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The School of Calisthenics

School of Calisthenics

The School of Calisthenics will see you now!

We have some exciting news.  We have been working with the guys at ‘The School of Calisthenics’ based in Nottingham and we are pleased to announce that Xorbars will be endorsing their calisthenics training programs along with their workshops and classes.

The School Of Calisthenics

Why Choose the School of Calisthenics?

There are many training programs, videos and people out there offering their incite into calisthenics training and like with all things some of it is good and some of it no so.  Here at Xorbars we take a great deal of pride in our calisthenics products and therefore will only tell you about people and companies that take the same level of pride in what they do.

These guys are serious professionals. We are talking Sports Science Degrees here not that quick two week course on personal training.  They clearly understand the human body and how to maximize your training progression quickly and safely.  So what are you waiting for?  Take a look at the three main ways the School of Calisthenics can help you achieve the impossible!

The Calisthenics Framework to Training

The School of Calisthenics Framework provides athletes with a progressive system that enables students to learn and achieve the various skills and movements in calisthenics. The calisthenics framework used by the School of Calisthenics caters for all ability levels, and will provide you with the exercises necessary to begin or support your calisthenics journey. Applying the framework and training at the right level of difficulty will support you to achieve your calisthenics goals.

All you have to do is add is some time, persistence and consistency. Do that and the framework will take you there.

Options 1: Download their Calisthenics Training Books

The School of Calisthenics has free training books on calsithenics as well as some specialist training books on those must master movements like the human flag – and yes with these guys, you really can do it.

Option 2: Sign up for their Virtual Classroom

  • Beginners Online Training Classroom: Follow the weekly beginners lessons to develop your skills, build strength and get fit. With lessons and tests on mobility, strength and skill development.
  • Join the Virtual Classroom and become part of a community of like minded calisthenics ‘students’ to help support and encourage each other.
  • Challenge yourself and develop your calisthenics skills at your own pace with lessons, hints and tips from our expert tutors.
  • Powered by Edufii, a purpose built app designed for coaching and education our tutors will give you personal individualised coaching and feedback.
  • Don’t get stuck and frustrated, join the virtual classroom and get coached from anywhere in the world.
  • Sign up for the Beginners Classroom for only £9.99 ($12.49) per month.

Option 3: Take Part in their Calisthenics Workshop

That’s right!  You can actually train with these super fit guys and take your calisthenics training to the next level. The tutors provide workshops not just teaching the School of Calisthenics Framework but educating you in understanding how to develop and to continue to progress your calisthenics journey.

“Great progressions and suitable for all levels. Stimulated both mind and muscle. The tutors created a great learning environment which was challenging but fun!” – Owen Jackson

School of Calisthenics
39 Fernleigh Avenue,
Tel: 07738008145
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Back Levers with Xorbars

back levers tutorial

How to do the Back Lever exercise, muscles worked, and a video tutorial.

Often performed in Calisthenics, Street Workout, and CrossFit, the Back Lever is one of the fundamental static strength holds in Gymnastics. It can be performed on rings, or a pull-up bar.

This was one of the first impressive gymnastic holds that I managed to attain. I remember feeling such a sense of accomplishment when I could do the straight-leg (“Full”) version.

Muscles Worked

Where do I start? This is a total body exercise!

The Back Lever is a static strength exercise. I find it works my Lats, Upper Back and Posterior Deltoids (Shoulders) very hard.

Surprisingly, one of the weakest links is the lower back.  Most people aren’t used to lifting their hips up like this in any gym based exercises—so you may find that you’re strong enough in the upper body to hold the position, but too weak in the lower back to extend your legs.

Other supporting muscles worked to a lesser extent are the Abs, Glutes, Pectorals and Quadriceps.

Prerequisites for the Back Lever

  • Must be able to do Skin the Cat [Here] for 15-30 seconds continuously, otherwise you might rip your shoulders off. ? Preferably you can also roll back up in a tucked position
  • 6 Pull-ups or Chin-ups

Back Lever Exercise Technique

Always begin exercise with a dynamic stretching warm up [Click Here].

