Today I have a guest post from Ryan Hurst of Gold Medal Bodies. Ryan got in touch with me a while ago and we naturally clicked by virtue of sharing similar methods and ideas. Since I always harp on the awesomeness of bodyweight skills, I’ve been wanting to give headway on how to handstand. But since I’m not a pro, I had to get some outside help. Ryan did a fantastic job with this tutorial and made a great video to go along with the post. Make sure you watch it as it illustrates the concepts he details.
Hi, I’m Ryan from Gold Medal Bodies.
Anthony, being the super cool guy he is, asked me to give you guys a nice starting program for hitting handstands. For those of you who don’t know me, I have a thing for being upside down and helping people get strong with various gymnastic type movements.
Anthony and I were talking about training, and when he asked if I could share some tips about handstand work, I was pumped! I love handstands and all the benefits you get from practicing them.
Besides the fact that handstands make a great party trick, they’re a great start towards more difficult inverted and hand balancing maneuvers.
So what’s so great about handstands?
Well, when you do them right, handstands strengthen pretty much every muscle you have. Obviously, your shoulders and arms will get much stronger in overhead activities, and you’ll also notice some great improvements in your core strength. The strength and balance you get from doing handstands transfers over to a lot of other physical activities.
And let’s face it, being able to pop into a handstand wherever you are is pretty damn cool.
Now, I know what some of you are probably thinking. “I can’t do that! I’ll break my head!” Handstands can be intimidating since there is always the possibility of crashing.
But, I promise, if you follow the progressions that I’m sharing with you today, you’ll get there as safely and as quickly as possible. There is no reason why you shouldn’t get the handstand, or even make your current handstand better than it already is.
4 Basic Steps to Handstand Mastery
When I teach my clients to do a handstand, I generally take them through the following four stages:
- Facing the wall
- Facing away from the wall
- L-Handstand using a wall
- Freestanding Handstand work
But before you dive in and start taunting gravity, there are two things that you have to do to get ready for safe and productive handstand work—strengthen your wrists and ingrain the “hollow body” position.
Preparing Your Wrists
First we’ll start with wrist prep. If your wrists are weak, your handstand will be weak.
This is also one of the most common complaints I receive from people that have tried working on handstands and other handbalancing in the past. They just can’t carry weight properly on their hands.
That’s why we really need to focus on strengthening our wrists using the three variations below.
Note: the following exercises begin at 1:22 in the video.
The first is with our hands flat and fingers facing forward. Make sure to keep your arms straight. Rock forward and bring your shoulders past your fingers and hold for 3 seconds. Relax, then repeat for a total of 5 reps.
Next we’ll take our fingers backwards and sit back, holding for 3 seconds for 5 reps. Don’t let the heels of your hands come up off of the ground.
Palms Up, Fingers Backward
For the final wrist prep, turn your hands over with palms facing up. Keep your fingers facing your knees and sit back, holding for 3 seconds for a total of 5 reps. If you have trouble keeping your arms straight, move your hands closer to your knees.
Mastering the Hollow Body
You MUST master the hollow body position if you want a solid handstand.
We’re working on a gymnastic-style handstand with a straight body (it’s a much better technique if you’re doing this for training), and that requires a tight core to keep your upper and lower halves working together when inverted.
The most important point for the hollow body position is keeping your lower back flat on the floor the whole time.
DO NOT progress to the next level in the hold until you can successfully hold it for at least one minute with your lower back fully down on the floor. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you’ve gotten all the juice out of the preceding steps.
Here’s the Hollow Body progressions:
- Legs bent
- Legs straight
- Legs straight and extended
- Arms extended
This hollow body position is pretty close to how you want to hold your body in the handstand, so having the strength to maintain this position on the floor can make or break your overall progress.
Note: the hollow body position can be seen at 2:24 in the video.
Be sure to continue working the hollow body until you’re extremely comfortable with it.
We’ll begin our handstand work with our body facing against the wall. Most people start out facing away, but I’ve found that my students can apply the hollow body position better if they face the wall at first.
