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Thread: My Thoughts on the New Progressive Calisthenics Certification

  1. #1
    KallosThenos is offline Senior Member
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    Default My Thoughts on the New Progressive Calisthenics Certification

    Greetings gentlemen,

    I feel it is important for me to voice my opinion on this thing due to the massive amount of praise and the complete lack of criticism. I'm not bashing Dragondoor by any means, they produce some very good resources. I have personally invested my hard earned cash buying the CC Pushup and Pullup DVD (overpriced at that, but still not as outrageous as what I'm about to tell you).

    Now first off, the certification costs $1,995.00USD, but Oh Wait, if you sign up early it only costs $995.00USD! Pay us a grand and we'll teach you how to do push-ups and pullups!

    Seriously, I wouldn't call this thing a scam because I haven't been to one of the certs yet, but spending close to a grand learning things that you could learn easily from searching the internet or simply just buying a couple of books that are at one-twentieth the price, is ridiculous. Why not use the extra money to buy yourself some food for more gains? Or better yet send that money to starving children?

    Better pay early or the price will go up! Oh and if you decide you have better ways to spend your money, we'd like to take $300USD from you for the huge trouble you've caused us!

    Now, critiquing the program itself:

    1. Next Level Pushups: I can't even get myself started on this, seriously. First off the Kavadlo brothers can't even do the "picture perfect, legs together and hand below sternum with no twist or bend" CC Prison Pushups, so right away they cannot "walk the talk". Heck they can't even do full planche pushups. You probably will be learning how to do the "one arm pushup", which you can learn by a simple search on the internet, or if you already own CC, you don't even need to do anything but read what's in the book or practice. Heck you can even buy The Naked Warrior and learn it from there too.

    Yeah they might teach you some "cool variations" of pushups, but let's be honest here, the only real ways to continuously gain strength and mass from pushups is to either manipulate the leverage (planche), or manipulate limbs (one arm pushup). That's it. Everything else is pretty much unnecessary or almost a waste of time, unless you want to "spice things up" every once in awhile.

    2. Progressive Pullups 101: Okay. This can be found in CC, and the DVD (overpriced, again) shows how to achieve the One-Arm pullup clearly. There's a vast amount of resources on pullups throughout the internet, you don't need to spend large sums of cash to learn what you could learn for free. Heck just go to Coach Sommer's "Gymnastic Bodies" forums and very experienced guys there will help you out, either teaching you the progressions or correcting your form after you post a video of it. Doesn't even cost a penny.

    3. Beginning the Human Flag: This can be found in CC2, also for free on Coach Sommer's forum. The "Clutch Flag" can be done by anyone with a reasonable level of conditioning. Heck I nailed it on my first try. The "Press Flag" is definitely harder, but the tutorials can be found on Jim Bathurst's BeastSkills website and bodyweight forums.

    4. Mastering the Muscle-up: Again, many Youtube tutorials on this, also Coach Sommer's book contains this, along with Steven Low's Overcoming Gravity. A muscle-up is just a pullup and dip combined with a slightly harder transition phase, you don't have to spend an outrageous amount of cash to learn this.

    5. Perfecting the Handstand: Seriously? Just find a wall and kick up into a wall handstand, build up your strength and then slowly move away from the wall. That's it. If you want to seriously "perfect" your handstand, better off finding a Gymnast or a Handbalancer/Circus performer. The Kavadlo brothers and their "arched" handstand isn't really "perfect". Again Coach Sommer's forum contains a VAST amount of information on handstands.

    6. Forging an Iron Spine - The Bridge: This is in CC, also bridging is more of a mobility exercise than a strength one. Yes if you're a complete beginner it can build some strength, heck you can build strength by walking if you've been on your ass your whole life. You're better off using Headstand Reverse Leg Lifts for building your posterior core (lower back), at least you can add weight on your ankles if you've mastered it. Bridging can be dangerous too, if you overextend the lumbar spine rather than focus on the thoracic region and "opening the shoulders". The lumbar spine is designed for stability rather than flexibility, just ask Dr. Stuart Mcgill. I personally find bridging unnecessary for strength and muscle gains, it's just a tool for mobility and pre-hab/re-hab.

