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SorenPA

Stalled front lever progression flat tuck -> stradle ?

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SorenPA

Hello

I do not post often, but I do read these boards quite often. I write this post in search of advice, or perheps I just need to be sure I do not do anything wrong. The trouble is my front lever progression, that seem to have stalled or at least is progressing very slowly. But let me start with a bit of background

.

I have trained BW exercises for a year now. My age is 27. I am training 3 times per week. Each workout include planche work, FL work, L-Sit work and BL work + some basic excercises like pull-ups, HLL, PPPs, HePSU, dips and more. I follow the 60s combined rule in sets of 50% max for static holds, and 3-5 reps x 3 sets for the basic exercises.

My progression level of the planche is tucked, which I hold for 20 secs x 3 sets. (Max is 40 secs and I can hold a flat back for a few secs)

My progression of the BL is full (with the recommended grip in the book). I hold this for 8-10 secs x 3 sets. Requires alot of effort tho.

My progression for the FL is flat tuck, which I hold for 30 secs x 3 sets. (So 60 sec max).

Both my planche and BL is progressing nice and slow. A few months ago I could not hold the flat planche for isntance, and my BL was plagued by cheating (supporting by pressing arms towards ribs). However my FL have been flat tucked for at least 4 months with a 60 sec hold as max. I can't hold the straddle position at all. Not a single second. I have tried a single legged, but I can only hold for 1-2 seconds and thats with a bent position. It feels like my back (upper part, just a bit down and in from the shoulders) aint strong enough. I believe my core is strong enough as I can hold a BL and do dragon flags.

Is this "plateau" in the FL progression normal ? Should I just keep improving the flat tuck hold until i can hold a straddle ? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

And btw thanks to all the contributers of this great forum :)

Kind regards from Denmark

-Soren

[edit]: Corrected a FL to BL

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sean842

I personally found that my FL had stalled until I started working weighted pull ups. Some may disagree with using weights, but I know my FL feels pretty easy after a few months of weighted pull ups.

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SorenPA

Thanks for the advice :)

Hmmm. I might need to work on the pull ups more. Not doing alot of them since my back gets hit from PPPs, BL, FL and dragon flags (yes its actually my back that gives up on these too). But when I do its with the hips bent in 90 degree angle with straight legs, pretty much like an L-sit which for me makes them tougher on the back :)

I'll defenately try the 90/90 position next time and see how that goes :)

- Soren

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David Picó García

i would try some negatives, if you can't do straddle, then do straddle front lever negative from hang, trying to stop at horizontal. At first you'll drop like a potato bag, but eventually you'll find you can stop at horizontal. This combined with an easier hold for time and some FL pullups and FL pulls will help.

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Alex Dienaar

I would say, hammer those 30 second sets more, in case needed do 30s x5 and build up sets until you're able to progress. Kilroy92 has used a similar approach to break his plateau in the Back Lever.

Further what serotonin said, working your negatives is a great way to get into the groove for the straddles. Also it's very important to remember that the wider the straddle, the easier the transition between the flat tuck -> straddle. The less wide it is, the closer it is to a half-lay/full lay in difficulty. Also if you have extremely long legs, the transition from Flat tuck to straddle can be a bit daunting.

If the straddle isn't an option yet for you because of all those factors, you try to go into the 90/90 hold and try to extend your legs a bit further when you can (Although it's hard to keep track of progression like this, since you never know if you're extended the same way as you were the last time) OR give one-leg straight/one-leg bent Front Levers a try.

In short/non wall-of-text;

Keep working your current progression hard and try to increase the sets and dabble with the 90/90 progressions and the one legged Front-Levers and see how those work out for you.

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Joshua Naterman
Thanks for the advice :)

Hmmm. I might need to work on the pull ups more. Not doing alot of them since my back gets hit from PPPs, BL, FL and dragon flags (yes its actually my back that gives up on these too). But when I do its with the hips bent in 90 degree angle with straight legs, pretty much like an L-sit which for me makes them tougher on the back :)

I'll defenately try the 90/90 position next time and see how that goes :)

- Soren

There's a lot of good advice here. For some reason people think you have to go straight from a tuck to a flat tuck, or from flat tuck to straddle, and that's simply not the case. There are infinite positions inbetween, and you should use a slow progression from one to the next. This eliminates most stalled progress all by itself. Adding some volume helps as well, but from what you've said your back is a HUUUUUGE weak link.