Note: wall work can be seen at 4:20 in the video.
Handstand Facing The Wall
- Climb the wall – With your hands shoulder width apart, slowly walk your feet up the wall and walk your hands close to the wall.
- Hold the Hollow Body Handstand (tight body) – With toes against the wall, focus on holding the hollow body position.
- Exit the handstand by walking your feet down. Use a mat or pillow in case you crash, etc.
If you are having trouble getting into the handstand holding it, you probably need to work on strengthening your shoulders. So rather than trying to hold the handstand, work on walking up and down the wall for 3 reps for 4 sets.
Once you can comfortably get into the handstand while facing the wall, hold for 5 to 10 seconds x 6 sets. Give yourself a good rest between sets. Once that becomes easy, add 5 seconds to each set for all of the 6 sets.
We are working up to being able to hold 1 set for 60 seconds per set. Once you can perform that, it’s time to move on to the next level.
Handstand Facing Away From The Wall
Facing outward is great because you can start working on popping up into the handstand.
Work on locking out your arms and jumping slowly up in the handstand. Try not to smack your back, butt, or feet against the wall.
Here is the progression:
- Jump to handstand
- Hollow body with heels on wall
- Look down slightly
- Slowly exit the handstand.
Once you can hold the hollow body handstand with feet against the wall for up to a minute, it’s time to start pulling your feet away from the wall.
The L-stand is awesome for gaining a lot of strength in your handstand and working on your form.
This is surprisingly difficult and is why I usually have my clients work on this along with the wall handstand facing out, and even when they get really good at that.
There are two key points for the L-stand:
- Focus on getting a 90 degree angle
- Push down and don’t let your shoulders collapse
You can work this the same way as your other progressions. 5 to 10 seconds x 6 sets and adding 5 seconds per set as you can. Work up to holding this for 1 minute per set.
The Freestanding Handstand
You have FINALLY arrived!
After hard work on each of the prior levels you are good and ready for the freestanding handstand.
The freestanding handstand can be a bit difficult psychologically because there is no longer a wall to help catch you! But don’t let that stop you. Focus on what you’ve learned so far and kick on up there. However, if things do go bad, remember that you can simply roll or turn out of it.
The sets and reps are the same as our other progressions. Start off with 5 to 10 seconds for 6 sets. You want to hold a solid free standing handstand for up to a minute.
Some points to remember:
- Start with hands on floor
- Tuck up with control
- Push away from the ground
- Hold with a hollow body position
- Exit the handstand – Turn out or roll if you have to bail
Most of all, have fun with it. Handstands are difficult for may people, but if you remember to make it fun, you’re going to keep practicing, and that’s key.
Advanced Handbalancing for Badasses
Once you’ve got your basic handstand nailed, you can step up for more interesting variations and advanced hand balancing moves.
Here are some advanced versions to work on once you get the freestanding handstand:
- Press handstand
- Lower to double arm lever
- Bent arm tuck to press hand
Alright, now get on it!
Don’t let any of this intimidate you, these progressions have worked for everyone I’ve trained and I’ve seen so many crazy grins from people that never thought they could get it.
Give this a go and please let me know how its working out for you. Leave a comment below if you have any questions!
Ryan Hurst, GMB Program Director – Ryan has a passion for movement, playing with his kids and being outdoors. That’s why you’re more likely to find him running, lifting, jumping, balancing, and climbing than anywhere online. Visit his home: http://www.goldmedalbodies.com
You consider yourself an athlete. I get it. Regularly showing up at the gym and moving some heavy things isn’t exactly easy. I know, I know.
But, really, how athletic is a squat? A deadlift? Now a clean and jerk or a snatch is a different story. Mark Rippetoe once said that a snatch is gymnastics with a barbell, and for good reason. But with the traditional lifts, how athletic do you need to be?
Anyone from a neighborhood computer programmer to a professional athlete can learn the basic barbell exercises. A cartwheel, though? Different story.
