How To Do Thumb Pushups

I did it. I did five thumb pushups, and so can you.

I never thought I’d reach this goal, the kind of strength that only cartoon and comic book characters can flaunt.

The kind of strength that Bruce Lee inspired within me.

Bruce Lee doing a two thumb suspension on the set of Game of Death

Bruce Lee doing a two thumb suspension on the set of Game of Death

 

I first saw this picture of Bruce Lee when I began delving into my isometric training. I’d seen the one inch punch, the two finger pushup, and all manner of strength and training feats from Bruce Lee…but somehow this one had slipped under my radar, and caught my interest more than any others.

I mean, I had seen others perform two finger pushups, and I had achieved some myself after training, but…

I had NEVER seen anyone balancing on their thumbs.

So I looked more into the feat. Apparently, a two thumb suspension was only the tip of the iceberg.

In 1980, Jim Arvanitis, the founder of Neo-Pankration, went on the Guinness Game World Records Show and performed a feat unmatched to this day. He performed 61 thumb pushups in 47 seconds.

A thumb suspension was certainly no walk in the park, but a thumb pushup was a whole new territory that I had previously never thought of exploring.

The flame was lit within me, and no matter what obstacles presented themselves, I was determined to achieve the thumb pushup.

Jim Arvanitis performing one of his famous thumb pushups, which he can also do with one thumb

Jim Arvanitis performing one of his famous thumb pushups, which he can also do with one thumb

 

Thus began my training journey, arduous and rather unique in its goals. Coupling some fingertip pushup variations with high intensity isometric training laid the foundation for my fingertip strength.

How To Do Thumb Pushups

 

Fingertip Pushup Variations

 

 

Fingertip pushup variations will be your best friends when it comes to having the strength to do a thumb pushup. Practice doing pushups on all your fingertips, removing a finger as your overall hand strength increases. I started with a 5-4-3-2-1 drill where I’d pushup with all my fingers, remove the pinkies, then the ring finger, etc. until I could hold the position on my thumbs at the 1.

Take it slow, because this is a skill that can easily cause injury if you try to speed through it. If you don’t feel safe removing fingers, continue to practice with all of your fingers, and progress slowly.

  • When you’re ready to take these progressions to the next level, elevate your feet on a chair and try the 5-4-3-2-1 pushup variations and hold the two thumb suspension at the 1

Grip Training

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Having a strong grip will do no wrong when it comes to preparing for any fingertip pushup variation. Train as many facets of your grip as you can. Your flexors and extensors should be trained equally, so exercises that involve an intense crush grip and powerful extension. Personally, isometric grip exercises are optimal when it comes to the overall ability to skyrocket grip strength in a short time, and ensure that the tendons in your fingers are strong enough to support you.

Especially when it comes to hand balancing, strengthening the tendons of your fingers are just as critical as strengthening the muscles of your forearms, so steady and progressive balancing training and isometric exercises with high intensity will make your training progress consistent and enduring.

One thing that I’d do often, as in the photo above, is grip a thick railing or table, thumbs on top, and squeeze my thumbs into the surface as hard as I can for 7-12 seconds, and repeat 8 times. Time under tension is an important factor of the exercise, so try to rest as little as you can between the 7-12 second reps, if at all.

 

Visualization

Logan Christopher often speaks on the importance of mental training to achieve your fitness goals, and it really applies for the thumb pushups. You will likely be ready for the pushups physically before you are ready for them mentally, at least that’s how it was for me.

The idea of doing such a feat was daunting to me, even when I believed I could achieve it.

Honestly, the first few weeks I tried, even after the training preparation, I still didn’t get it done.

Although I got the two thumb suspension down.

Although I got the two thumb suspension down.

 

But I sat down one time before training, I breathed deeply and steadily, and visualized the feat. I mentally felt the floor under my thumbs, felt the blood and tension running through my tendons, felt the cry of victory resonating in my chest after I finally achieved my goal.

I could see, hear, practically taste what that moment would feel like to finally do a thumb pushup.

And instead…I did five.

 

 

It’s no Jim Arvanitis feat, but it was a foundation that I was more than happy to start building from.

Frankly, I look forward to all of you building your foundations too.

 

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The Lucky Front Lever

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Today is Friday the 13th, universally heralded as one of the unluckiest days in history.