The first thing you should do is start doing the WODs. If you throw in extra work, do so on the appropriate days, and don't go crazy. The WODs will cycle through most of the aspects of athletic performance and each enhances the others. This is what most people are missing in their training. Reactive/explosive, submaximal kinetic, maximal kinetic, and isometrics (both maximal and submaximal) all enhance each other. WOD dynamic days are reactive/explosive, tempo days are submax kinetic, ring days are max kinetic, and we do submax isometrics (FSP) as warm up. The only thing missing is maximal isometrics, and with the WOD template I think 3x per month is all there is room for, and that may be too much. Even if you're doing nothing at all, you can only do 4x per month of maximal isometrics if you're looking for the greatest gains in strength.

As sean said, weighted pull ups are a big part of building back strength. Once you get to where you can do the two-arm pull up progressions here for 5x5, start adding weight! Use the same progressions, but start doing them with 5 extra lbs. I was a weighted pull up beast and FL came to me as naturally as breathing.

The other thing is that in your body lever or "dragon flag" you should have a hollow body. If you don't, you're not helping your front lever. You should also be doing static holds as close to the ground as you can.

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Erik Sjolin

Slizzardman, how would one go about working weighted pull ups? After the advice you gave in a previous thread, I started working them (3-5x5 +35lbs), but after reading this, I'm a bit confused on how to progress. Should I go with what I can do and work basic pulls, or do that for every single variation?

The advice was spot on, by the way. After a couple weeks, I gave the straddle front another shot and held (what I think was) a prope one for five seconds...though after tuesday's workout my arms were crying.

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Joshua Naterman

Honestly, it's up to you. On pulling days a few ses of weighted pull ups ill help you immensely, as you have found out!

I'd prefer that you do one set of weighted chin ups, close grip pul ups (thumbs 4-6 inches apart), regular grip pull ups, and neutral grip pull up. You'll get a lot more out of that than just doing regular pull ups. I know, close grip pull ups aren't in the WODs or in the GB progressions. You can toss those if you really want to. If you have balanced strength your weighted chin ups and pull ups will be equal. L- pull ups MIGHT be a little harder, so mybe 10 lbs lighter, but I doubt it. I don't know about wide L pull ups, I've never done those weighted. It is important to use a variety of grips because they all emphasize differentmusles, and all the muscles are important.

Ideally, you would follow the WODs and do that on pulling days. On Dynamic Pull days, you really ren't going to be able to do them. Perhaps on ring strength days you could also at least do one set of weighted chin ups and regular pull ups.

You'll be better off doing them 4-6 times a month than you will be trying to do them 2-3 times per week, and I may have already mentioned this but if you aren't following the WODs then you should be!

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Blairbob

SorenPA, what is your current pulling strength ability like?

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SorenPA

Hey again, and thanks to all for the responses :) Lot of usefull info I can use.

I currently do Pull ups where I can take 3 reps x 3 sets with 10kgs added (thats araound 22 lbs). I can do a few with 15 kg (around 33 lbs) but not for a full 3 reps x3 sets.

I do frontlever pull ups (tuck not flat) for horizontal pulling, 5 reps x3.

From the advice it seems my volume is too low on the FBEs. I am mainly working in 3-5 reps x 3 sets. Seems many go for 5 sets. That would decrese the reps per set i'm doing heh.

Kind regards

-Soren

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sean842

For weighted pull ups I just started at BW+5lbs and did 3x5 and did them once or twice a week. It should feel easy for the first few weeks but if you add 5lbs every workout it will get heavy quickly and you should progress to around 1/2 BW relatively easily. If you find yourself unable to consistently add weight then try going to a 4x5, if you find yourself regressing then you may need to drop a set.

I found that my core was plenty strong to hold a dragon flag and a FL but my back wasn't strong enough so my body would just fold. After a few months of weighted pull ups that problem had been fixed.

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SorenPA

Lots of good replies most appreciated :) I think I need to increase my pulling exercise volume, which I admit is a bit low currently.

Slizzardman wrote that explosive work should be a part of the program. This caught my interest. Currently I do not do any explosive training. On purpose I try to make the motions in the exercises relatively slow to decrease momentum. All my exercises are done with a slight pause at top and bottom, again to decrease momentum. My reason to do this is that I have found that in pretty much every exercise there is one or more "weak links†that you can pass easily with the momentum gained from explosive execution. With a slower execution however, you will have a much harder time passing the "weak links". The slow execution forces the body to have control of every part of the movement in the given exercise.

