Stop Getting Injured And Build More Muscle (A Dad’s Calisthenics Survival Guide)

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Dropping the dadbod and building a rugged strong and lean dad physique requires patience, time and consistency on applying the basics.

But none of these is possible if you can’t stay in the game of training long enough.

And while most people gloss over it, it’s one of the biggest contributor to results (or the lack of). Especially if you’re a man over 30.

Today, we’re going to dive deep into this evil force that knocks you off course, leaving you sidelined and demotivated the moment you and your body let your guard down – injury.

Injury doesn’t care about your endless responsibilities. Your lack of time. Your desire to be a role-model dad, great husband, and feel amazing in your skin.

It doesn’t care about your exhaustion, stress, or lack of sleep.

In fact, injury is the voice of all these.

It’s an indicator that something MUST change if you wish to achieve your physical goals.

So, if you want to bulletproof your body and continue carving that rugged, strong, and lean dad physique, keep reading…

..because today we’ll be sharing with you five foolproof strategies to armor yourself against it!

Let’s dive deep.


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1. Get your Specialised Warm-up in

If there’s one one-liner my trainees are sick and tired of hearing from me, it’s that…

If you don’t have time to warm up you don’t have time to work out”.

A lot of men think that calisthenics are a lot more innocent compared to lifting heavy weights, meaning they are safer when it comes to injuries, which is not the case.

As a matter of fact, it’s one of the main reasons people get injured with bodyweight training.

Yes, calisthenics have a lot of benefits for the busy dad. They are practical and can save you time since you can do them whenever and wherever you want. It has less wear and tear on your body, and are easier on the recovery side of things.

But, this doesn’t mean that you can just jump on a pull-up bar or a dip station and start hammering reps, and expect that this won’t take a toll on your joints.

Come to think about it, doing exercises such as pull-ups or chest-dips is like sitting in a lat down machine or a bench press and starting to do reps with 190 lbs (or whatever it is that you weigh)…

Not a good idea!

Just because it’s calisthenics, that doesn’t mean that it’s smart to skip prep work.

So to get to the point, here are two important steps you want to cover while prepping for your workout…

Step 1: Start with a custom calisthenics warm-up routine

Always start with a short, customised calisthenics warm-up that consists of mobility drills and dynamic stretches. The goal of this routine is to loosen you up and prepare your body to safely access ranges of motion you’ll be training in.

Luckily for you, I’ve created such a routine that takes 7 minutes of your time once you master it!

Step 2: Warm-up sets

Especially with upper full-bodyweight exercises (exercises that load your joints & connective tissues with your whole bodyweight) always start with a warm-up set.

For example, with exercises such as dips or pull-ups, I recommend a band-assisted warm-up sets of about 10-12 reps at about 50% intensity (half the reps you feel you can do at that moment).

Alternatively, if you don’t have bands, you can also work on a set of negative reps.

Lastly, if a band assisted version or negatives are not practical, start with an easier progression. For example, if you’re doing handstand push-ups that day, start with at least one set of pike push-ups first.

a) Band assisted set example (pull-ups & chest dips)

Choose a band that allows 10-12 easy reps at about 50% intensity…

  1. 10-12 Band assisted pull-ups
  2. 10-12 Band assisted dips

b) Negative rep example (pull-ups & chest dips)

To do this, you can either jump your way up to the top position as shown in the video, or use something like a stool or bench. Aim for 10-12 slow negatives.

  1. 10-12 slow negative pull-ups (jump or assist your way up, and go down slowly)
  2. 10-12 slow negative chest-dips (jump or assist your way up, and go down slowly)

c) Easier progression examples (handstand push-ups, push-ups, inverted rows)

Starting with an easier progression of an exercise is always a good idea (either we’re talking about full bodyweight exercises or other).

10-12 slow pike push-ups

10-12 incline push-ups

10-12 inverted rows

2. Use perfect form and leave your ego at the door

Another one-liner I tell my trainees until they’re blue in the face is, “Quality of reps over quantity”. Crappy reps mighty pump your ego, but they won’t do anything for your muscles. The more time you take to perfect your technique and slowly progress your way to harder progressions, the better results you’ll get in the long run.