(Though it can still be a lucky day for you if you take advantage of Logan Christopher’s 31st birthday sale that ends today!)

When I think about my personal hand balancing training, I try to remove luck from the equation. After all, training should be about the strength and technique you develop from continued progression. Luck isn’t something you can replicate, it just happens.

But sometimes luck is just what you need. It’s what I needed for my first front lever.

I was in the North dorm at UConn (University of Connecticut) and I was using the hallways as a gym of sorts. I would do pullups on the top lip of my door and handstand walks down the hallways.

On this occasion, as I was doing pullups, I heard a few friends of mine talking in the stairwell at normal volume, and then suddenly get quiet, which was rarely a good sign.

Call it a Spidey-Sense, but I just had the strong feeling that they were preparing to tackle me mid-pullup.

Just as I had the thought (mid-pullup, go figure) I heard sprinting sneakers preparing for a bull rush into my back.

If I got hit while I was pulling up, I would’ve gotten ripped off the door frame and maybe hit my head.

But if I let go, I’d still give them the satisfaction of tackling me, and I couldn’t have that.

In that moment, somehow, I tightened my lats, depressed and retracted my scapula, and executed a front lever in just enough time for my buddy to crash headlong into my desk.

I hadn’t trained the front lever with any consistency, and my progress up to that point had been spotty at best.

So I suppose I just got lucky. I needed that luck though, because I never forgot how my body felt when I performed a front lever, and it helped my progress thereafter.

Plus, it showed some creative practicality of hand balancing skill.

Still, the levers (front and back) are difficult skills that should be trained with focus and progression, and if you want progressions that will give you steady progress, look no further than the Front and Back Lever Training DVD.

Although I hope your motivation involves more personal progress and less tackles.

 

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A Mini-Series on Flexibility Part 3: Full Bridge for Spinal Flexibility

Ok everyone, we are headed into the  final installment of the Flexibility Mini-Series from Gold Medal Bodies! Jarlo and Keira went through many iterations to prep you for the final movement. In today’s post, you’ll be focusing on none other than the full bridge.

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The full bridge is an excellent way to increase your shoulder mobility, thoracic extension and rotations, your hip flexors, wrists, and the list goes on and on. While preforming this movement, you basically get a chance to work on the muscles that you never get a chance to. Muscle balance and mindful movement gives you the understanding of what your body can do as well as allow you to delve into those crazy acrobatics. Lets first take a look at the initial bridge demonstrated by Keira.

 

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After getting into the initial bridge, she starts by correcting her curvature and form. She lowers her arms slightly, opens up her chest, and walks her feet closer to her hips.

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Once gotten into a more balanced position, she extends her arms and drives up her chest and hips.

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In order to achieve a cleaner curve with her bridge, she extends her chest towards the wall she’s facing and her hips to the opposing wall.

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To get a full breakdown from Jarlo, watch the video below!

One more thing guys!The GMB special will be ending this Saturday April 30, 2016 and you will lose out your chance to get the program with the NEW BONUSES for $75. After Saturday the price shoots up to $95. Be sure to grab GMB Focused Flexibility Plus program  here: http://www.lostartofhandbalancing.com/go/focusedflexibility/

 

Stay Inverted,
Coach Jon

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How Parkour Can Restore Your Harmony

(pt. 2 of interview with Curron Gajadhar, a.k.a. Aspernaut)

curron_trees

 

You see, parkour is not about competition, but about expressing wildness, being liberated on a primal level, and allowing you to re-establish your relationship with the Earth around you. Methode Naturalle was so influential that the French military adopted it as a full system of training, which expanded and developed as parcours du combattant, (so you can guess where the name parkour came from.) But Georges Hebert’s goal with the natural method was not preparation against anyone, but training for yourself, your spirit, and your moral integrity.

 

More so than the strength and technique you develop, a sense of nomadic comfort washes over the soul like a warm wind when you can put your feet to the ground and move through your environment the way you were meant to. 

 

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Curron, currently living in Atlanta, GA, has been doing parkour for about 6 years and isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In his view on parkour, movement is a lifestyle. Viewing indigenous peoples around the world with phenomenal strength, Curron realized how they had no specific “workout” or “training” time because they were moving so often throughout the day. So he started moving. He’d climb trees, run around, crawl, and move as freely as his body would allow. “Parkour helps express wildness; I need to be feeling my animality,” Curron noted.

