8 weeks of Gymnastic Bodies Foundation One | My Results

It’s official. 8 weeks of training with no weights, has come to an end.

I have only used my bodyweight to challenge my strength, following some very well thought-out progressions and programming from head coach Christopher Sommer, over at Gymnastic Bodies, (GB).

I followed the Foundation One training programme, which aims to get you physically prepared for the 7 key positions found in gymnastics;

Front Lever

Straddle Planche

Hollow Back Press

Rope Climb


Single Leg Squat

Side Lever


Just to put things in perspective, there are 4 volumes of progressions designed to get you up to the positions above. I barely completed half of the 1st volume, in 8 weeks.

Part of me agrees that you should be able to complete each exercise as required, before moving on to the next progression (the GB philosophy). But I can’t help believe that the GB crew have come up with as many progressions as possible in order to sell more products.
I say this because some of the progressions that I thought may take me a few weeks to work through, I completed on my first try, leading me to ask ‘was this really a necessary exercise to incorporate, if it was completed so easily?’

Having said that, the GB philosophy clearly isn’t about accelerated learning. It’s about covering all bases, and finding out where you’re weak, as done by Olympic standard gymnasts. And with that in mind, it makes sense to sell as many volumes of material as possible.
(For the record, some of the exercises were so savagely difficult for me, that I spent weeks trying to master them, clearly showing that I was weak in that area and that skipping them would have been a mistake!)

What you will notice if you embark on this Gymnastic journey, is that Coach Sommer has named all the exercises in his material, himself. That means if you want to google an exercise to see how it is done, find out the technique etc, you can’t find it!!! It takes a little bit of digging to find out all the other names that are used for the featured exercises….

Enough of the business motives, let’s get down to seeing if the programme actually worked or not!
Aside from the figures, which I will get to shortly, I can tell you 100%, from feeling in my own body, that;

  •  I have built muscle in my mid-to-lower back. I didn’t know it was possible to flex your muscles in this area, but now I can.
  • I have greater range in my straddle position, and stronger glutes to hold my legs out there.
  • I have improved my upper thoracic spinal mobility, something I only really noticed in week 8, but worked on it the entire time.
  • I haven’t lost my size, despite using no weights.topless1

I have also had some interesting realisations along the way, too:

  • Holding a position for 5 sets of 60 seconds, is brutal.
  • Using a prescribed mobility exercise as a form of rest between calisthenic exercises, is an effective way to train and efficient use of time. It’s also difficult to not take extra rest when you’re puffing.
  • Some positions felt easier than others, depending on what strength or mobility I already had.
  • My body awareness had been steadily maintained, if not improved throughout the whole 8 weeks. I felt this getting back on the slackline and trying new positions that I’d previously not thought of.
  • Warm-ups need only take 5-10 minutes.
  • The ‘Mastery Templates’ are one of the most helpful tools I have ever used.


My results probably won’t help you. But they will allow you to see, within a realistic time frame, just how long it takes to improve your strength in a position until you’ve mastered it.
All too often, the magazine culture of today offers empty promises; packing on muscle in record time, or becoming the Hulk overnight. Although I’m a strong believer in hacking the learning time to a minimum, the following numbers will give you a good idea on what actually constitutes a gradual increase.

If you can’t be bothered to read through the results for each position, I recommend you skip to the position you want to learn / learn more about, and see how far I managed to get in 8 weeks.

Front Lever 
So how far did I get? Can I hold a front lever after 8 weeks? No, is the short answer. I had to start from the beginning!

I started with the exercise Bent Hollow Body Hold; required repetitions = 5 sets of 60 seconds
This was supersetted with a mobility exercise, the Cat Stretch; required repetitions = 15


Bent Hollow Body Hold

Bent Hollow Body Hold


Much to my surprise, I couldn’t complete 5 sets of 60 seconds. I only managed 60, 40, 30, 30 and had died by the 5th set.
So I calculated that my starting point was 5 sets of 36 seconds.
By week 6, I had managed 5 x 60 seconds. Stamina takes time to build!

By week 8, I’d reached the Bent Hollow Body Rock exercise. That’s only exercise #2 out of 6!
Long way to go…

If you want to get a really strong core, I recommend doing any of the 6 prescribed exercises for the Front Lever. They are savage!

Straddle Planche
I started week 1 well, mastering the Scapular Shrugs exercise, for 5 sets of 15 repetitions.
By week 8, I’d reached the Elevated Planche Lean exercise, for 5 sets of 24 seconds.
The required standard is 5 sets of 30 seconds before moving on; 6 seconds off.
The Elevated Planche Lean is exercise #6 of 6, so I did well to progress through all 6 stages in 8 weeks.

Elevated Planche Lean, hips over the hands.

Elevated Planche Lean, hips over the hands.

I have definitely completed more Tuck Planche progressions than I have for the Front Lever, so perhaps this is why my progress was better for this position.

