3 Mistakes You Might be Doing with your Bodyweight Squat

I’m going to start off by saying that there are many sources out in the world that will teach you correct form with your squats. Even we have a book called The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Bodyweight Squats and Pistols.

I’m going to take a different tact today and give you 3 mistakes you might be doing with your bodyweight squat.

Mistake #1 Rounding or Arching your Back

When I end up working with clients and have them do a squat , which is one of the key go-to bodyweight exercises that i give my clients with multitudes of variations, I will usually see one of these two things happen. A person will either be stuck in flexion of the back and become overly arching or have posterior tilt, although without engaging some of the other stabilizers like the abdominals or lats. Rarely do I see somebody with strong technique on the first go. A good test is to see where you land by having a profile view of yourself near a mirror completing the squat.

Mistake #2 Knee Position

I’m going to give you two knee placements that could be hurting your squat. The first is to have your knee extend past your toes. This can cause an excess load on your joints and is usually when I have somebody tell me their knee strains while they squat and asks for variations. The second knee position to look out for is when they collapse or pull towards each other. When this happens, you’ll tend to feel more load on your ankles or a bit of over-stabilization on your lower back.

Mistake #3 Foot Placement

Foot placement is important as well because you are working from a closed kinetic chain. Basically your foot is stationary and practically glued to the floor and everything else that is connected in proximity; knees, ankles, and hips have to move around your foot as a base point. If your foot is in an imbalanced position, it can thoroughly effect your squat as your other muscles have to compensate for that imbalance.

There you go! 3 possible mistakes with your squat. One final note. The human body was created with a buffer for variance. As long as you stay within a safety range of movement, you’ll be fine. Also don’t forget to listen to your body. If something hurts; remember there is a difference between pain and the burning sensation from working a muscle, analyze your body mechanics and see if you might be doing one of the 3 mistakes above.

If you want to learn more or even master your bodyweight squat, get The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Bodyweight Squats and Pistols.

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

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Surgery, a Pit Crew, and Lateral Thinking

Quite often I like to take part in what a friend and I have dubbed jokingly as “Lift and Learn.” This occurs when I end up expanding my mind and knowledge while doing a task that is repetitive and labor intensive. For me this means listening to an audio book to increase my knowledge base unless I really need to get moving with music.

During one of my Lift and Learn sessions, I was listening to a book called Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success, by Shane Snow. This is a great book that is full of case studies on hacking and lateral thinking. One of the chapters that really hit home involved a team of Surgeons at a children’s hospital in London and their percentage of success during their handovers between the operating room and the intensive care unit.

I’m not going to go into great detail about what was discussed during this chapter in the book, but I will give you the basics.

During a session of lengthy surgeries, two tired cardiac surgeons, Martin Elliot and Allan Goldman sat down at the television for a break. On their rest period, Formula 1® came on the television, and as they continued watching, one car pulled over to the side of the circuit for a pit stop. In that moment they came to a realization. While observing the pit crew get to work, they were astonished at how they were able to accomplish a set of tasks in 11 seconds that were pretty identical in concept to what they do in handover.

With this realization in place, a series of events occured that had the doctors learn the process of what the pit crew was able to achieve in coordination with heavier tools and an equally small space. From how their spacing from eachother, to the repetition placed into the tasks, and even involving a person overseeing the cohesion as a secondary duty. As they began to learn more, the doctors even hired a dance choreography to make sure that their movements were seamless in the operating room.

With all that hard work and the addition of lateral thinking, the team was able to decrease their handover errors by 66%. When you consider that these could involve serious or at worst life or death situations, that is a pretty staggering change.

The importance of the story is that you always have an option or choice to push through a seemingly impossible task. Sometimes you just need fresh eyes or a fresh perspective in order to clear out the cobwebs and continue on your journey. This doesn’t change even while you are training or learning skills. If you find yourself stuck or in a plateau, find something that in close proximity to the skill but with enough variance that its fresh. You might be surprised to realize that it will add to your development in the skill that was giving you trouble.

Before I sign off I want you to think about your handstands. The beginning stages have you working solely on the ground, but having a variance in elevation can open up the possibilities and freshness in your training. If you want to move laterally , pick up one of our handbalancing stands!

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

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Lateral Thinking to Break Plateaus

Plateaus are an inevitable. Whenever we make a decision to move in a certain direction or train in a certain manner, we are bound to hit a roadblock. The real question then presents itself.

What do you do when you hit a plateau?

Although the obstacle might some daunting, there are a couple of ways around this.

The first thing that you can do is simply to just keep moving forward. Quite often if you just take a small breath and continue to push, you’ll be able to see the new level present itself. It’s kind of a an easy answer, but there are definitely times when pure simplicity just works.

