Beginning Your (Calisthenics) Journey

My name is Stephen Clark.  I am a personal trainer and Progressive Calisthenics Certified (PCC) Instructor.  I have had the honor and privilege to meet and train with some of the top trainers in the field of calisthenics from all over the world including Al and Danny Kavadlo, Micke Haggstrom, and Jack Arnow.


But this blog isn’t about me, it’s about you!

I have created an online program that synthesizes the best existing bodyweight training protocols and techniques into a systematic model.  Whether you’ve never exercised in your life or are a seasoned athlete, one can benefit from progressive calisthenics.  Regardless of your current fitness level, this program can help you reach your goals – and enjoy the journey along the way!  My beginner calisthenics program will help you…

  • Get stronger in the safest way possible!
  • Build endurance
  • Gain mobility
  • Build balance
  • Achieve explosiveness and improve athletic performance
  • Build lean, beautiful, and functional muscle
  • Rehab and/or prehab old or potential injuries
  • Develop the foundation needed to achieve impressive feats of strength such as the human flag or one-armed chin up
  • And yes, shed body fat!

The program can be followed for an indefinite amount of time, implemented with zero gym equipment, and is only $19.99!

*To purchase a program, you can simply send me a request at*

Here is a testimonial from my mentor Nick, who I mentored in calisthenics :).

My name is Nick Primavera. I’m a certified personal trainer,corrective exercise specialist and former high level athlete. In my 15 years of strength training I have tried just about every method there is. It was not until I met Stephen that I found one that not only improved my athleticism, but also my aesthetics. This calisthenics program has cured me of chronic joint pain created by years of sports, and has given me back my flexibility. I am stronger, leaner and happier following his program. The best part about this beginner program is that there are endless progressions, so you can literally never run out of ways to improve. It also makes it extremely easy to stay committed because the workouts can be completed anywhere with no equipment by ANYONE!

I’m patiently awaiting Stephen’s intermediate calisthenics program so that I can become EVEN MORE of a machine. Thanks Stephen for changing my fitness philosophy, and my life.


Nick & Stephen’s Top 6 Lifestyle Tips

1.) Stress Is A Mess

I don’t know if you noticed this, but I just rhymed. With that line I am already a better rapper than Chief Keef. Anywho, stress is a killer. I don’t just mean the psychological stress that you feel when your sketchy ass boyfriend likes another girls Instagram post from 5 weeks ago, but also the stress you place on your body by eating shitty.

Psychological and physiological stress may seem different, but they create the same internal environment that throws everything off balance including your hormones, neurotransmitters, nervous system, and even your grandmother. Do you wanna be responsible for nanna falling and breaking her hip? NO! So stop stressing!

Battle stress by taking a 15 minute break at the end of every day. Close your eyes and reflect on the day that has passed and choose 3 things from that day that you are grateful for. This practice will create an appreciation for everyday life on both the conscious AND subconscious level. Pumping your subconscious mind with positivity creates a POWERFUL way to thwart the negative effects of stress. You will reap the benefits of harmonious balance between your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system which will allow you to achieve deep restorative sleep and full physical/neurological regeneration. square in the nuts

Another way to kick stress square in the nuts is to dial in your nutrition. Numerous studies have shown that mismanagement of blood sugar creates a terribly stressful internal environment wreaking havoc on you physiologically. It has also been shown that many people who follow standard American diets are actually severely lacking in key nutrients. Eat dark colored thin skinned fruits, fibrous leafy vegetables, and quality protein/fat sources. Keep your food choices on the lower side of the glycemic index and stay away from processed foods like super models stay away from broke dudes who drive Hyundai Sonatas.

