How often should you trick?

Three, 3, number 3

You should have three tricking sessions, on three different days each week.

What is a tricking session?

To understand my anwer, a tricking session is a 10-45 minute warmup + 45-60 minutes of tricking.  This should be enough to exhaust you.  Doing this 3 times a week is the best overall pattern and frequency for most people.

One day a week is not enough

  • One day a week is only enough to slow the decay of your tricking skills over a longer trajectory of time.
  • One day a week is only enough to slowly regain some lost tricking abilities over a longer trajectory of time.
  • One day a week is not enough to make progress, be your best, or trick safely.

I remember having a few trickster friends in the past who claimed to trick only one day a week.  These guys were very good at tricking and that remark left an impression on me.  When I kept up with them and reflected back on their tricking when they were averaging one gym session a week, they were not going anywhere with their skills and most were littered with injuries.  They didn’t get good at tricking by tricking one day a week.  They got good at tricking by tricking several days a week.  Then after a few years of tricking many times each week, they got bored with tricking and reduced their tricking frequency down to their one day a week rate.  Then came the slow decline I observed over the next few years…

Sometimes you will find an experienced trickster who claims they love tricking only one day a week.  They love it because they took their tricking down to one day a week from several days a week.  When this happens their bodys have a chance to overcome some accumulated fatigue and supercompensate.  They think one day a week is better!  And it feels good for a month or so…  But then these “gains” don’t last, and they’ll soon be going downhill.

So if you reduce your tricking to one day a week you’ll have to eventually increase it back to 3+ days a week for the best maintenance, progress, safety, and porcupine.

Two days a week is enough

  • Two days a week is almost as good as three days a week.
  • Two days a week is galaxies better than one day a week.

In my opinion, two tricking sessions on two different days each week, if spaced apart and not back to back, is twice as effective as just one day a week.  Two should be your minimum goal.  Two is enough for regaining lost skills, maintaining your skills (at the intermediate skill level), or progressing (to an intermediate skill level).  Two should be your goal when getting into tricking or for just learning a few tricks.

Three days a week is the best

This is based on my 14 years of tricking and keeping up with other tricksters.  In all my time spent tricking I have probably averaged 3 days a week when I was at my best.  I noticed the same for most other people I grew up with as a trickster.  The best way to do it, of course, is 3 sessions per week on 3 different days spaced apart.  To better make use of this answer know that each of these tricking sessions is usually something like,

  • 30 minute warmup.
  • 50 minutes tricking.
  • 10 minute cooldown.

Do that three days a week spaced out and then concern yourself with the details after that: technique, fitness, recovery, psychology, etc.  Make these three sessions better and improve your lifestyle and recovery and extracurricular conditioning, don’t add or remove sessions on top of these and you’ll be doing just about all you can do for improvement as a trickster by directly tricking.

Four days a week is a lot like three

This is actually theoretically better than three days a week but more difficult to manage the fatigue.  For serious and experienced tricksters, I recommend an average of 3 and 4 days a week.  3 is best for most people, but if you’re really into it you’ll be wanting more than 3, and four is it.

Five days or more a week changes the way you trick

If you trick as often as five days a week or more your CNS will put the brakes on you.  You’ll be tricking at 80% instead of 100% each session.  This means you’ll be “watering down” your sessions, diluting them, or whatever.  So instead of 3 big sessions each week you’ll have a mix of big and small sessions.

This dilution has advantages and disadvantages.  In another thing I’ve written I mention that tricking more frequently like this is a big safety boost.  Your support muscles are always alive and firing because of the higher frequency, and your skill set becomes more predictable, reliable, and consistent.

The big benefit from high frequency tricking comes when you move from this high frequency temporarily to a lower one.  Removing the fatigue accumulated from 5 sessions a week over a long period of time by reducing your number of sessions each weak to 2-3 can allow you to realize a greater potential than if you were just plugging along doing 2-3 sessions a week… The drop in frequency is something your body can use as a means to supercompensate from an overload.

So I don’t recommend five days a week for the long term or for inexperienced tricksters.  Doing it will also undoubtedly change the way you trick.  You’ll have 5 small-medium sessions each week as opposed to a couple big ones.

What about Acrobolix tricksters?

So what about the dudes who want to build muscle and be buff and get strong and also trick?  The answer is still three… Unless you’re bulking…

If you are bulking during the winter to put on extra muscle, then getting in even just one session a week is admirable. But during these times the focus is on building muscle, not tricking.  Your tricking is going to suck during your bulk.  It’s supposed to suck while you’re bulking. And no matter what anybody tells you, a bulking cycle is the ONLY route for building muscle whether it be from a gargantuan increase in calories or a controlled increase.  No matter how you shake it: more muscle = more food = more body weight = you are bulking!  So three sessions each week would be much better for your tricking, but again, bulking is about building muscle and putting on body weight.

