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Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength
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Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,112 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Paperback, 542 pages
Published November 2011 by Createspace
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Average rating 4.45  · 
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 ·  1,112 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most under-rated gems out there. Far superior to other body weight/calisthenic books that are heavy on the marketing and so-so on the actual content.

The instructions on progressing to a one arm pull-up alone, were worth the cost. Tips and progressions I've never read about before. And no, it's not using a towel btw.

This is like getting a contestant on American Ninja Warrior show you exactly how to develop the same skill set. And this book is huge, more than 500 pages and cov
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This and Never Gymless are the premier bodyweight books on the market right now imo. This would've gotten 5 stars but it's a little too dense. The material needs to be a little more user-friendly, but the content is gold.

I've spent over a decade in the professional S&C community, and these are my other top rated books for getting into amazing shape:

Practical Programming by Rippetoe

Tactical Barbell 2: Conditioning (K Black)
Full Throttle Conditioning (Ross Enamait)

Put the
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is more like a textbook for the initiated. It was recommended by someone to me as someone interested in bodyweight exercises.

I trudged through it, but I can say that I have no idea what I read. It was a technical manual for those already in the know. There's no way someone new to the idea of bodyweight exercises will understand this.
Franck Chauvel
I was mistaken about this book: It is about gymnastics (rings, parallel bars, etc.) in the first place but not really about training without equipment as I initially thought. Most exercises require rings (thought some can be performed on the ground as well).

This said, the text is comprehensive and includes very interesting chapters about how to train for strength, how to plan your workouts, what exercises to select, how to recover from injuries, etc. The last third is a catalogue of exercises, w
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
very good for bodyweight training very in depth, highly recommend reading first half for the theory and the exploring up to level of strength for exercise technique in the second half. more in depth second half is fun to see what is actually possible
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, reference
Interest in calisthenics/gymnastics/bodyweight fitness has surged in the last few years with a global community of practitioners. Most exercises can be done with a mere $30 investment in gymnast rings, which can be hung from a thick tree branch, basement joist, pull-up bar, neglected soccer goal, forklift, playground equipment, etc. Barriers are minimal and you get a challenging workout while avoiding the gym -- big pluses for me. Over a million of these athletes convene on reddit.com/r/bodyweig ...more
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Actually, it is not a book that you read once and then put back in the shelf. It's a workbook. It not only gives a scientifically founded overview of the training-scientific basics of strength training in general and body weight training in particular. It offers a clear strategy for your own training planning and continuous measurement of the set goals through the progression tables. The author is a former gymnast, studied biochemistry and holds a Ph.D. in physical therapy. I think he knows what ...more
Noritaka Hara
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Must read for all body weight and calisthenics practitioners
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gold, fitness-health
I loved it! Overall it is a very comprehensive book that emphasizes particularly strength training with bodyweight, you can think of it as a two-part book, the first part's main objective is to teach you the scientific background and how to actually build a training plan and progress towards chosen goals.
(of course, it goes way more than that but that's the general direction)
the second part (about 300 pages) are all can be considered resources, on how to actually progress within movements and pe
Mar 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book on how to choose the right Trainings goals and how to create a schedule to achieve them.
Albert Chang
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
All around a great book. Second edition should be coming out spring of 2014, so if you're looking to buy, you may want to wait. The biggest reasons to get this book is for learning how to include BWF into your GPP and it has some examples of progressions.

There are other books that delve deeper into progressions and broke them up even more. For me this wouldn't necessarily be the first book I reach for to learn how to be able to perform a certain move. But the thing about progressions is that the
Blake Townes
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I have the second edition of this book. It is the calisthenics bible. This book can change your life if you put in the work. It is extremely thorough, but well worth the money. If you want to create your own routine and become well-versed with calisthenics(body weight) workouts. You may need a space where you can hang gymnastic rings(about 20-30 bucks on amazon), but it truly can change your physique. Staying consistent is vital to your success. You must find motivation to do the exercises since ...more
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: partial-read
A very technical book with a lot of useful material, yet I would not recommend it for novices since sometimes it uses concepts that are to advanced (even I felt confused at some points).

The book is composed of three parts. The first one is the most important, the author talks about everything dealing with exercises (strength vs endurance) with emphasis on strength training.
The second part deals with injuries. I just read some passages from this part since it was of no real interest to me.
The l
James Watt
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have been informed by my LMT sweetheart that Steven's grasp of anatomy is lacking (and out-and-out incorrect in parts) but that's really not where this book shines anyway. His careful breakdown of all the various progressions, and his description of how to create a useful plan that will lead to progress have been extremely helpful. Coming from gymnasticsbody.com and learning what I know from there, this was very useful at answering a few questions, and helping to clarify how I wanted to struct ...more
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a really remarkable book. I'm primarily a weightlifter, but picked this up because my gym is temporarily closed and I wanted to do some bodyweight training to maintain my strength. I thought I was pretty strong, but some of the progressions in this book are hard! The discussion of periodization is also the best I have seen in any fitness related book and valuable even if you plan on sticking to weightlifting and not doing bodyweight training. I will definitely continue to incorporate som ...more
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: learn
This book changed my life. Right after Hurrican Maria struck PR in 2017, I was stuck at home with no water or power for 3 months. This book guided me through my bodyweight fitness journey which is still going strong to this day. I myself have become stronger, and have trained friends with it who have gone on to become stronger too. It is a never ending trove of knowledge that I regurlarly consult to this day.
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been using this book for a few months now. Having been doing body weight training for a few years, mainly as a way to get in exercise while travelling and a busy family and work schedule. So on picking up this book I was familiar with a few different bodyweight variations, mainly around rows, pull-ups, push-ups and dips. This book was a whole new level!