If you want to build muscle in your mid or lower back, then follow the prescribed mobility exercises for the Straddle Planche section. They will have your hips and back screaming, but they really work!

My favourite mobility exercise in this section was the Straddle Donkey Kick.
The prescribed rep range is 10 reps, performed as an active rest between work sets.

Straddle Donkey Kick - 5 reps each side. Don't allow straight leg to drop below hips.

Straddle Donkey Kick – 5 reps each side.
Don’t allow straight leg to drop below hips.

Hollow Back Press
Started on week 1 with Incline Push Ups for 5 sets of 15 reps, no worries.
Progressed to exercise #6 of 6, the Parallel Bar Dip, by week 8.

Parallel Bar Dip

Parallel Bar Dip

My tricep strength is pretty good. Foundation One for the Hollow Back Press seems to focus a lot on developing tricep strength.

I only tried this mobility exercise in week 8, but boy, was it a good’un!!

Single Bent Arm Cat - keep back straight, draw the ribcage in.

Single Bent Arm Cat – keep back straight, draw the ribcage in.

Rope Climb
Week 1 = The Incline Row for 5 x 15 repetitions.
Week 8 =  Chin Up Hold for 5 x 36 seconds (exercise #6 of 6)

Chin Up Hold - brutal!

Chin Up Hold – brutal!

For the record, holding a chin up, in the top position for a required 5 sets of 60 seconds, is absolutely savage. 36 seconds was as far as I could manage, and things definitely got creative when I dislocated one of my fingers at week 6.

I started week 6 with 5 x 20 seconds. So in 2 weeks I increased my hold time by 16 seconds. So maybe in another 3-4 weeks I could have smashed the required 5 x 60 seconds… who knows.

Holding a position for this long is tough on my mental game. My head starts to run away with itself at the 30 second mark… then the voices of defeat start to creep in and tell me that I should give up, that it’s too difficult.
As well as testing your mind, you will build strength by performing an iso-hold for this length of time, and as a result of your muscles being under tension for that much time, you will also build them up. Not massively, but enough to be able to flex them at will.
After a couple of weeks trying to iso-hold a difficult position, you will start to notice you can engage a certain muscle that little bit deeper, meaning that it’s all working!

This exercise really pumped my guns up, especially by sets 4 and 5. However, it’s your lats that are supposed to take the brunt of the load in this…..

The integrated mobility exercise for this section that helped me open up my thoracic spine, was the Overgrip Bent Lean. Sounds like a good Friday night.

Overgrip Bent Lean - perform for 30s between the Chin Up hold.

Overgrip Bent Lean – perform for 30s between the Chin Up hold.

To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever hold a Manna like a pro, unless I dedicate a severe portion of my life to learning how to do it. It’s an incredible feat of strength in my eyes, and flexibility. Still, here’s how I got on at the baby-end of the spectrum….

Week 1 = Tuck Ups 5 x 15
Week 8 =  V-Up 5 x 15 (exercise #3 of 6)

My favourite exercise of this block for discovering the importance of the glutes
for holding the legs in position, was the Straddle Up. 5 x 15 reps was the prescribed dose.

Straddle Up 5 x 15 reps

Straddle Up 5 x 15 reps

And this was the integrated mobility exercise, the Jefferson Curl. This was the first mobility exercise I’d been exposed to that incorporated the idea of weighted stretching.
For those of you that know of Ido Portal, I can see where he got his ideas for weighted stretching from. It works!


Side Lever
Week 1 = Arch Body Hold
Week 8 = Arch Body Rock (exercise #2 of 6)

Up there with the Chin Up Hold, the Arch Body Hold took me 7 weeks to master. 7 weeks! And it is just a static position. I was surprised. However, this little number built me some muscle on the ol’ lower back, so it’s all good. I would definitely recommend this exercise to all, just be sure not to hyper-extend your lower back when you do it, aim for a more anterior pelvic tilt by pressing your hips into the mat.

Hold for 5 sets of 60 seconds and you will develop a lower back.

Hold for 5 sets of 60 seconds and you will develop a lower back.

The next progression from this hold is the same position, but a rock. I tried it but found I just kept crushing my penis in to the floor. Not a fan. The Arch Body Hold is far safer for the ‘nads.

Single Leg Squat
Week 1 =  Deck Squat
Week 8 = Cossack Squat (exercise #2 of 6)

Deck Squat - 5 x 15 reps

Deck Squat – 5 x 15 reps

The Deck Squat. The only exercise in the whole Foundation One programme that felt like conditioning. And it had to be for the legs. I thought I was going to cruise this stage, and instead it took me 7 weeks to hit 5 sets of 15 reps. It just felt so dirty. You hit rep 10 and all your coordination turns to shit, you can’t tuck your feet up to your arse, and so you can’t stand up properly. One little stage goes out of sync and the whole move’s fucked.
Much harder than it looks, and if you’re looking for a leg conditioning exercise that feels as sickening as a burpee, try the deck squat.


