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The Cossack or Side to Side Squat

In continuing with the theme of the squats, here is a nice variation that you’ve probably seen and utilized although without really digging down deep into the benefits that come along with utilizing this exercise. The skill I’m referring to is the Cossack Squat.

The Cossack Squat or Side to side squat has a range of benefits that aren’t attainable with the normal bodyweight squat. First of all, its a multi-planar movement pattern. When you move through the side to side squat you run through flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, internal, and external rotation of the hips. You’re pretty much targeting both the sagittal and frontal planes with this power packed excercise. Needless to say, that’s a whole bunch going on with one exercise and personally for me, it brings nostalgia involving the old martial arts days.

The hips and shoulders are of the most mobile joints that we have in our bodies. Being able to move through full range of motion in the joint capsule helps improve you functional range but might also deter you from some aches and pains down the road.

The types of pains that you could be saving yourself could be the lower back, knees, and even the hips themselves.

I suggest you test out the variation of the squat and see for yourself why its an important movement exercise.

 

Don’t forget, we still have The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Bodyweight Squats and Pistols for you to build out on your squatting skills!

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

P.S. Do yourself a favor and look up Cossack Dance in google if you want to see where this move originates from.

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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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Autoregulation – A Framework for Building Skill

In a previous post, I covered overcoming hurdles and changing things up. I even discussed an interesting buzzword; autoregulation.

I didn’t want to get too deep into autoregulation at that point because I wanted to keep things simple. Although I think today is a perfect time to discuss what this whole autoregulation thing is about.

Autoregulation in its base training terms means to adjust the training session to the body’s needs at that point in time. First off let me say that this doesn’t mean to jump into every session without a plan and guns shooting. That is off course from what we are looking for in our own training, although having time to play while you train has its merits.
What we are talking about is having an adjustable framework to work from.
Lets take our wall assisted handstand as an example. To add to this, lets set a simple baseline to follow while your understanding this method. There are many methods to autoregulation including those from our friends at Gold Medal Bodies.
To start off, lets take the ideas of quality, quantity, and time. Say that our chosen training activity, the wall assisted handstand, will be given a time frame of 20 minutes. In that 10 minute time frame, I set a goal(quantity) of a 30 second handstand with a quality of a controlled kick-up lightly touching the wall and straight line. I have an added base point of stopping after not being able to hold a quality 20 second handstand even if its before the 20 minute time frame ends.
So what I’ve done is set up some “soft” parameters that i can play with in order to adjust my body accordingly to the task. This is important when building a skill, because you are learning to utilize your body. We have the added biological mess, that your bodies current state is a result of stimuli received previously.
You can look up more on the subject by doing a quick google search. But if you want to get a tasted of auto-regulated skill training, test out one of the many Gold Medal Bodies training programs.

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

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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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Ask the Tapps! Shortcut for Handstand Mastery

Hey Hand Balancers!

Today we have a special video from our friends the Tapp Brothers. They went ahead and put together a set of tips specifically for you guys here at LAOHB. Go ahead and take a look at the video below!

If you want to learn the 5 components to build your athletic base, check out the Tapp Brothers’ new program Rapid Primal Fitness!

Stay Inverted!
-Coach Jon

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