Why am I still talking about flexibility?

Whats going on fellow handbalancers! This one is a bit of a rant lol.

If you remember from a few posts back I was discussing with you about flexibility. (PS if you don’t remember, just go here.)

Well here I am back at it again. The reason why? Its that I keep seeing the need for it in my daily life as a coach and/or trainer.(whichever you choose)

We are in a time when people are healthier than they have been in the past 5-10 years. We understand that we need to get our bodies strong and fit in order to elongate our lives but also to enjoy more of what if has to offer. All of the marketing and reality shows have probably helped. Although people are still getting stronger and faster, I still see a consistent issue. In fact its the top thing people have been coming to me for lately.

Flexibility. A typical situation is to have a new client call me up or email. The usual verbage is that they were working on their own or with a previous trainer and they hurt themselves. But they don’t know why but want to keep training without being inhibited. (Huge red flag for me) Awareness of your own body is key while your training. There are those cases where their movement patterns are off but that can be discussed at a later time. I do an assessment of their form and alignment and notice a few things. Maybe its overly stressed traps or tight it band causing irritation in the back. We get to work on a few flexibility protocols and in up to a few short weeks they are able to complete their programming without inhibited movements.

So why is this so important? If you have a muscular imbalance or tightness in certain areas of your body, it can cause not so needed stress to other areas as an effect. You can look at how the protocols for tennis elbow have changed in the past 3 -4 years to see what I’m talking about.

So do yourself a favor and get more flexibility! If you need a program, try the GMB Focused Flexibility Program.

Stay Inverted!
-Coach Jon

 

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Forest Vance and his Sneaky Trick to Do More Push Ups – Instantly

We’ve got another guest post from  Certified Progressive Calisthenics Instructor Forest Vance. Last time he discussed a bodyweight apparatus mainstay with the pull up.

Today he’s coming back with a sneaky trick in order to develop your push up.


Sneaky Trick to Do More Push Ups –
Instantly by Forest Vance, creator, Bodyweight Strong

A couple of years ago – after charity event we had held at FVT Boot Camp – we went out to a bar to eat, drink, and celebrate.

Several of us get to talking about how many push ups we think we can do … one thing leads to another, and before you know it, I’m in the middle of a push up contest!

The guy I was going against could do a surprising amount of push ups…I ended up squeaking out a victory, but barely …and the big way I was able to do it was using the technique I am going to share with you in today’s article.

Try this technique today … if you do it right, you’ll be able to do more push ups, instantly!

Sneaky Trick to Do More Push Ups – Instantly

– At the top of your push up, get as tight as you can. Take a deep breath to load up your muscles. Tighten your upper body, legs, core, everything.

– Drop into your push up without letting your breath out. Maintain tension in your abdominals and throughout your entire body. Do NOT exhale or let tension ‘escape’ in any way!

– Exhale as you press through your sticking point in the push up or after you finish the move. This will also help you keep tension throughout.

– Once finished with the push up, pause at the top and take a breath or two. Either lower back down to the ground and repeat, or rest.

This is a technique that can be used to tap into additional strength reserves, and boost your strength and power instantly. You can use this technique not only for push ups, but for other bodyweight moves as well, and also when lifting heavy weights. Give it a try today – I think you’ll be surprised at the results!

Train hard, and talk soon –

Forest Vance Author, Bodyweight Strong


Stay Inverted!
-Coach Jon

PS – For more tricks like the one outlined in this article, and for a full 12 week bodyweight only training program that will take you from whereEVER you are now, to bodyweight STRONG, click the link below:

Bodyweight Strong.

 

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Can’t Do Pull Ups? Forest Vance Will Show You How to Get There!

We’ve got a special post on  the pull-ups by Forest Vance for you today.

If you have problems, with this pulling motion, take a look at some of the things Forest will show you below!

— The difference between a pull up and a chin up .. and which one is easier
— What “counts” as a legit pull up or chin up rep
— The PROPER way to do a jumping or assisted pull up or chin up
— The PROPER way to do a band-assisted pull up or chin up
— How to work to full, unassisted pull ups / chins ups – and beyond

Have a look at the video below!

Stay Inverted!
-Coach Jon

PS If you liked the information he gave out, have a look at his program Bodyweight Strong.

 

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Stretching, Mobility or Flexibility?

