Thursday, November 3, 2016

Current Workout Routine

Over the past year I've cycled through many workout routines.  Some took too long, but mostly out of boredom.  I tend to switch routines every over month.  From the start of this school year I've been making very consistent strength gains on an upper, lower, upper, lower, upper split.  I've achieved my first straddle 90 degree pushup a few weeks ago, can do 5 full ROM handstand pushups, and now hold the advanced tuck planche for about 8 seconds for multiple sets.

This didn't happen until I cut out most of my one-arm handstand work.  For the past year that was my main goal and as a result, I made zero strength gains and was basically in maintenance mode.  During this time I had basically the same split, doing upper body strength at least 3 times a week.  I guess OAHS for 1.5 hours a day 6 times a week is too much??

Anyways, here are my new strength goals, as I figure its best to write them since I'm starting a new routine next week (out of boredom).

Pushing goals

- Full 90 degree pushup

- Straddle planche for ~3 seconds

*Also want to be able to do 5 reps full ROM HSPUs for 3 sets, however, I think that will be achieved indirectly from the previous two goals

Pulling goals

- To be able to consistently pull a one-arm pullup on my left arm (I can do them on my right arm easily, I've done one on my left about a month ago, none since)

- Maintain my full front lever for about 5 seconds...  Eventually want to hold a full FL for 10 seconds

Lower Body goals

- Deadlift double my bodyweight (deadlifted 194% my bodyweight a year ago)

- Front squat 185 lbs for reps and multiple sets

* I have been SO inconsistent with legs over the past 3 years that I have been training.  I've been going strong since this school year started, however.


- To maintain palming the ground with knees locked in pike position

- To be able to comfortably get my knees on the ground in a pancake position

- To loosen my hip flexors because they always feel super tight

New Routine

I have been training 5 times a week for about 3 years now, so I think it's time to add an extra day.  Yay

I am going to try a similar routine with some different sets and rep schemes and exercises.

I'm also not going to specify sets and reps because whenever I do, I NEVER end up following it.  It will change based on how I feel that day.

Monday (upper)

- Full 90 degree pushup negatives

- 30-60 sec total tuck planche

- OAC/OAP negatives
- FL maintenance (isometrics or pullups)

- External rotation rotator cuff work

Tuesday (lower)

- Deadlifts

- Front Squat

- Stretching

Wednesday (upper)

- Advanced tuck planche

- OAP/OAC's and negatives

- External rotation rotator cuff

Thursday (lower)

- Front Squats 

- Deadlifts

- Stretching

Friday (Upper)

- Full 90 degree pushup negatives

- 30-60 sec total tuck planche 

- OAP/OAC negatives

-FL maintenance 

- External rotation rotator cuff

Saturday (Lower)

- Olympic lift practice (clean and jerk, snatch)

- Stretching
*I just started doing these lifts a couple weeks ago after being taught by a friend.  They're fun and will improve my thoracic mobility.

So this is essentially the same routine that I've been doing since the start of the school year. Instead of randomly doing olympic lifts when I have time, I will add them Saturday.  That will also count as an extra leg day.  

As for stretching, I will work on right and left front splits to stretch out the hip flexors and will do the pancake stretch 3 times a week after my lower body days.  I also need to do jefferson curls at least once a week to maintain my pike.

And lastly, I take my shoulder health extremely seriously and do extra rotator cuff/scapula strengthening after every upper body.  I also try to hang on a bar for at least 2-3 minutes every day, as I find it is SO good for your shoulders.

Friday, October 28, 2016

How to Hold a Handstand

Out of all of the many handstand tips I could give you, the most important is… Patience.  If you want to be able to perform this skill, expect to work on it every day, or at least 4-5 times per week.  Watch YouTube videos and read many different articles about the handstand, just don’t get caught up in theory, instead, put everything you learn to the test!  Embrace the trial and error method of learning and remember… Improving your handstand requires patience!!


The Lower Legs

Toes should always stay pointed and knees should always stay locked.  During a handstand you want everything to be tight, doing these two things helps reinforce tightness throughout the lower body.

The Hips

To have a “hollow” handstand, your hips need to be in posterior pelvic tilt (PPT).  If you are not in PPT, your handstand will look like a banana.  To do this, push your lower back into the ground, or tuck your tail bone down as far as possible. If you are doing this right, your core and obliques should be working pretty hard.

Posterior pelvic tilt, lower back is being pushed into the ground

Anterior pelvic tilt.  Notice how you can see through my lower back.

The Shoulders

The goal is for your torso and arms to be in a 180 degree, vertical line.

Good: Open shoulders (180 degrees) and posterior pelvic tilt

Bad: Closed shoulders (more like 150 degrees) and anterior pelvic tilt

Good: Scapula elevated (open shoulders)

When you are reaching to be as tall as possible, your hips will be forced to enter posterior pelvic tilt to counterbalance.