Then do a few reps of Skin the Cat in a not very taxing manner, to further warm up the area and avoid injury.

The Back Lever puts a lot of strain on your shoulders, biceps and elbows, so it’s best to really take your time moving from one progression to the next, otherwise you can end up with an injury thattakes months to recover from. 

  • Progression 1: Tuck Back Lever
  • Progression 2: Advanced Tuck (similar to the shape of a dining room chair)
  • Progression 3: One-leg straight
  • Progression 4: Alternating one-leg straight (like bicycling)
  • Progression 5: Full Back Lever (straight legs)

After this you can progress to Back Lever Pullouts, which is doing the Back Lever down to Skin the Cat, and then pulling your body back up to an Inverted Hang.

Pullouts are a lot harder than lowering! Once you’ve mastered the Full Back Lever as a static hold, you may find you’re only able to do Pullouts with a tucked body (rather than straight legs). It’ll take time to build the strength to do it with straight legs.

Watch the video tutorial


Technique faults to look out for

  • Body not horizontal — you’ll make quicker progress when you practice this exercise with a Calisthenics Instructor, rather than on your own, as you think you’re horizontal, but you’re probably slightly above it
  • Hand width — don’t make the grip too close, otherwise you won’t be able to do pullouts

George Choy (Certified Calisthenics Instructor)

For more information on George Choy or to visit his excellent website for more workouts and healthy eating tips and recipes, please visit

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Inverted Rows using Xorbars

back rows

This blog post will teach you why Inverted Rows (a.k.a. Body Rows, Australian Rows or Incline Rows) are great for your upper back and arms, how to get started, and how to progress the exercise from relatively easy, to brutal!

Why you should do Inverted Rows

One of the problems of exercising in the gym, particularly for a relative beginner, is you’re just not lifting heavy enough.  Consequently, pull-ups may seem way out of reach. So you just grind out a few reps with dumbbell or cable rows, and the lat pulldown machine, with what you think is a moderately heavy weight.

It’s only when you start doing Inverted Rows, that you realise you were taking it way too easy on yourself. Inverted Rows are suitable for all strength levels, as you can progress the exercise from super-easy, to so difficult that you can’t even perform 1 repetition!

If you suffer from lower back pain, then Inverted Rows are a much better alternative to dumbbell or barbell rows, as this exercise puts a lot less strain on your lower back.

It also works in the opposing direction to the Bench Press or Push Up, so can help to correct that hunched-forward “ape” look, if you’ve been over-doing it on the horizontal pressing.

Muscles worked by Inverted Rows

This is a great overall exercise for the upper-back and arms. It helps to create that V-shape by working the Lats (that muscle under your arm-pit), Rhomboids and Trapezius (middle back), rear Deltoid (shoulders), and Biceps.

Once you get started on the rows, you’ll soon discover that the exercise also works your core, as it’s like a moving plank.

Equipment Required

You can do this exercise with a static bar. But if the bar is completely fixed, then it’s difficult to progress. If you’re in a gym, then the Smith Machine is perfect for this exercise, as you can adjust the height of the bar to increase the difficulty level.

My preference for this exercise is suspension equipment, such as gymnastics rings, or TRX, as you can put them up anywhere and they are easily adjusted.  They also make the exercise more difficult than performing on a bar, due to the stability issue.

Warm Up

Always begin exercise with a dynamic stretching warm up [Click Here].

If you’re going to try low reps with maximum resistance, then additionally do 1-2 warm-up sets of easier Inverted Rows beforehand.


Safety first—check your equipment is definitely fixed and can take your weight before you start leaning back.

I always jump up onto my gymnastics rings in a dip position, or just hang underneath with tucked legs, before I start my first set.  Things can move, so I always perform this double-check.

If cables are sliding, then you haven’t fixed them correctly.

Inverted Rows—Technique

I’ll refer to the anchor point during the technique—assume this is where the rings or TRX are hung, and there’s an imaginary vertical line from there straight down to the floor.  If you’re using a fixed bar, then it’s that.

