Maximise winter training to get stronger for summer
In many ways, calisthenics feels like more of a summer sport. Street workouts, calisthenics parks, they all have that kind of outdoor vibe. So what should calisthenics athletes do over the winter months? Let’s talk about how to shift gears to make the most of the darker days so you can show off some serious strength gains.
Should you change your calisthenics training in winter?
Do calisthenics athletes change the way they train over the winter months? Some opt for a strategic periodisation of weight training to add muscle mass and strength. Others continue to focus on calisthenics skills and flows, but bring their training indoors.
There’s no right or wrong way to approach winter training for calisthenics, but we think it’s a smart idea to consider a structured approach to training as the seasons change.
How to periodise calisthenics training in a year
Periodisation could be the secret to progressing your calisthenics training to the next level. Periodised training is a way to use overload, recovery, and adaptation in a strategic and measurable way.
Macrocycles: large blocks of training (usually 4+ months)
Mesocycles: training blocks within a macrocycle season (i.e. strength phase)
Microcycles: small blocks within a mesocycle (usually one week of training)
By using a periodised approach to your entire year of training, you can really use the winter to your advantage. Turning winter into either one macrocycle, or 1-2 mesocycles (as part of a longer-term goal) allows you to overload, rest, adapt and come out stronger.
Structure calisthenics training in the off season
Winter is great time to focus on building a solid strength foundation for your calisthenics. Everything about this time of year lends itself to strength work – the weather (training needs to move into the gym), the food (extra calories for the gains) and fewer opportunities for competitions and events.
Think about your goals for next year – do you want to unlock certain advanced skills, be a stronger athlete, or have more endurance? You can start working on all of those end-goals right now, over winter. Use this season to build your strength, work on weaknesses, and lay the groundwork for mastering new movements in spring.
Gym strength training and weighs for calisthenics
Should calisthenics athletes really incorporate weights into their winter training? Some fans of calisthenics shy away from free weights and weights machines in the gym, worried about building up too much muscle mass or losing their range of motion.
We think it’s a really good idea to incorporate weights into your training plan over the winter months. We’re not suggesting you suddenly go full-on powerlifter mode, shifting massive amounts of weight.
But a smart approach to strength training and rest days will undoubtedly benefit your calisthenics practice, balance out your physique, and get you stronger in all the right places.
Don’t fear weight training for calisthenics. You won’t suddenly bulk up or get too heavy for all your favourite balances and pulling movements. But you will build strength and push through muscle-related plateaus.
7 winter training tips for calisthenics athletes
Set your calisthenics goals for next year (strength, endurance, a particular skill?)
Identify the weaknesses that are currently holding you back from reaching those goals
Design a strength-training programme that builds the strength you need to unlock those long-term goals
Do strength training 3+ times a week to maximise strength and lean mass gains
Use a variety of rep ranges including 3-5, 5-8, 8-12 to maximise hypertrophy
Take more rest days than usual to allow your body to adapt to the new heavier training stimulus
Include mobility work and active recovery including walks, stretching, and foam rolling
How to get calisthenics strong in the winter
If you decide to focus on gym strength training over winter, you don’t have to completely wave goodbye to calisthenics work until next year. You can still do 2-3 calisthenics workouts a week, mainly to keep your basic skills there. Or you could add a short calisthenics flow onto the end of your gym workouts as a finisher.
But don’t fall into the trap of trying to do a full weights programme and a full calisthenics programme. Not only will you be too tired and sore to do either thing properly, you will limit your body’s ability to adapt to the training.
Think about how many weight training sessions you can do a week, and make sure your strength programme covers all body parts at least twice a week. Here’s an example of how you could do this:
2 weights sessions a week: full body sessions
2 weights sessions a week: push focus, pull focus, legs focus
4 weights sessions a week: upper focus, lower focus, repeat
However you decide to structure your winter training, make sure it’s an enjoyable way to close in on your long-term goals.
And if you need any strength tools to help with those winter gains, head to the Gravity Fitness store and check out our kettlebells, weighted vests, macebells, Indian clubs and more.