 

Curron’s tips for anyone looking to express their wildness through parkour? “Move. If you’re a beginner, even if you workout, you’re probably mostly sedentary. You do an hour in the gym, then you sit for the rest of the day. Go do a mud race, go climb for your life, go Spartan race, get out of your comfort zone. We’re not doing sets, we’re doing ‘we have to make it there by nightfall.’”

 

curron_drop  curron_highjump

 

After all, the root of movement training is not in any specific technique or style, but in a group of people who moved to survive. One of my favorite videos that I’ve seen is one that compares the movement of traceurs through a city to the movement of monkeys through the jungle. If nothing else, the video shows how natural those movements are, and how movement training allows us to reclaim that mobility.

 

curron_wallhang

 

Survival is not comfortable, so step into your discomfort zone and move. Crawl, sprawl, tumble and roll, whatever will increase your rate of movement. The way Curron views it, parkour is a great way of escaping the mold of sets and reps that is such foundational part of most workouts. “Parkour,” he says, “negates the destructive process of stripping and processing fitness, and lets you become your own coach, rebuild that relationship with your body, and start over.”

 

Find an open field of grass, and empty parking lot, or just a new space for you to move in, and start over. Feel the Earth beneath bare feet (Curron suggests Onitsuka Tigers if not bare…lightweight with a consistent heel pattern and a flat sole), and move. Run, crawl, apply dynamic tension in some aspects, apply no tension in others, but move. Day by day, you’ll start to chip more at the “you” weighed down by the burdens of inactivity, and start to uncover the original “you” made to walk to Earth freely in harmony. Curron sees parkour as a ritual itself to “corner off [his] ancient land.”

Think about it. Each building and road you see was once filled with trees and stone formations to move about. Yet, from one jungle to another, you still have a world before you prepared to help you reverse the destructive process of a sessile lifestyle. Even fitness itself, with sets, reps, and regimented movements, is often catered to accommodate a sedentary life of sitting, eating, sitting some more, and sleeping.

With parkour, there are no sets or reps. There is just movement. There is just freedom. There is just harmony.

 

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A Mini-Series on Flexibility Part 2: Back Bend Preparation for Spinal Flexibility

Welcome to Part 2 of the Spinal Flexibility Series! In yesterday’s post we discussed the Forward Bend. As the Back Bend is a bit more extensive, its been broken up into two parts. Today’s portion will be focused on the prep work. Pay special attention to the thoracic extensions and rotations as they will directly affect your handbalancing!

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The first movement we will be working on is the thoracic extension. While working this movement situate your chest up and hold your shoulders into place.

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The next movement pattern in your back bend prep is to work a thoracic rotation. If you have good shoulder mobility, you can keep a locked arm position as seen below. If your mobility is lower, try the position with wrist and elbow behind the back which is viewable in the full video!

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The next movement is the first pre-back bending pattern we’ll dive into. In the Kneeling Back Bend, start in a tall kneeling position and drive the hips forward. Lift your chest up and look backwards. A key point is to relax your glutes during this movement.

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The next pattern is a deep lunge sequence. The main take away from this movement is to rotate towards the lead hip.

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The Camel Stretch is the next pattern. Its a similar movement to the Kneeling Back Bend except that you stay on the balls of your feet and grab your heels to increase difficulty.

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Up next is the Quadricep Stretch. Focus on keeping your body between your heels. Another key point to work towards a posterior tilt while in this position to decrease the lower back arch and flatten the back as much as possible.

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The final movement pattern is the Shoulder Bridge. In this movement your are going to grab your ankles and push through your quads. Be sure to keep your ankles in line with your hips and relax your glutes do allow your hips to drive up!

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There is a lot of information in this post so be sure to check out the full video here for all of the info!