Bad: Scapula not elevated (closed shoulders)
When your shoulders are not elevated, your shoulders are depressed.  This will give you the banana handstand, as it’s not possible to be in posterior pelvic tilt when your shoulders are closed.

*Something to note: you need to pick either hollow handstand or banana handstand. If your shoulders are open, you must be in PPT (hollow). If your shoulders are closed, you must be in APT (banana).


If you haven't overbalanced to the point of no return (falling over the top) then you still have a chance to save the handstand. You do this by piking your legs at the hips and slightly bending your arms. Really you don't have to bend your arms at all, however, bending your arms shortens your body (think of the body as a lever). A shorter body will result in less movement from the rest of your body to correct your positioning.

The same can be said for under-balancing except instead of piking your hips you do the opposite, arch your back. And again, the more you bend your arms, the less your body has to arch to correct the handstand.

Note: Under-balancing usually requires bending your arms much more than overbalancing, so unless you can do a freestanding handstand pushup, always lean towards overbalancing than under-balancing. Correcting overbalancing is usually only a slight bend of the arms.

Hips piked and arms bent to correct overbalancing

Falling Out of a Handstand

When overbalancing, you have to rotate your body or else you will back flop... Try both sides. I fall to my right side, so I take my right hand off the ground to allow myself to twist.



So now we know the theory behind the handstand, but how is it actually learned?? PRACTICE each progression until you can do it in your sleep before moving on. Also, I will give approximate times/reps to hit in each position. Make sure you can hit the times and reps given as it is quite difficult to perform harder progressions when you don't have the necessary stamina/control.

Wall Progressions

Before we start, let's go over what it actually feels like to balance a handstand. A common mistake that people make when starting is pushing with the palms of the hands. Instead, you should be "gripping" the ground, with the majority of the weight on your knuckles.

When you overbalance, you push harder with your fingers, or you can say grip the ground harder.

Also, you are never completely balanced in a handstand. You are constantly "see-sawing" from your fingers back to your palms, back to your fingers. Just stand on one foot. It's so easy you probably have never realized how much rebalancing your foot and ankle are constantly doing for you, and how you are never just completely "balanced."

One last thing...  Push UP (elevation of scapula/arms) and be as tall as possible.

Step 1: Back-facing wall

Remember: point your toes, keep your legs and arms locked, weight in the knuckles/fingers pushing UP.  It's okay for your back to arch here, just get comfortable being upside down.

Goal: 30 seconds to get that base endurance going.

Step 2: Stomach-facing wall

Keep everything off the wall except for your toes. Now, you can't arch. Being close to the wall like this forces PPT and open shoulders. Also, don't make the common mistake of pushing your body into the wall with your palms. If you just can't find the balance point no matter what you are doing, that is probably the problem. Remember, weight in your knuckles and pushing UP, not into the wall.

Goal: 45-60 seconds because to actively control the handstand during toe pulls you must be comfortable and have stamina upside down.

Step 3: Toe Pulls

After you have completed your time goals, move on to toe pulls.  All you do here is from starting with toes on wall, very slowly (one foot at a time, at first) take your toes off of the wall, find your balance point, hold for as long as you can without tipping over, and come back to the wall.  

Remember, you are never just "balanced."  You are always "see-sawing" back and forth. Pushing down with your fingers then pushing down with your palms and back.  Also, everything must stay tight.  If you bend your knees or lose core tension, you will go over the top.

Starting with toes on wall

Starting with toes on wall

Goal: 10 toe pulls, each pull with a 4-5 second freestanding hold.  Get comfortable doing these stomach-facing and back-facing.

Step 4: Practice kicking into a freestanding handstand (working on this during all steps will be helpful)

So once you are able to hold the handstand starting from the wall, you still need to be able to kick into the handstand, freestanding. This takes lots and lots of practice. You will have to experiment with this on your own. I will say, however, you "catch" the handstand. When you kick up you will have to grip the ground really hard with your fingers to prevent yourself from falling over the top. This is where wrist strength comes in.

Which will lead us into the next post....

And to conclude everything, just remember that this skill takes so much practice and patience. Eventually, certain things will just "click" and you will be so happy that you stuck with it. If you aren't seeing improvement, either keep doing the same thing or try a different technique, but just make sure you keep practicing something. After a while you will find what works best for you.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Schedule for the Next 2 Weeks

Thursdays, 9/8 and 9/15 at 8:30 pm in Studio 3 of the Rec Center (2nd floor by the ice rink)

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Learn about hand-balancing
We will teach the most efficient methods and progressions to help you achieve your first two-arm or one-arm handstand

Learn about bodyweight strength
Freestanding handstand push-ups, one-arm pull-ups, muscle-ups, straight-arm strength (planche, front lever, press handstands)

Learn about mobility
Good mobility makes everything easier.  We will teach methods to quickly and safely improve your pancake, splits, pike, and thoracic spine

Official schedule TBD

Contact Jonathan McMahon at (970) 691-3384

Subscribe to the right to get updates on our official schedule