I touched on this in episode #13 of the podcast, but experimentation is an important aspect of training. It is a way to test the waters, and see not only where you stand when it comes to a certain technique, but it will also help you discover what you enjoy doing. A question that I’ve been asked in the past is, how do you know when to progress? Experimentation plays a big part in this because one of the ways I determine this is how successfully I can perform a more difficult variation with proper technique. More often than not, I am able to perform the more difficult variation, but with loose technique. At that point, if I feel that I can perform this loose technique safely, I acknowledge where I need to improve then use regressions to help build a stronger foundation. As I develop strength over time, I will begin to incorporate the more difficult variation in my workouts to a greater degree. A good example of this from my experience is the pistol squat. To this day, I use regressions to improve my technique, but when I was first performing it, I was always testing myself to see where my technique was at, and pushing it just a bit further to see whether it would hold. I still do that with different pistol squat variations but at this level, I experiment with things like arm placement. It’s also important to consider that it might not be strength that you are lacking. Mastering many techniques within calisthenics requires development in skills such as balance, proprioception, coordination, and flexibility. It is important to include them in the overall equation. That is why it is so important to experiment, it gives you a snapshot of your current capabilities so you can decide how to move forward.
It was because I began to appreciate the value of experimentation that I employed the training method of having three techniques within a certain muscle group that I would prioritize. I’ve discussed these before but the first is a variation that I can perform very comfortably, maintaining proper technique throughout, the second being a more challenging variation that I can perform with proper technique, but less comfortably, and third a variation that is the most challenging. More specifically, the third variation is generally one in which my technique can be much improved, and I am working toward achieving its ideal. The first two variations are there in order to build a greater foundation for the third. Carefully analyze where your weaknesses are when you try a new technique, and begin to improve them using regressions. Not only that, but by performing the new, more difficult variation, it will also help develop the necessary confidence, skill, and strength you need to tighten up technique. What constitutes tightening up you ask?
Check out the full episode of the podcast at the links above to learn more!