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Jon Douglas

Front and back walkovers/limbers

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Jon Douglas

Hi all,

I'm not a gymnast, so let's begin with my understanding of the movements;

-Back walkover lowers hands over the top of the shoulders to a bridge from standing, then kicks over. Coach's developing active back flexibility essay does well on these; obviously a pull with feet together is the ideal but for now I have a kick.

-Front goes from standing, approaching in passing but never straightening to handstand to bridge, and stand up from there.

 

Now that I have arrived back in Australia and have some grass to train on (rather than floorboards) I was game to give these a bit more of a try, and have found them pretty easy. I'd really like to know some more about the movements, how to train / progress them and what sort of unachievably perfect form to shoot for. For example, the ideal for back limbers is to have feet together and pull entirely from the back. Do feet/legs stay together in front limber; should they look like a mirror image of each other ideally? Is it productive to train it lowering as slow as possible from handstand, or is this completely off in the wrong direction?

 

Currently I'm using 5 reps in each direction substituted for my Foundation FL integrated mobility (please remember this is the mobility forum). I'd like to add some more focused work on pulling up to handstand from bridge, which I can currently only do with my feet elevated.

 

None of this has come easy to me, so I'd really like to push and pursue my strengths. How can I integrate some more advanced limber/bridge work and take advantage of that? All advice, experience and corrections welcome :) please and thank you

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Jon Douglas

Thanks TANSTAAFL, but I'm quite strong at bridges and front/back walkovers with a kick atm, more wondering how to incorporate them and iron out the details to push them to higher level :)

 

That active back flexibility thread is gold; front limbers are the ones I really don't understand much...

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Jon Douglas

Here is a reasonable guess at where I am now; not very clean, not the best I've done but generally a pretty fair representation.

 

 

--This was a somewhat ugly one, but my understanding is just to reduce the kick over time. Was maybe my 3rd attempt at doing it from the ground with feet together. It feels like nothing if I allow my legs to separate.

 

 

-- I put together in my head the movement combination today for the first time, so this is one of the first I have tried. Expect significant cleanup to happen here just as I figure it out. This just looks clunky in playback >.<

 

Please advise~

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Cody Ward

I'm pretty sure walkovers are supposed to be done in one motion. Like your front walkover, split your legs and don't put them together again until you're back in a standing position.  Although, I'm not really sure what you're asking for.

I thought the bridge hop looked pretty decent.


Anyways, after re-reading the thread on active back flexibility, I've been inspired to achieve at least a slow bridge pull, which I'm assuming is basically a reverse planche press?





 

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Christian Sørlie

Also check this out:

 

 

Check the starting positions also. It's a walkover first, then you can progress to the pulls and double legs.

 

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Connor Davies

The only thing I can think of is to train the reverse planche position isometrically to build up more strength.  I know the traditional limber starts with feet on the ground and doesn't hang around in a handstand, but there's no reason you can't start in a handstand and lower with more control.

 

A good bridge has your wrists, elbows and shoulders stacked the same way as in a handstand, and I noticed in your front limber video you came forward quite a bit on the way down.  I think some more practice holding the reverse planche position would be a good supplement to the limbers.

 

Edit: or otherwise slow negatives. 

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Keilani Gutierrez

hmmm...have you thought about doing negative's to a higher surface? like from standing/handstand onto a box to develop control?

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Jon Douglas

Thanks Christian, I'll do some YouTube trawling, I'm sure there's a lot more tutorials and whatnot.

 

Putting this in 'Digital Coaching' might be misleading; I don't want a critique of my form, which is below terrible-- I just wanted to film my general understanding of the skill to elaborate on my original question. I appreciate you guys giving ideas, but I am looking more for what the technique is-- I want to understand it better and put a few hundred reps into it before I seriously pursue form improvement.

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Coach Sommer

Back limbers and either reverse planche or front limber were required skills for all of my competitive athletes.  In fact they had to have a back limber and at least a front limber prior to their being allowed to learn back handsprings and front handsprings.  In my opinion you cannot express great force in tumbling or other acrobatic movement if your back possesses either incomplete ROM or weak musculature.  I considered back limbers (pulling the feet off the floor; not jumping) and reverse planche to be our bodyweight version of the deadlift for my younger athletes.

 

For those of you who are far too tight to even get into a bridge, let alone begin working limbers, the Foundation Series will correct this deficiency for you.

 

Back limber notes:

- Begin from a stand with arms straight and by your ears.

- Press the hips forward as your begin your descent backward.

- Do NOT bend the knees.

- Lower slowly to the ground.  No falling onto your hands; descend with control.

- An emphasis on the feet leaving the floor as slowly as possible greatly reduces the amount of jump you can generate.

- Continue reducing the amount of double leg jump you are using off the floor; until eventually you are simply pulling your legs up off the floor with no jump whatsoever.