Do you want to stretch, get more mobile, or be more flexible? Whatever you call it, your goal is to increase the range of your muscles and joints in various positions to be able to complete whichever activity you’re training for.

Here’s an example. Say you’re into the martial arts like I am. Maybe you want to complete a cartwheel so that you can build out into something more difficult or impressive like an aerial( no handed cartwheel). An easier example would be in tying your shoes. If you don’t have the range to bend over (hips, hamstrings, lower back) you will probably strain your muscles or have to get creative to complete a simple task.

This brings out a bunch of choices in how to get the job done. Before I give you an obvious choice that we follow, here’s some food for thought from Jarlo at GMB Fitness.

As the argument goes, muscles don’t actually stretch; a fully relaxed muscle is up to 50% longer than a muscle in it’s typical semi-contracted state. Therefore, “stretching” a muscle doesn’t so much elongate its fibers as it simply trains them to hold less unnecessary tonus.

-Jarlo Ilano, GMB Fitness

So now to the obvious choice. I’ve gone through different protocols of mobility and flexibility in my time-frame as a trainer. The best protocol I’ve found is actually in the Focused Flexibility program from GMB. It bases its protocols on customization. The human body is not a static machine, it constantly changes. Focused Flexibility uses a baseline and then it works you through a series of static and dynamic stretches that are a variant of physical therapy protocols.

So if you want to develop your “flexibility, mobility, or increase your stretching range” pick up the GMB Focused Flexibility Program.

Stay Inverted!
-Coach Jon

 

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Building your core to handle your balance skills or get more athletic!

We’ve got something a bit different for you today. As many of you who have attempted to do a freestanding handstand or even a wall handstand know, having a strong core is one of the key factors in keeping yourself inverted or even in safely getting up into a handstand safely. You also need to be dynamic in your mobility and flexibility.

Now, the reason why today is different is because you’ll rarely see me posting a movement drill with weights, although I do them myself. I like to stay focused on the buildup of the skill. But once the skill is built up to a certain point, you need to start testing it in different modalities in order to develop the dynamic nature of the skill. Remember, even though we are doing a “handstand hold”, we are actually dynamically adjusting to all the different changes while in the inverted position.

So, for today’s post we have a simple yet effective QM(quadredal movement) that you can do in order to test your functional movement and build your core to handle those dynamic changes. An added tip is to add a hollow body to movement to really engage your mid-thoracic and lower lumber!

Here is the video.

Stay Inverted!
-Coach Jon

PS If you really liked the drill, its by our good friend Nick Nilsson. You can find other great core exercises in his Best Core Exercises ebook!

 

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Stunts, Skills, and a 60-Second Game Plan

Why 60 Seconds. I’d like to start off by saying that I’m a big advocate of education, skill development, and finding out what it takes to learn effectively. In my last post I talked about gaming and how it could be a new approach with your handstand development. Lets be honest, our bodies are a biological mass created from responses to a multitude of possible external stimuli. Basically the crap that we do with our bodies can change what makes us – us!

I’m not saying that you can jump into a vat of toxic chemicals and become a superhero/villain. What I am saying is that the things we do, has an effect on how our bodies are put together. Here are a couple of possible examples. If all you do for your core are sit-ups, you might have a weak lower back. Like-wise if you do a lot of upper-body strengthening without flexibility work, you might not be able to maneuver yourself into the alignment necessary to balance out a handstand.

So why 60 seconds. We’re using this as a baseline goal to reach for. A guiding light to pull yourself toward without getting lost in the sea of thoughts, stimulus and information. So where does the 60 Second Game Plan come into play with your handstand?

The Lead-up Stunts. Its a pathway of primary goals that can make the path to the freestanding handstand clearer of obstacles.

To partly break it down, here is an excerpt from our Secrets of the Handstand ebook:

Here are your first goals. Before you even attempt the freestanding handstand I want you to work up to one minute or 60 seconds in each of the main lead-up stunts.
1. Wall Handstand
2. Frogstand
3. Headstand
4. Forearm Stand
5. Elbow Lever
You’ll find that some of these come easier then others. If they do you can work on some of the other variations. For instance if the headstand is easy, but you’re still working towards the other moves, do the yoga headstand and try to get to 60 seconds there. It’s not an absolute requirement that you master every one of these moves. But if you do build up to 60 seconds in each of these moves, then the freestanding handstand will be much, much easier. Everyone wants to skip ahead to that part, but without the foundation it’s just going to be frustrating work. Contrary to that, working on these moves you’ll probably find you can add time just about every day to most if not all of these moves, at least in the beginning.

