At twenty-two years old, Daniel Vandal can handle being told he’s too young to run for president, or rent a car, or remember how hysterical home invasions could be.
But don’t tell him he’s too young to be a calisthenics master. That’s where he draws the line.
And Australia-born Vandal is no 22-year-old layabout; he keeps himself pretty busy with online coaching, two online products and recently undertaking physiotherapy.
We’ve had the chance to interview Vandal before, but in this week’s profile, we want to take a closer look at one of the brightest young stars of bodyweight and calisthenics training, and one of the youngest calisthenics teachers in the world.
To be fair, he’s 22, so he’s still in his early life. But even earlier, waaaaay back in 2008, Vandal didn’t know much about the world of bodyweight training. His sport of choice in his early teens was table tennis. Then in high school, he got into Australian football, a sport known for big hits and no padding whatsoever.
“For a few years, I trained parkour and really enjoyed it,” Vandal says. “But then after a while I got to a point where I was progressing, and to get better, you need to do more dangerous stuff to push yourself further. And I realized I was doing it mainly for the bodyweight training aspect. So I decided to quit doing that and pursue some bodyweight training seriously.”
His serious bodyweight training began with hand balancing in 2008, which he calls his introduction to “independent physical training and self-exploration”.
But as he tells it, what really helped him to really get into bodyweight training was the fact that he was looking for something to do.
“Upon reflecting several years later, a good component would be out of boredom and having too much free time on my hands,” he says.
Hey, there’s much less productive things you could do to cure boredom, after all.
Wanting to understand the human body as deeply as possible, Vandal went to university to study sports and fitness.
“One of the major components I learned commencing university was the value of continued learning,” he says. “Using a combination of peer-reviewed research, expert opinion and practical application to increase my competence in the realm of exercise science.”
Vandal has a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science (Kinesiology) and says, “The undergraduate degree was my pathway to enter Physiotherapy.”
And last we heard, he was completing a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy by December 2015.
But don’t let that intimidate you. Vandal says a formal education is not a prerequisite to getting healthy.
“A Degree is essentially a tool to obtain knowledge,” he says. “For me, I required the degree in order to work as a physiotherapist.”
And although he needed that training for his physiotherapy endeavors, on the training side, he’s mostly self-taught.
“Since starting training I have not been guided or coached by anyone directly. The results obtained have been the result of continued research and years of trial and error to find effective training/nutrition/recovery protocols which allow me to progress,” he says.
So when he doesn’t have his nose in a book learning about the human body, what does he do to put his knowledge to practice and get that shredded body?
Well, for one, he’s not a big fan of cardio. He doesn’t think much of spending an excess amount of time on a treadmill or elliptical machine. So instead of blocking off a time in his exercise to dedicate to cardio, he incorporates it in his everyday life.
“This could be walking to the gym, if I’m gonna go to the gym. So that could be 15 minutes there, 15 minutes back. Bang, you’ve got 30 minutes of cardio,” Vandal says.
“It doesn’t have to be a separate entity, unless that’s something you enjoy.”
He also doesn’t focus on aerobic training.
“I don’t feel the need to given my current condition and goals. I do believe most people will benefit from some form of aerobic training be it LISS/HIIT,” he recently said in a Reddit thread.
In our interview with Vandal, he said his focus is on building strength as well as developing new skills and improving mobility. In order to achieve this, his training is 100% bodyweight and calisthenics-oriented.
Here’s a great video of Vandal and his brother putting on an absolute bodyweight clinic using rings, a planche bar and simply the ground. Yep, this level of strength and agility apparently runs in the family, so you can imagine how upset other parents were during those early years of Australian football.
So, you want to get in Vandal-level shape? Whether you’re starting out or a veteran of exercise, his five tips can help you get there. Like most good advice, it’s pretty simple and straightforward:
- Choose a diet that you enjoy and sustain
- Choose a sustainable training frequency
- Cover full range of motion
- Progress incrementally
- Get enough sleep
2016 should be another big year for Vandal. He plans on beginning fitness workouts and seminars in Melbourne, then plans to expand across Australia, eventually taking the show on the road to the good ol’ U.S.A. This is all in addition to his current work with his website and the continuing work as a physiotherapist.
“My main focus,” he says, “regardless of where life takes me, is just trying to add value to people’s lives.”
We’re looking forward to more coaching advice, exercises and knowledge from this shooting star of calisthenics.