So if you want to balance your muscle, might, and your tricking moves then you need to put in three solid tricking sessions each week.  Otherwise drop tricking down and focus on bulking!

Is three days a week perfect?

Three sessions a week, on three different days a week spaced apart is close to perfect.  This is how often you should strive to trick.  Before you consider increasing your tricking frequency beyond this, focus on improving everything else outside your tricking sessions before doing that.  Your nutrition and recovery methods.  Look into other training modalities (complimentary strength training, flexibility training, etc).  Your motivation, your lifestyle, stress levels, etc.   Optimize all of this stuff! Tricking is NOT the only thing you should be thinking about to get the most out of your tricking.  Dial in everything else outside your tricking sessions before you even think about increasing your tricking session frequency beyond three solid-n-good sessions each week.  Because unless everything else is close to perfect beyond the three day a week recommendation, moving up from that is not going to be more effective or vascular.  Or potted plant.

21 Replies to “How often should you trick?”

  1. rock_ten says:

    How do I get over backflip fear?

    1. Josiah says:

      This took me about 6 months to get. The process was well speed up once I recorded my attempts so I highly recommend you record yourself. I had no gymnastics gym and no spotter with only rock solid dry grass or wet muddy grass and Minnesota winters stopped my attempts for about 3 months. And when I got it I didn’t even tuck. So as you can see I might be able to help. First thing I got great at was being able to stand straight up and then learned to drop straight back into a bridge. Second, learn to rubber band kip up, roll back and forth a couple times then do a kip up but don’t completely stand straight up, instead jump straight back into another kip up (may knock the wind out of you the first time or two). Third, I learned to jump straight back into a handstand, don’t try a backhandspring because it feels too complicated. Whatever you do just thing up jumping straight back into a handstand. You should also have none to very little twist in your body when you jump back. After all this stuff I got over the fear of failing because this training got me used to jumping and rotating back in mid air. Remember to learn perfect technique as well. I should also add that you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed when doing this (or any trick). You need to FEEL it, feeling is not seeing it in your head. If it doesn’t feel natural as walking it will be much harder to land it. These are just some tips I have. Good luck and give it time. You WILL get it.

      1. Martin says:

        Start from water chest high and progress to the shore when you are feeling safe. Took me 2 weeks to land one on local beach.

  2. SShortyy says:

    Who are you again?

  3. Valvolt says:

    Juji, you said:
    “So if you want to balance your muscle, might, and your tricking moves then you need to put in three solid tricking sessions each week. Otherwise drop tricking down and focus on bulking!”
    So, in the end, do you think it’s possible to improve at tricking and get bigger by doing something like 3 days tricking and 3 days BB a week? I still don’t get what do you mean by “balance” them all… does it mean to maintain or to improve (even if slowly than focusing on one of the two)?

    1. Jon Call says:

      Hi Valvolt,

      Only for novice. Novice can make gains in both simultaneously. Intermediates and beyond are better off switching back and forth a few times a year if they want cumulative gains, real “level upping”.

      3 is a good number, but remember that 3 exists within the context of all the other stuff you do in that week. If you only are tricking 3 days a week and nothing else, that’s COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than tricking 3 days a week and lifting 3 days a week. That’s why 3 can be both good for gains or only a means of maintenance… Depending on whether or not you just trick or trick and body build.

      1. Shades says:

        What if you’re an intermediate tricker and novice lifter? Im trying to do 3 lifting sessions (fullbody) per week and 2-3 tricking sessions, but the tricking sessions are starting to negatively impact my lifting progress (mostly just the lower body lifts) what would you recommend then?

  4. Paul Clark says:

    Hi Juji, how about tricking frequency for guys between 30-40? Im 34 and have been tricking since i was 14 but now I find it hard to recover from 3 times a week. Ive been training twice a week for over a year (pretty consistently) and was trying to level up to 3 times a week but my legs are so tight and sore and my jumps have no power and occasionally ive had to back down to just 1 time a week. I have really tried to push through it thinking hey i just need to get conditioned to it but no. And sometimes if i take a full week off (or even two weeks in a couple of cases) when Ive come back my legs are fresh and full of power. So i figure this is definitely must be a recovery issue right? I get at least 9-10 good hours sleep a night, eat a high protien meals every three hours with good carbs like brown rice and am taking some solid supplements like creatine, whey and omega 3. I also lift 3 times a week and have been lifting also since i was around 16, funny thing is that my recovery from my weight training sessions doesn’t seem to have been so strongly effected by my age. but my tricking recovery is just terrible now. oh yea and my weight hasn’t change that much in the last ten years either (75-80kgs) so it cant be that. Any help would be super appreciated thanks man!