So, let’s break it down even further. Each of the different Lead-up Stunts become a different mini-quest on your final journey to the handstand. Each time you unlock one of the 60 second skills, a new set of tools become available to you that can really help you understand and perform the handstand. Some of the unlocked tools could be managing the fear, stabilizing with the hands, or even working on the upper thoracic. Now that you have a better idea about how to turn the development of the handstand into a game, I’ll start going over the lead-up stunts in the next set of posts!

Stay Inverted!
-Coach Jon

PS If you can’t wait to take to learn more about these lead-up stunts, be sure to to check out the Handstand Mastery Program!

 

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The Handstand Game and Leveling up your Skills!

Whats going on Hand Balancers!

The handstand is one of those moves that can hit the range of being extremely easy to massively difficult. Honestly it just depends on the person, their starting point, and any deviation from the norm that could add that little bit of guesswork in order to complete the task. Things to look at would be finger strength, thoracic flexibility, and a whole set of other factors that can make or break your handstand.

The reason I’m talking about this is because, learning that handstand can be similar to playing an online roleplaying game or mmorpg. It might be a bit confusing, but hear me out. At LAOHB our Handstand Mastery Program focuses on 5 different skills in order to reach your goal.

These are the skills:

1. Wall Handstand
2. Headstand

Handstand and Headstand

3. Frogstand

Frogstand Press 1
4. Forearm Stand

Tiger Stand
5. Elbow Lever

Elbow Lever

Now these 5 different skills or lead-up stunts aren’t all necessary in order to reach the end goal, but they give you an advantage or specific ability that will work for your specific avatar to achieve the handstand. Each of them have their advantages like the elbow lever being your tank character because of the resounding strength it creates across the entirety of your line or the headstand being your balanced warrior because its the first step to learning how to stack your joints and keep your alignment.  With that said, over the next month or so, we’ll be revisiting these different lead-up stunts to help you attain your goal.

*note. I might not be as geeky during those posts!

Stay Inverted,
Coach Jon

PS If you can’t wait to take to learn more about these lead-up stunts, be sure to to check out the Handstand Mastery Program!

 

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Animal Style: Human

Function Begets Form

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The more I see it, the more intrigued I become by it. We as people have had a historical passion for observing animals in nature, and why not? Animals are fascinating, and remind us of a time when we were once animals too.

 

But wait, are we not? We often observe the movement patterns of a bear or tiger to grasp and understand its strength, but how often do we truly attempt to analyze the movement tendencies of the animal human?

 

After all, there are many things that the human has incredible capabilities to do that are impeded by our sedentary lifestyles, so analyzing our own movement patterns couldn’t hurt. Sitting in a chair for 8 hours a day only serves to shorten your hip flexors and reduce your mobility in low and full squat stances. Walking with shoes on reduces the activation of your tibialis muscle and restricts the pronation of your step.

 

The male stigma to walk without swinging your hips so as not to look feminine often weakens the ability to internally rotate their hips. When you swing your arm, the short head of your biceps automatically wants to bring your hand to your shoulder, as if to accommodate the motion of swinging through trees.

 

There are so many intricacies of human movement that can be explored. Perhaps, in a sense, martial artists and gymnasts explore animal movement as a human, but attuning to the movement patterns of the average person seeking above average functionality, there should be a greater emphasis on understanding the true structure of the human body to unlock the blessings of its movement.

 

After all, one of the core principles of biology is that function begets form. The structure of a thing is based principally upon its intended function in the biology of the organism. Therefore, why not truly delve into the functions of the human anatomy and train them to form?
Don’t get me wrong. You are not a bear, so your human structure will still benefit in a human way from doing bear crawls, and the benefits forthwith are truly remarkable. Nevertheless, expressing the beauty of the human function in tandem would be a welcome and liberating change of pace. 

Truly take the time to understand the function of your body, explore it, and watch the beauty of its form break free.

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Why Do You Want Do A Handstand?

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I’m genuinely curious and would love to know, from all of you.

Why do you want to do a handstand? Why do you seek a handstand pushup, planche, or vault? What about seeing a tiger pushup makes you avidly want to do it?

