Rough Strength Review: Building the Gymnastic Body

Building the Gymanstic Body ReviewOftentimes you can hear a phrase like: “I want an upper body like gymnasts have”. Well, it’s no surprise, especially if you look at someone like Yuri Van Gelder (see the video below). Gymnasts have upper body strength and musculature as well as bodyweight control that have no match. So how to develop such body? Coach Christopher Sommer tries to answer this question with his book.

Who is this book for?

This book is for all the people that want to learn literally how gymnastic bodies are built. For all the people that are brave enough to look outside of the box and learn something new and useful. For all the people that want to know how to train to obtain some awesome skills like, for example, planche or front lever.

Why is this book interesting for me?

Well, as you probably know I’m a big fan of calisthenics (as well as all low-tech strength training equipment). And it would be total ignorance not to read such fundamental work. Besides, I’m integrating gymnastic strength training in some form in my own training on a regular basis.

What will you learn from it?

You’ll learn tons of gymnastic exercises and bodyweight progressions. If you be attentive and clever enough then you’ll learn the principles of bodyweight leveraging to make exercise easier or harder. But it’s just one volume dedicated to basic strength. According to Coach Sommer you can find information on handstands, ring training, explosive strength etc. in other volumes.

Strong Points

  • Tons of progressions, from beginner to advanced. Planche, Front Lever, Back Lever, Manna, Ring Dips, Handstand Push-Ups etc. Lots of useful information on progressing from one exercise to another.
  • Very comprehensive read.
  • Good technique description. Almost every nuance is covered.
  • Easy-to-find structure.

Weak Points

  • A bit poor programming section, in my opinion.


That’s it. What can I say? If you’re interested in gymnastic skills and gymnastic strength training then you should already have read this book. If not then you’re definitely missing out. I think this book will be useful to all the people that are interested in bodyweight strength training and conditioning. Knowledge there is worth its price.

Alex Zinchenko

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3 thoughts on “Rough Strength Review: Building the Gymnastic Body

  1. Phillip Tyner in Fayetteville, NC, USA

    Thanks, Alex. Looks like a good book. Sometimes a new way of looking at things is what we need. A paradigm shift, my friend.Convict conditioning was just that for me a couple years ago, and got me interested in progressive calisthenics. Your blog has been an eye opening experience as well. Keep on doing what you do, man, and i wish you success in this

  2. Dave

    Photographs and videos are better with this book. For programming and progression, Overcoming Gravity is better. Although the author could brush up his research on nutrition.


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