One of the best parts of the Foundation One programme was this idea of Mastery and Mastery Templates.

The Mastery bit is simple – do no progress to the next exercise, unless you have completed the required mastery number of sets and reps.

The Mastery Templates come in when you cannot quite reach the requirements. You refer to the table, and you can see exactly how many sets and reps you need to complete and how far away you are from reaching Mastery level.

Here are a couple of the templates which show you how to reach a required hold of 60 seconds or 15 repetitions, respectively;

Find out where you fall on the table

Find out where you fall on the table




It really couldn’t be easier to follow. Every 4th week is a scheduled deload week, hence why the reps are reduced. Whenever you fail your reps, in any exercise, you can refer to these tables as a pathway to success.


Out of the 7 positions, here’s how I’d rate my progress in 8 weeks, based on how far I’d progressed through each of the 6 exercises;

Front Lever = Weak
Straddle Planche = Strong
Hollow Back Press = Strong
Rope Climb = Strong
Manna = Average
Side Lever = Weak
Single Leg Squat = Weak

Going forward from here, it would make sense to incorporate some of the exercises where I’m weak into my next training programme, or at least take some of the more useful mobility exercises and use them as active rest.

I found the whole Foundation One template very well programmed, a lot of thought and practical experience has gone in to its design.

I really recommend you try the programme, if anything to see where you’re weak. That was my original motive after hearing a podcast with Coach Sommer and discovering what his basic requirements of strength were; I was so surprised at what he was asking, I thought it was time to test my ability and see where my weaknesses lay.
I have discovered I have many!

If I return to complete another 8 week block in the future, it would make sense to start where I have left off. I still have 4 positions to complete the required progressions for – Sommer’s recommendation is to continue performing the mastered exercises whilst you catch up with all the ones your weak at. In my case, that would be staying at the final exercises for the Straddle Planche, Hollow Back Press and Rope Climb but continuing to work through all the progressions for the Manna, Side Lever, Front Lever and Single Leg Squat.

I would like to see what effect performing mobility exercises between weights sets, has on improving conditioning and overall mobility. It is such an efficient use of time and really tests your ability to recover between sets.

I am also keen to see how using some of the prescribed working exercises and mobility exercises would fare up when used as Accessory exercises within a strength and conditioning programme. This is definitely something I am exploring next….

Thanks for reading, post any of your questions/comments below and all the best with your training!

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Harry Cloudfoot is a writer and explorer of movement and mind. You can check his social media if you want but you'd be better off going and doing something, instead.
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70 thoughts on “8 weeks of Gymnastic Bodies Foundation One | My Results

  1. Hi there! Where can I find the full program? I am a gymnastics Coach and always keen to see new systems – there are some really interesting ideas in here.

    • Hi Jo,
      Thanks for your comment – so the full programme for book one is all over the internet. But of course you can always purchase the foundations 1-4 programmes from the Gymnastic Bodies website like a good citizen, too. 🙂

  2. Hey Harry,

    I just got my own on copy of F1 recently, and I’m currently testing out my mastery of the different preparatory elements. I have to say that I’m guilty of hyper-extending my lower back while trying to hold an arched body hold (ABH); I find that doing this tends to crush my ‘nads lol. Was trying to maintain an anterior pelvic tilt all that you needed to maintain a comfortable ABH? I know that in order to maintain a posterior pelvic tilt, you have to squeeze your butt as hard as possible. I’m not sure I can visualize maintaining an anterior pelvic tilt while lying on my belly, though.

    • Hi Nathan,
      Cheers for getting in touch.
      Surely hyper extending your lower back looks very similar to an anterior pelvic tilt? They’re pretty much the same shape, apart from an A.P.T. is done with intention and control.
      Sounds funny, but in the Arch Body Hold, I just tucked my nuts out the way so they wouldn’t get crushed!
      To be honest, there’s nothing comfortable about the ABH. It sucks the whole time you’re in it because you just have to squeeze everything to hold it with correct form! If anything, to avoid hyper-extension in the ABH, I would be squeezing my glutes hard, almost aiming for a POSTERIOR pelvic tilt.
      Hope that helps!

  3. Good read man. What was your training schedule like? I’m about to start f1 and h1 soon and I was wondering would it be too much to work on all the exercises from both in one day?

    • Hi Joel,
      Cheers for your comment – I did 4 days a week on F1. If you look in H1, there is a programming schedule to achieve both F1 and H1 side-by-side. I think it is Day 1 = 5 positions from F1 and Day 2 = H1 positions, but don’t quote me on it. You wouldn’t be able to do all the exercises from F1 and H1 in one day and come out alive!!
      Thanks again,

  4. I see for RC you did Incline Row for first week, that is PE2 for RC…, did you skip RC/PE1 (Hinge Row)) ?
    I ask you this because RC/PE1 (hinge row) is most difficult exercise for me… I can do PE2 but not PE1, so I’m stalling…

    • Hi Matija,
      I tried the Hinge Row and found that I could already do it quite easily, so I skipped on to the Incline Row. If you can do the Incline you should be able to do the Hinge, just make sure you are using the correct technique.