Here are three things to focus on when it comes to perfect technique:

  1. Respect the negative: The negative phase of your reps is just as important for building muscle as the positive. So use a slower tempo that allows for smooth and controlled movement, focusing again on perfect form. A good rule of thumb is to triple the time it takes you to perform the positive phase.
  2. Pause at the middle: Always briefly pause at the middle point of your rep (i.e. don’t bounce up at the bottom of your push-ups)
  3. Start clean: Avoid any momentum that helps you cheat your way into a rep (i.e. don’t swing your way up into a pull-up like a Cross-fitter)

Remember, the less reps you can do to bring yourself muscular fatigue, the less miles you’ll put on your body and the faster you’ll reach your goals.

Quality first. Quantity later.

3. Pain is NOT weakness leaving the body

This might sound cool from a motivational speaker, but it’s not a good strategy when it comes to training. Pain is not weakness living the body.

Although complicated, pain is usually your nervous system giving you a warning signal to pay attention. It’s your body’s language. It’s trying to draw your attention.

The more attuned you are to paying attention to pain, the more proactive you can be about avoiding things turn into full blown injuries.

Which brings me to the next point…

4. Know when to slow down (especially on high-stress, low-sleep weeks)

Trying to build a lean and strong body while living the busy-dad lifestyle can be tricky.

If you’re anything like the dads we work with on our DDP program , then your daily life is rife with responsibilities, zero time for yourself, often poor sleep, stress, fatigue and an endless, never-ending stream of things to do.

These all affect your mental and physical health which in turn skyrockets the chance of injury.

Here’s how.

Firstly, stress and exhaustion impair cognitive function, leading to decreased attention and focus. Therefore, your ability to concentrate diminishes, making you more prone to mistakes and accidents.

Stress also triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response, releasing cortisol and other stress hormones. While these hormones prepare the body to face immediate threats, over time, they can weaken the immune system and reduce the body’s ability to heal and repair itself. This weakened state not only slows down recovery from injuries but also makes you much more susceptible to being injured.

Exhaustion then compounds these issues by reducing muscle efficiency and coordination. Tired muscles are less capable of supporting joints and absorbing shocks properly, which can lead to strains, sprains, and other injuries. Fatigue also affects the body’s proprioception—its ability to perceive its position in space—increasing the risk of falls and related injuries.

So, instead of following the advice of David Goggins and completely ignoring how you feel during these hard weeks and pushing through…

…take it easier.

Go by feel.

Because contrary to popular belief, taking it easier at stressful periods can keep injuries at bay and make you go faster.

Race drivers do it all the time by using a braking technique called trail braking where they brake and decelerate before a turn, to better position themselves for maximum acceleration in the straight lines. This enables them to speed up and cover more ground.

Similarly to race drivers, use trail braking when it comes to training intensity.

Instead of injuring yourself and having to take a break, take it easier when you must to keep training. This will make you accumulate much more quality work in the long run.

Consistency beats perfection every single time.

5. Work around your injuries

Since consistency is the middleman of deliberate practice and results, this article would be obsolete without this point.

The fact that something hurts doesn’t mean you have to cease training altogether.

If you’re injured, reframe and re-focus.

A mantra we tell our trainees use is to concentrate on what they can do— instead of drifting in a downward spiral by focusing on what they can’t.

To do this, you have to be smart and learn to work around pain.

You can modify technique, use different equipment, work on different exercises, or focus more on different body parts and movement patterns.

For example, if straight bar pull-ups are starting to cause you shoulder or elbow pain, you can try things such as:

  • using a neutral grip, mixed grip or switching to gymnastic rings
  • switching to a different pull exercise like rows or gymnastic ring face pulls
  • focusing on completely different exercises such as weighted prone angels
  • or just working more on your push and lower body strength training for a while

We’ll be covering this 5th strategy a lot more into detail in our next video.

Summary

Injury is a tough mistress.

It’s demotivating, stressful and it can often leave you feeling overwhelmed, lost, and demotivated.

And no matter how cautious you are, it always looms in the dark.

But it’s not the scary behemoth it’s cracked up to be.

You can learn how to reduce the chances of getting injured significantly. And If it strikes, you can always work around it and focus your efforts on what you can do.

By learning how to train safer, and maneuver your approach and training around it if it happens, you increase your consistency.

And by increasing consistency and training deliberately you skyrocket your results in the long-run.

Does our content resonate but you feel overwhelmed and lost especially amidst the crazy dadlife? Then click here and see how we help dads just like you feel amazing in their skin again by dropping 10-20lbs and building a strong and lean body.