My Current Workout: “Get Strong” by the Brothers Kavadlo

On October 19th and 20th, 2019 I attended the Dragon Door Progressive Calisthenics Clinic in New York City. The class was taught by my two favorite fitness people: Al and Danny Kavadlo. I have a lot of heroes in the calisthenics and fitness industry, but these two are by far the top of the heap. If this were old school bodybuilding, they would be Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane.

The clinic was two days of calisthenics instruction, lectures and hands on practice, about 15 hours of total time. We learned how to progress from simpler calisthenics skills to more difficult ones, and the class was geared towards trainers and coaches. At the end we were tested on “the century”, which was 40 squats, 30 push ups, 20 hanging knee raises and 10 pull ups in 8 minutes. Form was strict and your reps were judged. You could NOT break posture or rest and each rep had to be a full range of motion. I passed (barely), which meant I got an instructor certification. Probably about 7 or 8 students did not pass.

The class taught me many things, not the least of which is that Danny and Al are even more awesome in person that I thought they would be. The other thing I learned is that I am very strong in the basics, which is no surprise, since I’ve been training the basics for years now. But I also learned that I am very weak at the more complicated things for the most part. Especially things that require my head to be upside down. Any kind of handstand or skin-the-cat was next to impossible for me. Balancing was also ridiculously difficult.

Therefore, I bought Danny and Al’s book “Get Strong”, had them sign it (of course),

and decided to get started on the training program right away. Get Strong is a 16 week program of progressive calisthenics in four phases of four weeks each. From week to week you add reps and exercises and sets and then at the end of each phase you must pass a test in order to progress to the next phase. By the end, provided I can handle it, I will be doing some of the more complex moves such as pistol squats, archer push ups, and handstands.

I don’t really like taking days off, but this program is difficult enough that I have to. And I have to force myself and my wandering mind to stay the course here and perform all the workouts exactly as written. It is working. Already I feel a lot stronger and more balanced, and I feel like my posture is much better and my various aches and pains have improved.

I was able to “test in” to Phase 2 week 2 by taking the prior test. Now I’m in Phase 3, week two. The first few phases involved three whole-body workouts a week and now I am splitting upper-body and lower-body with one day of rest between. So I do two upper-body workouts a week and two lower-body workouts a week with one day of rest between.

Here’s what I am doing this week:

Day 1

Feet elevated push up: 3 x 12

Pull up: 2 x 6

Feet elevated pike push up: 3 x 6

Chin up: 2 x 6

Hanging leg raise: 3 x 6

Wall handstand: 2 x 40 seconds (this one is very difficult for me)

Day 2

Squat: 2 x 30

Assisted one-leg squat: 3 x 8

Drinking bird: 3 x 12

Bulgarian split squat: 3 x 12

Candlestick bridge: 3 x 6

Published by FormIsEverything

Primal health and fitness coach

4 thoughts on “My Current Workout: “Get Strong” by the Brothers Kavadlo

    1. Thank you for you comment and compliment. I didn’t finish Get Strong. The handstands are what I can’t handle. But I did get a lot out of the program. Generally, though, I’m happy with doing the basics.


      1. One of the reasons i like your site is your honesty! I can totally relate to NEVER sticking to a program! I read a book or article and I’m off in a new direction. At 65 I think I have finally found out that calisthenics might be the answer. The very last thing I want to do is hurt myself. I love the idea of perfecting form. Great choice of name tag, it says it all. I just need to calm the hell down and work the basics with a long term goal! From my reading of your site it sounds like volume for many months is the first step. Check out Jerry Teixeira YouTube channel, I really like his stuff too.
        Congrats on getting certified that must have been a fun weekend. Those guys are so damn strong…but lean, blows my mind!


      2. Thanks for all the feedback. I still fight the urge to head off in a new direction. For me it comes down to trying to figure out just what I want. Sometimes I think I want to build muscle as the focus, so I will work on hypertrophy programming, but then I realize that’s not what I want. Then it’s skills… Finally I end up back in the same place of just staying consistent and strong with calisthenics. It’s really the way to go especially if you want to avoid injury. You might like Marcus Bondi and Steve Maxwell. Marcus is 54 and sets records for rope climb and such. Steve is I think mid 60s and helps to rehabilitate people with chronic injuries from a lifetime of weightlifting and such. His thing is mobility and flexibility, which I need to work on. I will check out Jerry Teixeira.


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