• The density of information is huge. I needed to re-read multiple sections to get the full meaning. There is not much repetition at al
Max McKinnon
I got this mostly for the handstand progressions which is quite good. The various ways to make it easier and the one tip of “do handstands every day” and “go for more volume at lower progressions rather than lucky maximum holds at the hardest progression” I have been doing with some good success. The tip of putting the armpits forward is also really useful. I held a handstand in the wind with several corrections for about 15 seconds yesterday. This is almost a month of doing handstands every day ...more
Ben Tipper
Mar 09, 2022 rated it it was ok
This book would be good if it was 300 pages shorter. As it stands there's so much duplicative information and so much to read that it becomes challenging to find what you're looking for. I read the whole thing, skimming sections, and it took a lot of time and perhaps I'm biased but I felt like I gained relatively little out of it compared to other textbooks and training materials I've read. It is fairly gymnastics-specific. The skill trees and particularly the charts placing skills into levels a ...more
Lloyd Faulkner
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fitness
Really technical and a bear to get through, but once you digest the info it's a gold mine. Not a book for beginners to bodyweight training - if you prefer that, I'd recommend starting with Convict Calisthenics or Complete Calisthenics instead, or even /r/bodyweightfitness, which have simpler breakdowns. After reading those and watching my daughter in gymnastics, I became more interested in how gymnasts train, which is what led me to this book. His credentials are legit.

Of particular interest to
Jamie Sutherland
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very detailed and in-depth look into bodyweight training. I have re-read it for refreshing programming and structure for an upcoming obstacle race I'll be training for. Some of the book emphasises gymnastics and highly skilled moves, and other parts on what the author thinks the reader wants to do because it's cool. I'm looking for functionality and strength.

There are possibly other, better suited books out there, but the section on injury recovery and lifestyle factors, as well as the very e
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has been brilliant to plan a bodyweight routine in the absence of gyms and explained a lot about exercise routine construction that is also useful outside of gymnastics. I appreciate the emphasis on injury prehabilitation and rehabilitation as it's often overlooked. I eventually bought a physical copy for reference of exercise techniques and to review my routine after I complete a cycle. The author is very active on Reddit and I learned a few extra bits from his comments on people's routine ...more
Tin Mayer
Apr 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Fredrik Olsson
Apr 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Coming back to this book again and again. It's the bible for bodyweight training which also contains a lot of good information about training in general, like injury management, mobility, cardio, lifestyle etc. Whether you do primarily traditional lifting or purely bodyweight there is a lot of to learn from this book. If you don't do a lot of bodyweight you'll hopefully be inspired to implement some more in your routine after reading this book. I've personally gained a lot in the traditional lif ...more
Apr 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books in 2 categories :

a) Bodyweight training

Although there are many resources like websites, books, youtube videos etc, this one cover it end to end and gives you the bigger picture so that you can take maximum value from everything else.

b) Programming for strength. There are many academic classics in the second category (Bompa, Kraemer etc) but this one is the best for the serious athlete, not the professional coach or university student. It shows how it can be applied in bodyw
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports, fitness, to-get
This is the first book on calisthenics/gymnastics I've ever read, and since I can't compare it to any other, I'm not sure that my 5* rating is valid. Nevertheless, the helpfulness as well as the immensity of information it provides leaves me no other option but to recommend it as a ground zero point to anyone trying to dabble in bodyweight training.
It will (hopefully) be my workout companion in many years to come.
What I disliked though was the reconvalescent part of the book, I felt it was total
Rufus Johnson
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the Bible on calisthenics and will tell you everything you could possibly need to know. However, it is so densely written and full of so much technical terminology it can be an intense slog and require a lot of effort to actually apply. At times it dives so far into minutae that it seems more for a Phd student writing a thesis than someone actually wanting to apply it's principles. I would still recommend it, but not for those with a passing interest. ...more
Jan 10, 2021 rated it liked it
I learned some important principles of workout programming, but Mr Low is not a writer and the first 300 pages could have been pared way down with some judicious editing. Also, I bought the book to design a workout with minimal equipment, as COVID has made gyms a dicey proposition. I was disappointed at the amount of equipment required to progress according to his suggested model.

Buy it used if you're curious, it's not worth $50.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
If you are interested in bodyweight fitness and gymnastics, this is a very detailed book on training in that specific area. It is really the most comprehensive book on the subject matter. I have begun implementing a beginning routine based on this book, and I have noticed rapid and marked improvements. I am looking forward to continuing to progress. :)
Richard Meadows
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This would be utterly useless and off-putting to someone with no programming/sports science knowledge. It's basically a textbook, and incredibly dry to read. With that being said, it's very thorough and detailed, and worth it alone for the step-by-step guide to progressions in each of the major movements at the end of the book. ...more
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