2.) Feed Your Brain

Life can be a monotonous hamster wheel. When people ask you “what’s new?” do you reply “same old shit”? Well STOP THAT!Each day is an opportunity to recreate yourself and improve your ability to positively impact the world. Strive to learn something new each day. I recommend achieving this by opening your mind to new experiences. Here are 3 things I like to do every day to learn new things…

– Get into a convo with a stranger: You never know what you’ll learn when you speak to a random stranger. It’s also a good way to practice your people skills and improve your ability to communicate. I learn some amazing things and connect with some incredible people this way. I highly recommend being more outgoing. Startinnnnnnnng NOW…

– Read high level literature: I buy science books that are way out of my league. I spend an hour most nights reading them and researching accordingly so that I’m able to eventually understand them. At some poin,t the literature that was once out of my league become as simple as Dr. Seuss books, and my intelligence benefits greatly. Challenge yourself daily by reading epic shit.

– Unplug yourself: Leave all of your devices in the house or car and go outside. Find somewhere that you can be with nature and spend an hour or so looking around at the world and appreciating what it has to offer. Workout outside, lay under a tree or simply walk around and breathe deeply. You’ll be amazed at some of the thoughts you unlock from deep in your mind when you unplug and relax. You’ll learn just how powerful unplugging can be and you will begin to communicate with yourself with much more presence and awareness. Being aware of how you communicate with YOURSELF will allow you to take control of your thought processes which can kill stress and increase focus and positive action.

stephen clark

3.) Get Off Your Ass

I’ll keep this one simple. Find a basic exercise program (check out Stephen’s blog for workouts!) that you can complete at home. Work on it every single day aiming to make small progressions regularly. Even a baby step in the right direction is progress! Committing to a workout program will not only improve your physical well-being, but also will begin to improve your ability to adapt your lifestyle to one that more favors overall health. Building new habits takes commitment. Regularly flex your mental and physical strength to become a well-rounded, regimented individual.

Now I’ll pass the mic to Stephen… (hands off mic, winks at pretty girl in the crowd, gets shot down)

4. Eat S!@#. Good s!@#, though!

I’ll keep it really simple on this one – skip the fast food. It’s not always about what you eat, it’s about the quality of your food. For example, a Big Mac is a burger and it’s bad for you. A burger made from USDA grass fed beef is a burger too, but it’s a good burger.
Oh yeah, and what Nick said in #1 ^…

good burger

5. Stop making excuses.

Make fitness and nutrition a priority in your life. Hectic work schedules and family life aren’t really legitimate excuses. When it comes down to it, if you don’t have your health – you don’t have anything. How can you possibly have a successful career and be there for your family and friends if you’re body and mind aren’t healthy?
As a wise man once said, “Health is wealth, and movement is medicine.” Preach.

6. “Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort.”

That quote is on a magnet that has been on my mini fridge throughout my college career, and truer words have never been spoken (or printed on a magnet). Try new things. When you say to yourself that you don’t like working out you probably mean that you don’t like lifting weights or running on a treadmill. Humans have arms and legs because we were meant to move! Get out there and try new things.

I’ve never been ice skating before in my entire life until this past semester when my fraternity went with a sorority. Did I embarrass myself in front of A LOT of sorority girls? Hell yes. I was even nominated for J.O.W. for my antics (J.O.W. stands for “Jackass of the Week,” and I may have even won – I don’t remember). But did I get a great workout?? I sure did.

I’ll be honest, I still have trouble talking to the pretty girl across the bar sometimes. I don’t always live up to my mini fridge, but when I do it’s pretty much 100% percent always worth it (way better success rate than “sex panther”).sex panther

Use these 6 tips to become a little more awesome each day. When should you start? In the wise words of Zach De La Rocha…


Calisthenics for Athletes (And Everyone Else…)

I’ve trained everyone from pro baseball players with big contracts to snot nosed spoiled 10 year olds who have 4 iPads, and you know what they all have in common? They can ALL benefit from the basics of human movement. When it comes to being a functional human being on the planet earth, improving the quality of your movements should be top priority. Unfortunately, we have been manipulated by the commercial media to believe that 6 pack abs and sexy glutes are the symbols of a high level of fitness and athleticism. What if I told you that there was a way that you could improve your joint range of motion, muscle tone, neuromuscular efficiency, burn fat, get shredded, become more athletic, become a ninja and never get injured? You’d probably say “ Nick shhhhhh”. So I won’t tell you those awesome things, I’ll let my man Stephen Clark THE calisthenics expert fill you in on why calisthenics are awesome for athletes…