The other option is a bit more refined. It involves lateral thinking. Which basically revolves around taking a step back, throwing a wrench in the system, and allowing your body to gain some feedback so you can continue to grow.

You can achieve this by utilizing different approaches to your training.

You can change when you train, how long you train, and of course how you train.

Then how you train can be broken into further groups ready for change. The skills you are working on. The sets, rep, or time on the exercises. Focusing on similar but different exercises and more.

If you training is feeling stale (not to be confused with boredom, but that’s another problem all together) you should implement one or more of these changes.

Even if your training is going good, a change for the better can supercharge your gains.

Which training method you choose exactly and what to do is going to depend on you and your goals. And in every case what you should do will be different.

You may be the kind of person who loves to figure out your own program. Or you may want someone to hand you a template for you to work from. The choice is once again yours. Another thing to add to this before I close for today is to gain inspiration from unlikely sources. I’ll delve into this more in my next installment.

But before I forget, if you are looking for a template on building the skills of your own body, take advantage of our ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Bodyweight Squats and Pistols.

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

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Loading the hips and the Squat!

Loading the hips and the bodyweight squat. In order to achieve this you’re going to need flexibility, strength and coordination. But in all honesty, why should that even matter to you? You’ve probably read tons of info online about how to do a squat, yet it doesn’t hold much significance unless you understand the benefits that go along with it.

If you remember from my last post, we discussed bodyweight exercise and its enhanced role inhelpying you develop your “skill” in utilizing your own body. Not that you can’t do the same with weights, but how easy is it to focus on correct muscle activation when you’re running through a movement while under a “heavy” load. Also, it increases the possible chance of strain or injuring depending on what you’re doing.

Which brings us back to the bodyweight squat. Understanding how to perform it will help you understand the sequence of muscles you should be using and in what order.

Here’s a few examples to fuel your thought processes:

How far do you pull your hips down? What direction should your knees be pointing?(i.e. knee valgus) When do your abdominals come into play?  These are all things you should have locked in before you work the squat.

Now this brings us to our next question. Why does all this matter? Wouldn’t you be able to complete the reps and sets and sets your trainer gave you and be done with it so that you can get that beach body you’ve always wanted? Yes you can  but you would be missing out on two different pieces. The first is that understanding which muscle to load as the primary, secondary, etc. will give you the opportunity to increase your performance and do more. The second is to avoid possible injuries in the future. You can look up things like exhaustive-adaptive response if you’re wondering what I’m hinting at.

Now I’ll give you a real world example of how understanding the squat can affect your movement. Say you’re going for a run. Utilizing your hips and glutes are more important to this movement pattern than you may think. If you can’t engage your hips and glutes while running, you lose out on some strong stabilizers and shock absorbers. They help to lift you away from the ground, thereby reducing shock and once engaged can take stress away from the knees, shins, and ankles. Which tend to be common injuries for people who take on running.

So, I’m going to close off with this as just being a quick intro to the squat. I’m going to be delving more into the squat in future entries, but if you want more than just a primer, pick up The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Bodyweight Squats and Pistols.

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

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Why Do We Train Bodyweight?

 

This is an interesting question that I’m sure you have asked yourself in the past at one point or another. I know that I have with myself; although luckily only once or twice.

Here is a little food for thought.

As individuals who engage in fitness activities, we could easily gain results with our bodies from just running and hitting the weights. Look good in the mirror, impress those that we care to impress, and be done with it.

But if you’re like me, there’s something alluring about bodyweight training. It’s not just the ability to be stronger or faster but in the internalized fact that you have the skill to go along with it. Skill is simply the ability to do something well; no rocket science necessary in that thought process.

In terms of bodyweight training, that skill revolves around learning to gain the correct motor control in your body whether you’re going for strength, power, or speed(quickness included). A couple of my favorite examples would be the hollow body hold and the squat thrust. Although these seem like normal “tough” exercises, they teach you different aspects of stabilization and coordination that could help you in other types of physical endeavors.

Starting soon I’ll begin delving into other types of baseline bodyweight skill development outside of the acrobatic world of the handbalancing.

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

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A Gymnastic Skill: The Front Walkover

When you learn how to move, many variations start to become available to you. The transition between your limbs becomes an art form.

Lets take hand balancing at two of its base variations. The handstand itself and cartwheel. These are the two inversions that we all tend to start with. I’d wager that a good amount of us began with the cartwheel before the handstand because it gave us a clear pathway to return to.

A good way to test your movement capability is to run through different planes of motion. A more difficult possibility move from the cartwheel would be the Front Walkover. If you look below you’ll see a composite picture of Diane Robinson performing the move with ease.

