Subj: How to Turn the World into Your Gym with Street Workouts and Advanced Calisthenics.
Street Workouts sculpt some of the most aesthetic and athletic physiques I’ve even seen.
The raw strength and power possessed by people who are street workout pros amazes me.
Street workouts are proof you can get ripped without weights. You you need is a little creativity and persistence and you can get jacked and strong like a bull.
Plus you can pull off some cool stunts at the drop of a hat no matter where you are.
You can turn yourself into a human flag using a lamp post or planche on a picnic table.
You can get a great workout anytime, anywhere using nothing but your own body and whatever props happen to be around you!
(If you want to skip right to the workout, scroll to the end of this post.)
Why Street Workouts are Awesome
Besides the coolness factor of being able to spontaneously turn everyones head, there are a lot of health benefits to street workouts.
Street workouts are performed with your own bodyweight, so there’s low injury risk compared to weight training.
Over the past few years, I’ve given a lot of thought to the idea of bodyweight training, advanced calisthenics and street workouts.
My main motivating factors being health reasons and the pursuit of honest and balanced training.
I’ve come to the realization that calisthenics can train your muscles in ways weights can’t:
Moving your body through space at an infinite amount of angles and positions trains every singe muscle fiber in your body at once. Fast twitch or slow twitch, everything is engaged and working together to some degree while performing a handstand or planche.
Calisthenics are the epitome of the phrase “It’s you verses you”, because that’s exactly what it is – you using your body to strengthen and shape your body. Using your creativity and unique mechanics to advance yourself.
Pretty empowering stuff once you realize you inherently possess everything you need to get in great shape.
For example, take a look at olympic gymnasts or Ido Portal. Their bodies are incredible: balanced, symmetrical and extremely strong.
For this article, I’ve enlisted the help of Street workout extraordinaire, Sean B.
Street Workout Training (How to Turn the World into Your Gym)
One day I ran across Sean’s Instagram – @be_impervious, were I saw him turn himself into a flag.
He was suspended several feet in the air, with arms and body fully extended and completely parallel to the ground, gripping a metal post.
“That’s freakin’ awesome”, I said to myself. So I checked out more stuff on his Instagram.
He also pulls off some pretty cool aerial stunts and trains with a unique variety of training you won’t find in a conventional gym.
More than that, this dude is ripped and looks like he’s carved from granite and is undeniably strong.
I was so impressed Sean’s by the strength, balance and body control displayed in his pictures and videos that I reached out to him to learn about his training.
What follows is a great message for anyone looking to try their hand at street workouts.
Sean shares some valuable insight and wisdom making this quick read worth your time. He talks about his experience and approach to street workouts, his fitness philosophy, diet and advice for beginners.
For this point on, Sean’s words are italicized and my questions that I asked him are in bold text.
Why did you pick the name ‘be impervious’?
Honestly, ‘The Impervious’ came to me spontaneously when I was thinking of a name for a character in a video game long ago.
I liked the way it sounded, but didn’t have any idea what it meant, so I just adopted it.
The word basically means impenetrable and unchanging, which is a concept that began to resonate with me as I got older and life got harder.
Basically, we all have goals in fitness and life, but there are many obstacles and distractions that can get in the way, so ‘Be Impervious’ means staying true to your goals and yourself no matter what life throws at you.
When did you get into fitness?
Like any other kid, I played all kinds of sports growing up, but I really got into fitness in college when I walked onto my school’s D1 track and field team as pole vaulter.
I had a major chip on my shoulder because I wasn’t naturally gifted like the other athletes, so I had to work even harder than my peers just to compete.
How long have you been doing calisthenics and street workouts?
I started seriously training just after my 27th birthday (I’m 28), so it’s been a little over a year and half.
What got you interested in calisthenics and street workouts in the first place?
It started with a chance encounter a couple summers ago at a playground near my home in the Boston area.
I stopped by for a quick set of pull ups, and met an exchange student from Italy who was training muscle-ups and front lever.
I’d never see anything like it, even though he explained it was popular overseas, so he sent me some YouTube videos of Frank Medrano, Street Workout World Cup, and such which absolutely blew my mind.
I’d seen many feats of strength before, but nothing was nearly as impressive to me as the moves these Calisthenics athletes were doing.
To me, it was like a combination of classical strength with tricks and style of skateboarding.
Unfortunately there wasn’t much of street workout scene in Boston, but there’s a thriving community on Instagram and YouTube to learn from and find motivation.
Once I tapped into that, I was hooked.
What is a typical workout like for you?
I don’t have a routine I follow, I only start a session with a specific skill I want to train.
From there, I take into account my energy level, free time, and injuries to determine how to make the best use of my resources.
