once training was over we all sat down and had a Q&A session with Fi.  There were numerous questions about the type of training Fi does and also about nutrition.  I was glad to hear Fi say that everyone’s nutritional requirements will be different and should be based on the type of training they do.  I strongly believe in this ethos and have learnt through trial and error that I shouldn’t follow a cookie cutter diet plan.  After the session Sally announced that Strength Ambassadors will be running a second series of Bodyweight workshops with Fi later in the year from Oct to Dec.  That is great news and something to look forward to as I have really enjoyed the bodyweight workshops, I have a lot of homework to do over the next three months.  If you want to try something different to your usual gym routine I recommend you check out any calisthenics training sessions near you or go along to a seminar. It’s incredibly challenging but also a lot of fun and you will learn different progressions for the techniques so you can go at your own pace.  Check out the promo video from Strength Ambassadors and give it a go! 🙂

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