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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.

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

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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The Path of the Shaolin Monk: Training with your Fingers

What’s interesting to me is about how many people have embraced the benefits and fun of being inverted. You can catch people training at a park or even at you’re local gym. Although, if there is one form of hand balancing that you don’t see much of today, its training with your fingers.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice it.

Let me start off with a word of caution. The fingers are small and fragile. You have to start off by being mindful of your body while beginning your training; otherwise you may end up breaking them, snapping tendons or any number of bad possibilities. So be careful.

Starting with a fingertip handstand is probably too much for most people. Even this most basic move must be worked up to. And fingertip pushups are the best way to do that.

Even without practicing finger balancing, your hand and finger strength will improve over time. Just from the practice of balancing on your hands you can’t help but gain some strength in your digits.

But for true fingertip stunts you need to do them in one form or another.

If you are ready for the fingertip handstand then I suggest using a wall on your first go. Holding your body weight on your fingers is one thing. Balancing is another.

Not only do you have a smaller base of support but you must add pressure in order to stay balanced. This makes your fingers support your weight and then some.

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

If starting with your finger is still a bit away from your level, but you want to develop your hand balancing, check out our handstand mastery course.

Stay Inverted
-Jonathan Magno

 

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The First Stunt of 2017: Part 2

Elbow Lever

A couple of days ago we talked about the Elbow Lever and gave you a quick lesson on how achieve the skill. If you missed, out I’ll include the lesson at the end of this post just in case.

Today, I’ll be talking to you about a different aspect of the lead-up stunt. The Benefits.

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

Why is this stunt helpful? It trains the balancing aspect on your hands from a low center of gravity. You also have to keep a decent arch and your body tight or else you will touch the ground with more than your hands.

Internally, these lead-up stunts help to fill in the foundational blocks to understanding how to control your body. Logically, you should strive toward building small successes. The more consistent you are at being successful and learning the intricacies of the moves, the closer you’ll get to that freestanding handstand or more.

Before I forget…

Elbow Lever Quick Lesson:

To perform this lead- stunt kneel on the floor, bring both elbows together and place them in your stomach and turn the palms of the hands facing upwards. Now lean forwards slowly and place the hands flat on the floor with your fingers pointing backwards. Arch your back slowly until your toes leave the floor and you will be doing the elbow lever.

You will find the balance a little difficult at first but just keep on practicing. The stunt can also be performed on the edge of a table or on the end of any ordinary bed.

Stay Inverted
-Jonathan Magno

P.S. If you want to own your elbow lever or your other hand balance lead-up stunts check out our handstand mastery course.

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The First Stunt of 2017: Part 1

There are a number of different possibilities that will lead up to your first handstand. In fact we recommend 5 different lead-up stunts or body skills that can help you achieve this feat.. Whether its the Frogstand, Headstand, their variations or even today’s topic; you’ll gain a valuable piece of information that will help you progress to your goal or even build up to other goals.

Honestly, these lead-up stunts aren’t necessary to get your first handstand, but they build a pathway that can make it easier. All of these body skills share common traits to the handstand and therefore pave the way towards good handbalancing.

The different skills each put you into an inverted position,  develop strength, balance and the motor control necessary to perform a handstand.

So without talking the skills up too much and not delivering, lets give you more insight on the move at hand:

The Elbow Lever

Elbow Lever

Don’t let this move scare you. It is an advanced Hand balancing skill and I’m only starting off with it to give you a long term skill to shoot for. Also, if what I’ve been saying is true, you’ll be able to gain some valuable experience towards you hand balancing Journey.

To perform this lead- stunt kneel on the floor, bring both elbows together and place them in your stomach and turn the palms of the hands facing upwards. Now lean forwards slowly and place the hands flat on the floor with your fingers pointing backwards. Arch your back slowly until your toes leave the floor and you will be doing the elbow lever.

You will find the balance a little difficult at first but just keep on practicing. The stunt can also be performed on the edge of a table or on the end of any ordinary bed.