    1. Jon Call says:

      Sounds like you got the important things on lockdown. What I’ve found is that skilled/experienced tricksters can induce a devastating amount of fatigue to their body. They’ve trained their nervous system to coordinate/fire in powerful ways that are very draining. However, skilled/experienced tricksters also adapt and begin recovering quicker. But it may be that your ability to induce fatigue with your decades of experience through very refined technique, has now outpaced your body’s ability to recover. Based on what you’re saying, back off weeks seem to be a crucial strategy you need to be employing. You may consider something like a cycle of 3,2,3,1,repeat. 3 days week 1, 2 days week 2, 3 days week 3, 1 day week 4, repeat. So the average is between 2-3 but not strictly 3 every week, and taking back off weeks religiously every 4th to 6th week.

      Thanks for sharing your comments and reading!

  5. Paul Clark says:

    Oh and just to add I have been doing the periodization thing, when i go hard with the weights i back off tricking and when i trick more frequent i back off the weights. But still i can barely maintain my tricking level and am seeing deterioration especially in jumping height. Have you also experienced this with getting older? Should i stop weights almost completely if i want to improve my tricking? Are my weights workouts so seriously eating into my tricking recovery?

    1. Jon Call says:

      I’m 29 and have been tricking since I was 14. I’ve noticed 0 loss in jumping height from standing, my backflips are as high as they ever were. What I’ve lost is my ability to rebound in tricking combos, but I feel like most of that loss is from my additional body weight. I’m 230 lbs now at 29, I can’t rebound like I was when I was 185 lbs at 19 years old, there is just too much mass to move around now… I don’t think age is the culprit for me yet.

      You can try phasing out weights for a little while but maybe something else is the culprit? Possibly it’s not your weight training impeding your tricking recovery or your age… but something else?

  6. Paul Clark says:

    Thanks for your reply! Thats just incredible that you have maintained your jumping height with the added muscle mass. Your 3,2,3,1 idea sounds interesting i will play around with it. Also i remember reading in one of your articles that in order to help recovery you can warm up as if to trick and then not trick, on a daily bases is that right? Thats something i have tried a couple of times but never done it religiously everyday, do u think it will help? Its gets blood into the muscles which speeds up recovery correct? Also you dont do any other exercises to help ur tricking jumping and power right? I read ur article on plyomeTRICKS. Damn how on earth have u maintained ur jumps at 230? thats just insane.

    1. Jon Call says:

      Active rest generally is better for recuperation than passive rest. I prefer to allocate my passive rest to back off weeks every 4-6 weeks, or when life intervenes (business trip, food poisoning, car breaks down) instead of taking them voluntarily… Or if I’m taking time off to work on other projects, then training is put on the back burner. Yes active rest increases blood flow which delivers nutrients, up-regulates tissue remodeling, and I have a feeling it does something positive to reduce nervous system fatigue but I’ve not read anything about it specifically.

  7. Paul Clark says:

    As for your question of could it be something else impeding my recovery, i have really been trying to hunt that answer down. My sleep and diet is good, my job allows me to have a good amount of free time to focus on training so i really dont know what it could be except for getting older. I know gymnasts have a short shelf life and are past their prime by their mid twenties. I guess it must be the same for trickers as its such a high intensity sport.

    1. Jon Call says:

      Well we can’t do this forever like we do when we’re in our prime. We have to change the way we do things. You’re going to have to change something about the way you trick regardless if you do indeed figure out a solution to your issue today. You’re 34 right now, doesn’t it feel like yesterday you were 28? Time is going to continue passing at ever increasing rates. Within a blink of an eye you’ll be 40 years old. You would never believe at 40 you should be able to recover and move as fast as you did in your early twenties, so why 34? The thing about tricking is it doesn’t equal any set of tricks or any way of doing those tricks. Try to find moves that don’t make such a high demand on your maximum explosivity, and consider learning easier moves on your other side. Diversify. 🙂

  8. Paul Clark says:

    Thanks man, im going to have a play around with my training timetable and see if i can resolve this. Cheers for the info!

  9. Paul Clark says:

    I suppose as an absolute last resort I could always train in skinny jeans pockets out.

    1. Jon Call says:

      I don’t know what makes me more mad, skinny jeans or pockets out. Both begs for a whooping!

  10. Hi, I tried one good nutrition it helped me a lot to gain my muscles – enjoy it

  11. Oliver says:

    Hi Juji,

    I’ve never done any form of gymnastics. I have been gym training for powerlifting (west side style, 2days heavy 2 days moderate for speed and 1day gpp with a sled). I want to keep getting stronger in the bench, squat and deadlift, but I also want to start training to do gymnastic moves like planche, lever, side flag, handstand and intermediate tricks. If I want to advance in lifting and gymnastics/tricking how would you structure a week? In my gym training, there’s no multi-week back off. I schedule a week of deload every 4th or 6th week. How could I progress in gym and gymnastics/tricks at the same time just having a regular deload to help recovery? If possible, I would like every training week to be the same and just have a deload regularly.

    1. Oliver says:

      By the way, I am nearly 40 and weigh 200lbs at about 15% BF.

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