Hitting the gym isn’t making you athletic if you’re all about squatting, deadlifting, and benching. What’s that doing for your movement capacity? Your coordination?
By all means, keep getting bigger and stronger. There’s something to be said about a big guy that can move well. And if you want to be that guy—that superhuman feeling kind of guy—start here.
A BIT OF TRICKING HISTORY
In 2001, I came across “tricking,” which is a mesh between martial arts and gymnastics. Back then, it was a small group of teenagers jumping, kicking, and flipping in their backyards. No equipment. No shoes. No formal training. No safety precautions.
Not exactly parentally advised stuff.
Although tricking seems chaotic, there are foundational movements from gymnastics and martial arts. Things like cartwheels, kip-ups, handstands, and rolls are gateway drugs for tricksters.
Call me crazy, but I incorporate some of these movements into my “regular” training routine, as discussed in The Jackedthlete. You never really forget where you came from, right?
It’s amazing what a cartwheel reveals about someone. Are they coordinated? Are they confident? Are they mobile?
We are on the dawn of a new training age. Nothing is static anymore. It’s about movement patterns that intertwine flexibility, mobility, and coordination.
Of the skills mentioned above, the kip-up is the flashiest to the Average Joe. It’s a total body explosive movement that uses the arms, abs, and legs, requiring flexibility, mobility, and coordination. If that doesn’t catch your attention, perhaps being on par with Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee will.
HOW TO KIP-UP
The kip-up is the quintessential way for a martial artist to rise after being knocked down. Generally, it’s done lying face up on the ground with the hands next to the head. The legs kick in the air and hook underneath of the body to land in a standing or squatting position.
Before trying your luck with these, understand a few things. First, expect sore abs. Second, warm-up. A few rollovers, wrist rotations, fingers pulls, and neck work do the trick (see video). Third, crashing is expected. Especially on your back. Land gently. Fourth, you won’t land this on your first try. Many won’t land it within the first week. Or month. Or months. (It took me five months, I think.) Don’t get discouraged. Fifth, have fun.
Step #1: Initial Position
The next step is the chamber. Bring your legs off of the ground and towards your head so that your weight is on your mid-upper thoracic area. Don’t shortchange the chamber; it’s what provides the recoil and explosion. Think of it as the dip right before a vertical jump.
Step #3: The Kick
Welcome complication. Once chambered, kick your legs straight in the air towards the sky. Pick a spot that’s directly above your eyes so that you have a target. The harder and faster you kick at the target, the easier it will be.
People go wrong because they kick out and not up. This is the only chance you have to get height. Everything goes up.
Step #4: The Push
The kick is the powerhouse, but the arms are important too. The timing is what makes the move difficult. The arm push happens after the momentum from the kick propels you in the air. Press off after the kick in one small explosive burst.
Step #5: The Hook
To this point, everything was vertical. The hook, however, brings the body around so that you land on your feet.
Immediately after the arm push, hook the legs underneath your body and violently raise your torso upright. At first, your hook will be out of sync and you’ll land on your back. As you get better, your feet will hit first, but you won’t have enough momentum to stand. Eventually, you’ll land in a deep squat.
Hello mobility work.
MAKING IT EASIER
Before you spam the comments with questions about prerequisite strength and power numbers, know this: there are none. When I learned this, I was an out of shape teenager.
Coordinating the movements is key. More is never better, so I’m apprehensive with this tip. But if you’re struggling, try rolling into the chamber from a standing position to give yourself extra momentum.
MAKING IT CLEANER
Tricking is an aesthetic blend of flips, kicks, and twists. Looks matter. Making a trick flawless is known as making it clean. To make your kip-up clean, land as upright as possible—preferably standing.
To land standing, abandon the hook. Instead, hollow after the kick. Squeeze the glutes and arch the lower back. When the feet hit the ground, use your abs to stabilize the torso and keep the body upright.