If you like this information and thought it was useful in your flexibility, GMB has a special going on that will end this Saturday April 30, 2016 where you could get the program with the NEW BONUSES for $75. Afterwards the price shoots up to $95. Be sure to grab GMB Focused Flexibility program here: http://www.lostartofhandbalancing.com/go/focusedflexibility/

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A Mini-Series on Flexibility Part 1: Forward Bending Sequence for Spinal Flexibility

Flexibility and Acrobatics. The two go hand in hand. Yes its true that people need more flexibility in their lives. But for the Acrobatic enthusiast, flexibility takes a stronger hold as you’re going to need much more of it in order to pull off the different maneuver’s and be in tune with your own body. In today’s post, we’ll be looking at a great sequence on spinal flexibility from our friends at Gold Medal Bodies. If you’ve ever wanted to do a back handspring, work on your rolling, or even make your handstands more dynamic, pay attention to this sequence!

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Listen to Jarlo as he keys Keira in to the sequence. Keira starts off with some prep work by going in a deep squat with her heels up and feet close together. Her goal here is to open up her hips by rocking back and forth. After working the position for a bit, she kicks back and goes into upward facing dog.

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Once she’s warmed up, she goes into the first sequence. In the Standing Forward Bend her focus is on flexion and rotation. She begins in a deep squat with her hands placed onto the floor to her side. She then drives up her hips and pulls back on her hamstrings while focusing on keeping her heels to the ground. She works the position on both sides. Jarlo gives more detail and another variation in the video.

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The Final sequence is the Seated Forward Bend. This sequence is completed at a 45 degree angle. Keira keeps her chest up and extends with her shoulders.

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Check out the full video here!

I want you all to stay tuned because we have more spinal flexibility tips from our friends at Gold Medal Bodies. For those of you who took advantage of  the Focused Flexibility program about a month back, you should be reaping the rewards as well as the new update that just came out! If you haven’t, GMB has a special going on that will end this Saturday April 30, 2016 where you could get the program with the NEW BONUSES for $75. Afterwards the price shoots up to $95. Be sure to grab GMB Focused Flexibility program here: http://www.lostartofhandbalancing.com/go/focusedflexibility/

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How To Meditate Through Movement pt. 1

 

(From an interview with traceur Curron Gajadhar, a.k.a. Aspernaut)

curron_pose

Movement is not simply something you do, but a part of what you are. It is in our structure, our very DNA, to move with strength and efficiency. We have drifted from our original nature with our sedentary lifestyles, and try to compromise by going to the gym for an hour or so a day. Natural movement was never limited to sets and reps; the set was survival, and each rep was the course of a day. If you look at the natural world, the solution to sedentary life presents itself; nature itself is movement.

curron_inair

Parkour is one fantastic expression of the art of movement, and Curron Gajadhar, a.k.a. Aspernaut, is an avid parkour enthusiast who channels himself through the paved lots, railings, rooftops, fences, and general environment of Atlanta, GA. Curron learned about parkour in 2005, but his exploration of the history truly began in 2010, when he learned about the Yamakazi group started by parkour expert David Belle from a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not special; furthermore, the documentaries “Jump London” and its sequel “Jump Britain” (you can find Jump London 2003 full on YouTube).

curron_leapover

The movement skill and art of the Yamakazi group is what really helped parkour to be called a non-combative martial art. But David Belle’s new expression of movement was in fact very old; Raymond Belle, David’s father, studied Georges Hebert’s methode naturalle.

 

This, the Natural Method, is what truly embodies the spirit that Curron expresses as a traceur. Hebert developed the natural method from his observation of well physically developed indigenous people in Africa, and wrote, “Their bodies were splendid, flexible, nimble, skillful, enduring, resistant and yet they had no other tutor in gymnastics but their lives in nature.” Movement itself, as Hebert presented it, is both a training and a meditation.  In Curron’s own words, “Parkour has been a reintroduction to being competent with my body.” No tree can grow without roots, and learning to reconnect with one’s body through movement across the Earth will allow the tree of might and physical mobility to truly grow.

curron_wallrun

You see, parkour is not about competition, but about expressing wildness, being liberated on a primal level, and allowing you to re-establish your relationship with the Earth around you. Methode Naturalle was so influential that the French military adopted it as a full system of training, which expanded and developed as parcours du combattant, (so you can guess where the name parkour came from.)

(To be continued…)

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1 Min Tip: Lateral QM Strides and Your Handstand

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Hey Everybody! Its been a while since we’ve done a video just for you. So today, we’re coming at you with Lateral QM Strides! This lateral movement pattern is going to you keep your balance as well as to feel the hold on the top end.

