Guest Post: Bar-barian seminar, London, March ’13

Last weekend was the first set of Bar-barian seminars to be held in London. Because it fell in the middle of my six week pull/push/dip free period (in order to try and give my shoulder a chance to heal) I decided not to train. Luckily Zoe Loke, who I met at the first seminars just under a year ago, went for both days and kindly agreed to do a write up for me. I’ve been wanting to take some photos of the guys training for a while, and apart from family events I’ve not taken my SLR out for a while, so this was a welcome chance. As always it’s a challenge with my only lens – a 50mm prime – which has no zoom so requires careful bodily positioning to get good shots, but I’m pleased with the results and looking forward to taking it up to the park sometime when it’s warmer. You can see the full album of pictures from Sunday here.

So without further ado, here’s Zoe…

This is the beautiful Zoe. And her writing starts below ;) 

When fellow callisthenics lover and enthusiast Fi Silk invited me to write an entertaining post on the workshop I was keen to contribute. This is number three official Bar-barian  workshop and I can say that having attended the previous two that I learnt more third time around! 30+ hours of learning direct from the Bar-barians the training patterns, routines and methodology is just starting to sink in. Happy days!! Having a smaller and closer group with 20 strong males and females gave a lot more opportunity to ask some burning questions and get answers. I’ve always had a natural aptitude in explaining key points so I will recap my main breakthrough observations as simply as possible. The seminar was structured in a familiar format, Day 1 Basics of form and training . Day 2 Advanced techniques.

Jay and Sai demonstrating scapula push ups

We saw tons of off the charts cool advanced variations, I’m glad I wrote them down this time as I keep forgetting. So for muscle ups there was X-grip, Reverse grip, Switch grip, and Slow muscle ups. Back lever into muscle up, Front lever into muscle up, Reverse grip muscle up into a lever cross, Jumpover, Front lever pull-ups and Back lever pull-ups. At this point I wrote OMG in my notes.

There was a nice reminder from Sai to train explosively as possible. This will assist in later progressions of muscle-ups, one arm pull-ups, pull-ups, Russian dips, and any strength based movement which the BB’s make look ridiculously easy. I made the mistaken assumption before that weighted work comes after a certain level of endurance has been reached but now I know different. After only 2-6 reps is reached in any move, to build power and speed, weight is added to increase the difficultly. I was delighted at my realisation and crest-fallen at the time wasted being frustrated, overtrained and exhausted.

Sai showing how to use resistance bands for shoulder mobility

Lee teaching levers reminded me that bodyweight holds all follow a similar structure of progressions. Once a position can be held comfortably for a few seconds the difficulty should be increased. So for example back lever starts with ease of skinning the cat back and forth. I realised this will train the range of movement in the shoulder joint and build the foundation strength. Then comes the rounded back tuck hold, then flattening the back. This method also applies to planche and front lever training also. So for me I’ve been stuck at the flat back tuck for many many months now with ungraciously sticking out one crooked leg at a time until my grip strength gave up. So now I know that there are a few ways to get to straddle. First is the lowering tactic, start high then eccentrically lower the body to position. Also works with flags. Second is to kick out one leg into straddle quickly then return to the previous tuck position with a view to progress to both legs. Allow lots of rest in between sets and rest days. My days of excessively training the same muscle with the same technique are well over!

Miguel blew us all away with one arm pull-ups looking like childs play. Subtracting  the stabilizers seemed an obvious but powerful technique to getting the pull-up in the high position then taking one finger at a time out the equation. Then getting the arm high holding to the side until it can lower into neutral or the BB hand in pocket position. Good point to train with knuckles facing up as opposed to the false grip position also to avoid injury.

Everyone concentrating

Jay is so solid in his x-grip front lever, ice-cream maker and windscreen wiper progressions. Core strength is just off the charts smooth. He broke down the importance of using reps in transitions. In getting to the next stage building up that core is going to take training to that next level. Plus this just looks super cool. By doing reps this really does build a foundation for other advanced movements. So the quality of this should be as clean as possible and this is done by going back to the first point.

This is my favourite photo of the weekend (sorry Lee and Luigi ;)

In the interest of injury prevention and to increase ROM at the end of the seminar I added in a few key points of flexibility training. It’s always a sensitive area for any power based athletes to stretching because of the loss of strength gains involved and de-stabilizing of synovial joint like the shoulder and hips. Therefore this should be done with the same intelligence as strength or endurance training in allowing recovery and prioritising only if developing that component. With that said I do feel it is important at the end of sessions to do some stretching without looking like you need a yoga mat and spandex.

Solid lever by Adam

There is always a great ambience at these seminars of friendliness, warmth and excruciating barrier busting training. I will say warmth of characters because the venues have all been suitable for freezer boxes. Layers and layers of clothing that can be stripped off superman style should be a requirement as you go from sweating profusely to shivering and huddling in a true caveman style. The team games always bring people closer together and makes me realise just how dedicated and strong these people are. There was some insane plank holding and my group the LionBars did well but the Spartans smashed it. Ify of GetFizzical should have been casted to do the anguished man screams in the movie 300.

Ed Brown, owner of the venue, Performance360

At the end of the day its great hanging out with the Bar-barians as they love to eat and drink like barbarians. After the training and the dreaded DOMS sets in nothing eases the day off like a round of vodka and in mine and Fi’s case a bottle of red wine is now mandatory. It’s great getting to know the group, BB pledgers and everyone who shares a passion for calisthenics. We laugh, talk and take training seriously. There are at least half a dozen people that I regularly see getting closer to the BB requirements now. It’s very exciting to see who will be next, what amazing unique skills they bring to the bar and supporting everyone in their goals.

I recently discovered the joys of the Bar-barian forums and challenges and will start to contribute to the posts. So do check it out for further training hints and tips by all members and hope that you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it  :)

Thank you Zoe! :)

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1 Response

  1. Bro Ben says:

    Wow. That’s why I need to take notes at the next BB seminar good job Fi and Zoe