    7. Bodyweight Squatting Master Class: Pistol Squats are found in CC, TNW, BtGB and more. I nailed pistol squats on my first try thanks to barbell squatting. Pistol squats don't require much strength, it takes a lot of balance though. I used to knock out 10 on each leg to show off to other people that asks me if I can squat on one leg, they get all wide-eyed and comment how I'm "so strong" and all that, but honestly if you've done pistol squats before, you'll know I'm full of baloney.

    Pistol Squats aren't for everyone too, if you've got bad knees you should stay away from this. Also certain anthropometries makes pistol squatting dangerous to the knee. Basically if you find your knee going past your toes during the pistol squat, you should find an alternative leg exercise (that's if you already mastered the pistol squat, it could be a form issue). Joshua Naterman explains it pretty well in this post: https://www.gymnasticbodies.com/foru...on-sls-ascent/

    8. Bodyweight Ab Work - Floor Holds and Hanging Moves: L-Sits and Hanging Leg Raises can be found in many of the books I've mentioned previously. You don't need a skinny tattoo'd guy to show you how (after paying an unreasonable amount of cash).

    9. Floor Levers - Total Body Power: The Kavadlo brothers can't even do a proper straight-arm planche. You're learning beginner-level frog stands here and elbow levers. Both aren't very hard at all. You could probably show off at a few parties by doing elbow levers (most people don't have a clue between elbow levers and a true planche). Again a search on the web will yield results. Ido Portal has videos on Frog stand as well.

    10. Building the Front Lever: Many tutorials on the internet, and BtGB has progressions for it, as well as Overcoming Gravity.

    11. Dominating the Bar - The Back Lever: BeastSkills. BtGB. Overcoming Gravity. Also Al Kavadlo's back lever isn't exactly perfect, watching one of his videos on back levers will show you what I mean. On top of that, his grip is pronated rather than supinated, making it easier on the biceps. A proper gymnastic back lever uses a supinated grip -- you pretty much have to do that on the gymnastic rings.

    Other stuff on programming comes from experience, but you can also learn that from the books I've mentioned and on forums. Still, experience trumps all. You don't need periodization and cycling when you're a beginner.

    Now don't let me get started on "The Century". The whole deal about "progressive calisthenics" is to build strength and muscle using bodyweight exercises by making them harder and harder through leverage,limb and angle manipulation. "The Century" is a test of endurance. This goes against all that you've been taught. Anybody with a basic level of strength and conditioning can do this. Still, little thought has been put into this and it really strikes me as having been "pulled out of a drunk guy's ass".

    Again, no hard feelings Dragondoor. I'm just voicing my own opinion. Also I think the Kavadlo brothers are over-rated. They are good at marketing themselves (albeit, with a creepy smile) but their level of bodyweight mastery is average compared to the likes of Vassili the Super Saiyan, LittleBeastM, Hannibal for King, Zef, Sai and other Bar-Barians and Bar-atheletes out there. They need to put more walk and use less talk. No offense Al Kavadlo, it's just criticism, not trying to insult you as a person. Seriously though, Paul Wade needs to be paid more than anyone else for this, he deserves more credit than anyone else in this certification.

    Now gentlemen, please put some serious thought before you sign up for this.

  2. #2
    schnieder is offline Senior Member
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    I'm calling shenanigans

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    KallosThenos is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnieder View Post
    I'm calling shenanigans
    Shenanigans on what? Did you read what I had to say?

  4. #4
    schnieder is offline Senior Member
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    Parts of it.

