Benchmarks in Fitness

by Patrick Hageman

Progress in Calisthenics can feel somewhat ambiguous at times. If you aren’t capable of hitting bigger moves then where is the progress? The legends of calisthenics are hitting one arm front levers and straddle planche presses but where am I on my journey? This is where systematic calisthenics comes in. Kenneth Gallarzo has developed a clear cut path to determine where you are in your program and a solid path for how to get there.

Systematic Calisthenics allows you or your coach to assess where you are on your path and where your opportunities for development are. By breaking the big movements into levels, you can plan out your workouts effectively-beginning with your most difficult movements and working your way back for your accessory work. The levels have their own threshold movement with a particular number of reps or hold time that would allow you to graduate from one level to the next.

A Benchmark is a predetermined measure of progress established for your workout. For example, instead of saying I want to lose 2lbs in the next 6 weeks, try setting a goal to increase the number of pullups in one set by 2 reps. A performance benchmark like this allows you to maintain focus in your workout, irregardless of the undulating bodyweight that naturally happens over time. After 6 weeks, you realize that you have gotten stronger as you are performing more reps of a difficult exercise than you were previously.

When you focus on the number on the scale there is a lot that can go into that fluctuation. Water intake alone could send your weight up from one day to the next, causing a ton of frustration for you or your client who is trying to lose weight. By coaching your client on the importance of performance progress, they can maintain a positive outlook on their program and progress.

Benchmarks can be extremely powerful in displaying your progress or determining when you need to switch up your programming. Even if your ultimate goal is a typewriter pull-up (or even further along, a front lever!), a single rep increase in pull ups will be indicative of the fact that you have gotten stronger and is grounds for celebration.

Be honest with yourself about where you are. Document your progress whether in a program or by video so you can go back and reference. Remember benchmarks are personal, in the age of wanting to display every victory or rush ahead to the next big move or be the next big calisthenics superstar; building a solid foundation helps to reduce the risk of injury and allow you to get stronger for life. Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle gain, or a straight bar full planche, a performance benchmark should play a large part in the way you write your program.

Patrick Hageman BS. ME, ACE CPT, PN1

Equinox Tier X Coach


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