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Alex Dienaar

Elbow pain + Preparing the Elbows and Biceps for Iron Cross

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Alex Dienaar

I started getting this elbow pain in my right arm after upping the volume of my workout with press to handstands against the wall and the Iron Cross progression by Steven Low (probably started this waay too soon).

First I noticed signs of overtraining, so I haven't trained crosses since monday and haven't been on the rings since wednesday. Since saturday I started noticing a pain in my right elbow on the outer side and towards the body. Only there and not anywhere else, and the pain only comes when I'm pushing down with a straigth arm in a way like the proper ring support (getting into or holding a ring support with hands turned out hurts, but the hands turned in doesn't).Putting my bodyweight on the arm when it's bent doesn't hurt, only straight. Haven't tried hanging or pulling yet, out of fear :P. I think the culprit is the cross work.

I've been looking at the posts on the forums, and it doesn't really sound like tendonitis. But still taking rest and stretching the wrists etc,

Does anyone perhaps know what this might be ?

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braindx

Google a picture and mark where it hurts and image host it.

Also, figure out what kind of exercises hurt it.... besides support. Wrist curls (both sides), elbow flexion/extension/etc.

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Coach Sommer

It sounds as though you are probably not yet ready to begin full blown iron cross training. However, if you would like to continue to include cross work in your conditioning program, I would recommend that you only do so with the elbows supported; e.g. arms over the top of the rings, cross straps.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Alex Dienaar

116t1md.jpg

The picture you asked for ^^, and it does seem only with supports, and cross like movements with my elbow pointed downwards and forwards (even just moving my arms straight up and down without any weight or on the rings). Pullups/chins in any way didn't affect it, front lever didn't, handstands and presses didn't. Am a bit afraid to try the back lever though, but lowering that way had a bit of discomfort to it already. Going to try Planche today and etc, will edit this post then.

And Coach, thank you for the advice on the alternatives. I apparently wasn't ready at all for it :< Too bad, since it gave a big strength increase in the little time that I did it, but afterwards I read up that a proper foundation is more important than headrushing into things. Like you've stated alot of times already xD. But just out of curiousity, how would one be better conditioned to start Iron Cross training ? Gradually but slowly increase the level and intensity of movements involving pressure on the elbow joint so that the forearm and biceps will be properly conditioned for protecting the elbow ?

Thank you both for the replies and insights ^^

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griffdrc

it sounds similar to what my room mate had... he had tedonitis of his distal tricep tendon... his got better in a couple weeks with rest... tricep is involved in extension and external rotation, the two movements involved... it seems a little weird that it would be so movement specific... but could be due to load, joint angle and muscle length...

and i've run into the same problem at times with this style of training... sometimes your muscles adapt quicker than your joints can handle... its a fine line between gaining strength and injury... i've flirted with this line more than once... like the old adage says... sometimes less is more

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braindx
http://i40.tinypic.com/116t1md.jpg

The picture you asked for ^^, and it does seem only with supports, and cross like movements with my elbow pointed downwards and forwards (even just moving my arms straight up and down without any weight or on the rings). Pullups/chins in any way didn't affect it, front lever didn't, handstands and presses didn't. Am a bit afraid to try the back lever though, but lowering that way had a bit of discomfort to it already. Going to try Planche today and etc, will edit this post then.

And Coach, thank you for the advice on the alternatives. I apparently wasn't ready at all for it :< Too bad, since it gave a big strength increase in the little time that I did it, but afterwards I read up that a proper foundation is more important than headrushing into things. Like you've stated alot of times already xD. But just out of curiousity, how would one be better conditioned to start Iron Cross training ? Gradually but slowly increase the level and intensity of movements involving pressure on the elbow joint so that the forearm and biceps will be properly conditioned for protecting the elbow ?

Thank you both for the replies and insights ^^

Lots of rings work/routines should help your elbows enough. Get to some of the more advanced pulling and pressing skills and you'll be fine.

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Coach Sommer

The elbows and biceps need to be gradually prepared prior to beginning strenuous iron cross training. Generally I begin athletes with the series listed below. During all of these steps pressure should be felt on the biceps. If this pressure is not felt, then continue working that variation until you are strong enough to execute it correctly.

Elbow Preparation Series for Iron Cross Work:

1) XR support hold - Focusing on elbows locked and straight is critical here.

a) It is also quite acceptable to insert both XR support swings and XR swinging supports into this phase. 10 repetitions of large XR swinging supports can be especially challenging, as well as a lot of fun 8), while struggling to maintain the correct position.