1.  Limitless Progressions – Progressive calisthenics is based on adaptability.  Athletes must adapt to different stresses throughout their training, competitions, games, matches, etc.  Calisthenic practitioners can use intensity variables to make exercises harder or easier, and this “intensity calibration” is much more versatile than simply adding or dropping weight from a barbell.  These variables include movement speed, range-of-motion, weight-to-limb ratio, and leverage – just to name a few.   All of these variables are worth trying when attempting to break through plateaus and achieve your athletic goals.

2.  Teach Kinematics – Any serious athlete should educate themselves on the “why” of their training.  A lot of you reading this, as well as the person writing this (Me!) – are tactile, or hands-on learners. Practicing calisthenics is a great way to increase your understanding of principle concepts of mechanics and classical physics such as Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, and Newton’s Law of Gravity, as well as centers and lines of gravity.  Parents: Do I get brownie points for this? 🙂

"If I am anything, which I highly doubt, I have made myself so by hard work." Newton understood the value of hard work!
“If I am anything, which I highly doubt, I have made myself so by hard work.” Newton understood the value of hard work!

3.  All Natural – It’s a fact – calisthenics are a more natural way of training than lifting weights in a gym or running on a hard, flat surface such as a sidewalk.  During the turn of the 20th century, French physical educationist Georges Herbert developed his system of La Method Naturelle based on the instinctive movements of indigenous peoples.  He did so after noticing the impressive physiques of people living in closer harmony with the earth compared to those living in industrialized societies.  The foundation of calisthenic training is comprised of natural movements such as pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, stepping, etc.  The ancient Olympians trained with calisthenics.  And oh yeah, did I mention that the work Georges Herbert went  on to form the basis of the sport of parkour?!  If you ask me, professional traceurs and freerunners are the best athletes in the world.  Respect.


4.  Safety First – Calisthenics are among the safest way to train to reach any athletic goal.  Not only do I recommend calisthenics for the seasoned athlete, but also for the beginner new to exercise altogether.   Before one increases loads on exercises through use of external weights, they must first learn the movement unloaded and with proper form! It will pay off in the end, trust me.

5.  Calisthenics = Fun – It might just be me (it’s not :)), but I think performing calisthenics is a blast!  If an athlete (or anyone, really) enjoys their training, they will be 100% more successful.  This is true for any endeavor.  Enjoying the journey is more important that reaping the benefits of the outcome.  I will stand by that claim to the grave…

Micke Haggstrom and Jack Arnow are two beautiful exemplars of the importance of  having fun with their training.  Micke is a member of Barstarzz Sweden and is the sickest athlete I’ve ever met.  Jack Arnow is in his seventies and can pull off feats of strength such as the one-armed chin up and front lever.  Talk to these guys about calisthenics, and you can see the passion in their eyes.

Micke from Barstarzz Sweden!

~ Do what you love. 

I <3 Calisthenics

I’ve emphasized doing what makes you happy in my blog.  A lot.  Because that’s what I believe in.  “An unexamined life is not worth living,” right?  Thanks, Socrates.

Introspect for a second.  What is it in your life that makes life totally and completely worth it?  What is it that makes you feel most alive?

For me, it’s calisthenics.  I love calisthenics.  Calisthenics makes me happy – and when I think about why, it’s easy for me to see.  Calisthenics can be done anywhere, anytime.  This fits my relatively minimalist philosophy.  It is also extremely freeing knowing I can get a killer workout anywhere under any circumstances!  No excuses.

When I first started exercising, I did it for aesthetic reasons.  Calisthenics has completely changed my ideology.  Now, my goals consist of achieving feats of strength such as the one-arm pull up or the human flag.  Reaching for goals like these makes the journey that much more fun.

“Our environment shapes the away we move. The way we move shapes our bodies.” – Me

And oh yeah, calisthenics literally means “beautiful strength” in Greek.  How bad ass is that?!

