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If you’ve ever taken to doing a Google search about fitness programs to find which is the best one (no, this doesn’t count as a workout in itself) you’ve likely come across a whole host of different options.
The problem with the fitness industry is that ripped abs and bulging muscles are shown off all over the place. In reality, a lot of people are only able to get the body of a model because they are paid to spend all their time looking that way.
When it comes to every-day people with busy lives, you’d be hard pressed to point to anyone you know who has a full-time job outside of the fitness industry and looks like their body is permanently photo shopped.
If you do know someone like that, chances are they are incredibly committed and a lot of their life is focused around a fitness lifestyle.
Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. In fact, most people are constantly striving towards a healthier lifestyle that will make them happy as well as having a well-shaped body.
So, what’s the rub? Why is it that so many of us struggle year in, year out and every New Year’s Eve we find ourselves making the same fitness resolutions we failed to meet for the previous 5 years?
In short, there is no one answer. The closest that I can come to answering is to say that everyone has a different body, a different mindset and a different program or combination of exercises (and diet) that will help them reach their (different) goals and that, unfortunately, many of us haven’t found this magic combination yet.
Now, back to your Google search.
If you’ve been clicking around for a while you may have come across the term calisthenics. As with all fitness programs designed around one particular type of exercise, there are always topless individuals with bulging biceps or tight flat stomachs, but what exactly is calisthenics and why does it clearly work for some people?
The term calisthenics refers to an exercise program made of exclusively body-weight exercises, often with the help of a bar or several bars to help you swing your way to a lean body.
Well, swing is the wrong word; more like push, pull, hover and fly to a better body. And that all sounds very fun doesn’t it?
An aggressive advert, that barrel-chested guy wearing all the branded gear at the gym, or even your mate after washing 5 pints down their neck, may have told you that the only way you can build muscle is to use weights.
What’s the thinking behind this? Well, science, sort of.
What happens when you pump some iron is that your muscles tear (only a tiny bit) from the strain you put them under. The “burn” or the “pain” a lot of bodybuilder’s love the feeling of after is a result of their muscles attempting to repair themselves.
Because of the way we have evolved, once are muscles are put under enough stress to break them slightly, this sends a signal to the brain that when they are repaired they need to be built stronger than they were before, just in case they are put under a load that heavy again.
Hence, muscle growth (as long as they are provided with the right nutrients to recover).
This is why we need to continually up the weight we use if we want to gain more and more muscle and this is a term known as “progressive overload”.
So, can you grow muscle using calisthenics, i.e. with no weight? Yes, because your body is the only weight you need in order to grow your muscles if you use the right movements.
What are they right movements? I’ll let someone else explain.
The Bar Brothers are two gentlemen otherwise known as Lazar Novovic and Dusan Djolevic. Their program “Bar Brothers” is a calisthenics program designed to shred your body of fat and grow muscle to give you a modelesque physique in 12 weeks.
Well, at least a better body than you started with. But we’ll get to that.
Since the creation of their program, “Bar Brothers” has turned into a Global movement with members from a whole host of different countries.
What makes it so popular? To begin with, the emphasis these two put on the program is not one about getting in shape (shock horror) but more of a mental approach to changing your life.
Using your own bodyweight can be incredibly tough mentally (ever tried doing more than one pull up?) and there is something about having to move just yourself that make calisthenics different to any other form of exercise.
Aside from this, they don’t try to sell you on all the body transformations they’ve accomplished (not at first, anyway) but more on the emotional aspect of taking control of your life.
This parallels very well with not needing any equipment to complete the course (apart from a bar or parallel bars that can often be found in local parks) and has the feeling that you are taking ownership of both your body and your life.
If this all sounds a little touchy-feely for your liking, this is just because it is a retelling of how Dusan met Lazar in America, where they formed a bond over calisthenics and street workouts, which ultimately lead to the creation of “Bar Brothers”. (If you want the full story told by the man himself, their marketing video presentation on their website going into a lot more depth… a lot more.)
