Phase two, like phase one, is designed to build conditioning. The main difference between the two – the second begins to get specific.
The movements are still general but I could begin to see their purpose in building the end-stage moves. There is less fluff too. There are only three exercises per session, whittling down from the five in phase one.
Also, phase two increases the difficulty of movements – a completely supported dip becomes a jump to dip, for example.
Aside from that, the second block follows the same structure; three weekly training sessions and two different programs – one above the rings the other below.
What did I like about phase two?
The broad rep range
The trainer is given an opportunity to begin at a point that is manageable for their ability ensuring quality remains high. Expecting a novice to do eight or more reps of a foreign movement is a big ask and is sure to lead to form breakdown or loss of motivation due to an inability to do the necessary work. The rep range for phase two begins at five reps – a number that doesn’t daunt the newbie.
An opportunity to practice
The structure of the program – having only two sessions – gives the user an opportunity to regularly practice the movements. When first attempting the shoulder stand, I thought I should cut my losses and end the program there. My form was horrendous and I worried whether it would get better. But sure enough I saw improvement. The more I did the movement the less I ‘muscled’ my way through and found the key was technique not bruce force.
What improvements could be made to phase two?
Offer advice for common problems
I battled with certain movements – namely the L-Sit. Although the program called for a watered down version of the full movement, I still felt my form wasn’t up to standard. Rather than my torso being vertical and perpendicular to the ground, I found myself titling forward.
GMB does have a troubleshooting section but it lack specificity. The L-Sit tutorial is mainly centred on building the movement on the paralletes and makes note that an L-Sit is more challenging on the rings, given their wobbly, ever-moving nature.
Including regressions, even if this takes the user away from the rings, would be a step forward. It provides a chance to begin at a starting point where good form is ensured rather than completing the exercise in a substandard fashion.
Exercises should progress within the phase
Wholsesale changes occur when moving between phases but during a phase the movements remain the same for the course of that phase. This limits the user in two ways:
- The not-so-competent trainer struggles to find a good starting point and is playing catch-up for the entirety of the phase. Form and enjoyment suffers.
- The competent trainer my find herself growing bored with the tedious repetition of moves hampering enjoyment and stunting progress.
Is there room to include movement variability? Absolutely. The program should include prompts for what to look for so the trainer knows when to progress – hitting a certain rep and set milestone, for instance.
What have I learnt from the program?
I need to improve my shoulder control; the unstable nature of the rings has shown that. When working on the L-Sit and even the dips, I regularly found my shoulders around my ears, as I couldn’t maintain adequate scapular depression. Another sign of poor shoulder stability was my tendency to keep my elbows too flexed when the movement called for a straight arm position – the skin the cat exercise, for example. This shows I have to rely on my biceps to achieve the requisite stability demanded by the movement.
Also, a key point for the shoulder stand manoeuvre is the need to keep the forearms and elbows tucked in. Once I achieved this, getting into the correct position – and maintaining it – became a lot easier.
Stay tuned for phase three.