Hercules didn’t own a barbell set or have any dumbbells – he did calisthenics.

Everyone should be doing calisthenics.  Your parents should be doing calisthenics.  Your kids should be doing calisthenics.  Hell, maybe even your grandparents…

Here’s my friend, mentor, and PIC (partner in calisthenics), Nick Primavera telling you why:

For those of you who don’t know me, I am essentially a unique combination of Deepak Chopra and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I like to take an intelligent approach to achieving insane fitness goals while also appreciating the holistic power that exercise can have. Too often the term “fitness” gets watered down by the commercial media as being a collection of dumb meatheads throwing around iron weights. When we look at what fitness truly is, we see that it has been used for centuries as MEDICINE. Just like any other form of medicine, there are sub-categories that better fit the needs of particular individuals. Calisthenics just so happens to be a category of movement that can be modified to benefit every single human being on the planet earth regardless of age or fitness level. THAT is why I love calisthenics. To convince you further about the awesomeness of calisthenics I will give you a list of chillness factors that are undeniable…

Hi, I’m Nick. Listen up!
  1. CALIsthenics has “CALI” in it, and Cali is a sick place to visit.
  2. Learning to use your own body weight as resistance provides a unique way for your brain and body to become more in tune. This will improve neurological control of your joints while moving through space.
  3. The time under tension utilized in calisthenics programs leads to growth of muscle tissue while also creating a unique metabolic stress, placing high demands on both short and long term energy substrates. This leads to an array of adaptations that benefit your overall health.
  4. The progressive overload principle can be used to create endless progressions with bodyweight training so that you can literally never run out of ways to improve, without ever needing a dumbbell or barbell.
  5. Calisthenics are a great tool for those who have suffered from orthopedic injury. The basic human movements must be restored (as much as possible) after injury in order to get back to a functional life and prevent further injury. The great thing about calisthenics is that you can begin with very basic moves and progress to more difficult variations, but you are still always improving upon the same basic movement patterns.
  6. When done correctly, this form of exercise can place great demands on muscles without creating injury to passive elements around the working joints. Challenging muscles without beating up ligaments and cartilage is a win in the long run.
  7. It’s just fun to workout literally anywhere. I walked by a park bench the other day and wanted to see how many different exercises I could do for 1 set of 20 in 15 minutes. It ended up being an awesome workout and, I don’t know if girls heard me counting,but I did 1,000 reps. You will never be limited by lack of equipment!
  8. Practicing and perfecting movements at a slower pace will ingrain quality mechanics that can then be progressed and mimicked at faster speeds. It’s like martial artists. They don’t just ninja kick your face without having first practiced kicking at a slow velocity in order to learn control. Calisthenics will prepare you to control yourself when moving at any speed.
  9. Many of the moves in calisthenics promote proper core function. Stiffening of the deep core unit musculature allows for stability of the spine while the hips and shoulders create motion. This is an essential aspect of movement because it can prevent unwanted motions that wear down the annular fibers that surround the nucleus of spinal discs, among other things. Duh.
  10. Calisthenics paired with a healthy diet can create an incredible physique. If you want a lean athletic looking body that can actually move well, calisthenics are for you. Boom baby!

An AB-solutely Amazing Exercise!

Those people you hear say, “Who needs a six-pack, when you have a keg?” (while they brandish their gut with feigned pride) are lying to themselves.  If you’ve never heard that one before, you’re welcome.  It’s actually pretty clever.  But still untrue.

Let’s face it, we all want chiseled, or flat, midsections.  When I started writing this blog, the number one question I got from people was “Hey Stephen, do you have any exercises/workouts for the abdominal muscles?  And I do!  I consider training the abdominals my specialty :).

