Bodyweight training has been at the forefront of my mind for the past 6 months. Having had the opportunity to experience different disciplines within this style of training I became fascinated with the ability to develop certain skills, such as the ring muscle up.
Although I continue to learn lessons during classes at Movement Co, tailoring a program to the specific skills I wish to develop appealed to me.
Scouring the internet brought Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low to my attention. This was consolidated by the good ratings and reviews received, coupled with a recommendation from Tom Merrick of Vitality and Agility.
My hope from reading this text was to gain an appreciation of the progressions within bodyweight training, as well as the practical know how of devising a personalised, strategic and progressive program.
In Summary –
Overcoming Gravity is divided into three main sections. The first of which, ‘How to construct your own workout routine’ takes a look at:
- The fundamental principles of bodyweight training, such as the importance of understanding leverage (and how this dictates progression)
- Goal setting
- Ensuring structural balance
- Developing an optimal workout hierarchy
- Programming and advancement
- Overtraining versus overreaching
Part two of the book deals primarily with injury management and prevention. Steven Low uses his Physical Therapy background in covering topics such as:
- Pain versus soreness
- Acute injury versus chronic injury
- Evaluating injury severity
- Programming around injury
- Common injuries
- Prehabilitation, such as joint preparation
The final part of the book offers reference material including:
- Sample programming
- Exercise progressions from basic to complex (including key things to keep in mind, as well as diagrams to represent correct form)
The final section of the book (part 3) is not something you would read through, like sections one and two. As the name suggests, it provides a useful reference point when you’re working on developing the planche, for instance, and want to know what regressive movements will help you get to your desired goal.
Key Lessons Learnt –
There are certainly some nuggets within Overcoming Gravity. My key takeaways included:
- Programming for bodyweight training is hard! Compared to traditional weight training, progressing as a bodyweight athlete is far from linear. Leverage is a very important variable as Steven explains, and is one key component in progressing through a movement.
- The importance of establishing balance. Low makes the point that many gymnastic movements are push dominant, which could lead to over development of certain areas of the body. He then offers useful tips to counteract this issue. For instance, goal setting should incorporate an equal number of push and pull goals. Another point is the value of working towards manna (beginning with L-sit variations).
- Combining compression work with lower limb mobility was a tip I found to be valuable. This stresses the importance of first establishing the requisite flexibility (stretching), then working through your newly established range to improve mobility.
Overcoming Gravity does has its flaws. I took issue with…
- The constant grammatical and punctual errors. They are an annoyance, slowing down reading time and fluency. I am by no means an English snob, and completely understand if English is not Low’s first language. However, if you’re selling a product for nearly $50, you’d expect a pretty polished article. I suspect (hope) the second edition, which is nearing release, will remedy this.
- After completing the first section of the book (creating a routine), I didn’t feel I possessed the necessary tools to create my own program. Although the author covers topics like desired reps before progressing, the lack of practical examples left me confused and frustrated as I tried to build my routine. This came as a huge disappointment. I’m sure I’ll improve my understanding upon reading through this section again, though my desire to do so is curtailed by the poor readability and verbose nature of the text as a whole.
Who Is This Book For?
Intermediate and advanced bodyweight athletes.
As a beginner, Overcoming Gravity left me wanting. The second section of the book (relating to injury prevention, management and prehabilitation) is a solid resource for novices. Though what I deemed to be the crux, i.e. programming and progression, was not easily digestible and applicable.
As I gather experience, I feel this resource will become more valuable. Though for the time being, I lack the skills and confidence to devise my own routine (hence why I have recently commenced GMB’s Integral Strength program).
I’d love to hear about your experience with Overcoming Gravity. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.