For your first time, set the level of the rings or bar just under chest height, then adjust afterwards, depending on your strength levels.

Getting in Position-Inverted Rows—Why And How You Should Do Them - VISIT #followme #instalike #fitnessblogger #fitspo #traininsaneoremainthesame #beastmode #mblogger #dblogger #pblogger #FitnessFriday #fitfam #exercise #workout #fitness #outdoorfitness #gainz #CrossFit #Bodyweight #fitdad #FitdadsofIg #fitdaddy #thefitandactiveparents #muscle #lats
I exercise on a customised Xorbars Multi-Gym in my garden

Starting position:

  • Stand facing the anchor point and grip the:
  • Rings / TRX in a neutral “hammer” grip position.
  • bar with an over-hand grip (palms facing away from you), shoulder-width apart.
  • Walk forward slightly, to ideally create a 45 degree angle with your body (the further your feet go past the anchor point, the harder this exercise becomes).
  • Before you stretch your arms to lower your body, brace your core and bend one leg at the knee, to support yourself as you lower.
  • Then put both legs together.
  • When your feet get further and further away from the anchor point, I find it more comfortable to do the exercise on my heels, rather than a flat foot.

Inverted Rows-Start—Why And How You Should Do Them - VISIT #followme #instalike #fitnessblogger #fitspo #traininsaneoremainthesame #beastmode #mblogger #dblogger #pblogger #FitnessFriday #fitfam #exercise #workout #fitness #outdoorfitness #gainz #CrossFit #Bodyweight #fitdad #FitdadsofIg #fitdaddy #thefitandactiveparents #muscle #lats


  • Keeping your entire body in a straight line (and remembering to contract your abs), pull your body towards the rings / bar.
  • Keep your elbows in, and “graze” the inside of your arms against your ribs, until your hands reach your chest.
  • Try to keep your chest puffed out, so that you get a good squeeze of the shoulder blades at the top. I like to hold it for 1 second.
  • If there’s slack in the cable, or you are standing completely upright with no effort, then position your legs further forward, to increase the difficulty.
  • After the squeeze, lower your body by extending your arms back to the starting position.
  • Remember to keep your body tight and in a straight line throughout the exercise (not bowed like a banana).
  • Repeat—pulling yourself back up again.

Inverted Rows-Finish—Why And How You Should Do Them - VISIT #followme #instalike #fitnessblogger #fitspo #traininsaneoremainthesame #beastmode #mblogger #dblogger #pblogger #FitnessFriday #fitfam #exercise #workout #fitness #outdoorfitness #gainz #CrossFit #Bodyweight #fitdad #FitdadsofIg #fitdaddy #thefitandactiveparents #muscle #lats

Finishing the exercise:

Bend one leg at the knee to help support your body, then stand up.

How to make Inverted Rows more difficult

Go horizontal

Keep walking your feet forward until your arms are hanging directly below the anchor point. Adjust the hight of the rings / bar so that your body hangs only a few inches from the floor.

Feet elevated Inverted Rows

Elevated Inverted Rows-Start—Why And How You Should Do Them - VISIT #followme #instalike #fitnessblogger #fitspo #traininsaneoremainthesame #beastmode #mblogger #dblogger #pblogger #FitnessFriday #fitfam #exercise #workout #fitness #outdoorfitness #gainz #CrossFit #Bodyweight #fitdad #FitdadsofIg #fitdaddy #thefitandactiveparents #muscle #lats

Elevated Inverted Rows-Finish—Why And How You Should Do Them - VISIT #followme #instalike #fitnessblogger #fitspo #traininsaneoremainthesame #beastmode #mblogger #dblogger #pblogger #FitnessFriday #fitfam #exercise #workout #fitness #outdoorfitness #gainz #CrossFit #Bodyweight #fitdad #FitdadsofIg #fitdaddy #thefitandactiveparents #muscle #latsHanging directly below the anchor point, put your feet on a bench and then row.