  5. Did you do the training courses on the GB website? Are they videos with instruction (voice narration) ? I bought the DVDs years ago and it was just video of guys demonstrating the moves. It was really hard to learn from . I contacted the GB website with the same question and got no response.

    • Hi Ben,
      No, I did not do the courses. I got hold of the PDFs and learnt from them. You’re right, trying to learn from demonstrations only is a difficult path. Progressions and explanations are far more helpful, which is what the books offer.

      • Which book are you referring too? the foundation one book, which is on the GB website (also found on some pdf download sites), which has videos, pictures, and just like 2 tips for each exercise, or some other book with a massive amount of explanations? Sorry for the stupid questions. I’m wondering what you’re talking about.

        • Hi Bob,
          Foundation One and Mastering GST are the two books – Mastering GST has F1, F2, Rings 1 and Handstand 1 all in it together.
          Hope that helps,

          • The Mastering GST I found doesn’t contain rings one. And the foundation one epub is separate; the Mastering GST I found doesn’t have foundation one videos, only the foundation one pdf, with the handstand one and foundation two(those 2 have videos). Could you please help?

          • Any tips for the Hollow Body? While tucking, I can press my lower back down into the ground, but when I try to even straddle, my lower back comes off 🙁 Please help

          • Hi Bob,
            This is because your lower abdominals are weak and you’re probably not squeezing your glutes hard enough! You can play around with tucking one leg and straddling the other, and start doing lots of V-sits and Leg Raises if you’re not already training them – they will help to add strength to your core region. The final thing to look at is the tightness of your hip flexors. Google “Anterior Hip Stretch” and try it; if it’s difficult then you need to look at loosening up your hips to allow the range of motion in the hollow body.
            Hope that helps,

  6. hello, great information here, thank you for share your results. I have the f1 & h1, i can do the master template for hbp but not the step 2, regular push ups, i fail after the third step! What would you suggest me? insist on step 2 or skip it?
    thank you!

    • Hi Konstantinos,
      Thanks for your comment. So, do you mean you can only do 3 repetitions of regular push ups? I would suggest that you keep trying! It will take time but you will get there. How many times a week are you training?

  7. Hello,
    i´ve a General question.
    In F1, should i do all the sets and reps without a rest in between?
    I do the strength-set followed immediately by the mobility-set, thena again the strength-set…and so on?

    Thanks for reply?


    • Hi Oliver,
      Thanks for your message,
      That’s right, strength set then straight into mobility then straight in to strength again, etc. It’s pretty tough but it works!

  8. When researching a product I’m interested in, this is the kind of review I always hope to find but almost never do. Thanks for this.

  9. Hi, thanks for your review.

    What equipment will I need for F1 – will I basically need a gymnastics gym? I love the sound of this but am in a different country every few weeks so equipment/gyms become limiting factor. I’m a beginner and looking for something to progress with strength, fitness and flexibility that is portable.

    Also, I’m female – do you think this is targeted more for male bodies? Eg I don’t want to build massive shoulder bulk.


    • Hi! Thanks for your comment and questions.

      Seeing as you’re on the move, I have one word for you; Rings. Get yourself a decent pair of wooden gymnastic rings. They are one of the most versatile and challenging pieces of portable equipment you could own. For the most part of F1, you only really need a floor space and some kind of ledge or block to occasionally raise your hands or feet on to. If I were you, I would select a couple of positions from the F1 course and progress through the programming with those, first. The rings will come into play as an extra tool for developing your pulling and pushing strength (banded dips and pullunders are a great place to start), and they are sometimes used in the F1 programming, too, so it’s wise to own a pair from the beginning.

      About being female, good question. I did not write the course material so I could not tell you if it was targeted more for male bodies or not. What I would ask you, however, is do you like how female gymnasts look? Because I can guarantee the exercises featured in F1 would have also been featured in a female gymnast’s programming over the years of her practice and after 12-18 weeks I’m sure you will start to notice a difference in your physique (providing you stick to the programming and your nutrition is on point). You won’t build massive shoulders if you are a beginner, they come years down the line and take a serious amount of effort, the equivalent input of a full-time gymnast to achieve, so don’t worry about that!

      Hope that helps and thanks for getting in touch,

  10. Hey!

    Great review! I want to try some bodyweight/gymnast work but I’m hesitant to give up weights lol. Based on your experience, do you think it would be possible to do both at once? For example, doing a basic 3-day weight split and then doing the gymnastic bodies course 3 days a week, or was it too intensive?