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The first thing you are going to do is sit into a deep squat and shift your hips side to side so that you can open them up a bit before you start moving.

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Start the actual movement pattern by extending your hands and placing them to your sides. You’ll then elevate your hips and land them next to your hands!

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Move in both lateral directions and see if you can start driving your hips higher with each pass. Don’t forget that you should do this within the range of your comfort levels!

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Finally, see if you can slow the movement at the top end with your hips above your shoulders so you can simulate the handstand hold!

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Check out the full video here!

I hope you liked this tutorial!

Stay Inverted,
-Coach Jon
Do you want the quickest  way to develop your handstands?
Then go to our Handstand Mastery Course at:
http://www.handstandmastery.com/

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Parkour From Scratch #3 – Wall Run Tutorial – How to start Parkour

Happy Monday Everybody! I hope that you all had a great weekend and I know some of you spent time with the family this past Sunday. We’re starting back on our 3rd installment for the parkour series from TranquilMVMT with the Wall Run!

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In this Tutorial. We Start off with your gathering steps. See which distance you have to be from the wall to take 3 steps and be in a nice position in order to place one leg and push off!

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The next thing you want to do is drive up with the opposite knee while pushing off with the planted foot. Remember you don’t want to push away, but rather push up!

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Finally reach up for the top of the wall, grab the ledge, and pull yourself up using the climb up  to complete your wall run.

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Once again their videos are packed with info, so I suggest to watch below and get in-depth!

Remember guys, Parkour is all about getting from point A to point B in the most effective way possible. In order to do that, you have to feel mastery over your own body. With that said, we’ve got an awesome deal this month to jam-pack yourself with the information necessary to gain that mastery. Click Here to develop to start you on the course to Advanced Bodyweight Training!

Stay Inverted!
-Coach Jon

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Handstand Pushup Variations

handstand pushup variations

Handstand pushup demonstrated by Logan Christopher of Lost Art of Hand Balancing

 

The handstand pushup is an advanced hand balancing skill that demonstrates shoulder strength, scapular mobility, and a proper challenge to those who are willing. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’ve already achieved the handstand pushup, and are looking for something a bit more thrilling…some handstand pushup variations.

(Note: these handstand pushup variations aren’t only for the advanced trainees. In fact, variation 2 and 3 helped me to achieve my first HSPU, so don’t be afraid to try something new!)

 


Variation 1 : Lateral Handstand Pushup

Well first, what would be the benefit of exploring different handstand pushup variations? Without the variations, there is still sufficient opportunity to progressively improve the intensity of the HSPU and get stronger with each turn. With the variations, however, comes the opportunity to increase all-angle strength in your training.

For instance, while the basic HSPU does a lot to strengthen your shoulders, traps, and scapular elevation, this lateral HSPU variation trains scapular protraction, retraction, and upward rotation. In addition, as your mobility increases, you can slow down and exaggerate the lateral movement to emphasize your one arm handstand balancing skill.

 


Variation 2: (Elevated) Backbend Pushup

Furthermore, your posterior deltoid has a critical role in your handstand stability, as it is the primary shoulder hyperextensor. One of my favorite handstand pushup variations to train for developing that strength is the back bend pushup.

The back bend alone is a powerful stability exercise that, with isometric tension, can provide incredible strength. The integrated strength, posterior deltoid strength, and scapular mobility that you can build from the back bend pushup will do wonders to strengthen your HSPU. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, elevated your feet by putting them onto a wall.

As I said, this exercise was a huge part of the reason I was able to develop the strength and range of motion for the HSPU.

 


Variation 3: Handstand Walking

Often times as kids, we have an easier time walking in a handstand than we do holding a stable handstand. However, having the strength to walk in a handstand position without compromising the integrity of your form can develop your technique, strength, and mobility fairly quickly.

This is one of my favorite handstand pushup variations to couple with the lateral HSPU, because it does the same work to progressively improve balancing strength on one arm, but has a much sharper focus on the shoulders and triceps because…well, you’re walking.

When you’re searching to advance not just in strength but also in skill, especially with hand balancing, be sure to add some fun and variation to your training, and you’ll be sure to see some results. Be sure to let us know in the comments how these variations help you, or if you’ve tried them before. Finally, if these do improve your training skill, be sure to share!

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