LOOK MA, NO HANDS
The next progression is learning the no handed kip-up. It’s much more difficult, however, because the timing changes. Everything needs more speed and precision to cover for the decreased air time.
Since the hands are taken out of the movement, the head is responsible for the last push off the ground. So beware: your neck will take a beating. Warm-up and expect soreness. Here are the adjustments when going to no hands:
#3: Aim for the tip toes. Forget about landing straight up. Height is scarce, so plan to land in a deep squat position on your tip toes. Hook extra hard.
The kip-up is a great athletic move that can be used in any training program. Mesh it with other skills to form badass combinations. How about a clapping pushup, to groiner, to kip-up, to vertical jump? Or a kip-up to the knees followed by a forward rolling kip up?
It’s not only a gateway to tricking, but also a gateway to both training and fun. It’s not totally superhuman. But it’s a damn good start.
When I was twelve, I wanted to be Goku from Dragonball Z. Too much to ask? I didn’t think so either. But higher powers had other intentions.
Something more than the fantasy of being a jacked anime guy drew my interest to the character. I wanted to do incredible things. After coming to terms with the impossibility of flying and creating balls of energy (despite what the internet told me), my sights were set on random feats of atheticism and, of course, saving the world from unforseeable disasters and villians. So when I found tricking, my heart oozed into lava.
In a sense, I’m lucky. Although I let myself turn into a pile of slop, I was always athletic. And I never doubted my ability in sports.
Athleticism was my survival skill. And survival skills often become strengths. My case was no exception. Being picked first in Phys Ed class and being recruited to play basketball, baseball, football, and track kept me away from swirlies. After all, I did like Dragonball Z so I had to cling onto something that made me “cool.”
When I started in fitness, aesthetics weren’t enough for me — a fact that showed through on the title of both my first and second blog — Simply Strong: The Age of Athleticism, and More than Muscle: Bridging the Gap Between Athletics and Aesthetics.
For a long time, tricking filled my performance void. Being long removed from competitive sports, it was my reason for training. In my heart, I was a trickster first (albeit a bad one), and a lifter second. Eventually, I adopted a die hard athlete mentality. Like, “if you’re not a professional athlete I don’t want to talk to you,” die hard.
But now I realize few “serious” athlete peruse blogs for training tips. Most people are average guys interested in looking good. Also dear to me, however, is feeling good and moving good. Some people call this mesh between athletics and aesthetics, “athletic bodybuilding.” Initially, I referenced it as Beast Mode Training. In an effort to claim new ground (it makes me feel special), I’m calling this breed Jackedthletes.
Jackedthletes, of course, want to be jacked. But they also want to be incredibly athletic. So here are the adapted rules of Beast Mode Training to suit the Jackedthlete, which are principles that I currently abide by.
- The warm up is the workout.
- Strength is developed using a few basic movements.
- The focus is on steady progress over time.
- Tricking, gymnastics, and tumbling isn’t optional.
- The lower body is trained for strength and explosiveness.
- Selected compound lifts are arbitrary. Front squat instead of back squat? I’m not complaining.
- The “X” look is the ideal physique.
- If it’s important, do it every day.
Right, I know none of this makes sense to you. Over the next few weeks, however, I’m going to be rolling out some recommendations for the Jackedthletes at heart. Today’s information is about hitting aerobic work that isn’t the same old mind-numbing treadmill hoofing junk you’re used to.
JACKEDTHLETIC AEROBIC WORK
The aerobic system is grossly underrated. (This is especially true with tricking.) As explosive bouts are repeated over time, the aerobic system becomes more important with each successive go. (A trickster with good aerobic capacity can trick longer and with better mental clarity, lessening the chance of injury. The same goes for athletes of similar sports.)
But distance running sucks. Not only does it take forever, but it also zaps the legs of energy that is otherwise used to gain strength and explosiveness. So I’m all about creating upper body circuits that incorporate lifting weights, gymnastics, and tumbling. It sounds hectic, I know, but here’s an example to bring some clarity.