    Also, did you notice any difference in your physique after the 8 weeks?


    • Hi Johnny,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Can I ask, what is your motivation for training, right now? Is it primarily aesthetics to improve how your physique looks? Or is it to improve how your body functions? Or is it just for fun? That’s an important question to ask yourself and answer honestly, as your answer will dictate your programming.

      You can mix weights with GST, for sure but you must be intelligent how you go about your programming, otherwise, yes, it will be too intensive.

      Can I ask how long you have been training for, based on training 3 days a week or more?

      I did notice a slight difference in my physique after 8 weeks, yes but the keyword here is slight.


      • I would say my main goal with training is aesthetics first and then function second. I’ve been training with weights for about 2.5 years with good results – but watching a lot of the crazy calisthenics videos has got me interested in trying some gymnast work to try to get some of those positions. Been thinking about buying the Gymnastic Bodies courses

        • Perfect, in which case, my recommendation would be to choose one of these positions to explore first. Your last 2.5 years will have stimulated your muscles nicely but now your tendons and connective tissues are going to be challenged in quite a strong, new way. From adding in this one position, over time you’ll know whether your body is ready to introduce more, or less, calisthenics / gymnastics in to your programme.

          Next you need to consider how you will implement this one position into your current training regimen. I don’t know what weights programme you are currently following but I would think about incorporating 2 appropriate exercises that relate to your chosen calisthenic/gymnastic position, into that programme, preferably straight after your warm up. You will be using your CNS more, so the fresher you are, the better. Then finish 60-75% of your weights programme after, depending on how spent you feel once done with the calisthenic exercises.

          A tuck planche is a great example, in view to being able to eventually hold a full planche. Your first exercise will be the strengthening component, perhaps a tuck planche with toes on a block for support, or Planche Leans for time. Then your second exercise will be a mobility component to assist with your planche positioning. Let’s use the Straddle Donkey Kick. You’d perform something like 3 x 10s tuck holds, then your rest would be 5 Straddle Donkey Kicks in between.

          That’s an example, the specifics depend on where you are at right now in terms of your strength and mobility, but you get the idea.

          My advice is take it slower than your ego wants to, the gains you get will be longer lasting. Gymnastic Bodies are a great resource and starting point.

          Which one of the crazy exercises are you wanting to learn?


  11. Hi 🙂

    I have been interested in trying out the foundation one programme for a while. I am female, and an absolute beginner. I can do 2 strict pull ups and hold the hollow body position for about 60 sec lying back on the floor, and make 3 dips on parallel bars. I have tried the skill wod programme for crossfitters, but it was just too much skill and not enough foundation and basic strenght. Do you think this programme couldsuit me? And how many days a week is traing scheduled. Is 4 times a week enough?
    You wrote earlier in the tread that foundation one was all over the internet, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere?

  12. Have you written a new article or can you share any information on your comments below?

    I’m also keen to see how using some of the prescribed working exercises and mobility exercises would fare up when used as Accessory exercises within a strength and conditioning programme. This is definitely something I am exploring next….

    • Hi Eric,
      Thanks for your comment.
      What would you like to know, regarding my comments below? If I can, I’ll shed some light where possible.
      Indeed, exploration is the only way when it comes to combining some of the GB stuff within an S&C framework. I’d be interested to know what you discover from your experimentation.

  13. Harry. This is a great article. Thank you. Couple of questions – did this make up the entirety of your training for the 8 weeks or did you mix in other elements? And how long is each work out? Thanks

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your message.
      Yes this did make up the entirety of my training for the 8 weeks and each work out was around the 45 – 60 minute mark; longer the unfitter you are as you need to take more rest, shorter the fitter you are as you need to take less rest.
      Hope that helps, Paul!

  14. Hi Harry,
    Thanks for your report, I think it is helping many out there. Regarding your routine, I’ve heard that it takes 12 weeks for one progression. How did you manage so many progressions within 8 weeks? Did you skip some? Or did you attempt mastery of the current progression every week?
    Thanks again for your post.

    • Hi Premo, thanks for your comment.
      So I already clearly had some strength before starting the programme, which meant I passed many exercises with Mastery level almost instantly. In other areas, I was really weak, however. Regarding 12 weeks per progression; sure, it can take that long, it can take longer, it can take less. It all depends on the person and their training history, recovery rate etc. If you have a training history, you can expect to master some of the exercises quite quickly I would imagine. If not, then perhaps your progress will be a little slower, it doesn’t really matter though. The main focus should be on form and quality. If you nail those, the mastery figures will come naturally.
      Hope that helps,

  15. Harry, thanks for the review. The thing that I hate the most about this whole GymnasticBody course is that they make outrageous claims. I guess that is how you get sales.

    If you can do planche and manna after 8 weeks of this course then I suggest you enroll yourself into Olympics.

    Even with insane strength and background training you cant do planche or manna in a week as its shown in these courses. If you can then as I said go for olympics.