Two things.  Number one – STOP DOING CRUNCHES.  And number two – meet your new best friend, the hanging leg raise.  Believe in it or not, evolution is scientific fact.  Our human ancestors evolved (over thousands and thousands of years) from primates that used brachiation as a form of arboreal locomotion into bi-pedal badasses.  What I mean by this is the human body evolved to hang with our arms and walk with our legs.  We did not evolve from crab-walking organisms that did crunches as a part of their daily struggle to survive.  Oh what a struggle it would’ve been…

While crunches really only work the rectus abdominis, hanging leg raises train all the muscle of the waist – the obliques, tranversus, psoas, intercostals, and serratus!

Muscles worked by crunches.
Muscles worked by hanging leg raises.

Here is an exercise tutorial on the hanging knee raise!  Enjoy Scott’s hardcore accent.

Can’t support your body weight while hanging?  No problem!  Before jumping into the hanging variations of the leg raise, try some of the earlier progressions of the exercise.  Remember:  Fitness is not a sprint.  Nor is it a marathon.  It is a lifestyle.

Once you become proficient at the flat knee raises, you can attempt flat straight leg raises by keeping your legs straight throughout the entire movement!  When that becomes easy, you’re ready to “hang out” at the bar :).

Don’t Be a Potato – Eat One.

This is for all you couch potatoes out there (You know who you are)!  You may not enjoy working out.  That’s fine.  A lot of people don’t.  But what is “working out,” really? When most of us think of working out we think of going to the gym, running, and lifting weights.  While yes, these activities do constitute a workout, they are not the only means of exercise.  Would if I told you you could get a workout doing what you love?

Just move!

My friend Selby likes to play tennis until his shirt is so drenched in sweat it outweighs his body – and he can kick my ass any day of the week! (Except Thursdays, I’m awesome on Thursdays).  My friend Adam loves jiu-jitsu.  Every time I see him he puts me in some type of hold.  Seriously if you ever meet Adam, don’t shake his hand – he will put you in an arm bar.  He is the worst :).  My roommate Aaron spent all week perfecting his jump shot for a student-teacher basketball game, and he is going to take those kids to school!  At school…

My point: all of these people are getting workouts doing what they actually like to do.  So you can too!

Not an athlete?  Don’t like competition?  No big deal.  You can get exercise watching Beyonce videos on YouTube while trying to dance like her (Good luck) or walking around town looking for artsy photo ops.  It’s true!

If there is something that you like to do that increases your heart rate – do it.  You’ll be working out and you won’t not even know it.

Never Lose Your Dinosaur. Or Ninja, or Vampire Bat…

What’s in a name?

You’re probably wondering why the hell this blog is titled Jurassic Clark.  Or maybe you’re even saying to yourself, “What is this kid’s deal?”

No offense taken.  I might be thinking the same thing if our roles were reversed.

Jurassic Clark is a creative twist between my favorite movie of all time, 1993’s Jurassic Park, and my father’s awesome name (Thanks, Dad).  Now while I consider myself a very clever person, I can’t take credit for making it up.

Mr. Turchi was one of my parents’ neighborhood friends when I was growing up.  Whenever my brother and I were outside playing, Mr. Turchi would drive by in his… Jeep, I think it was and yell ,”AYY, HOW’S IT GOING JURASSIC CLARKS!” while sticking his body almost completely out the window.  Some background: I used to run around with my two fingers out like a t-rex and stuff a scarf in my pants to use as a tail.  Yes, like the father from Step Brothers and yes, I actually did this.  Now you know the movie was based on a true story :).

Best. Christmas. Ever.
Best. Christmas. Ever.

Why did this stick with me?  Because Mr. Turchi is the happiest man I have ever known.

My friend Nick and I were talking yesterday and he told me that in his first grade yearbook he wrote that he wanted to be a ninja skateboarder.  A ninja skateboarder – how epic is that?!  I mean come on now.  Have any of you ever seen the video of the kid who wants to grow up to be a vampire bat?  If not, you should check it out. It’s the cutest thing ever.

While we should all aspire to grow, we don’t actually have to “grow up.”  Where is the fun in that?

That is what Jurassic Clark is to me.  The part of myself that I love the most and will never change – my inner child.  Don’t lose sight of this part of yourself.  Don’t lose your dinosaur.

Do what you love.