A1) Planche Work :20
A3) Handstands :20
A4) Right Shoulder Rolls x 5
A5) Left Shoulder Rolls x 5
A6) Forward and Backward Rolls to Handstand x 5
Note: If you haven’t done rolls before, start with the kneeling version and keep the volume low. If you don’t, you’re apt to get headaches. Also, using incorrect rolling mechanics can put you at risk to hurt your shoulder blade. You’ve been warned.
And please, don’t knock my gymnastics form. I’m a trickster at heart so I’m used to watching, then doing, then tweaking. I don’t claim to be a gymnast expert.
Repeat this sequence three or four times with little to no rest between exercises. If you want more add inch worm walks, bear walks, crab walks, cartwheels, or any other unconventional locomotor movement. If you’re a sciency person that tracks hear rate, stay within 120-150 beats per minute.
Aerobic work that’s actually fun? Is it too good to be true? What the hell is a Jackedthlete? Have any other principles that you think a Jackedthlete would follow?
Drop your questions and comments below.
Give the circuit a try and let me know how it goes. What would you change? Any additions? Subtractions?
I’d love to hear your opinion.
Are you using your power rack for all the wrong reasons? You might be. Here are some tips to get more out of your power rack than just squatting and benching. (And a way to include exercises you never thought of doing.)
With the release of How to Bench 400 pounds (Not What You Think), A New Way to Look at Fat Loss?, and The Down Low on Gymnastics Exercises – An Interview, I’ve gotten some questions (and fan mail) on my love for and use of body weight exercises.
Recently, I’ve spent 10-15 minutes practicing handstands, planches, front levers, and l-sits on three of my training days. They are challenge in ways that barbells can’t empathize with. My legs are huge in comparison to my upper body, which is a limiting factor on many gymnastics exercises. (It’s a worthwhile excuse for my utter debauchery of them.) But I wouldn’t be practicing them unless I found out how to get more out of my power rack.
Before, planches and l-sits hurt my wrists and my high tech pull-up bar (an I-Beam) wrecked my hands on levers. I would get motivated to do them, but after one or two sessions, my body hated me so I stopped. But then I remembered that some people use their power rack as a dipping station. For whatever reason, I never thought of using them as parallel bars, which instantly makes the exercises mentioned more enjoyable.
Keep in mind that, as of now, I do these exercises for fun. They are skills in themselves, so a more serious athlete needs to justify their use (even though I think front levers are the best “core” exercise in existence). For everyone else, have fun with them. They can be frustrating. Progress is slow and is measured in years, not days or weeks.
TURNING YOUR RACK INTO PARALLEL BARS
You have to have the right kind of rack assembly to do this, which goes without saying. But if you do, situate the safeties a good ways off the ground (this will take some experimentation), and simply toss two barbells on top of it. The most important thing to remember is that the barbell has to be secured. Push it to the ends of each upright so it can “lock” in place. If you don’t it might spin, slide, or turn, which will be trouble.
There’s always creative solutions out there for exercises you think you can’t do. Harness your inner Ben Bruno and think of ways to unconventionally make use of your equipment. If you already have one, or if you’re throwing around ideas in your head, let me know about them. I’d love to see what you have in mind in the comments section.
What if I told you that benching 400 pounds was more than strengthening the upper body? In October, I posted the original How to Bench 400 Pounds (Not What You May Think) over at Freak Strength. Consider this an update.
My background in tricking, which is rooted in gymnastics, makes me think that I have a certain appreciation for movement. I was by no means a “good” trickster, but I feel that flipping, twisting, and contorting in mid-air has given me a certain kinesthetic sense that I wouldn’t otherwise have. That, and the fact that I’ve been training both outside and barefoot since 2001. (Yes, I was a pioneer of these cool ideas.)
I was taken aback when Dan John centered an entire article around graceful movement. It just made sense to me, especially after observing so many athletes. But movement, let alone graceful movement, isn’t something modern “strength and conditioning” coaches emphasize. How do I know this? Because I would be seeing a lot less stock put into barbells, and a lot more focus put into movement. What kind of movement? All of it, really. But mainly gymnastics.
