Started from the bottom, now we here!


What’s cracking ninjas?!? Today I wanted to discuss push-ups! Why you ask? Because I see folks at the gym on a daily basis banging em out with some ugly form! This happens to be one of my strongest moves, but I didn’t get here by pumping out endless reps of ugliness!

I started from the bottom now I’m here! 😉

I had a client recently who I regressed from a knees down push-up to an incline push-up because her form was not ideal. She put up a bit of a fight because she felt embarrassed that she had been reduced to this exercise. Placing her hands on an inclined surface definitely cleaned up her form exponentially and made the reps more manageable for her level!


The point of this story is there is nothing wrong with working easier moves. I can already do a 1-arm push-up; however, this doesn’t mean that I jump right into that progression every time I train. Some days I enjoy warming up with incline and knees-down push-ups to ease into my session. Just how in weightlifting you gradually increase the weight; you don’t just start a beginner with a double-bodyweight deadlift. The same is true of Calisthenics, but since there are no actual “weights,” we just manipulate the “leverage” of our bodyweight.


My suggestion is when you can bang out a solid 30 reps of each move: the incline push-up and the knees-down push-up then you’re ready to take on the standard push-up! If you are a beginner and 30 sounds insane, break it down into 3 sets of 10 reps! When should you start? As soon as you are through reading this blog! I sprinkle in reps anytime I feel the urge to train! This is a great way of “greasing the groove,” and progressing faster in this or other moves.

As far as form goes, a push-up is a moving plank. This means “zip up” the midline by squeezing your glutes to avoid a sagging waist. Press down through the palm of the hands and all ten fingers in order to create a strong base and help you avoid “energy leakages.” If your fingers and hands aren’t actively pressing down, then it will become increasingly difficult to achieve more repetitions. “Breathing to the beat” definitely helps me max out! I like to inhale on the descent and exhale as I push up!


The reason why I enjoy teaching progressive Calisthenics is because there are so many ways to break down each exercise so no one is excluded! I’m talkin men, women, abuelos, y abuelas…there’s a starting point for all levels! You should never feel embarrassed or ashamed to start with Step 1! There are a ton of moves on the fringe even for me! If you feel a tad frustrated with your progress, translate that to passion, ninja! You want to get better and there is nothing wrong with that! Just because you are at the level your at, doesn’t mean your not getting stronger along the way! That should be a comforting side-effect! 😀 Keep practicing and stay true to the path! If ninja training was easy, everyone would be doing it!

If you are interested in deepening your knowledge of Calisthenics, check out Pushing The Limits, by Al Kavadlo or Convict Conditioning by Coach Paul Wade. If you ❤ it, then definitely consider signing up for the Progressive Calisthenics certification taught by Al and Danny Kavadlo based on the Convict Conditioning curriculum!

Peace, Love, and Ninja Kicks!

-G to the Izzle

10 Replies to “Started from the bottom, now we here!”

  1. Grace,

    Thank you for an informative, humbling, and motivating article!

    Being a calisthenics athlete for about a year and a half, I can still vividly remember my first time transitioning from weighted to body weight training.

    I was working on a cruise ship at the time, isolated from my past life and the ideologies that were imposed on me from birth, and two things changed in the way I thought about health:

    1. Is it necessary to consume the flesh and secretions of animals, as well as synthetic science experiments to be in optimal health?

    2. Is it necessary to use external weights to build a fully functional, impressively strong, and aesthetically appealing body?

    The answer to both of those questions is no, and I, as well as many others, am living proof.

    I dropped the weights and hit the internet to find out where I could learn more about body weight training (“calisthenics” was still an unknown term to me then. Lo and behold, some of the first articles, videos, and books I came across were by none other than Al Kavadlo and Coach Wade.

    After cracking open their treasure tomes of information, I saw the first progressions of movements…wall push-ups, vertical pulls, and other moves that I felt I was “too good” for.

    Then, my rational side kicked in. If I was going to build a body and mind that would provide me a life of vitality, I’m going to start from the very first step and build the best foundation possible.

    Brick by brick, I was determined to earn a life of optimal health by laying out the best foundation possible.,

    Now, over a year after calisthenics training has entered and transformed my life, I had decided a few months ago to begin including gymnastics training into my life alongside the calisthenics.

    Did I laugh at the knee push-ups? Did I ignore the assisted squats?

    Heck no.

    I learned through calisthenics that, with anything in life, building a solid, dependable, and perfect foundation through smart planning and hard work is the most important step in building a life of your design.

    And so, I start from the very beginning in everything I do to ensure I do things right for the rest of my days. That’s the invaluable lesson I learned from calisthenics.

    Your post perfectly emulates this lesson, and is a real motivator to anyone who may feel as if they’re “regressing” when they switch over to the beginner fundamentals.

    For those of you who still feel you’re to good to even consider a wall push-up as training, know that the idea of regression is all in your mind and that objective progress is what you’re commanding into reality.