One of the reasons that so many people trust these two and their program (and you should too) is that the brand became more of a lifestyle phenomenon and grew organically across the globe first. Only after constant questions from so many people did they put their heads together and create the Bar Brothers program as a way to share this with as many people as possible.
In fact, the community has now grown so large that they cannot respond individually to their users questions because there are just too many. Here are some of the numbers to give you an idea:
That’s one hell of a community.
Fancy being a part of it? Let’s take a look at what you get if you join.
When you buy Bar Brothers you get access to their online community both in their Facebook group and their own website. Once on their website you then get access to a whole range of things alongside the core course:
The 12-week course is broken up into 3 sections each 4 weeks long that progresses from easy beginner movements, through an intermediate phase and onto the advanced workouts at the end of the program.
A lot of users have said that it can be an incredibly steep learning curve from week 8 (intermediate) to week 9 (advanced) so don’t be surprised by this if you are new to calisthenics.
Module (1) – Greetings and basic overview of the course
Module (2) – A breakdown of what equipment you will need (again, it’s very minimal) and how to track your progress effectively
Module (3) – How to use the calendar and an explanation of the format
Module (4a) – Advice on how to get the most out of the program and the most common mistakes to avoid while using it
Module (4b) – Nutritional guidance before beginning the course
Module (5) – (17) – Each one relates to a new week of the course.
Within each week-specific module is where you get the videos for the workouts and the beginning of week pep talk.
Why don’t all exercise programs include regular pep talks? Maybe they should. But in this case the reasoning is because of the motivational life changes that are embedded in the core of this program.
We all know that in order to change and grow we need to push out of our comfort zone and for most people this course will take them out much further than usual.
The dedication this course requires to get the best results is higher than most fitness courses ask: A one-hour workout 6 days a week.
That’s a lot.
But maybe they have it right. Maybe this course is showing you exactly what it does take to get the body you’ve always dreamed of and is a no BS approach on how to achieve it.
This is definitely not a quick fix and a lot of their transformational pictures are more than 12 weeks apart. This is because for real aesthetic changes to be made it takes a long-term commitment and an intense amount of effort.
If you’re still with me, this is why these changes are possible:
The exercises performed in this workout are rather extensive and cover the entire body without the need for all the expensive equipment you see lying around the gym.
The workouts are broken down into 7 different types:
Warm up: circular movements, rotator cuff exercises, jumping jack and high knees.
Legs: Squats, lunges, wall-sits and calf raises.
Upper Body: Push-ups, pull-ups and dips.
Back: Pull-up variations.
Chest: More push-ups with added variations.
Shoulders: Extended push-up variations.
Cardio: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts in a circuit training style.
If this sounds like the hard-hitting, gritty and enthusiastic community you want to get on board with and change your life, all you have to pay is $47. From here there are some additional extras you can purchase from their site, such as dedicated meal plans, but they are never at a price that will break the bank.
In fact, the only equipment you would need (if you don’t want to go to a local park and would prefer to do it all from home instead) won’t cost you a bundle. Home pull up bars and parallel bars combined with the cost of this course will most likely come to less than the amount you would pay every year in membership fees to a gym.
The only thing that this program seems to be lacking is a proper nutritional guide (and everyone knows nutrition is an integral part of any serious physical change). All they give you is recipes for 2 shakes (one pre and one post-workout).
The fact that it is only available online wouldn’t usually be an issue, but the fact that their entire program is based around being outside (away from your Wi-Fi router) means this could be a minor annoyance.
For me, the outdoor, street workout, don’t-need-no-gym approach to this program is what I think has made Bar Brothers resonate with so many people across the globe. It really has the feeling of a community who genuinely have each other’s backs.
Whether this feeling comes from the united “stick it to the man” approach of not paying for a gym, or whether the program itself is so intense that everyone get’s a “welcome to the club” feeling on completion, “Bar Brothers” could be the product and the place that could genuinely change your life for the better.
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