 

I’m curious because everyone has different reasons for their goals, and hand balancing is a rather particular goal. You will have few reasons throughout your day to day life to walk on your hands, unless your legs spontaneously lost their mobility. Furthermore, it’d be a stretch of the imagination to consider that everyone reading this post seeks an illustrious career doing hand balancing stunts for Cirque du Soleil.

 

Then why? What reason would the average person have to do a handstand? I can think of a few myself.

 

For starters: let’s be honest, showing off to your friends or family is a driving motivation for some people to want to achieve a handstand. Which, hey, if your desire for spotlight brings you to movement mastery or motivates someone else toward it, I’ll say that motivation is sufficient.

 

Then there are the strength seekers. Hand balancing mastery displays a level of physical strength beyond the reach of the day laborer, a level of commitment to a lifestyle in physical culture. Your pressing power, your sense of balance, your grip strength, and even your vitality and health will benefit from hand balancing like few other things will do.

 

Perhaps someone that you admire and were inspired by gave you the motivation to achieve a handstand. Why then? To pass on the torch of inspiration that you now wield? To simply achieve a physical goal that may have eluded you for a long time? To prove to yourself that you can accomplish what you commit to?

 

Well, with all that said, I’ll present this question: why did I want to do a handstand? What desire did I have to achieve hand balancing mastery?

 

I’d like to answer this question with another question: why didn’t I want to train my ability to fly? Why didn’t I see a bird in the sky, then spend every moment of my waking life flapping my arms at incredible speeds to try and take off into the sunset?

 

The answer, of course, is that humans can’t fly like that. It isn’t possible.

 

So why did I want to do a handstand? Because it was possible. Further than that, it was NATURAL. I don’t mean in the sense that I perfected the handstand from the moment I tried, but that the ability to do a handstand is naturally within our physiology. We can achieve it if we seek to regain the kind of strength that we possessed as natural hunters, nomads, and movers.

 

I know that a handstand can be done, and if someone else can do it, why not I? If I can do it, why not you?

 

What is your reason for wanting to do a handstand?

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Swinging for Primal Harmony

Reclaim your origins

Reclaim your origins

I know you feel it.

The blood flowing through your veins, calling, begging your body to return to the glory that was intended for it at birth. You can look at yourself and see the beauty of your own design: hands made not only for intricate processes like tool use and development, but for incredible pinching and crushing strength. Shoulders that can stabilize as well as they mobilize, attached to scapulae with 17 different tendons connected to transfer muscle power very efficiently. Your body was made for the beauty of brachiation, and it’s only fair that you reclaim your birthright.

What Is Brachiation?

Even without knowing much about the character, if I say “Tarzan”, you likely think of a wild man pounding his chest and swinging from vines. Well brachiating is just that: having the ability to swing on vines, branches, and whatever our hands can manage.

Swinging may not be something you recognize as a birthright as you would, say, bipedal movement, but if you think about it, jungle gyms and playgrounds almost always have an element that allows kids to do what they naturally enjoy: swinging. (They aren’t called monkey bars for nothing)

Swinging is critical to overall shoulder health. Gymnasts and traceurs swing often in their training, and you never hear of them suffering from a frozen shoulder joint, yet that problem plagues numerous trainees in the fitness industry. We often try to substitute by doing supplementary exercises to ease into mobility, but there are so few exercises that can encompass the benefits of the whole body dynamic nature of swinging

This is simple enough: find a bar, rope, or some other hanging element that you’re comfortable grabbing, and simply practice swinging back and forth, 20 swings forward and back. Doing this simple thing daily will start to make an incredible change in your mobility and grip strength in as little as a month. As you progress, practice swinging with only one arm, then practice reducing fingers and so on.

Shoulder Dislocates

Okay, this isn’t as painful as it sounds. No, the key to reconnecting with your original movement pattern is not forcefully popping your shoulder out of its socket.

However, the kind of mobility and strength toward both hand balancing and bar workouts that you get from training controlled shoulder dislocates is phenomenal. I’d argue that any and everyone seeking true movement mastery should add this one exercises to their repertoire.

Cue the video instruction, courtesy of our friends at GMB.

 

This can also be done with a towel. If you have the mobility to bring the towel or broomstick all the way down to your lower back, do so, but don’t rush or force the process. Your body has been programmed by years of immobile practices, so truly recovering your full mobility will be a progressive but worthy process.

 

In other words: reclaim the primal, primate strength that you deserve, and swing, baby, swing.

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