    The course is okay there r good workouts but you wont do get front lever, manna or planche in 8 weeks.

    The guys you see on Ytube doing these elements have spent years training.

    You cant just start some course and expect to learn these insanely hard elements in 8 weeks.

    Coach is a good guy but his claims are outrageous.

    • Hi Collims,
      Thanks for your comment, I understand what you are saying.
      However, I think you are mistaken and misunderstanding GymnasticBodies, Ido Portal, etc.
      As far as I am aware, none of these companies are claiming that you can achieve difficult moves in record time. None. If you have proof, please send it to me, as I have never heard them making these claims, ever.
      If anything, the only proof I have seen Ido Portal post is videos of his clients working with him for 6 months, 1 year, 2 years and 3 years. And to be honest, the results in those videos speak for themselves.

      I’m not sure how you concluded that Gymnastics Bodies are trying to teach you a planche in 8 weeks, because if you look at their programming, they specifically say “Do not move on to the next progression until you have MASTERED the current progression suited to your level.” By definition that means you cannot rush.

      I agree with you that these companies use effective marketing and often display images and videos of very proficient athletes to get your attention and hopefully buy their material. But I disagree that they are claiming you too can do those moves in 8 weeks or less.

      Just to throw a curve ball in there, I actually had a friend who had ZERO background in Gymnastics Strength Training and managed to learn how to full straddle planche for 3-5 seconds, on parallettes, in only 12 weeks. His background was powerlifting and bodybuilding for around 3 years.


  16. Harry,

    First and foremost, thank you for this review!

    Second, I’m 98% sure I’m going through with the purchase but I had a couple questions for you…

    Even if I were to master each progression in F1, it’s pretty clear I won’t be anywhere near accomplishing the 7 key positions. However, where can I expect to be after completing F1…?
    I understand you made it to the 2nd progression for the front lever, side lever, single leg squat; 3rd progression for the manna; what does the 6th progression look like for these?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Thomas,
      Thanks for your comment and questions.
      So as far as I know, there are 4 courses in total. If you complete F1, I can guarantee you’ll be in good shape by the public’s standards but just beginning by a gymnast’s standards.
      I don’t know what the 6th progression looks like for each of the positions as I don’t have the book to hand.
      Let me know how you get on!
      Thanks Thomas,

  17. Thank you for your great review of F1!

    Can I ask you what your diet was like during the program? You said that you maintained your size. Did you track your daily calories/macros?

    I have been bodybuilding/powerlifting for 5-7 years and am at a different stage in my life, and am now interested in GST. I just purchased Fundamentals, F1 and H1, and am very excited to get started (currently have poor mobility and do not have any GST experience/background, aside from doing Crossfit for a year, about 4 years ago). I saw someone do a press to handstand and was determined that I wanted to learn how to do it. Started doing research online and realized how much mobility and body awareness was involved, and noticed all of my limitations. Somehow I stumbled upon Gymnastics Bodies, and quickly purchased the programs. I just started Fundamentals and H1 this week.

    The reason I am telling you all of this is because I am still interested in keeping my size and aesthetics. I want to do the GST programs, and was wondering if you would recommend mixing in 2-3 days of hypertrophy (bodybuilding and/or powerlifting) per week to keep the aesthetics. I am 6’2″ and notice a majority of gymnasts doing F1 look lanky. I want the best of both worlds. LOL

    Thanks for your input!

    • Hi Rob,
      Thanks for your comment and questions, appreciate the detail as I can tell you have some good training history years behind you.

      So, one by one;

      Diet – I tracked my daily calorie intake, roughly. If you’re like me, then after a couple of years of training, you develop an intuitive sense when you are undereating, eating the right amount, or eating too much in relation to the demands of your training and/or sport. I was at a stage where I wanted to maintain my size, and intuitively I ate the same amount, if not more, as I found the F1 workouts quite taxing.

      Ok, the key here is that you have told me you have poor mobility.
      I can tell you now, if you are below average, or average, in your levels of mobility, doing F1 will be ENOUGH.
      However, I do not expect nor encourage you to take my word for it. So, experiment yourself.

      Here’s my advice; choose your weekly frequency of F1 workouts. I would recommend 3 times per week as a good starting point. From there, add in ONE hypertrophy or powerlifting day. Just ONE. Do that for 6 weeks, which will probably include 2 deload weeks – so you have 3 working weeks, followed by one deload week, and then repeat again. If your TENDONS can handle this work capacity, then consider upping the frequency of your hypertrophy / powerlifting days to 2 x per week. But only if you have been recovering fast enough from your first 6 week block.

      I recommend the above, as opposed to, starting with 3 x per week F1 and 3 x per week HPR/PWRLFT and then going ‘Oh shit, this is breaking me!’ and start backing off the training because your elbows are flaring to the size of baseballs, or whatever.