2) XR L-sit.

3) XR 1/2 press - During this element, the athlete will press up as high as possible into a half press HS maintaining completely locked elbows and rings turned out at all times. Do not attempt to press higher than it is possible for you to maintain the correct arm/elbow position. Please note that this is an essential element in this progression.

4) XR HS - There should be a substantial degree of pressure on the biceps during a correctly performed XR HS. If this pressure is not present, in all likelihood either the elbows are bent or the rings are not turned out.

5) XR Planche variations - Some individuals may find that they are physically strong enough to proceed directly from XR HS work to the iron cross training as planche training can be a time consuming proposition. However for those who see it through, achieving a solid planche prior to beginning serious iron cross work will pay substantial dividends in the long term.

6) XR Iron Cross work.

Simultaneously alongside with the above progressions; the athlete may also engage in elbow supported iron cross static holds and iron cross pulls.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Richard Duelley

Thanks for the iron cross condition/progression Coach. That has been copied and saved in my training file! :mrgreen:

And I just wanted to say:

I love swinging support holds! I always get weird looks when I get the low rings swinging really high. :mrgreen:

I will have to try 10 reps because usually I just go until I get tired and fall through, I think 10 reps will give me a goal to push for and hopefully this will lead to an increase in overall work.

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Alex Dienaar

Lots of rings work/routines should help your elbows enough. Get to some of the more advanced pulling and pressing skills and you'll be fine.

Thanks for the advice, luckily I've read your mind and have been trying some light work on the rings and my elbow feels completely recovered now ^^. (After icing, ARTing, stretching and wrist curling/rice bucketing, intaking vitamin C and fish oil like a madman xD). Will get on the rings more ASAP.

Wow, I could not have imagined a more detailed reply. Thank you for taking the time to answer this, Coach. And I will make sure to incorperate this in my routine. The urge to start is killing me here atm xD

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Michael Jordan

Perhaps I haven't been paying enough attention, but I cannot find a description or video for XR support swings and XR swinging supports. Can someone explain what the difference between the two is, or link me a thread that already has?

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Alex Dienaar

Swinging supports is swinging the rings while trying to stay in a proper support

Support swings are that you're the thing that's swinging and trying to keep the rings as still as possible (kind of like P-bar swings, but on the rings).

I'm not sure though but that's how I interpret them :P, I think Gregor had some vids around somewhere *searches*

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Fady Georgi

Hi Coach Sommer,

How often do you advice to practice above progressions to acheive best results and avoid stressing elbows?

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Blairbob

I didn't catch this thread earlier.

Interesting that you state learning a planche on rings ( I will assume starting off with tuck, going to advanced tuck, straddle, and so on ) besides the ring HS is good as prepatory work for the cross since I told my boy, Erik, he should be able to do a HS on rings before working cross besides the ability to MU at will and with wide arms and the advanced dips.

Erik, the strongest of my guys has been bugging me about what I will give him if he can do the cross on rings ( typical young boy in la-la land supposing 10yo ) as he insists there used to be another boy in L4 ( who was top of his age group ) that could do it and was way young. I'm thinking the boy probably could do some sort of wide arm support for a moment.

Coach, do you find it necessary that it is a straddle planche or 1/2 lay/full planche before starting IC work? I figured before I really got serious about training IC, I should nail down my front lever as well as my BL ( though I haven't ever done it for er 15s in a long time ) and the ability to MU and the advanced dip variations. I wasn't putting planche in the equation but had figured on the ring HS as I said earlier. I was going to use a combination of my cross trainers besides the maltese pull outs to planche on a block and cross pull outs and holds. I'll need to get my kip back as well.

I am wondering because looking far out I hope I will be working on IC by the end of the year. I am thinking that I will have to slowly build up ring work from the ground or it feels that way at least. I would say in 4-6 months I will be able to have a solid front lever and beginning straddle planche on floor possibly, so I'm hoping towards the end of the year I will be working on a straight arm press to handstand besides getting some use of my iron cross trainers ( gonna hold off till my chest isn't irritated by the rings ).

So having some B's for myself sometime next year may be possible if I dedicate and finetune my programming without any more setbacks. I've never had straight arm press to HS but used to be able to do a bent arm and was pretty close to a passable cross years ago when I didn't really know anything. I will be kind of using myself as a testing tool in preparation for my boys program and the fact that I might like to go compete as some adult meet one day with some real skills in a routine versus just hodge-podge.

