June is Men’s Health Month. Did you know?
We spoke with Hampton Liu, fitness instructor and founder of Hybrid Calisthenics, to learn more about building long-term fitness through bodyweight exercises. He started making home workout videos in 2019. The brand’s YouTube channel has nearly 3 million subscribers. Hampton estimates his total audience across all platforms is above 5 million.
Let’s get to the Q&A.
Why calisthenics? What is calisthenics?
Calisthenics is bodyweight exercise—think pushups, pullups, squats, etc. Things like that! You use your body and very little equipment.
I think it appeals to me especially because it implies we have everything we need to make a change. With just our body, gravity, and the right knowledge, we can radically improve our health and fitness. I think that’s really cool!
Based on what you hear from your audience, are some exercises more intimidating than others? How many variations of pushups do you demonstrate in your home workout videos?
I think it’s the sheer variety that seems the most intimidating. If we flooded the reader with hundreds of different pushup variations, it’s easy for them to feel lost. They might think, “I have no idea where to start.”
So I focus on progression over variety. That is to say we think of pushups as “horizontal pushing” and then find easy ways to do that (Wall Pushups) and harder ways to do that (One Arm Pushups).
The One Arm Pullup is also an “intimidating” exercise because it’s relatively uncommon. Just like with almost everything, however—we can build up to it!
You do more than workout tutorials. What are some other dimensions of health that you address in your videos and podcasts?
My podcast is called Hybrid Calisthenics Podcast, but everyone calls it Coffee With Hampton, so that’s probably the name to which I’ll change it.
I talk about all aspects of life, but especially optimizing our mindset.
Fitness doesn’t exist in a vacuum. This means that someone could have access to the best fitness information and equipment in the world and not use it—if their mindset is wrong, it’s hard for them to win.
I talk about resolving insecurities, being honest with ourselves, using forgiveness to improve our life, leveraging kindness as a superpower, and more!
Hybrid Calisthenics has a thriving online community. Do you go to fitness events to promote your program or meet followers?
We’re entirely online at the moment. I’d love to do a Hybrid Convention or something in a few years. Some places are still locked down. I’d like the world to be a bit more mobile before we do anything like that.
But I love the idea!
Tell us about injuries. Have you ever hurt yourself while working out?
I don’t injure myself often, but I have before.
Exercise-related injuries come from many causes, but I most commonly see it when people rush ahead to an exercise for which they’re not ready.
Building up steadily to a movement—and warming up beforehand—is relatively safe. When we try to break the chain and try new, exciting things (which can be good!), that’s sometimes when injury occurs.
There’s a whole exercise trend called “bulletproofing.” This is basically preventing the body from being injured—often by strengthening it at disadvantageous positions.
A great example would be the Jefferson Curl. Everyone knows that “you’re not supposed to round your back during a deadlift!”
However, in real life, sometimes our back is rounded. And then it gets tweaked, because we never trained for it to work in that position. The Jefferson Curl does.
There’s a lot more to the concept, but I think it’s very valuable. I’m glad this is being popularized.
How do you brew your coffee? Do you have a favorite roaster?
My coffee beans differ, but I love my Aeropress coffee! I highly recommend it. I have zero business affiliation with them. I’m not being paid to promote them at all. I’ve just been a big fan for years. Every coffee lover I know who’s tried it has loved it.
It looks kind of like a French press. Look it up to see this funky contraption and make some coffee!