GB Foundation

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GB Foundation

Post by baffled »

Over the last year, I've worked through a couple bodyweight, gymnastic strength work etc types of programs and can offer a review and some insight into each. So, here's the rundown of Gymnastic Bodies up through level 2 for a couple of the exercises. I'll address Handstand 1, and some of the GMB stuff in separate threads.


The program is built around 7 foundational movements as Christopher Sommer sees them. I would guess other gymnastics coaches have similar lists of foundational skills, exercises etc.

Also, he offers flexibility programs addressing the straddle or middle split, front split, and the gymnastic bridge or wheel pose on yoga. I won't review these in this post, but do mention them because I have a feeling it'll help to keep some things clear, at least for me while I write this out.

Each user who signs up for the programs has their own dashboard where they can make adjustments to their schedule, view future workouts etc. Before the program starts there is an assessment so you don't have to guess where to start. At least when I started, you did the assessment workout, entered the results into the system, then you were all set. Most people will be humbled by this, and then further humbled by later exercises they never thought would be a problem.

You can choose when your workout week starts, how many days to train etc, and the system will assign exercises and take care of progressions for you as long as you enter your results during each workout.

The foundational exercises are: Front lever, straddle planche, hollow back press, rope climb, manna, single leg squat and the flag.

Each exercise in Foundation 1 has a preparatory element, and a mobility element. The mobility element may address mobility needs for the exercise you're working on, or it may benefit another exercise or even one of the mobility elements. In order to progress to the next pairing, you must complete both the prescribed rep or time for an exercise, as well as the mobility exercise with proper form. Miss either, and you've got work to do, and the system won't advance. You can advance it yourself, but I learned the hard way that this is going to do more harm than good.

I should note that for me, and it seems most others, the exercises tend to be corrective. Better posture, more mobile hips and shoulders etc. I've noted it elsewhere, but shoulder extension work was like a magic spell for me. As my shoulder extension improved, deep range of motion dips were suddenly no problem, my bridge work has improved (dunno why on that one, since flexion would seem to be the key there) and posture has also improved quite a bit.

example: You may do a planche exercise, then a mobility exercise that targets the glute med. which can help straddle splits as well as the straddle position in the planche.

Equipment: You need rings, a pullup bar, and a place to do dips. Each of these can be arranged at home if you're creative enough. Stall bars are necessary the deeper you go, but you can find workarounds if need be. Later on, it's probably a lot tougher, but there are plenty of designs out there to build them on the cheap if you're at least somewhat handy. A swiss ball can be a decent substitute for some exercises needing a glute ham or pommel horse for mobility (no actual pommel exercises like you'll see on TV in a few days).

Time: No problems there. At least early on, you are expected to take no rest between strength and mobility work, and only minimal rest when going back to the strength exercise. Most workouts are done in 30-45 minutes, leaving plenty of time for other stuff in your life.

1) Easy to get started and with minimal equipment early on. Adding equipment isn't necessary for a while, and substitutions for many exercises can be found with a little imagination.
2) Time commitment is minimal when considering how much time is wasted going to the gym, changing, waiting for equipment, showering and changing, driving home etc. I could blow 2 hours each day at the dipshit gyms I have access to around here, or be done and off to something else after half an hour doing my workouts at home.
3) A lot of the exercises are corrective in nature, while still being strenuous enough that you "know you got a good workout."
4) Cost is lower to start when considering the cost of a commercial gym can easily run $30-$60 (or more) per month. Factor in gas and the cost of your time and it'll pay for itself quickly.
5) If you work hard, you won't look like some anorexic, vegan yoga pussy. You won't get internet huge, or jacked like a true, high level gymnast, but you'll "look like you work out."

1) I think most people will get pretty frustrated much earlier on than they would expect. For me, I've been stuck on one element for the rope climb for I don't know how long, and I'm not sure I'll ever pass it, but I mix things up a little now and then to balance things out and refresh my mind. No big deal.
2) You will eventually need to get equipment, or build it, to keep going. I think most should be able to avoid this through level 2 for most of the exercises, but you may need to get creative with equipment or exercise substitutes.
3) Sticker shock. People see the $90 some odd price tag and call bullshit. For me, I've gotten huge value, and still paid less than I would in gym fees over the same stretch of time. Not counting gas, mileage etc. It's really not close, but some won't care, and that's cool.
4) Even though the exercises are corrective for most, there will be times when there is a deficit in pulling. The mobility work will often help to address this issue. I'm not sure how much of an issue it really is the majority of the time unless you get stuck on one of the progressions and you're doing like 10 second holds or a total of 10 reps of a particular exercise. I seem to remember two things related to this. The first is Sommer responded to someone about a particular mobility element and he noted that one of the reasons it's there is to help offset all the pushing work. The second is that some people will do a couple (seriously, just one or two) extra sets of submaximal work at the end of their workouts.

It's a good program, but it's not magic. If you skip around, or short change yourself on either strength, mobility or both, you'll pay for it down the line. Take your time, give an honest effort, and don't dick around while you're working out and you'll get a time efficient workout that leaves you with enough time to focus on other things while still being plenty strong for whatever daily tasks you do.

The PL'ers and other strength guys won't get anything from it other than the mobility work, but there's stuff like Mobility RX for that.

Will update with further thoughts as they come to me.

Addition 8/3: In the TF thread, there were two concerns raised about losing muscle and about healing joints.

If your joints are fucked, adding a new exercise program, unless it's designed to fix a jacked up elbow and/or shoulder is usually going to make things worse.

As far as losing muscle goes, unless you're pretty fucking jacked, it's not an issue. The exercises are tough, leverage is reduced, rest times are reduced, volume is often fairly high etc. It's anything but a recipe for muscle loss unless you're uber jacked.
Last edited by baffled on Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: GB Foundation

Post by TerryB »

baffled wrote: Will update with further thoughts as they come to me.
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Mickey O'neil
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Re: GB Foundation

Post by Mickey O'neil »

Thank you very much for the review, baffled. Very nice.

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