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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.

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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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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

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

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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Free Soloing 2,500 feet

There is the regular rock climbing…And then there is free solo climbing. It’s a form of free climbing without any sort of gear, where the climber relies only on his strength, skill and chalk.

Alex Honnold became known around the world for an extraordinary feat when he solo-climbed 2,500 feet El Portrero Chico, Mexico in just about three hours. This is the best footage of the climb I’ve been able to find and it’s a sweaty hands material, for sure.

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

An octocopter system controlled by two persons was used to film the climb itself, which allowed the crew to capture some amazing footage. On the other hand, imagine this thing (in a picture below) flying near you while climbing without ropes!

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Rock Climbing and Handstands Combined

Yesterday you got to watch Tim “Livewire” Shieff live life in a handstand. Here’s another great video of the same man. Thanks to Dave Gillett for sharing this one with me.

I think rock climbing and handstands go very well together. In one you work the pushing muscles of the upper body. In the other you work the pulling muscles.

But this isn’t what I mean when I say to combine the two…

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

This is truly rock climbing and handstands combined. A simple bouldering stunt turned upside down. This makes going down a flight of stairs on your hands look like child’s play.

How many other rock climbers/hand balancers are out there?

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Ninja Warrior Bedroom

I was sent this video a little while back. It’s very impressive showcasing a man training for Ninja Warrior in his bedroom.

If you’re not familiar with Ninja Warrior, it’s a TV show with the most difficult obstacle courses on the planet. Very few people over the years have even completed them all. It’s well-worth checking out, for example on youtube, if you’re not familiar with it.

You can see the progression of starting with a few rock climbing holds and how it grew from there. In Ninja Warrior a majority of the events involve climbing or hanging by very tough hand positions.

Just this week I went and joined a rock climbing gym. I believe rock climbing and hand balancing go together really well as they work many opposing muscle groups.

The strength required in the fingertips, not to mention the pulling muscles, should also translate to my goal of doing the one arm chinnup. At least that’s what I’m going for and I’ll be sure to update you on my progress there.

Now I don’t recommend turning your room or home into a ninja warrior course like this man did (in fact, I don’t think many places could support that weight, unless it was done properly). But adding some of this kind of training into what you’re doing you may get some great benefits, so give it a try.

If you want to learn some different Ninja skills join me at my upcoming workshop.

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