    Thanks again, Grace, not many posts get me fired up to comment like so!

    Infinite gratitude,
    Markos J.K.
    Warrior-in-chief of

  2. Hey Grace (yeah it’s me again ;)), great reminder to getting back to step one from time to time. Check out my take on push-ups, let me know how you like it (maybe I missed something?). I would be super-stoked about your advice.


  3. Wow Markos, you just contributed a blog post within a blog post! Now that’s the mark of a serious writer! 😉 Thank you for sharing your journey to strength and wellness with me! I loved this quote especially, “I learned through calisthenics that, with anything in life, building a solid, dependable, and perfect foundation through smart planning and hard work is the most important step in building a life of your design.”
    That was brilliantly expressed, my friend! I almost feel like I could write another post just about that quote! I just peeped your blog but I am excited to read it! You look like you have covered some pretty extensive topics! If they are anything like this comment, then I’m in for a real treat! I appreciate the support from a fellow blogger.
    Are you blogging about your gymnastics training yet? I’m dying to hear about that experience as I have also been seeking out a studio where I can learn from some real pros, too! I especially want to mess around on their springy floors and bars!
    Thanks for enthusiastically supporting this post! I look forward to reading some of your work!
    Have a great day, Warrior!

  4. Hey Grace!

    I’ve been following Al Kavadlo for a while, how come I never seen this?! 🙂 Anyway, I love your articles and workout suggestions.

    This one is spot on, very humbling. I’ve been training calisthenics for a long while myself, and once in a while I like to get back to the purest of basic exercises and consolidate them.

    Keep the awesome writing coming!

    All the best,

    1. Hey there Marco! I’m so happy you came across my blog! I apologize for the delay in reply! This is why I should never reply to messages on my phone, I thought I had already written back to you! But that was to the Marco below! Thank you for taking the time to read my article! I’m a big fan of Al as well! 😉 He’s the one that inspired me to start training Calisthenics, as well as encouraging me to write and blog about my experience!
      Are you working on any moves currently? I’ve been working pistols on my left side as well as on my handstand! Push-ups are the business though! Have you read any of the Convict Conditioning series? I’m excited for Explosive calisthenics to come out as I am working also on being more explosive!
      You see? I just get carried away with enthusiasm.
      Anyway, thanks again for the message! You rock!

      1. Hey-hey… Hey Grace! No problem at all, I appreciate you still arrange some time to reply. 🙂 Training with Al must be amazing, he’s so awesome! And now you’re getting as awesome as he is! You two are the best. Well, I’ve been working on my Muscle-ups and Typewriters until… it started to rain non-stop. Now I work on my basic at home, and also trying to improve Pistols and Handstands! Although I can’t seem to gain the courage to try the Handstand off the wall yet.. Completely agree, what are your favorite type of Push-ups? Keep being awesome and stay well! A huge shout out to Al K too!

      2. LOL, nice intro! I’m trying to think of an equally catchy…catch phrase! 😉 Al is the man! I’ve made huge strides having him coach me this past year! Thank you for the kind words, dude! Typewriters! Whoa! That’s the pull-up move where you move side to side at the top of the bar?? If that’s it, that’s a dope move! I wish we had a pull-up bar at home, cos it’s hella cold to be training at TSP this time of year! This is why my focus has been on push-ups and pistols….and handstands! My favorite type of push-up is the archer push-up! But plyometrics are everything! I want to be able to do like 5 superman push-ups in a row! What’s your favorite push-up ?
        As far as your handstand goes…can you do a cartwheel? Learning how to fall “gracefully” out of the handstand is what gave me the courage to try it away from the wall! You can always cartwheel out of it, if you can’t stick it!
        Have a great day, bro!!!

      3. Ahah, thanks! I’ll be looking forward to hear your catchy phrase! I’m glad you made all that progress with him, and you’re welcome, you and him deserve the best! I hope one day I’ll be able to do a training with you two somewhere in NYC or.. Portugal. 🙂 And yes, that’s the move. It’s kinda hard but awesome! How are you on those? Doing the movement on Australian Pull-ups helps a lot too. 5 Superman Push-ups in a row, damn! 🙂 Go for it! My favorite is the Diamond Push-up! I know it’s basic, but I love that move. It’s simple and works everything.. Oh, I haven’t tried that cartwheel move.. I may soon, thank you so much for the advice! Stay well and if you haven’t done your workout of the day, have a nice one! All the best!

  5. Love this article. It really breaks things down in a way thats helpful to beginners and more experienced people who just want to improve too cuz the details are so strong. Nice.

    1. Greetings Dany!
      I’m stoked you enjoyed the article! I love to cater my tutorials to beginners, that are getting started and well, don’t know where to begin! I had a lot of guidance from the Kavadlo bros and the Convict Conditioning books! They completely changed my life! Are you working on improving your push-ups?

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