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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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The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing

For many people, today is a special day. I’m not going to get too deep into it, but it does involve a heart, candy, and maybe some stuffed animals.

What I am going to get into is a book on hand balancing that can be used as a starting point to learning the handstand correctly as well as a look into the history of hand balancing. This book is called The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing.

The authors of the book, Professor Paulinetti and Robert L. Jones, have a combined experience of 70+ years practicing and teaching hand balancing and gymnastics. In the 1940’s they wrote THE book on this art.

Although we have many guides of information here, this book gives you an inside look at how this skill gained a following in the earlier years. This book is filled with information and insight on hand balancing

Happy Valentines Day and pick up The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing today!

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

 

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Refining your Handstand Push up

Earlier we talked about the two types of handstand presses. Today, we’ll go a bit more into an often utilized bent arm version. The handstand pushup.

Many people begin their hand balancing against a wall. This was the case for me and I know its the same for many others.

On top of that holding a handstand while doing pushups is one of the ultimate bodyweight exercises for your upper body; with or without a wall.

Think of the upper body strength attainable by being able to rep out a freestanding handstand pushup. You can find many admirable people with supreme strength attain this move. These range from the different BAR groups like the Bar Brothers to the movement groups like GMB.

Whichever method you choose, one thing is for certain. Strength and balance are key.

One thing I noticed that tends to throw people off is their hand and arm position.

If you were to kick up against a wall to do pushups what position would you take? Is this the same position you’d take away from the wall?

Play around with the width and angle of you hands and arms and you will find you can change the difficulty of handstand pushups considerably

Discover the newfound strength in your presses with our Ultimate Guide to Handstand Push-ups Bundle.

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

 

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The Division of the Handstand Press

When you finally understand the mechanics of the handstand, it no longer takes that much strength to perform it. But if you want to start building some inverted strength, start progressing to the handstand pushup.

handstand pushup variation

Handstand pushup demonstrated by Logan Christopher of Legendary Strength

 

Handstand Presses can be broken down into two main groups. The straight arm and the bent arm press.

The various bent arm presses take a high degree of strength in the shoulders, triceps and also the chest in many cases.

Straight arm press-ups still take strength but in different areas. Also you will need flexible wrists, hamstrings, and the ability to compress your body in half. In fact the more flexibility you have the less strength you will need.

For all these reasons most people will be better at either straight arm or bent arm presses. There are many people who can do the straight arm variety but will fall on their face if they have to bend their arms.

On the other hand most strong people can do many bent armed presses. These take tremendous arm and shoulder strength to pull off successfully as you have to hold your entire bodyweight in mid air for a length of time. But for these people the straight arm presses can be elusive.

In the end true mastery comes from being able to do both. In order to do this you must train for both.

Presses are not easy, especially if you haven’t been training as a gymnast. But it can be done.

If you’ve ever wondered why hand balancers are so strong this is one of the major keys. So start pressing.

If you need some help in getting started with presses, why not check our Ultimate Guide to Handstand Push-ups Bundle.

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

 

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Do you Roll Forward or Reverse Engineer it?

Rolling on the floor. It seems like a simple task. But many people seem to have a tough time with it. The simplest reason why is because they dive straight into it without the right body feel.

When somebody is  initially taught the roll, they start off in a kneeling position, and the first point of contact tends to be their shoulder. Following the contact with the shoulder the next point of contact tends to be the lower back or rump. This is usually exemplified by a large thump or possible yell.

So why does this occur? The two culprits are body kinesthetic and flexibility. When a person is rolling they need to be able to feel the connection of their back to the floor. On top of that, they need to be flexible enough to round out their back to create the shape necessary to roll.

Where does a person start to gain the tools necessary. They should begin at the point of contact that most of the issues occur. That point would be the mid-back. Build the right body feel and flexibility in that area and the roll will be an easy task.

A great example on building this body feel comes from Ryan Hurst of GMB Fitness.  Below, he demonstrates a set of progressions that you can use to develop the right feel to easily develop your rolling skills.

If you found this tutorial useful. Check out the GMB Vitamin Course to gain more skills similar to the roll.

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

 

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Hand Balancing and Cross Training with Weights?

Will weight-lifting help you with your hand balancing skill? That’s a tricky question, although not too difficult. The answer is YES and NO.

I’m going to expound on the idea. First off, weight-lifting is a ranged term which can involve power lifting, olympic lifts, bodybuilding, or old-fashioned strength training. A big qualifier on your results is in how you lift.

Certain exercises are going to help you out. And others won’t do much for you.

Specifically for pressing movements. It requires a tremendous amount of strength to be able to push your own body overhead. You need strong triceps, shoulders, and core.

Since many of the inverted presses take you through different planes of movement; not strictly overhead work, like the frogstand press, you will also need strong pectoral muscles in addition to the core.

So strengthening these muscles will make your stunts easier.

Then again hand balancing takes a huge degree balance. While weightlifting can help your coordination, it is nothing compared to what you need to stand on your hands.

Being able to press a heavy barbell overhead has no carryover to being able to hold a handstand.

A handstand is a skill and needs to be practiced in order for you to get good at it.

These days many people are moving away from weights because they think they are not functional. You know what? It just depends on what you’re doing with them.

Whether you decide to build you upper body strength with barbell presses or with handstand pushups is up to you. They both build strength.

So in short, look at what your own goals are and see what will work best for your situation.

If you need some help in getting started, why not check out our Handstand Mastery Course.

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

 

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