      Start easy, add as you can moving forward.

      Side note – if you have the training history you say you do, then you should be quite adept at the concept of applying body tension. If you are performing the F1 workouts correctly, i.e. squeezing every god damn muscle fibre you own as hard as you can, each rep, each set, each second, then you shouldn’t need more accessory work. The reason I didn’t is because the F1 workouts took it all out of me and I had nothing extra to give in terms of pump sessions or accessory work. Expect your CNS to be FRIED for the first few weeks on F1.

      I wish you all the success with playing around with this combo. The GB programmes are great to chop and splice up if you know what you’re doing.

      Please do let me know how you get on!

      Thanks Rob,

  18. Great article. I am well versed in the gym, and physically fit, but am really looking to gain more flexibility and gymnastic skills. Having purchased the 8 week foundations, one key question I had was how regularly did you train?

    Did you change the training regularity at all or just use it as it came?

    • Hey Jack,

      Thanks for your comment and questions.

      Off the top of my head, I was training 4 days a week on average.
      I tried to maintain the regularity, as you will see in the programme, it gives you options depending if you want to train 3, 4 or 5 times a week. Most importantly, I paid attention to my body during the training and in between sessions to see how fast I could recover.
      If I could not recover fast enough between sessions, I knew I was doing too many sessions in a week’s time frame, or, the intensity of the session was slightly too much.
      The main thing I would recommend is pay detailed attention to your tendons and how they feel during and after your sessions. Biceps tendon for me started to feel a bit spicy after doing too much planche AND front lever work. I had to eventually decided to choose one; the planche OR the front lever.

      See how you go and I’d love to be updated with your progress.


  19. Harry,

    I’d like to thank you for taking the time and writing this review and sharing your experience with this program. I know you did this almost 3 yrs ago now, but having it out there has been helpful to me and I’m sure quite a bit of others.

    Based on your review and lots of reading I sought out this program on the interwebs and found it. Tomorrow I start my 14th week of it. I’ve found many weaknesses and continue to improve weekly. My goal has always been to continue to improve my strength, but to also find something that could assist me with my mobility… .without me doing a separate program. This course certainly does that.

    Certainly I can say as a male, I strongly share your dislike for the Arch Body Rocks. By far the most disliked exercise I’ve done in this program. I’m only at 5 sets of 36 sec and it is a major struggle. Deck squats on the other hand, I haven’t mastered them yet, but I’ve come to enjoy them. My mobility wasn’t very good to begin with and when I started this program I needed to have my heels on a gymnastics mat and use a 5lb weight to counter balance me to complete a deck squat. I’m finally at the point where I am doing this without a mat or counter balance, so I’m pretty pumped about that. It may take me a few more weeks to get 5×15 super smooth for those and my V-Ups, but I’ll get there.

    In short – this program has been a fantastic experience thus far. I love the integrated mobility with my strength training. I love the progressions in both the strength and mobility exercises. Could not recommend this program more to anyone who wants to improve their strength and range of motion, not to mention learn some cool shit that not everyone knows.

    Thank you again Harry for sharing your thoughts. It is appreciated. Onward and Upward.

    • Chris – it’s comments like this that make it all worth it, for me.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to give me some of your insight, too.

      Glad you’re psyched from the programming – there’s definitely a lot of scope when it comes to chopping and changing bits around, or implementing GST with other modalities, too. Get your exploration on, and please don’t hesitate to keep me updated with what you discover.

      Thanks again,

      • Thank you Harry. Your site and review is one that I kept coming back to when searching for my new plan/routine. Previously I had tried lots of different programs (mostly home videos from the company Beachbody). However I was really trying to focus my fitness on being more minimalist. Wanting to have the ability to not require a gym membership, weights or really any equipment. During that search I had tried Convict Conditioning (I liked working towards progressions, but no mobility work). YAYOG (You Are Your Own Gym) was a nice combination of strength and cardio, but short and again, no mobility. TRX, I do still love TRX and use it from time to time, but again – it is equipment and limited progressions.

        The GST stuff has given me progressions to work towards, which I do really enjoy. It incorporates mobility after every single strength set. For a stiff like me, that is great.

        I’m not ruling out weights again. However whenever I would use them, my lack of mobility would result in me eventually getting injured. Understanding what I needed, without setting me back on strength training and allowing me to continue to improve my strength in areas I had no idea I needed – it has been awesome. Its just kind of a bonus that I get to learn to do some cool gymnastics stuff. 🙂

  20. Hi, I’m so glad I found this blog! Really great amount of info on F1 and your opinions and progress on it.

    I am just starting F1 and I am really confused about something: how do you know when to progress and where to start?