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    Your post is a little harsh, but, yeah, Dragondoor overpricing their products is not exactly new. I think you're a little rough on Al, though. He's certainly not "average" when it comes to bodyweight strength. Is he the greatest? Probably not, but that's like calling Chael Sonnen an average fighter because he's not Anderson Silva. He still accomplishes things I'd love to, even if they aren't up to the gymnast's standard. I enjoyed his first book and his blog, but Raising the Bar was a bit disappointing (really nice pics, but there's probably more info on his blog about how to accomplish many of those movements and you don't have to pay $40 to read it). I'd still pay to pick his brain a little, after all there are things you can't learn from a book, but I wouldn't pay a thousand bucks to do so (plus, if I had to place money on it, I'd bet that Al was "natural." Sorry, but I have a hard time believing guys like Hannibal are).

    My biggest problem is this certification fetish. Not just in the fitness industry, but in our society in general. You have a bunch of people with a bunch of letters after their names, and most of them still suck at whatever it is they're doing. Then, like you wrote, something like this certification comes along, apparently pulled out of someone's ass just to make some easy dough. Then you'll have a bunch of people with too much money to spend who will have this certification that won't mean much to very many people. It's all just kind of weird and it's an obvious money grab.

  6. #6
    KallosThenos is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnieder View Post
    Parts of it.
    Well before you call shenanigans, it'd be wise to read ALL of it.

  7. #7
    KallosThenos is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by senorchupacabra View Post
    Your post is a little harsh, but, yeah, Dragondoor overpricing their products is not exactly new. I think you're a little rough on Al, though. He's certainly not "average" when it comes to bodyweight strength. Is he the greatest? Probably not, but that's like calling Chael Sonnen an average fighter because he's not Anderson Silva. He still accomplishes things I'd love to, even if they aren't up to the gymnast's standard. I enjoyed his first book and his blog, but Raising the Bar was a bit disappointing (really nice pics, but there's probably more info on his blog about how to accomplish many of those movements and you don't have to pay $40 to read it). I'd still pay to pick his brain a little, after all there are things you can't learn from a book, but I wouldn't pay a thousand bucks to do so (plus, if I had to place money on it, I'd bet that Al was "natural." Sorry, but I have a hard time believing guys like Hannibal are).

    My biggest problem is this certification fetish. Not just in the fitness industry, but in our society in general. You have a bunch of people with a bunch of letters after their names, and most of them still suck at whatever it is they're doing. Then, like you wrote, something like this certification comes along, apparently pulled out of someone's ass just to make some easy dough. Then you'll have a bunch of people with too much money to spend who will have this certification that won't mean much to very many people. It's all just kind of weird and it's an obvious money grab.
    Yeah I was a bit harsh, and especially to Al. My apologies but that's what I personally think. Also you are absolutely right about the certification fetish, forgot to mention that in my post. I hope my message was clear though.

  8. #8
    Al_Kavadlo is offline Senior Member
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    I've never shied away from criticism and I'm honestly flattered that you felt passionate enough to take the time to write this out so thoroughly. Seriously. I know it sounds like I am being sarcastic, but I'm not. I've always encouraged questioning things and I'm all about free-thinking. Let me address some of your concerns.

    Can you learn these skills without attending the PCC? Of course! Nobody has ever claimed otherwise. As you pointed out, there are lots of free tutorials on youtube covering most of the exercises from the workshop (many of the tutorials are actually mine!). I've always encouraged people to go out and experiment for themselves. My primary motive is to empower others.

    The point of this workshop isn't that I have some hidden secrets or magical powers. The PCC is for the select few who want to have their skills assessed (and enhanced) in person by experienced coaches. Danny, Adrienne and myself have a combined 20+ years of personal training and group exercise experience and we've all been practicing bodyweight training for even longer. Even if we don't have the same skill set as some of the people you named, I can guarantee we have more in-person coaching experience than any of them. Some people learn better on their own, others prefer to have instruction. An in-person workshop like this is a very different animal that a book, dvd or website. While some PCCers will be taking the cert because they want to teach others, it can also just be a fun experience to spend a weekend working out with other like minded bodyweight enthusiasts and pick up some new tips.

    If you can already do everything I can do and more then you are not the intended audience for the PCC. Workshops like this are not for everyone - that's why nobody is forcing you to sign up.

    Can you be a successful personal trainer without attending this course? Sure thing. Can you learn skills at this seminar that can help you be a better/more successful trainer? I think so. Are all of those skills physical? Nope.

