3 UNDERRATED Calisthenics Exercises You Should Train
What's up, gang? We all know certain calisthenics skills like planche, front lever, handstand push-ups and human flag tend to get most of the attention. And that’s rightfully so because they're so impressive! They’re great ways to improve your fitness while offering a bit of spectacle.
But there are a whole bunch of other skills that build incredible strength and flexibility. Plus, they still look impressive and carry over into other more advanced skills. So, I thought about three calisthenics exercises that I think are underrated and should get more attention in the bodyweight fitness community. I’ll give my thoughts on my top three picks from least to most underrated. So, let’s hop right into my first pick.
First up, I’ll start with the dragon flag. I started doing this exercise right as I was perfecting my handstand (FYI: see my post on my handstand journey). I started training to do this because I’m a big fan of Bruce Lee, and he was known for doing the dragon flag. I saw images of Lee, and I thought it looked really impressive. When you see it, it’s just like a really flashy core exercise
Once I started training, I found the dragon flag actually had two major benefits that I wasn’t expecting:
- It builds on the concept of total body tension. By doing this exercise, you’re keeping tension throughout the full kinetic chain. This means you’re going to keep a straight rigid body against gravity. This impressive core exercise makes it easier to hold yourself against gravity.
- Shortly after training to do the dragon flag, I started training for front lever progressions. Having done the dragon flag, I found I was able to breeze through the first two or three progressions. My progression moved so quickly. I went from the tucked to advanced tucked and right into a straddle. I believe this happened because of learning the dragon flag first.
The dragon flag is all about form. When holding yourself diagonally, you’re using your core muscles, especially the posterior core. Those same muscles are going to be used when holding yourself horizontally in the front lever progression. At the end of the day, strengthening them with dragon flags does have crossover gains.
That’s just to say I think the dragon flag is awesome and not enough people talk about it.
Following dragon flags, my next underrated calisthenics exercise is the back bridge. I know that might sound hard, or even scary, but I’m not saying a full-back bridge like gymnasts do. If you work up to doing one, that’s fantastic, but I’m just talking about bridging progressions in general.
That’s just to say they’re really overlooked in calisthenics. Even as a calisthenics expert, I’ve noticed all the popular calisthenic skills and exercises don’t incorporate back extension in their routine. Back extensions are a huge part of other fitness routines such as yoga and gymnastics. When you look at those exercises, there’s lots of back bending to them. Once you start incorporating back bridges into your routine, you can make use of the many bridge progressions. You can do everything from a straight bridge to a head bridge.I just suggest whatever it might be, you need to start working on your back bridge.
As a word of advice, please don’t make the same mistake as I did. I ignored back bridges for a while. Going straight into calisthenics, it’ll take you a while to gain flexibility once you’ve started your routine. So, don’t neglect to incorporate back extensions into your training. You’ll be better off for it.
Of course, the big moment! Here is my number one underrated exercise… one-arm chin-ups! I’m not talking about full-blown one-arm chin-ups. I’m talking about even progressions. I’ve been doing them lately, and I’ve been reminded of how hard they are. When doing calisthenics, we tend to be drawn to the muscle-ups especially when it comes to pulling exercises. I must admit I went straight to them because of the flair of getting up over the bar. I thought it was really cool.
Now, I’m training one-arm chin-ups seriously. By training them now, I realized you can gain a serious amount of pulling strength without needing a mounted pull-bar, weighted vest or other pull-up equipment. I do this by using unilateral progressions to build some serious pulling strength.
Just in case you’re not aware, one-arm chin-ups rely on assistance to aid in pulling progression. You have one arm supinated (or your palm facing you), and the other palm is pronated (facing away from you). While doing this exercise, the pronated arm is providing you with assistance as you work on your one-arm chin-ups. When doing them, you can start off using your whole hand before progressing to four fingers, three or two. By achieving this progress, you will need less and less assistance with your one-arm chin-ups. Again, it’s all about progress.
After not doing them for a year or two, I just think this exercise is really underrated. In terms of vertical pulling, I think one-arm chin-ups are actually where it’s at.
Obviously, this is just my opinion based on my observations. But I do think these exercises are underrated. That’s not to say other exercises are overrated, but they’re just getting all the attention. Some give the three above a try.
If you want to learn more about calisthenics routines and plant-based food solutions, just return to Minus The Gym for all your needs. Until then, see you next time!