If I can, I try to leave room to try new skills and experiment with different approaches for training my existing skills. A routine rarely takes these factors into account.
If I’m training planche, for example, I always start with wrist and shoulder mobility exercises then 10 min of hand balancing.
I don’t like wasting good, working energy on a warmup, so as soon as my heart rate is up and my body temp is up, I dive right into the hardest progression of the skill I’m training, (full planche, in this case).
Once the quality of the skill training begins to degrade, I’ll either train an easier progression I can do with high quality while fatigued (straddle planche press, for example) or I’ll go right into 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps for strength training (planche pushup, OAPU, impossible dips).
I like to keep the reps low (~30-50/ workout) and the intensity high to maximize the strength gains without wearing out my joints and connective tissue.
How often do you workout, when do you work out and for how long?
There’s more to life than training, the key to happiness is balance and variety!
I train every day I can, and ideally for 1.5-2hrs or until my body gets too fatigued. Unfortunately that’s not usually the case, since I have a career in a completely unrelated field that involves a lot of travel.
I’ve found after work (~5pm) to be the ideal time to train on a 9 to 5 work schedule. At that point in the day, I’ve already put 2 good meal’s worth of energy in me and I’m not as stiff as I would be first thing in the morning.
I’ll get a light workout in the morning when I’m traveling, but I find it difficult to train hard skills still in a fog, and I have trouble rallying for a full day of work after a hard session.
Of course the best time to train is whenever you can do it, but when you’ve got the bug, you find a way to make time!
What is the best way for a beginner to train if they eventually want to advance to be able to do what you do?
Be humble! Everyone has to start somewhere.
I had been lifting weights for years before I started training street workout/calisthenics, but I still had start at the beginning.
Crazy skills are built by making small gains day after day and avoiding injury and burnout.
Don’t be discouraged if progress is not as fast as you want, learn to love the journey and privilege to train each day.
I recommend mastering the 10 bodyweight progressions in Convict Conditioning by Paul “Coach” Wade to get your body ready for hard skill training.
I also recommend everyone unlock the handstand and muscle-up first, as you’ll need those skills to attempt many others.
What are some of your favorite or essential pieces of equipment for calisthenics?
The only ‘essential’ piece of equipment is your body and a little open space!
After that, you’re going to need some type of bar for pulling and hanging skills.
I highly recommend a freestanding design (I got this one: Power Rack) but an Iron Gym or door frame design will also do just fine.
I also highly recommend gymnastics rings, since they’re fairly inexpensive and can be hung from your bar to add significant variety.
Last, I recommend some type of pbars or parallettes for complementing ground work with hand-balancing and pushing/L-sit skills. I made mine with 2″ PVC for <$20 in less than an hour.
What is your diet like?
I always have at least 3 square meals per day.
I usually start with a sausage/bacon, egg, and cheese on a wheat/multigrain bagel for breakfast; a salad with leafy greens (kale, spinach), and a little of everything (chicken/salmon, quinoa, broccoli, blueberries, asparagus, green beans, sweet potato, almonds) for lunch, and dinner is usually a wild card since I’m typically out with friends.
I’ll supplement that with Kind Bars and yogurt throughout the day.
The top priority is to make sure I put enough fuel in my body each day. Never turn your nose up at food if the other option is to go hungry.
What’s Your health/fitness/training/living philosophy?
‘Be Impervious’ to setbacks, criticism, and stagnation.
Lean into pain and stress and let it motivate you to be stronger mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Be sure to follow Sean on instagram @be_impervious for awesome calisthenic and street workout moves and inspiration to turn the World into your gym.
Beginner Street Workout Plan
Street workouts are humbling. And extremely hard. But everything is hard when you first start.
You need to build up your core strength, upper body strength and balance. All of this comes with practice.
Here’s me struggling, sweating and grunting just to support my own bodyweight for a few seconds!
Core strength is super important so every workout I do hanging L-sits and straight are L-sits. I do 4 sets of each and hold my legs straight out as high as I can for as long as I can.
After that,try handstands with wall support. handstand pushups will strengthen your arms and upper body and improve balance.
Here’s a solid street workout for beginners to try:
- Leg Lifts – 3×20
- Pull ups – 3x 10
- Hanging L-Sits 4x 3+seconds (Hold the position as long as you can.)
- Arm Supported L-Sits 4x 3+seconds (Hold the position as long as you can.)
- Handstands/Handstand Pushups. 3×10 reps (or hold the position as long as you can each set).
- Pushups 3x as many reps as possible
- Dips – 3x as many reps as possible
- Planks 3x 30 seconds (increase the difficulty as you get stronger either by planking for longer or doing one arm planks.
Each rep should be slow and controlled.
Workouts can be done every day but no less than four days a week if you want to make progress quickly.
All photos belong to Sean.