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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.

Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups
Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups on Amazon

 

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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Bodyweight Strong 2.0 – Old School Strength

There are numerous bodyweight training programs that litter the fitness industry, but many of them target calorie burning with no attention to strength development. After all, the hand balancers of the past didn’t seek calorie programs — they sought strength, and they achieved it through bodyweight training.

For a man weighing 240lbs to do a one arm handstand, you need more than just a calorie burning program

For a man weighing 240lbs to do a one arm handstand, you need more than just a calorie burning program

Hand Balancing Made EasyHandBalancingMadeEasy_on_Amazon

 

After all, physical culture was loaded with men of incredible strength, so why create a program that wouldn’t allow the men of that time to match up to their counterparts? These were men who understood the importance of proper progression, so sought to increase, for instance, the difficulty of their pushups rather than how many they could do. If they could manage 100 pushups, they would elevate themselves or do one arm pushups to increase the difficulty, rather than just shooting for 200.

Furthermore, very few physical culturists emphasized training to failure. “Whoa, hold on, I was always taught for weightlifting to train to failure for the most gains.” Well let me tell you that Sig Klein, one of the most renowed weightlifters and bodyweight trainers in history, as well as Maxick, a master muscle controller with incredible lifting feats, never advocated training to failure.

Sig Klein is the kind of man you'd want to listen to about training

Sig Klein is the kind of man you’d want to listen to about training

When it comes to bodyweight training, you want your nervous system to be fresh and gain energy from workout to workout, rather than have it depleted. Thus, they focused on consistent, daily training, which would overly tax your nervous system if you trained to failure each time. In fact, the more you advance in bodyweight skill, the less you’ll want to train to failure to improve skill and prevent injury. Failing during, for instance, a handstand pushup wouldn’t quite have a Cinderella ending.

One of the main reasons that people have trouble doing a handstand is that they simply haven’t trained it enough. If your goal with a single handstand session is to feel the burn in your shoulders until they’re essentially numb, you’ll have a much more difficult time progressing with a handstand than if you practiced daily with consistent progression.

Body Weight Strong 2.0

Bodyweight training balances you as an athlete, and introduces you at a skill level that anyone can begin with — their own weight. If you can learn to truly master your own weight, your strength can skyrocket. In addition, you may not take your weight set everywhere, but you take your body everywhere, so the training convenience is bar none.

These legendary physical culturists knew the proper way to train bodyweight, and Forest Vance is the kind of man who understands old school bodyweight strength. Luckily for you, he has created a program with a contemporary understanding on classic strength philosophy. Plus, there’s thorough video instruction for you to follow every step of the way.

In basic terms, Body Weight Strong 2.0 can evolve your strength to reach incredible levels just as true bodyweight training should do.

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The Lucky Front Lever

frontlever

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.

Walking and Jumping On Your HandsWalking and Jumping On Your Hands on Amazon

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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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.

 

How to do the One Hand Handstand by Professor Orlick
ow to do the One Hand Handstand on Amazon

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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Legendary Strength Lockups

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Hey everybody! In today’s post, I went back into the archives and caught a great tutorial by Logan on how to start developing single arm chin-ups. He calls these drills lockups.

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You start off with a single ring or pull up bar. Begin in an alternating grip position. Whichever hand you are going to preform the lock-up with, you’ll use the opposite hand only a baseline support. Gauge yourself and try not put too much weight on the support hand.

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How to do the One Hand Handstand by Professor Orlick
ow to do the One Hand Handstand on Amazon

Once you’ve locked up at the top end, complete the rep by releasing the hand and controlling the drop like a normal chin up.

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Now the final addition is to turn each rep into a negative so you can begin to build your maximal strength!

Check out Logan performing his Lockups below!

March is the month to get yourself in tune with your body, so be sure to pick up the Advanced Bodyweight Training Bundle!

Stay Inverted!
-Coach Jon

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Are Handstands Possible at an Older Age?

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Hey everybody.  Every now and then we get some feedback on not just how do start balancing with your hands, but also is it attainable at an older age. Luckily while browsing through the archives I was able to find Logan’s opinion on the subject.  Mindful movement is the key. So, if this is an endeavor you want to jump into, listen to your body and watch the video below for tips.

Now that you’ve watched the video, we found an excellent example of performing acrobatics as an older adult. This gentleman’s name is Lee Mowatt and if I remember right, he did this video at 64 years old(don’t fully quote me on that!)

Hand Balancing Made EasyHandBalancingMadeEasy_on_Amazon

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Take a look at his stabilization and control below.

If you want to get better at your mindful movement pick up our Advanced Bodyweight Training Bundle!

Stay Inverted!
-Coach Jon

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Five Ab Workouts on Parallel Bars

It’s pretty much impossible to become an excellent hand balancer if don’t have very strong abs. Without strong abs your back has to over compensate and you don’t want that.

Here are five exercises by Incite Fitness on parallel bars which will help strengthen your abs:

Walking and Jumping On Your HandsWalking and Jumping On Your Hands on Amazon

1. Leg Raises
2. X’s
3. Scissors
4. Knee tucks
5. L-Seats

Some of these are pretty advanced, so you might want to start with something a bit easier. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Ab Exercises to discover the best bodyweight exercises for abs development with tons of progression workouts.

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Incredible Calisthenics Moves by Andrea Larosa

In today’s video we have calisthenics practitioner from Italy, Andrea Larosa, showing various moves in his video compilation including one handed L-sit, planche pushups, handstand variations, bent arm presses and much more, both on bars and ground.

Learn How to Back Flip in 31 Days
Learn How to Back Flip in 31 Days on Amazon

Interesting in bodyweigh training? My Beginner’s Handstand System is worth checking out in order to build foundational strength and gradually progress to more advanced bodyweight exercises.

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Crazy Battle Of The Bars at LA Fit Expo 2015

LA Fit Expo is among the biggest fitness events in the USA, featuring 24 competitions including parkour/freerunning, feats of strength, strongman, powerlifting and many more, along with Battle of the Bars.

The video below is from the main event of the Battle of the Bars between Tatted Strength and Samer Delgado. Get ready for parallel handstand pushups, parallel and regular planches, various levers, jumps, spins…and even a backflip on a bar and a six-fingers planche.

Learn How to Back Flip in 31 Days
Learn How to Back Flip in 31 Days on Amazon

I was actually there, but haven’t had enough time to really enjoy the show as I was too busy running a booth with my brother for our herbal company, SuperMan Herbs. If you are tired of supplement companies who load their products with all kinds of stuff and want to focus on your health first and foremost, check us out at SupermanHerbs.com .

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Johnny Sapinoso Got Some Moves

In this video from Johnny Sapinoso we can see a number of very demanding workouts and feats, like:

  • Front and back flips
  • Cool moves on a bent bar
  • One arm pullups on gymnastic rings
  • Planche on rings and bars
  • Planche pushups
  • Amazing partner acrobatics (including a handstand)
  • One arm handstand at the end of the video

The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing
The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing on Amazon

Johnny Sapinoso  has been training since the age of 5. But you certainly can achieve some of the feats listed above much quicker.  If you are interested in learning how to do a one hand handstand, a back flip or just want to get started with lever training, then make sure to check out this page.

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