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irongymnast

3) XR 1/2 press - During this element, the athlete will press up as high as possible into a half press HS maintaining completely locked elbows and rings turned out at all times. Do not attempt to press higher than it is possible for you to maintain the correct arm/elbow position. Please note that this is an essential element in this progression.

I don't understand this part from Coach Sommer's post. What's a half press HS? 1/2 HS? But then how are the elbows supposed to be completely locked if not fully pushing to a HS hold? :S

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Jason Stein

3) XR 1/2 press - During this element, the athlete will press up as high as possible into a half press HS maintaining completely locked elbows and rings turned out at all times. Do not attempt to press higher than it is possible for you to maintain the correct arm/elbow position. Please note that this is an essential element in this progression.

I don't understand this part from Coach Sommer's post. What's a half press HS? 1/2 HS? But then how are the elbows supposed to be completely locked if not fully pushing to a HS hold? :S

micngxZ2An0

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Newguy

Hey Coach or Dillion!

What level PL on rings do you recommend, before optimally going on to the IC?

I'm just curious, nowhere near strong enough to start IC Training...yet 8)

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Blairbob

At least straddle.

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heinrich

Hey guys,

I have elbow problems, too. I already had them a few years ago on the same spot so I decided to see an orthopedic specialist.

He gauged the spot that hurts and said that there is an accumulation (do you say that in english?) of bonestructure (somewhere around the marked spot in the picture on the ulna). It is just a tiny amount so I won't need surgery. But it is enough to affect the nearby elbow bursa when I straighten out the arm. I think I am able to straighten out a little bit beyond 180 degrees (hyper extension) but not very much..

For healing he suggested icing before and after working out and I shall not straighten out the arm beyond 160 degrees for at least 6 weeks. In fact push ups, curls, pull ups etc. don't hurt at all when doing partial reps in that ROM so I guess his diagnosis is right.

Any further suggestions or similar experiences?

1. What about deadlifts or hanging from a bar when the arm is straight but you are pulling instead of pressing?

I tried those moves and they feel ok..

2. What about future training?

- No more locking out the elbows?

- Any prehab/rehab tipps? Because I'm not planning to give up handstands and levers forever :( Should I focus on curls (dumbells, reverse yewkis etc) to prepare the elbow?

As always, any help is much appreciated!

And thanks for reading :)

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Cole Dano

I've heard it possible to reverse that type of condition. I'm not saying it is, its very antidotal evidence, but bones are alive and to some extend respond to the demands placed on them.

Follow your doctors orders, after the six weeks passes you will need to be careful to train the arm to be straight but not over straight.

What jumps to my mind at this late hour is to try a semi loaded position like down dog, where you have some control. You might work that and then translate it to your other straight arm work.

the other thing that comes to mind are curls and triceps extensions, maybe with a band. Maybe even a dumbbell triceps extension where you rotate the bell from your wrist at the end of the movement. You wouldn't do this with a lot of weight as you don't want to grind anything, just to dynamically move.

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heinrich

Thanks a lot for your advice Mr Brady sir :)

1. If there is a way to train around it (straight but not over straight in the future).. ok. But reversing this one would be really cool!

2. Down Dog feels ok. No grinding, no pain whith arms straight but not over straight as you said.

3. Triceps extensions with rotation: I can move through the whole ROM without any discomfort as long as I don't use any resistance. I'm not sure how much resistance would be ok because I didn't test it. So I'll use the lightest weight I can find and sloooowly increase it. If extension with rotation (I assume we are talking about pronation) is ok then reverse curls should be ok, too. Right?

4. Today I tried Ido's 90-90 Iso Pull-up hang and everythings fine. Do you think I can do anything as long as I don't feel any discomfort or pain with this bursa irritation?

Is there a general rule that one can and should do anything as long as it doesn't hurt at all?

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Cole Dano

In general yes, that's true. But general is general, with bursitis in particular you have to think of it like an irritation. the thing with irritations is that they have a delayed onset. Simple example, is sunburn, you don't know it until its too late. So you have to watch what happens afterwards as well, is it irritated later in the day or the next day, if so, you did something earlier it didn't like.

With that rule of thumb, i imagine you are ok, but i have to say at this point, i'm not a doctor!

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Jon Douglas

I've been curious about this for a little while.

Is there a reason a back lever with hands facing backwards isn't included in the list of progressions? Is it just a given that this would be accomplished, or is it redundant? All the other progressions are straight-arm supports on top of the rings, so I imagine that's the important difference there. That I can see.

I do wonder though, why an l-sit is in there instead of straddle-l? I get more pressure on my biceps with that than an l-sit. Just for my curiosity's sake, why include one and not the other?

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