Luckily I don’t have to spew this out because Andreas Thorkildsen showcases my ideas for me. There was a video recently released video highlighting more of Thorkildsen’s training. After watching, you would think Thorkildsen was a gymnast. Nope, he’s a javelin thrower. And to reiterate the point I made in the first version of this article, which is a quote from Carl Valle
Clearly a 400 pound bench press is impressive for his frame, but I think he gets a lot out of that lift because of his total body coordination.
There’s more to “strength and conditioning” than traditional barbell work. The question remains: what can be done to make you a better athlete? This isn’t always the same thing that will make you a better weightlifter. Start the movement of moving. Cartwheels? Why not. Forward and backward rolls? Absolutely. If it teaches you where your body is in space it can’t be a bad thing.
Every three months I get an urge to practice basic gymnastic holds (handstands, planches, levers). I never really get anywhere though. Maybe I’m impatient. Maybe I like barbells better. Regardless, I have much admiration for those that can do a planche. I mean, a push up without hands? Really?
Everytime I search for tips, I run into pictures and videos, and it hit me the other day: most people that can do advanced holds are lean. And I’ll even say, most are rather muscular without much fat. I know, I know, a fat person wouldn’t be able to do them, so I shouldn’t expect to see much evidence against my observations. But it reminded me of the adaptation process and why it might just make sense.
Muscle is formed when our body thinks it will be destroyed without it. Our legs grow from squatting because he barbell will collapse on us if they don’t. If there isn’t enough food to support the growth, then we will just get stronger. Either way, adaptations are taking place from specific signals given to the body.
But consider moving you bodyweight through space. Would a signal be put through that says, “how fat I am affects my ability to survive” ? If you’re constantly being chased by velociraptors, are you lean because you’re burning calories, or because your body knows it runs slower with love handles?
DeFranco says that he can tell how fast a guy is by how many pull ups he can do. Isn’t this similar? How can we be fat if we can move our body through space with strength and speed?
Is moving your body through space in challenging ways more important than burning calories? Can your mind tell your body, “I need to be lean, I can’t be fat, I need more muscle to survive” ?
I, like most, was confused after reading Chris Sommer’s article, Building an Olympic through Bodyweight Conditioning. It seemed easy — a series of holds, escalating to 60 seconds.
But the ease ended upon effort.
After failing to hold the tuck planche for more than three seconds, I gave up. But my motivation for bodyweight holds always creeps. There is something majestic about holding the body in gravity defying positions, and Sommer’s articles is one of a few that detail how.
I wanted to get a real perspective, not an Olympic coach’s. This led me to interviewing a good friend, Yuri Marmerstein. He’s an average guy, but after many hours, he’s elevated his skills to an impressive level.
Q: First, what got you interested and how long have you been practicing?
A: I think what originally got me started was reading up on old time strongmen in high school. Their stories were very inspirational and they used a lot of gymnastic training so I held it in high regard. I started doing lots of bodyweight and muscle control training via Charles Atlas, Maxick, etc. I believe this gave me a good base to practice advanced skills on.
Also, in 2004/2005 when the video of Bboy Junior came out on Ebaums world — I had never seen anything like it. I gave myself a one year timetable to perform planche pushups like Junior. Of course, it was ridiculous. 5 years later I’m still nowhere close to being able to do them like that.
Around that time the Chris Sommer planche/front lever article came out, which I found very useful. So I’ve been practicing around 6 years. I started pretty late, and regret not being more active as a kid.
Q: How much time do you devote to it, and how does it fit in with tricking?
A: Depends on the discipline. Handbalancing — I train every day right now. Strength — couple times a week. Tricking — once or twice a week.
Handbalancing has a slow learning curve, taking a day off requires a day to get back in balance and by then I’ve lost two training days.
Tricking is on and off. I try to maintain my tricks, at least. When I get motivated, I’ll take some time to try to improve.