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

Now that you know how to do an elbow lever, we challenge you to go ahead and give it a try. Also if you want some pointers, try posting a video on our facebook page and we’ll be there to direct and support you development in your hand balancing journey.

Stay Inverted
-Jonathan Magno

BTW if you want to skip some of the process and guesswork toward building you hand balance skills, check out our handstand mastery course.

 

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A broom, your body, and handbalancing!

Everyone has done this at one time or another. A broom is a common item but any long straight object will do just fine.

Put one end on your open palm with the other end straight up in the air and keep it there by balancing.

This is not very difficult and let me tell you why. The broom is straight and solid. Your efforts at balancing it from the bottom translate straight up to the top so it is quite easy to keep it in the air.

Of course, this is related to hand balancing. However, there are some big differences.

Your body is not just one straight long object. You have mobile joints at your elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. And then there’s your spine which has many moving pieces.

This is not an anatomy lesson. My point is that your efforts of balancing on your hands may not directly translate to keeping your feet in the air.

Your target must be keeping your body from wrists to toes unmoving so that you can balance.

Keeping your body tight is the key to holding a quality handstand. Any leak means getting out of proper position and a much tougher time getting back in.

So stay tight, but don’t forget to breathe.

In the beginning all this is not as easy as it appears, especially when you are in the unfamiliar upside down position. But keep practicing.

When you can keep your body rigid then handstands are a piece of cake.

Tumbling Illustrated
Tumbling Illustrated on Amazon

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

P.S. Although this post is about keeping a straight line, sometimes you need to be a bit more bendable or flexible. Increase your body’s strength and mobility by working on your handstand pushups.

 

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Friday the 13th: Some Positive Motivation!

It’s officially the first Friday the 13th of the year. To move you all through the day with positivity, we have a motivational video coming from Metin Dabak.

Not only did he manage to perform 50 handstand pushups in five sets, but he claims to have done them in supersets with weighted chin-ups.

Test yourself this weekend and see if you can complete the same challenge!

Stay Inverted!
-Jonathan Magno

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

P.S. If you need help with your handstand pushups, check out the Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups to learn how to perform them as soon as possible.

 

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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.

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

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.

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?

Tumbling Illustrated
Tumbling Illustrated on Amazon

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.

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.

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

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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Conor McGregor Movement Training

conor mcgregor nate diaz

Photo courtesy of mmajunkie.com

Hand Balancing Made EasyHandBalancingMadeEasy_on_Amazon

Tonight is the long awaited night: the two powerful welterweights Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor will go at it for the second time in a fierce battle to prove the stronger welterweight once and for all at UFC 202.

While Nate Diaz won the last bout and proved himself a much more patient and strategic fighter in their first bout, Conor McGregor seems to have honed his focus and sought more patience in this fight.

What, then, has he sought in his training?

It may make more sense to say whom. Ido Portal is an Israeli movement expert who seeks to find a union between strength, conditioning, and technique. We’ll get to see below the ways that Ido sought to blend the three together for Conor in his next bout, as he helped Mcgregor attain the physical shape to defeat the legendary Jose Aldo in a mere 13 seconds. (He has trained other MMA fighters as well, like Alberto Mina.)

Ido Portal Method

Conor Mcgregor continually hones his striking. Both his fists and feet are fierce weapons in the ring, both thus far unmatched in the 145 weight class. But he has focused on training that truly boosts his mobility in the ring, training with complex and bouncy animal movements and different movement chains that engage the tendons and ligaments, boost proprioception, and aid the utilization of full body power in fight situations.

Here is a video of some of the movement training that McGregor did with Ido Portal as he trained for his last fight. I’d say more people understand how important body movement is for overall health and functionality. Are you one of them? If so, watch this video and try out some of the movements for yourself. I truly believe that you’ll discover patterns and freedom of movement that will get your body singing.

And tonight, may the best man win!

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