 

A vintage magazine called Acro-Chat lays down some quick instructions for you. The correct way to do a two arm walkover. Notice the arms are straight all the way through, the legs are extended and split as much as possible, the back is arched tightly with the head and arms trailing as she stands upright.

Now a word of caution, this move does take a large amount of flexibility in both the back and legs. Although its not dangerous, you might end up falling a couple of times in the beginning.

You can also perform a back walkover which is done moving backwards. Just follow the pictures from right to left and you’ll get the idea.

Quick note: These moves are not to be confused with the handspring or back handspring. Though the motion is much the same, except for going off of two legs instead of one, there is another big difference. Your hands will touch the ground before both your feet leave it in a walkover. Handsprings involve leaving the feet to get up in the air before your hands touch down.

If you tested the front walker and see that it might be out of your range, try experimenting with different movement patterns to increase your acumen. If you still need help, try picking up the Gold Medal Bodies Vitamin Program!

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

 

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Awesome Abs Exercises 2 – The Hollow Body Hold

Two key Abdominal Exercises to train your core in order to handle to the handstand. In the last section I discussed an exercise that you probably don’t always attribute with the handstand, the Superman Plank.

Today we are going to be going over the inverse of that. This exercise is a staple among gymnastic or athletic movement. Needless to say, the handstand is a definite inclusion into that category.

Lets introduce the Hollow Body Hold.

For the Hollow Body Hold, lie on your back and tighten your abdominals while driving your lower back to the floor.

Extend your arms above your head while keeping your core engaged.

Once you’ve held this position, extend your leg away from your body and lift them away from the floor. Make sure that you point your toes and squeeze your legs together.

For an added touch of alignment, roll your shoulders off of the floor while keeping the body engaged.

There you go guys if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to contact us and one final thing. Don’t forget to pick up The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Abs Exercises now!

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

 

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Awesome Abs Exercises 1 – Superman Plank

Previously I stated that you can’t become an excellent hand balancer without a strong core.

How do you achieve that? Do normal sit-ups and leg raises cut it? To work on a  strong core with a clean and extended line I have two Exercises for you…

The Superman Plank and the Hollow Body Hold. These two exercises get you to engage the core muscles in an extended fashion. One has more focus on the anterior side and the other on the posterior side. So you become sandwiched in a strong locked position.

Lets start with the Superman Plank

To get into a superman plank, start in a basic plank position with your hips tucked, your glutes engaged and your back straight.

Be sure to start in the extended arm position. Walk your hands forward until they are at the farthest  position above your head with out breaking form.

Hold this from anywhere between 20 seconds to a minute. If you would like to test yourself, try for even longer!

Give this drill a try and let us know how you do. In the next installment, I’ll be talking about the hollow body hold.

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

P.S. To learn more awesome abdominal exercises, get The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Abs Exercises now!

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The Abdominal Acrobat

I’m going to start this off with a Powerful Statement.

You will NEVER become an excellent hand balancer or acrobat without having incredibly strong abs. The Core is King; or Queen for that matter.

The focus to achieve this on the core is not to get the holy grail six pack (although the side benefit is nice), but to train your body as one unit. Does this sound familiar? It should because that’s exactly what you need do pull off any hand balancing stunt.

The abdominals help to lock you in and keep the hold or stabalized for transitionary movements like the Straddle Press!

Over the next week, I’ll be going over ways to strengthen your core to achieve powerful acrobatic abdominals!

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

P.S. If you can’t wait to build acrobatic adbominals, get The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Abs Exercises now!

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The Straddle Press Up

Lets see if you’ve noticed a theme here.
Over the past week I’ve been talking about a specific treasure of knowledge. The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing.
In the last entry I gave you a technique found in the book that you would be able to test out. Today, I’m giving you another go-to. This installment involves the Straddle Press Up.
If you need an idea of what it looks like, here is a variation from Logan.

THE STRADDLE PRESS UP.
Sit along a set of parallel bars, or on chair legs with the chair lying on its back, spread the legs apart as far as they will go. With the knees rigid, and toes pointed; catch hold of the legs of the chair just in front of your legs.
Close up, hold the chest high, and stiffen the arms with elbows straight. Then lift the shoulders as high as possible, and lean forward; taking all the weight on the arms and press up to the handstand. As your legs are rising, point the toes, and gradually bring the legs together.
Just as you are up all the way in the balance, hold this a couple of seconds, then lower down slowly with the body and legs straight. You should feel as though you were going to hold the planche, but instead go slowly all the way down through the planche until the feet are on the floor; or in a sitting position, as you started.

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

P.S. Take a look at the past to develop your hand balancing journey with The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing.

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