Q: Since I’ve started handbalancing, I’ve noticed a lot of tweaks in my wrist and ankle if I’m not careful. Am I careless, or is this something that comes with the territory?
A: Yes, you have to bear with it and get used to it. Luckily, the wrist has a lot of bones and nerve endings, so it will be easy to tell if something i wrong. Stretching out the wrists and doing prehab is highly recommended. I’ve found refuge in rice digs.
Q: Any other tips?
A: Stretching and strengthening the hand and wrist often will help. Make sure your wrists are warmed up thoroughly before attempting to put weight on them. Clubbells, can be great for the wrists and shoulders — and they can be homemade. Check out old school kung fu movies, they have interesting ways of strengthening their hands.
Q: Speaking of injuries, you have suffered in the past. How did you get injured?
A: I was going off of a raised tumbletrak, went crooked and overrotated. As I was falling back onto the hard floor I instinctively stuck my hand out behind me and landed on it. The next morning my wrist was quite swollen and immobile.
Q: Your YouTube page shows you training with barbells. How does barbell training fit in with gymnastics skill training and what effect do you think they have on each other?
A: There is an overlap, but not as much as you would think. Bodyweight training has more carryover to weight training. You can do both, but as you get more advanced, your body can only take so much punishment. You will have to make a choice whether you want to barbell training dominant or bodyweight training dominant. You can excel at both, but typically high level gymnasts/acrobats rarely touch weights and high level weightlifters are only proficient in basic gymnastics skills.
Q: You referenced Chris Sommer’s article, Building an Olympic Body through Bodyweight Conditioning. What do you think of his 60 second progression sequences and selection of exercises?
A: I have coach Sommers’ book, and I even follow the WODs on his forum on occasion. I think he has a great variety of exercises with plenty of advanced and beginner progressions. But the 60 seconds might be excessive, although you cannot argue the importance of building a solid base. If you are not solid in the basic skills, the advanced skills will not come to you and can even lead to injury.
Q: What kind of advice do you have for a novice practicing handstands, planches, levers, and l-sits? Is it about putting in the time and devotion or have you picked up tricks to get to where you are now?
A: Practice often. You have to suffer a little. A good thing about bodyweight training is that it doesn’t devastate your nervous system like heavy lifting does, so once you build yourself up you can practice 5-6 days a week without feeling drained.
Handstands should always be done fresh; don’t save them for the end. You can make good progress incorporating 5-10 minutes of practice into your warmup. Of course, if you want to get really good, you’ll have to practice more, but it’s a start.
Planches, levers, etc you can practice whenever, but be consistent.
Lastly, if you are feeling burned out, don’t be afraid to take it easy for however long you need. I’ve made some of my best progress coming back after a rest period.
Q: This may seem like a silly question, but have you ever recalled an instance in life where you were glad you had some of the skills you developed from your training (cushioning yourself from a fall or another similar event?)
A: The only thing that comes to mind right now is years ago when I was walking on a frozen lake (or maybe it was a river). The ice started to crack under me and without thinking I did some kind of acrobatic move to escape it. Later, I thought very highly of myself for it. Being able to roll is a useful skill for anyone, athlete or not.
Q: Weight training for tricksters, yes or no? Gymnastic skills for tricksters?
A: Weights? Sure, why not. Though heavy weight training and intense tricking should be rotated accordingly so as to maximize recovery. Plus, most trickers are too skinny anyway.
I don’t see how trickers wouldn’t be interested in gymnastics skills. It follows along the same lines of doing impressive, seemingly impossible things with your body.
Q: Any last words?
A: Remember that if you are training yourself, you are doing it for self enrichment. Take your time. These skills take a while to learn, so you have to be patient. Don’t worry about how long it takes you to learn something, just keep at it and you will progress.
Thanks again, Yuri!
For those interested in seeing or learning more about Yuri Marmerstein, be sure to check out his YouTube page filled with tons of videos, both tricking and hand balancing. While you’re there, support him by subscribing.