    For example, I am taking this week/few days to try all the exercises/mobility progressions from the first one for each element. I tried tucked hollow holds, and the first set I got 55s/60s mastery, so I know I’d start there. But how do you know which “weekly progress” to start at? I was pretty close to hitting 60s, but I definitely wouldn’t be able to probably hit more than 30s the second set after catcow. How do I calculate which week to start at? I definitely don’t need to do week 1 (3x12s) as I’m past that. Should I do week 4 (4x24s)? Week 5 (4x35s)?

    Also, for the straddle planche, I can skip from the first progression (scap shrugs) all the way to one-arm planks (can’t do those, but I can do full planks). However, the mobility drill for the first progression scap shrugs (which is swivel hips), I can’t get my legs to touch all the way down like in the example photos/videos. Do I need to stay on the first progression (scap shurgs) until I master the mobility (swivel hips), even though I can move onto one-arm planks?

    And also, for instance, once you master a movement, they naturally recommend starting from “week 1” of progressions for the next move (3x12s). But what if you’ve gained so much strength/mobility from working the previous progression that you could do more of it (like 4x35s)? Should you take a day to try the 5x60s mastery when moving onto a new exercise, then calculate where you are from there? How does that fit into your training schedule? I just can’t imagine spending 12 weeks on just planks. If I started from week 1 for every move, I could be doing F1 for years!

    Sorry if this seems confusing- I’m really confused about how to “test out” of moves that I’ve already mastered beforehand. Thank you for this blog!

    • Hi Sophie,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Your questions are great, I understand where you are coming from.

      The answers are quite simple, really.

      The way I approached your dilemma – If I could perform, for example, scap shrugs, but its paired mobility exercises, the swivel hips were still really difficult for me, then I would move on one progression for the scap shrugs, but still do the swivel hips as my paired exercise, for as many weeks as it takes to master it.

      I’m sure Coach Sommer would say “You do not move on from Scap Shrugs until you have mastered BOTH Scap Shrugs AND Swivel Hips” but like you, I would also get really bored.

      As for your question about starting from Week 1 everytime; no, I do not think this is necessary. Jump in at where you think you would be able to start from. If 3 x 12s is just far too easy, there is no point starting there. Instead, try 4 x 24s and see if you can master that. If you manage 4 x 22s, then you know you are on track. If you only manage 4 x 15s, then you know you need to go back a week or two.

      Let me know if that helps!

      • Thank you so much, Harry! I will test some more of the elements to see where I’m at and take your advice. For a female who did oly lifting for 2 years, I can skip all the way to the last progression of squats in F1, but my upper body is seriously lacking! Hoping to sort that out with GB. Thank you, again!

  21. Pingback: Inside Foundation – Trainingsnomaden

  22. Awesome review Harry.

    Am starting the F1 program today.

    Thanks for the motivation and insight brother.

    • Hi Muhammed,

      Yes, if you’re talking about a Back Bridge, for example, it’s totally possible to achieve with training! How long it will take is another topic, but in short to your question, Yes!

  23. Is there a GST calendar available so I can get a perspective on the time commitment and which courses may be trained simultaneously?

  24. Thank you guy. Am starting the F1 program today.
    I have a question: if i did to the first exercice : 60s, 60s ,60,s 50s, 30s. Do i have to start to week 1 (3*12s)? or can i start with 4*48s
    Thanks for all

  25. Thanks so much for blogging! In hindsight do you think you could have made as much progress if you’d Googled/Researched progressions for each individual Component?

    • Hi Doug,
      No worries.
      Yes, it is possible. However, the beauty of the Gymnastic Bodies method is that you know it is tried and tested, so perhaps there is less room for error. That’s not to say you couldn’t do it faster, or on your own etc.

  26. Hi there,

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I have been looking into GST as well after listening to TF’s podcast. I am debating if I should also get the fundamentals package, since I am not sure if I will be able to do F1 without it?

    I have very little GST experience, I am active and healthy and do cross-fit occasionally.

    Would you suggest jumping to F1 given the information provided?

    Thanks for your time

    – s

  27. Weighted Stretching or loaded stretching is sure nothing Ido came up with himself. He rather got it from Gymnastics which has been around well over a 100 years 😉

    But I first got introduced to the topic by Pavel Tstatsouline in his books and videos Naked Warrior I believe it’s called.

  28. Harry,
    I have been following traditional bodybuilding routines for many years. In addition to health and stress benefits, my goal is to look aesthetically pleasing, e.g., 300, but not like a serious body builder. I’ve come to a point where I would like to have more functional strength. I came across your site while researching gymnastics bodies.

    In your opinion, can Foundation 1 serve as a complete upper body workout, i.e., no more bench pressing and such? If so, I would like to have Foundation One serve as the core of my workout and then throw in some squats and deadlifts.


    • Brian, yes it would serve as a complete upper body workout, depending on you chosing the right dosage for your ability level. Exactly, throw in a squat or deadlift alongside and you’ve got yourself a pretty complete package. Take it easy though, this gymnastics game is no joke on your joints! Gentle progression is the name of the game. Enjoy!

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