Mastering Your Body Weight

While there’s no such thing as true mastery, it’s great to strive for ideals as long as we realize they are just that–something to reach for. On the road to superior fitness, it is good to have a sense of your place so you can determine the logical way to progress.

In gymnastics (which is just a highly advanced style of body-weight training) skills are generally ranked A through F, with A skills being the easiest. The standards are quite high, as back levers and front levers are only considered A level skills and muscle-ups are simply listed under “basic skills.”

I thought a similar type of rating system might be nice for the rest of us.  I decided to break down some of my favorite body-weight exercises (and some that I aspire to one day have in my arsenal) using a 5 level system to assign them a difficulty rating.  I’m not holding to the same standards that a gymnast might–here is what I’m proposing:

Handstand by Al KavadloLevel 1 skills:
Squat
Plank
Dip (Bench)
Lunge
Push-up
Australian Pull-up

Level 2 skills:
Single Leg Deadlift
Hanging Leg Raise
Dip (Parallel Bars)
Back Bridge
Handstand
Pull-up

Level 3 skills:
L-sit
Pistol Squat
Handstand Push-up
Dragon Flag
Back Lever
Muscle-up

Level 4 skills:
Shrimp Squat
One-arm Push-up
Human Flag
Front Lever
One-arm Pull-up

Level 5 skills:
Planche
One-handed Handstand
One-arm Front  Lever

One-arm Muscle-up

It’s important to have a good foundation before trying advanced exercises like the planche and the human flag. Getting comfortable with basic skills allows you to progress in a safe and effective manner. Obviously, this list is not all inclusive so feel free to suggest additions. Furthermore, as different people have different strengths, you may find that you make quicker progress with some skills than with others.  As always, strive to keep the beginner’s mind.  No matter where you fall in the continuum, there is a new challenge ahead!

Related Post:  Al Kavadlo:  Zen Fitness Via Bodyweight Training