At that time, I had not done much bar-style calisthenics and thought to myself, “Man, that looks pretty easy.” I then went out to a local park and tried to do it. I wasn’t even close to getting it!
At that moment I knew there was something to elevating my game and learning a higher level of calisthenics.
I finally had the chance to catch up with Jim and ask him a few questions. And here they are!
Hope you enjoy them.
1. Tell us a little about your background and why you started BeastSkills.com.
I grew up playing a lot of team sports, but in high school, I started track, weight training, and then eventually “gymnastics”. Now, my gymnastics amounted to my friend and I doing handstands in his backyard, but I enjoyed it and we challenged each other to do various feats of strength.
In college, I joined an exhibition gymnastics team, Gymkana, at the University of Maryland. We would perform shows for local area schools. This continued my love of gymnastics/acrobatics and I learned more and more.
After college, I continued to try and read up on these various skills that I had learned and/or wanted to learn. There just wasn’t a lot of information out there that I could find, so I started Beast Skills to provide tutorials for these skills. Things took off, and the response has been great! I have learned a tremendous amount of information since first writing those tutorials!
2. Where did you find your motivation to get into gymnastics?
I was always a physical kid, so it came naturally that I’d want to challenge myself in a different manner. Gymnastics are easy for anyone to get into, on an amateur level, that’s what is so great about them – no gym membership needed.
3. What does a typical training program look like when learning a new move such as a handstand, planche, etc.? Training frequency, volume, sets, etc.?
Work as often as you can, while staying as fresh as you can. For the handstand, you absolutely need to be working it on a regular basis to develop fine motor control. Stop and/or rest when quality starts to suffer.
For strength moves, structure it like a regular strength routine – working high intensity (x1-5 reps, or shorter holds), lots of rest (2min+), lots of sets (5+, depending on reps).
4. What has been your most challenging move to learn? And what are you currently working on?
The One-arm handstand. I was stuck for such a long time because of mobility restrictions (which I did not realize), as well as a total misunderstanding of the position. I credit Yuval Ayalon for greatly helping my progress here. I still have a lot of work to do, but I am seeing significant progress these past couple of years than I saw in many years before that.
5. What workout program are you following now? Is it bodyweight only or does it incorporate weights?
I love lifting weights and do so regularly. You can see on my YouTube page me squatting, snatching, and cleaning. With my schedule a little chaotic right now, I am working as often as I can on the lifts. Usually breaking things up over the course of the day.
- Acrobatics – several times per week, on its own time.
- Upper body gymnastics work – In the morning, or after lower body/Olympic lifting
- Olympic lifting/Lower bodywork – Mid-afternoon, several times per week
I will work up to heavy triples in upper and lower bodywork, pushing harder on days I feel good, and backing off when I don’t. I know this sounds disorganized, but I know my body and how to incorporate my training into my life. I am coming back from a long hiatus as I was planning my wedding, so this fast and loose approach is completely fine for me right now.
6. Will bodyweight calisthenics help someone gain mass or simply get lean?
The diet helps someone get mass or get lean.
For the lower body though, you need to move some iron.
7. If a beginner came up to you and said, “I want to master the planche, handstand push up, etc. where should I start?” What would you tell them?
Eliminate half of the exercises you are doing. Now, do it again. What are you left with? Get really good at those for a year.
Below You’ll Find Some Wicked Videos of Jim Doing Some Incredible Calisthenics:
Thanks so much, Jim!