    Are there stronger bodyweight practitioners out there? Absolutely! I haven't ever claimed to be the best - in fact I've gone out of my way to feature other bar athletes (some of whom you mentioned) on my blog and in my books.

    As for the century, I believe you've misunderstood a key aspect of progressive calisthenics. Yes progressive calisthenics is about using harder variations to continue growing stronger, but a key principle is building a foundation with higher reps on lower intensity exercises. This is a cornerstone of the programming of both CC and the PCC. It also will give a lot of attendees the accountability to train this winter and spring, knowing that they will have to perform the century at the workshop once they are already fatigued. It's similar to how someone might sign up to do a race to keep focused on their running routine.

    To sum up, don't be angry about the PCC. It's not for everyone, but the people who attend are going to come away from it having had a really positive experience.
    MilkManX likes this.

  9. #9
    Easey Jack is offline Senior Member
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    This OP is just rude and offensive. This member is now clearly trolling and should just be outright banned. I also smell--no, am offended by the STINK of--shennanigans.

    Quote Originally Posted by KallosThenos View Post
    Now first off, the certification costs $1,995.00USD, but Oh Wait, if you sign up early it only costs $995.00USD! Pay us a grand and we'll teach you how to do push-ups and pullups!
    What the...? This is the standard price of RKC certs. They have been around for years. Why didn't you complain about THEM? I don't get it.

    Quote Originally Posted by KallosThenos View Post
    spending close to a grand learning things that you could learn easily from searching the internet or simply just buying a couple of books that are at one-twentieth the price, is ridiculous. Why not use the extra money to buy yourself some food for more gains? Or better yet send that money to starving children?
    You DO understand that these certs are mostly aimed at professionals, right? They raise everyone's game as a result. If you want your brother, sister or child to go to a gym where the trainer teaching them learned his techniques "from the internet", then congrats--you are an idiot.

    Quote Originally Posted by KallosThenos View Post
    First off the Kavadlo brothers can't even do the "picture perfect, legs together and hand below sternum with no twist or bend" CC Prison Pushups, so right away they cannot "walk the talk".
    I felt the web page made it clear that this is based on CC principles, it is not simply CC transcribed to a cert. Nothing in the cert mentions "prison push ups" so where is the disconnect?

    What would be the point of including "prison push ups" anyway? If only one in a million athletes can do a prison push up, what would be the point in "teaching" it in a cert...? The cert would have to apply more reasonable techniques, which this one does. Very well, from what I see.

    By the way, Al and his brother both "walk the walk". They are open and honest about what they can do, and have been from day one. They show it in their videos. Where are YOUR videos, by the way...?

    Quote Originally Posted by KallosThenos View Post
    Heck just go to Coach Sommer's "Gymnastic Bodies" forums and very experienced guys there will help you out, either teaching you the progressions or correcting your form after you post a video of it. Doesn't even cost a penny.
    Yeah, right...Coach Sommer doesn't charge a cent for his training. Or books. Or DVDs.

    ...besides, why learn exercise form hands-on from a qualified, widely respected professional like Al anyway? You're right, we can post videos and have "expert" guys (like you?) on the internet forums comment on them!

    Yeah, brah, that sounds safe!

    ...where are your videos again?

    Quote Originally Posted by KallosThenos View Post
    Again, many Youtube tutorials on this, also Coach Sommer's book contains this, along with Steven Low's Overcoming Gravity. A muscle-up is just a pullup and dip combined with a slightly harder transition phase, you don't have to spend an outrageous amount of cash to learn this.
    Seeing a theme here. "There is related information on the internet/in books...why pay to learn it?" What a strange argument. There is plenty of stuff on physics in books and on the net. Why pay to go and learn it at college?

    Likewise, there are THOUSANDS of yoga books. Why bother going to a class for instruction? (Ouch!)

    It is clear you simply do not grasp the ENORMOUS value of professional instruction.