- Pull up to a perfectly straight HS.  Pause in the HS.  From the HS I required my athletes to do a negative pike press down to a pointed foot tip toe position before placing the feet flat on the floor and standing up prior to the next repetition.

- When my athletes where younger they performed a single set of 10 reps per workout day as a part of warmup; 5 reps if we were short of time.

 

Reverse Planche notes:

- Begin from a tight, hollow, stable HS.

- Keep the back as tight and flat as possible.  This is primarily a shoulder flexion exercise; the back is a secondary focus.

- The arms and legs remain straight and locked at all times.

- Begin the descent by opening the shoulders; pressing them behind the hands as the feet slowly descend toward the ground.

- Do not descend further into the reverse planche than you can pull back out of to HS.  This is key.

- Once back in the HS pause and then either proceed into the next repetition or slowly lower to a stand for a few breaths of rest prior to beginning the next repetition.

- Eventually you may become strong enough to descend until the feet lightly brush the floor before pulling back to HS.  This is very dificult to achieve.  Out of a group of 10 athletes, one (Allan) could perform a perfect reverse planche and another (Gregory) was very close.  The others varied from reasonably moderate efforts at reverse planche to those who could only perform basic front limbers.

- All movements should be very slow, controlled and smooth.  No jerking, no jumping, no falling.

- Those with reverse planche (or almost) did 5 reps; all others performed 10 reps per workout day as a part of warmup.

 

 

1992 Olympian Chris Waller (shown competing his reverse planche in the 1990 Goodwill Games) was my original inspiration for incorporating the reverse planche into my athletes training.  Eventually Allan, rather than stopping at horizontal like Chris did, was able to lower his feet to just off the floor before pulling back up to HS.

 

ChrisWaller90GoodwillGamesTim-DeFriscoSt

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Alessandro Mainente

Sincerely i do not want to criticize the approach that my coaches have in my gymnastic facility but they cannot be compared to Coach approach . i ve seen in in the beginner gymnastic courses (in my city) people approaching the front handspring without being able to perform at least a correct handstand or a bridge. someone can't even perform an L-sit, they found difficult perform 30 pushup or 20 HBR. 

Some athlete who are actually on higher level then me cannot perform a straddle planche or a straight handstand, and they look to me with strange eyes when they seen my form.

The result following the gymnastic body approach are far more productive in respect to the average of the gyms where i've trained.

So thanks again to share this tips with us!

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Christian Sørlie

Second what Alex says. Here in Norway it's the same. Front / back handspring and somersaults are trained almost immediately. Heavy spotting and tramp assisted. Only girls do the limbers and then almost only the ones who can. There is not much structured training on this.

 

I really like the approach of first A before B and the enforcement of standard especially.

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Coach Sommer

My approach to skill development is definitely NOT the norm in the gymnastics community.

 

- Make building a physical structure that strength-wise and mobility-wise can handle the demands of later performing high level technical skills correctly the first priority.  To my mind it is not reasonable to expect an average physique to perform at an elite level of technical proficiency.  

 

Fully 50% of my younger athletes practice schedule was spent on physical preparation and mastering the basics of GST: limbers and reverse planche, Lsit, straddle L, manna, planche, back lever, front lever, 60s handstand and press handstand variations (planche press HS, HBP, manna pike press to HS, stalder press HS), rope climbs, swinging dips to handstand etc.

 

There is a reason that the Foundation series and the Handstand series are so structured; my own athletes were capable of performing every single progression in these courses flawlessly.

 

- Make recovery a priority.  Allan's most productive training schedule was Monday, Wednesday and Friday twice a day (5-7am and 3:30-6:30) and a single long practice on Saturdays (9:00-1pm).  No practice at all on Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday.

 

- Begin teaching kinesthetic awareness (how to flip, twist, multiple twists, multiple flips, twisting multiple flips) under reduced training loads (trampolines, mini tramps, tumbl traks) immediately.  My younger athletes spent 30 min per day on trampoline (a group of 10-12 athletes spread out over four different tramps) prior to beginning their daily warmup.  One day was forward twisting, one day was backward twisting, one day was multiple flips backwards (and twisting mulltiple backward flips for the more advanced), one day was multiple flips forward (and twisting multiple forward flips for the more advanced).  Every one worked with the same set of progressive drills.  

 

No one moved on until they could perform the previous drill perfectly.

 

At 8 years old starting from and landing on the tramp, Allan could twist 1/2, 1/1, 3/2, 2/1, 5/2 and 3/1 twisting in a single flip forward and backward.  He had multiple double back and double front tucks in a row, 1/1 in backward (twist on the first flip of a double back), 1/1 out backward (twist on the second flip of a double back).  

 

Into the foam pit he also had triple flips (forward and backward), the occassional quad front (one of his team mates could do a quin; five flips in a single jump), double layouts (forward and backward) and multiple twisting double layouts (forward and backward).

