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Underwater Handstands and where to spot?

Is doing an underwater handstand a good idea? Read below for that and other questions from readers like you. Remember that if you want your questions answered just email them to me. I can’t personally reply to all of them but I will post them for all to see.

Here’s the first one:

Thank you so much for the good tips. I am just a beginner of the hand stand on land. I already know how to do headstand (“King of Yoga” ). I also do good hand stand and hand walk underwater in the swimming pool at my local LA Fitness. In fact I handwalked the entire length of the pool in one breath few days ago. But I find it much more difficult to do hand stand on land. Shall I keep practicing underwater hand stand and hand walk while trying to learn hand stand on land? Will I pick up “bad habits” while doing the underwater hand balancing?
Best regards, Brian Ko

Now I have never heard this one before. Not having practiced in the water it is hard to say for sure but here are my feelings.

Water is going to give you some resistance for you to push off of. This is why it is easier. When you balance on land you cannot push off the air in this manner. I imagine that you will be balancing with your body rather than your hands for the most part. If you want to be able to do a handstand on land then you should be practicing that.

Tumbling Illustrated
Tumbling Illustrated on Amazon

The other thing is holding the breath. Obviously this must be done if you are underwater, and unless you have great lungs you won’t be able to balance for a long time. However, in hand balancing you do not want to hold your breath. A big key, and also something hard to learn, is to be able to breathe normally when you practice.

My advice is to stick to the land. It is harder but you will get the hang of it. There may be some benefit from practicing underwater but I the time would be better spent on solid ground.

And from our friend Seth:

Hello, I was wondering where is the best place to look while you are in a handstand, I find myself always looking at the ground, but recently I started trying to look forward and keeping neck straight. Which way is correct? Thank you for all your help it is very much appreciated.

Both are correct depending on what you are going for. Most of the time I look at the ground. I find this position easier. Remember that the back tends to follow the head, so if you are looking at your hands then you will naturally arch.

Now if you look forward then your back will straighten out and this will give you the straight handstand look and feel. Once you get use to this position it can be just as easy as the other one.

It all depends on what you are going for but both are correct for hand balancing.

That wraps it up for today.

Good Luck and Good Hand Balancing,
Logan Christopher

PS   Jonathan here! If you need more guidance in 2017 toward your handbalancing goals, try out our Handstand Mastery Program!

 

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Make Haste Slowly, A Late Start to 2017

2017 day 4. If i had my way I would have given you this advice on day 1 of this year inspiring you and guiding you towards your right track. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out that way. Each day of 2017 has involved an odd occurence. Had my phone pick-pocketed from me on the first day, hurt my back on the second, and we move forward. If I had the capacity to turn back time and redo, I would. Unfortunately that isn’t the case.

Much in the same way with your training. If there was a pill that you could take, that would immediately transform you into a world class hand balancer, would you take it?

YES I would! Unfortunately, there is no such pill.

Becoming a great hand balancer requires work and perserverance. Lots and lots of work. Especially if you “start late.”

The problem is that the more you want it and push for it sometimes the farther away it seems.

The worst part of learning any new stunt is the frustration when you just can’t get it right. So you keep on pushing and only get worse it seems.

When you are going after a handstand, and mind you this applies to any trick, as soon as you fall out of balance you may want to kick right back up again. Trying to force the situation will never help.

Whenever this happen take the time to step back. Take a deep breath and think about how you can do better. Don’t over think the process, but analyze your technique and realize if you are doing things correctly.

Now go at it again with optimism.

If you throw yourself into a hand balance you may feel like you can get more work in a shorter amount of time. Maybe you get one in ten to stick and you feel like you are progressing.

The question to ask yourself is do you want to go about this haphazardly or in the correct manner?

I am hoping you answered with the second option. You need to start slowly in order to make progress in the long run.

Going after the handstand with no prior skills is a hard way to do it. Learning the position and hand control with exercises like the Frog stand and Head Stand will give you two steps in the right direction.

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

Don’t just go after the One Hand Handstand by getting into a normal handstand and raising one hand off of the floor quickly. Practice handstands with a smaller base of support or with one arm elevated up.

Don’t be too anxious to get to your goal or you are putting obstacles in your own way.

If you needed to cover a distance of 30 feet would you try a broad jump or walk each step at a time?

I am as guilty of this problem as any of you. What we need to do is realize how much assistance exercises and lead-up stunts can help, use them, and in the end we will make progress faster.

By breaking your goal into easier steps along the way you will get there with haste.