    Quote Originally Posted by KallosThenos View Post
    Pistol squats don't require much strength, it takes a lot of balance though. I used to knock out 10 on each leg to show off to other people that asks me if I can squat on one leg, they get all wide-eyed and comment how I'm "so strong" and all that, but honestly if you've done pistol squats before, you'll know I'm full of baloney.

    Pistol Squats aren't for everyone too, if you've got bad knees you should stay away from this..
    So right! Pistols are both incredibly easy AND incredibly dangerous.

    Quote Originally Posted by KallosThenos View Post
    115. Perfecting the Handstand: Seriously? Just find a wall and kick up into a wall handstand, build up your strength and then slowly move away from the wall. That's it. If you want to seriously "perfect" your handstand, better off finding a Gymnast or a Handbalancer/Circus performer..
    WTF?! WHY would you pay good money to learn the handstand from a gymnast or a circus performer? You can learn everything perfectly from books and the internet, dummy!

    Incidentally, I am a black belt in karate. I didn't waste money going to class, though. I just got the book.

    (But I am probably still better than Bruce Lee, because he didn't have any internet pals to check his technique.)

    Quote Originally Posted by KallosThenos View Post
    Also Al Kavadlo's back lever isn't exactly perfect, watching one of his videos on back levers will show you what I mean. A proper gymnastic back lever uses a supinated grip
    Hey, I enjoyed Al's excellent (free) videos, but I see now that I was obviously just being ridiculous! I should have been watching YOUR perfect-form video of the back lever!

    Can you post up the link again please? I must have missed it...

    Quote Originally Posted by KallosThenos View Post
    Now don't let me get started on "The Century". The whole deal about "progressive calisthenics" is to build strength and muscle using bodyweight exercises by making them harder and harder through leverage,limb and angle manipulation. "The Century" is a test of endurance. This goes against all that you've been taught. Anybody with a basic level of strength and conditioning can do this.
    Excellent! You are an internet expert...you should be able to do three, four times the required reps, right?

    ...when's the video being posted, by the way?

  10. #10
    KallosThenos is offline Senior Member
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    Al, I respect your composure and I may have been too harsh on you. You have a decent level of strength.

    What I have a problem with though, is how outrageously over-priced this "certification" is. Coach Sommer charges $1,000USD for his seminars, but he is a national level gymnastic coach and has credentials and real training experience -- whether be himself or teaching hundreds of athletes. Even though Coach's seminars are still very expensive, it is still somewhat reasonable and makes sense given his credentials, his achievements and vast amount of knowledge.

    If Paul Wade will attend the PCC, I might have a different opinion. Meeting Paul Wade and getting him to train me would be probably worth the price alone. Although I'm sorry to say you -- Al and Danny, and even Adrienne are still rather amateur at the bodyweight game, I would rather take advice from someone who can truly do high level bodyweight moves or someone that has taught many highly successful, professional athletes.

    I appreciate your website and your videos/tutorials -- they do help people. But I believe charging such an outrageous amount of money for this is blasphemy. Please don't rip off "newbies" (the intended audience you mentioned), high level bodyweight, or even intermediate level bodyweight athletes wouldn't fall for this.

    You don't build a "foundation" with high reps. I won't build a foundation by benching 135lbs for high reps, I would do that by increasing the weight gradually by sticking to a rep range. You can do 100 push-ups but not have the strength to do a single one-arm push-up. Strength endurance doesn't really carry over to Maximal strength rather than the other way around.

    This "Century" challenge encourages "strength endurance". People will solely practice pushups, pullups, squats and leg raises for high reps just to pass this test. This is against the "progressive calisthenics" theory.

    Yes if you can do one-arm pushups, you can probably knock out 30 push-ups, but why not make the Century contain "10 one arm pushups" rather than 30 pushups? See my drift?

    Again, if the target audience is beginners, then I feel sorry they'd have to get ripped off getting a "certification" (beginners shouldn't be concerned about certifications) on pushups and pullups.

    Just my thoughts, and no I'm not angry about the PCC itself, I'm angry about the outrageous price and how some people will actually fall for it.

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