 

By the time Allan was ready to learn and compete his first double layouts off of high bar, he was completely stress free about it as he had already long ago mastered the skill on trampoline.  

 

- Master basic swing on the competitive events.  Again drill by drill, progression by progression, skill by skill.  Never moving on until the previous skill was perfect.  

 

Something that very few people appear to understand is that mastering a single skill so that it is flawless will in turn spread that high quality of movement to all of their other skills.

 

Hence tumbling began with mastering the various rolls (forward tuck straddle pike, backward tuck straddle pike, handstand rolls, back extension rolls), then mastering all of the cartwheel variations (right, left, series, alternating, near arm, far arm, dive and blocking), then handspring variations and single somersault variations simultaneously (dive rolls, front flip tuck pike layout variations, standing back tuck) before moving on into connected tumbling.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Daniel Burnham

The idea of building the prep and then adding on is the key to success. Never throw skills that you aren't prepared for. This ends up leading to bad habits. There are actually two schools of thought at my gym. The first being just throw it and practice the actual skill. These guys get a ton of deductions on form and have frequent injuries. However they do sometimes get te instant gratification.

Another coach is very similar to coach sommer. He has a book of about 1k conditioning exercises and approaches the sport in clear progressions. He hasn't organized the conditioning nearly as well as what I saw in Coach Sommer's gym but his students tend to progress at a constant rate instead of periods of fast progress and then having to rework or catch up in prep.

I personally have tried my best to mimic coach's example and have found it to be very effective. I wish I could spend about a month in xtreme gymnastics gym to learn more :). I just lack a lot of experience to know what things need to be done before others. Though I am learning.

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Matthew Barrett

It irks me to think it is not the norm to teach limbers before handsprings.  I was taught back limbers before BHS and front limbers before FHS.  I also teach that way.  It is my understanding that this is common practice though.  An athlete can not perform a technically correct BHS if they do not have the flexibility to do a limber.  It is a simple as that!!  They will never be able to get the full extension in their shoulders and be able to block off the floor.   Any reasonable person can see this!   

 

As for spotting.  Heavy spotting is nonsense.  I have never gave heavy spotting and will never do so.  Spot for shape and safety.  That's it.  Coaches are not supposed to do the skills for their athletes. 

 

My experience with other gyms is very limited though.  I was instructed by two coaches who regularly produced champion athletes and later mentored by the same two coaches.

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Mats Trane

Reading Coach's above posts is so inspirational!!! It's same feeling as walking out of one of Coach's Seminars.

Thanks!

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Jason Stein

Hello all-

 

Coach Sommer's post has inspired some questions I'd had regarding the Foundation series.

 

Has anyone else incorporated limbers into their Foundation and HS work?

 

For example, the FL and FL>IM seem like a logical place to pair them --- although I think the intensity of the FL>IM work should be less than the FL work itself, so maybe this doesn't work.

 

best,

jason

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Coach Sommer

Someone who is still at a level of strength and mobility that is appropriate for F1 is not yet either strong or mobile enough to include limber work in their training.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Connor Davies

Someone who is still at a level of strength and mobility that is appropriate for F1 is not yet either strong or mobile enough to include limber work in their training.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

I've been wondering if the bridge series is going to lead all the way up to a back limber.

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Jason Stein

Someone who is still at a level of strength and mobility that is appropriate for F1 is not yet either strong or mobile enough to include limber work in their training.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

Coach Sommer-

 

You would recommend not practicing limbers at all if still training F1?

 

Do you have suggestions regarding bridge work in general paired with F1? 

 

best,

jason

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Coach Sommer

Bridge development is already paired with front lever development in the Foundation series.  At that level of training, no additional work is needed.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Jason Stein

Coach-

Thanks for your reply, and your insight.

 

jason

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Jon Douglas

You mean I was sleeping and MISSED THIS WHOLE THREAD?!?

Dammit, I'm going back to Canada!! EST + 8 sucks!

 

Thanks heaps Coach, there's so much information there!

 

Edit;

I've just started a new cycle; in four weeks' time I will put up my progress (in a new thread, don't want to clutter this one too much).

 

One more question;

What is a ballpark figure for the time for a given athlete to learn a pull from bridge rather than a hop? At what kind of general time frame are your athletes able to demonstrate a strong enough front/back that you would move them on?

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Blythe Tait

This is so fabulous! I was just talking to a fellow coach about 3 of the points in your post, and then you write this, so I feel validated ( and like I'm really knowledgeable, ha ha!)! Yay!

Coach Sommer, once again, so impressed with your generosity, going into such depth with these posts. Thank you so much.

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Gage Clawson

Very eye opening information in this thread. I have been attending an adult gymnastics class and have been moderately successful in learning the back handspring and back tuck. However according to this thread it would seem I am nowhere near ready to perform these skills. Would you advise I forget about training these skills for the time being?

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