Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Target: Freestanding handstand press ups

I've set a new target for myself. So far i've seen fairly good signs of improvement, so I feel like my training for them is going in the right direction.

My training at the moment consists of Handstand press up negatives against a wall, both facing the wall, and facing away. Here's an example of the facing the wall version

Alongside assisted handstand press ups

and Military press

I've started being able to lift out of the bottom of the press now, so hopefully at some point in 2015, i'll have a progression videos!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Muscle ups

A few months ago, I finally managed to achieve something i've been training for since the beginning of the year. I finally got a muscle up. While they are still far from perfect, and rely more on momentum and a 'perfect set up' than I would like, i'm still really happy with the achievement, and it's given me the inspiration to keep working towards my next goal.

While i'm sure my training isn't as efficient as it could be, I wanted to share the things I have trained which I believe helped.

At the start of the year, when I got the pull up bar in the post, I started on the 20 pull ups challenge. Increasing the volume of pull ups was important for me because they had fallen to 7, and I had always been able to do 10. I followed this for quite a while, trying to build my basic strength back up. Sometimes it would take me several weeks to pass a week.

When I got to around week 5 of the program, I went back a few weeks and started to add extra weight, until eventually, I was just training a 5*5 3 times a week. At this point, I was also training hadley rows and bicep curls in my weightlifting, to supplement my pull up program. Pulling the bar in close to my chest and squeezing the shoulder blades together at the top of the row seems logical to me, as this mirrors the transition of a muscle up.

A few months before getting my first muscle up, I noticed that despite my training, I still couldn't pull as high as some of my friends. This spurred the decision to start adding more variation to my pull up workout. I'm fairly sure that these changes helped me crack the muscle up transition. When I was training parkour, I made a point to train split arm muscle ups, alternating which arm goes over first. Instead of training 5*5 pull ups three times a week, I decided to only train it once, and add in a variation day, consisting of close arm chin ups, wide arm pull ups, and the closest I can get to typewriter pull ups, and on friday, I worked a 3*5 heavy set. I believe that these, combined with trying to pull my chest to the bar on each rep, helped me crack the first muscle up. It took 8-9 months of training before I managed to get them, and there's a long way to go before I get one from deadhang, but I'm glad to have cracked the transition.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Ch ch ch ch changes

I’ve been thinking about my strength routine recently, especially since watching the gymnastics in the commonwealth games. The ability of these athletes is absolutely incredible. These athletes have a much more complete and functional strength than I think my routine is setting me up for. 

I think it’s time to make a few changes. I have been 5x5ing the main compound lifts, (squat, deadlift, bench press and military press) and have seen great improvements in those exercises, but I think i’ve started to lose sight of what i’m trying to achieve. Getting a bigger bench press isn’t the endgame, Gaining more vaulting power is, and squats don’t mean squat unless my jump and landings are improving. I don’t want to end up looking like a bodybuilder.

So far, i’ve found squats and deadlifts to be very beneficial to my jump, so I won’t be making any changes to what I’m doing there yet.

Bench pressing is going well, however, I think I need to work my vaults more on actual training days. The strength I’m gaining in that area isn’t much good unless i’m practicing how to apply it.

My shoulder workout however, I think has to change. Despite gaining strength in my military press, my handstands have suffered massively. My plan here is going to be to cycle weights for a month, and then handstand related drills for a month. This is one of the areas which watching the commonwealth gymnastics inspired. The strength in the pommel horse made me realise that I valued my handstands much more than I valued military press, so the emphasis should be on the handstands themselves. I used to train my handstands pretty much every day. See this old training video of mine.

My pull up routine is about to change for a third time. Initially, my goal was to get back up to 10 pull ups, which I managed. Then I started adding weight while following the same routine. In spite of this, I still don’t seem to have gotten much closer to my goal of double arm muscle ups. A movement which I have never had solidly. I’m going to continue training pull ups 3 times a week, but add more variation this time. On monday, I will follow a standard 5x5 with weight. On wednesday, I’m going to throw some variation into the grips. I have yet to try this, but I am thinking 3x5 on both close and wide grip weighted pull ups. On friday, I plan on going heavy. If I can manage more than 3 repetitions on one weight, I will up the weight. For all of my pull ups, however, I need to focus on pulling as high as I can. My range of motion is what (I think) is letting me down in failing to get double arm muscle ups. That, and I need to actually train split arm muscle ups. There must be some carry over from them.

In summary, I think I simply need to constantly change my routine, based on whatever my current targets are, and try to keep sight of why i’m doing what I’m doing, rather than getting obsessed with the weight side. I’ll go into a bit more detail on what new targets i’m setting for myself in a later post.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Somewhere around the start of 2014, my training took a sudden change. I’ve been doing parkour since Jump Britain aired, and since then, I have seen the sport go through many changes. The ability of traceurs and freerunners around the world still continues to shatter the limits of what I thought was possible, but despite this boost in ability, I had started to feel disengaged from the sport. After reading a few articles, I began to realise that this was not due to me getting older, but because the prevailing tone of parkour has changed, and that older tone was the reason I continued to train after Jump Britain. My intention here is not to criticise the way things are now. There are obvious problems with the increase in wow factor, but everything brilliant has its flaws. My only problem with the newer attitude is that it isn’t how I wanted to train. I don’t want to be the guy who’s flipping over rooftops. I want to be the guy who can stick that awkward blind rail precision. I want to be the guy who can get over a wall faster than anyone else. With this in mind, I made a decision.
A few years ago, the main reason I didn’t train as I currently do is because I was still living with my parents, and didn’t have much disposable income. This is no longer the case. I can afford to eat, train, and live how I like. After consideration about what I wanted to do with myself, I decided to break my training down into three main areas. Strength, mobility, and technique. A barbell, a pull up bar, and a regular conditioning of parkour specific movements session make up the strength portion. For mobility, I work on whatever I think needs work. This is usually decided from problems i’ve noticed while either training of lifting. Finally, i started to train a technical night, where the focus is on precision, and drilling correct technique wherever I think I need work. Between these three areas, I think I should be able to achieve consistently good strong movements.

I have been experimenting with this style of training for roughly six months, and have achieved two of my three goals I had set out for myself. My pull ups had fallen from Ten, to a measly seven reps. I currently have it up to eleven, and I have remade a standing precision which I had lost. On top of that, i’ve put on a nice amount of muscle weight. All that remains from the original targets is getting the double arm muscle up. Once I get this, i’ll set some new targets, and hopefully by training like this, with time and effort, i’ll be able to achieve any goal I set myself.