Front Lever rows

Tucked Front Lever Inverted Rows-Start—Why And How You Should Do Them - VISIT #followme #instalike #fitnessblogger #fitspo #traininsaneoremainthesame #beastmode #mblogger #dblogger #pblogger #FitnessFriday #fitfam #exercise #workout #fitness #outdoorfitness #gainz #CrossFit #Bodyweight #fitdad #FitdadsofIg #fitdaddy #thefitandactiveparents #muscle #lats

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This is a tremendous increase in resistance. Front Lever’s are a foundation exercise in Calisthenics and Gymnastics. Just holding the position is one thing…trying to row at the same time, is a whole new “ball game!” Most people will not be strong enough to do this exercise:

  • hang under the anchor point
  • tuck your knees to your chest, and lift your body up so that your back is reasonably horizontal. You’ll be facing the ceiling
  • pull your body to the handles / bar
  • hold the top position for 1 second if you can
  • lower under control, and keep your body horizontal throughout the entire exercise
  • as you become stronger, you can extend your legs, and push yourself further away from the anchor point, so that you look like your doing an upside-down push up—that’s the full Front Lever

George Choy (Certified Calisthenics Instructor)

For more information on George Choy or to visit his excellent website for more workouts and healthy eating tips and recipes, please visit

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Skin the Cat with Xorbars

skin the cat with xorbars

How to do the Skin the Cat exercise, muscles worked, and a video tutorial.

Muscles Worked

This is a great exercise that I always do at the end of my workout, to increase shoulder mobility, and feel a great stretch. I like to hang for 15 seconds or more.

Skin the Cat works most of your body—you’ll need strong Lats and Abs just to get into the starting position of an Inverted Hang. Your Posterior Deltoids (Shoulders), Upper Back and Lats will get quite a workout.

If you want to safely progress to learning the Back Lever exercise, then you need to master Skin the Cat first.

Prerequisites for Skin the Cat Exercise

  • 6 Pull-ups or Chin-ups
  • Hold an Inverted Hang for at least 10 seconds continuously

Equipment Required

You can do this exercise on Gymnastics Rings, a Pull-up bar, or a sturdy bar in a playground. It’s safer to start with a low-level bar (like railings) when you’re first learning the exercise, so you don’t have far to fall.

Skin the Cat Exercise Technique

Always begin exercise with a dynamic stretching warm up [Click Here].

Starting with a low-level bar:

  • Hold the bar with an over-hand grip, shoulder-width apart
  • Bring your knees to your chest and lean your body backwards, until you’re hanging inverted and your feet have cleared the bar
  • Keeping your knees tight to your chest, lower and stretch as far as you find comfortable—this must be a controlled decent
  • Use your feet to stop your decent, then let go of the bar and repeat


  • This exercise could have a high risk of injury, so take your time to slowly increase the stretch, so you don’t rip your shoulders off ? …or fall on your head!
  • Some people feel a prickling sensation in their upper back the first few times they try this exercise, so work the area slowly, going back and forth whenever you feel the prickles. Eventually you’ll stop feeling this, but it may take a couple of workouts.
  • Take your time to progress from one stage to the next, in order to avoid injury.

Progression 1: Extended legs with support

  • Ideally use a medium height bar that allows you to extend your legs further than a tuck, and be able to comfortably touch the ground, to support some of the weight.
  • Once you’re comfortable with a deep stretch, you can carefully lift your feet, and take the full weight on your shoulders.

Progression 2: Extended legs with no support

  • Move to a high bar that will not allow your feet to touch the ground
  • Once your feet have passed the bar, you can bring your knees over your head in a pike position (straight legs, bent at the hips)
  • Stretch all the way down
  • Let go when you’re finished

Progression 3: Roll back up

  • Rather than letting go of the bar at the end, you can roll back up to the inverted position
  • Start with tucked knees to begin with, and gradually work up to the pike version.

Watch the video tutorial

George Choy (Certified Calisthenics Instructor)

For more information on George Choy or to visit his excellent website for more workouts and healthy eating tips and recipes, please visit