Category Archives: Bodyweight Training

The Planche: So, How Can You Achieve It?

Top-Planche-on-Pedestals

The Planche is easily one of the most impressive bodyweight skills out there, if not the most. Maybe it is not the hardest gymnastic position, but for an average fitness enthusiast (especially if he/she wasn’t competing in gymnastics since childhood), holding a Full Planche for 5 seconds is a great achievement by all means.

The Planche is the skill that requires nerves of steel and infinite determination. You won’t achieve it overnight/in 4 weeks/for some individuals even in several years. Patience is your biggest friend in this affair, not ego.

The Planche is also one of the most unforgiving skills out there. Move to a harder variation too soon and you will most certainly win a jackpot of wrist and forearm injuries, lack of progress and frustration.

Furthermore, the Planche, as any other advanced gymnastic skill, has its clear and unquestionable technique points:

– Your elbows should be completely locked during holding the position.

– You should maintain a so-called hollow body position. Your lower back should not arch compensating the lack of upper body strength.

– Your scapulae should be protracted as much as possible.

If you don’t meet any of these requirements, I’m sorry to frustrate you, but it wasn’t a real Planche on that video you posted on YouTube.

Finally, I like the Planche because it requires no equipment and seems to question the gravity.

OK, I’m done with this unexpectedly long intro. Two minutes of your life spent on reading it are gone. Deal with it. On the bright side, what you can read below may be exactly what you were looking for.

Just recently, I was lucky enough to interview several calisthenics experts on the theme of the Planche. I am quite pleased with the result and I believe you can benefit from this information big time. My goal with this improvised round table was to gather different opinions on training the Planche. You will be able to see how different people approach the process of obtaining the same skill, which I find educating. Read, absorb, and use the information below.

Here is the full list of participants (in no particular order):

– Yuri Marmerstein;

– Ryan Hurst;

– Alessio Proietti;

– Steven Low;

– Alan Thong;

– Al Kavadlo;

– Max Shank;

– And of course, I couldn’t possibly leave you without my own answers. So, yes, you will have to read that stuff that Alex Zinchenko finds funny and relevant to the theme (writing in third person about yourself makes everything much more serious).

Without further ado, let me present you the Rough Strength Planche Round Table. Enjoy!


1. Introduce yourself. Tell us about your training experience. Continue reading

The Last Implement You’ll Ever Need for the Upper Body Development

Today I would like to share my thoughts on the ultimate upper body strength training implement. What do you think it is? Barbell? It is cool and effective, but it requires lots of additional equipment like plates, squat stands, and possibly a power rack and a bench, as well as it is not quite mobile. What’s else? Sandbag? While it definitely does the trick, you are limited to the size of your bag and the amount of filler you need. Kettlebell? Not really. Again, it is mobile only if you have a car, and it is definitely limited to the heaviest one you have (unless you know this).

So what is it? Is it your bodyweight? Close enough. In my opinion, gymnastic rings are the ultimate upper body strength developer. How come? Let’s find out. Continue reading

The Pulley System: The Best Thing That Happened to Calisthenics

The Pulley System: The Best Thing That Happened to CalisthenicsIt is the 100th post here on Rough Strength, so I decided to make it special. Not long time ago I managed to set up a pulley system at home destroying neither the walls, nor the ceiling (more on this later), and I am truly amazed with the results of my experimentation with it. I will go further and state that the pulley system invention is possibly the best thing that happened to heavy calisthenics. If you strive to learn advanced skills like Planche or One-Arm Chin-Up, then this can be your lucky ticket.

Why Is the Pulley System So Awesome?

First of all, why should you bother? Continue reading

Bodyweight Reverse Pyramid Training

Rough Strength Back Lever on RingsSo I have not been releasing new articles for quite some time. You may think: “Ah… He just gets drunk every night and is so hungover that cannot even type”. There is no fucking way for this to be true. I was busy with some useful things, which I will reveal at the end.

And now I would like to kick some ass with an article about the training approach that I consider the one of the most effective out there. Enter the Reverse Pyramid Training.

What Is Reverse Pyramid Training [RPT]?

It all started in my early training days. I experimented a bit with an approach  that everybody called “Reverse Pyramid Training”. There was no information on it, and I had no access to the internet at that time. It was a pure assumption that if you can ramp the weight up every set, you should be able to do it other way around. Due to the lack of expertise and  the moronic race to increase the working weight every session I was not able to get any meaningful results. As a consequence, I dropped the approach and considered it ineffective for some time.

Several years ago I was introduced to a reasonable version of Reverse Pyramid Training by this article. Martin Berkhan claimed it to be “the most successful” for him and his clients. The photos and videos proved his words. After that, I have seen lots of people all over the internet who used this approach with success.

So what is this Reverse Pyramid Training? Continue reading

4 Ways to Improve Convict Conditioning System

Convict PressesSeveral years passed, but Convict Conditioning [CC] still challenges minds of fitness enthusiasts all over the world. Despite the fact that it was written and published at perfect time to become a bestseller, CC is as evergreen now, as it was at release date. If you haven’t read this book yet, I’m really jealous. You haven’t got those sleepless nights of obsessive reading yet. You haven’t experienced that feeling of exploration and touching the history of physical training. You might not have that “A-ha!” moment regarding heavy calisthenics yet (if you are reading Rough Strength regularly, then you probably had). Anyway, I think, I gave you enough reasons at least to take a look at this piece. You can find it here.

As for today’s article, what is its goal? Although CC is a full, all-sufficient training system, I just can’t leave it ‘as is’. My aim is to show you how to make it better and perhaps more suitable for your training. But first of all, let’s talk about CC system at its purest.

The Big Six? Continue reading

Rough Strength Results: Valentin

Some time ago I posted a video to Vimeo called “Rough Strength Online Training Results: Valentin”. You can watch it here:

Rough Strength Online Training Results: Valentin from Alex Zinchenko on Vimeo.

First of all, I’m really proud to have Valentin as my student. He has dedication and discipline only few possess. Lots of trainees should learn his love to strength training and work ethic. He is one of those respectable people that persevere through hard circumstances in life (instead of making lame excuses). Well, as you can see from video hard work and patience always pay off.

So why am I writing this? I’d like to share with you some of the exact programs we used and to analyze what led us to success. Continue reading

10 Tips for Mastering the Perfect One-Arm Push-Up

Perfect One-Arm Push-Up by Alex ZinchenkoThe Perfect One-Arm Push-Up – many claim to be able to perform it, still there’s almost no video proof to back up those claims. Why so? Firstly, everybody has ego. And claiming that you can do such complex skill like the Perfect One-Arm Push-Up [POAPU] boosts that ego like nothing else. There’s no harm in bragging, unless you cannot back up your words. Secondly, it’s surprisingly easy to get trapped in improper technique with this skill. You can see lots of videos of One-Arm Push-Up but 99% of them are half-assed-twisted-body-feet-wide-pseudo-push-ups. That’s not what we’re discussing here. That exercise has almost nothing in common with real One-Arm Push-Up and is walk in the park comparing to our beast. Many people push this shitty technique as POAPU, but don’t be fooled. They just don’t have the patience to gain strength required for this move. Thus, they can forget about achieving anything great. Also lots of people don’t believe POAPU can be done the proper way, but that’s not true. It definitely can be achieved, but the process will require lots of time, hard work and patience. So let’s get closer look to what the hell that Perfect One-Arm Push-Up is? Continue reading