In a recent YouTube video filmed during lockdown while gyms were closed, fitness influencer Mo Samuels spends 30 days throwing himself into calisthenics training for the first time, in order to present himself with a challenge, and to see whether a month of bodyweight-focused workouts will have any visible effect on his physique. He sets himself the goal of mastering a couple of specific staple calisthenics moves throughout the month: the handstand, the muscleup, and the human flag.
Samuels focuses on 3 to 4 exercises per session, comprising 3 to 4 sets each. He prioritizes the pullups in each workout, as this functions as a foundational move for the muscleup, with full range of motion. He also adds in accessory exercises like dips, which will help him at the top end of the muscleup.
“I feel like I’ve been hit by a car,” he says after the very first day of training. “I feel absolutely done in, I feel fucked.”
“The first thing I noticed was my forearms were shot after the first session,” he continues. “Like, dead. My grip strength has never been a strong point in the gym. The second thing was recovery; my body has never done any kind of training like that, and it’s hard.”
Over the course of the next four weeks, Samuels is pleased to see his grip strength improve—despite having to deal with some painful blisters on his hands—and slowly sees progress in his performance of each move.
On the final day of the challenge, Samuels is able to complete 7 consecutive muscleup reps, and holds his handstand for 12 seconds. He also claims to have found the experience so rewarding that he intends to implement calisthenics moves into his regular bodybuilding training. “Overall, I really enjoyed it. I did not think I would enjoy it that much,” he says. “There’s something cool about being able to use your own body and maximize it to its full potential.”
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