Stay Inverted!
-Coach Jon

PS   If you need more guidance in 2017 toward your handbalancing goals, try out our Handstand Mastery Program!

 

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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.

Learn How to Back Flip in 31 Days
Learn How to Back Flip in 31 Days 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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Dynamic Tension Hindu Pushups

 

Pushups. Something so simple and yet so versatile, so progressive yet so intense, a pushup is one of the ultimate multifaceted tools of hand balancing mastery.

Of this multifaceted tool, this variation is one of my personal favorite pushups: the Hindu pushup.

 

Also known as a dand, this is a full body workout; with one simple exercise, you can work the shoulders, back, arms, legs, and chest. Not only that, but the mind muscle connection that you gain from honing your technique through the movement will help your body very quickly return to its natural state of absolute strength.

Now, this exercise was used often by Indian wrestlers like the famous Great Gama to develop incredible strength, mobility, and power. Now, add to that the intensity of a dynamic tension workout, flexing the appropriate muscles from the start to the finish of your training, and you’ve got a phenomenal workout.

Dynamic tension has been used to strengthen tendons, muscles, and nerves in so many physical arts through history that it almost seems like adding it to a Hindu pushup was meant to be.

Additionally, if you want to increase the intensity of your workout even more, do a dynamic tension Hindu pushup on your fingertips and engage the power of your grip strength. For the truly adventurous, using a weight vest will take the intensity of the pushup to a whole new level.

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

This is an exercise that is not for the faint-hearted. This is an advanced variation pushup, so take it slowly. As I say in the video, slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

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

That goes not just for your movement speed during the exercise, but also the speed of your progression. There’s no need to rush, and no need to risk injury. Enjoy the training journey, keep it fun, and look forward to the incredible levels of strength that you acquire. Onward, and happy training to you all!

Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on the variation.

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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

 

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.

Tumbling Illustrated
Tumbling Illustrated on Amazon
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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Irradiate Your Path to Handstand Mastery

If you’ve ever been inside a gym, I’m sure you’ve seen it: the classic gym bro doing bicep curls, perhaps easily at first, but soon devolves into using practically his entire body to curl the weight.

Although personally, when I see a weight, curling it isn't my preference...

Although personally, when I see a weight, curling it isn’t my preference…

 

What you’re actually watching is the law of irradiation, one of the Sherrington laws. What it means, in essence, is that you can contract other muscles in your body to strengthen the one you’re applying force with. If you’d like to experiment with this, try tensing your glutes the next time you shake someone’s hand; you’ll find that your hands can actually apply more force with the handshake.

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

Let’s review the curling gym bro again. As he continues to do the bicep curls, his biceps get tired and lose their strength of contraction. To compensate, his abs, forearms, lats, glutes, and even feet start contracting in order to provide enough force to lift the weight — it’s an unconscious response.

The problem is that the form of the curl itself begins to look incredibly sloppy as he’s unconsciously recruiting other muscles.

Now, what does this mean for handstand training?

The Law of Irradiation for Handstands


Here’s a great video of Otto Arco doing hand balancing and muscle control (which is key for the LOI)

Well, the handstand is an exercise that largely focuses on the shoulders, triceps, lats, forearms, traps, scapular muscles, and your core. However, fully body tension is really needed to maintain proper handstand form. Part of the reason is that having relaxed muscles can throw off your balance with the exercises, but the other factor is that recruiting other muscle groups like your glutes, neck, calves etc. into the handstand will help the required muscles to contract stronger.

“But you said that contracting extra muscles ruined the curler’s form…” Therein lies the difference, unconscious muscle recruitment vs. conscious muscle recruitment.

See, if that bicep curler had muscle control, and could consciously choose to flex other muscles to compensate, he could do so without affecting his form. That way, he wouldn’t lose the benefit on his biceps, and would also increase the benefit to other muscle groups and his overall muscle control.

The same goes for handstand training. If you’re able to consciously recruit different muscles to develop your overall strength in the handstand, you can help to both maintain your form and develop muscle control. Sig Klein, Otto Arco, and Maxick, who are all legendary hand balancers, knew the importance of muscle control and the law of irradiation in training, and used both to their advantages.

Try it out: develop your muscle control, and boost your progress with the law of irradiation.

Then, if you want to try more advanced moves like the handstand pushup, you’ll be more prepared.

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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.

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.

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

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.

 

Trampoline Handbook
Trampoline Handbook on Amazon

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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Legendary Strength Lockups

03_19_01

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.

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

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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?

03_15_01

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!)

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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!

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

Stay Inverted!
-Coach Jon

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