The muscle up performed on a bar is an example where it is quite obvious what. Here the first part is a pull up, which is relatively easy, the next part is the tough part "weak link", and lastly is a simple dip variation which is also easy. I can do an explosive muscle up on a bar, but a slowly controlled execution is impossible for me.

Another example is the HeSPU. For me the "weak link" is when I’m almost at the bottom of the movement (head almost touching the floor). Making a slight pause at the bottom with the head touching, will remove the momentum and at least for me make that part of the movement much harder.

I am however not sure at all whether my approach and reasoning is correct though. It seems intuitive that slow execution should give a better control of all parts of the movement, which is needed to perform a given movement gracefully. I am beginning to think that this might not be the best approach to build basic strength though. For instance I do not work the earlier mentioned muscle up, as I do not yet have control of the movement. But if I started to do it explosively once or twice a weak, I might be able to develop the skill faster. I am certain that slow execution is more taxing on the muscles, at the volume I am able to perform is significantly lower than if I did the exercises in a “normal†or explosive manner. For me I am able to do 3x3 slowly executed HeSPUs, but the rep count increases to at least 5x3 if I do them faster. Same goes for pull ups, chins, dips and literally every other exercise.

I think I will try to mix in a bit more explosive work on the dynamic exercises I do. I will not drop the slow execution, but I will stop the 100% focus on it. Perhaps this is what is giving me stalled progress.

-Soren

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Joshua Naterman

This is the last time I am going to say this, because perhaps there is a language barrier that prevents me from making sense.

Take a good look at the WODs for a whole month. Start with the beginning of June and go all the way to the end of the month, just reading each workout in order. Write the basic theme on a little calendar, so that you can see the overall training picture for the month. There are some days that have upper body tempo work, which is exactly what you've been focusing on. There are other days that have upper body reactive elements, like swinging dips and/or wheels. You will notice that there are complete training days devoted to this one aspect of training. That is because the body is NOT good at making multiple adaptations from one training session.

Even if you don't follow the WOD exercise for exercise, which by the way is a mistake in my opinion, you should at LEAST follow the concept of training different physical attributes on different days, and stick to the WOD format for attribute cycling. IT is a very good, balanced cycle that hits the whole body fairly equally.

I do think that the lack of dynamic work is slowing down your progress. I ALSO think that if you throw in some specific maximal isometrics that you will find your progress picks up even faster. I'd pick 3 days a month, evenly spaced, and do top position bench press(locked arms and fully protracted scapula), top position PB dip, top position chin up, top position (legs bent maybe 30 degrees at the most) barbell squat. You could do more, like a 90 degree bicep curl, but I don't think that's necessary. I could be wrong, I mean it depends to a large extent on what you want your body to be strong at. I suppose, to make it complete, you'd need to do a nearly bottom position bent over row( or foot-supported weighted body row), weighted back extension, weighted standing barbell shoulder press(or weighted handstand), weighted calf raise, DB external rotator hold, and perhaps a bottom position bench and pull up. That's a lot of isometrics. I mean, it goes fast, but because you will be coming so close to a true maximal contraction it is very draining on the CNS. That's why it should probably be done on a Friday, or before maximal legs, since maximal leg training here is not that demanding on the CNS.

Personally, I'd keep it simple and stick with not more than 10 isometrics. At one 10-20s hold each you're looking at not more than 200s of work. That ain't $(#t, Captain! That's 3:20s of work time. If you take 1 minute of rest between holds that's 11m and 20s total time. VERY short, and massively effective when not overused.

Anyhow, if nothing else, make sure you start doing some dynamic days. I would absolutely use the WODs for help designing this.

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Fritz

By the way slizzardman, what advice would you give to someone who cannot train four times a week but would like to follow the WODs?

I'm sure that question has already been answered somewhere, but obviously I didn't stumble over that or at least do not remember. :D

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Jason Stein
My front lever progression ... seems to have stalled, or at least is progressing very slowly.

Soren,

I just posted a few of Ido Portal's suggestions for breaking through planche plateaus:

http://gymnasticbodies.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4366

Please mind these quotes are out of the context of the entire conversation, and the suggestions may not apply to your specific needs. But the overall idea seems very applicable to your situation.

"When one is unable to increase intensity, it can be due to supercompensation not being triggred by enough volume."

"Sometimes there is a need to increase work capacity through volume manipulation before further strength gains can be made. (intensity)."

best of luck with your training,

jason

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Joshua Naterman

It's so true! I did the same thing with my FL and my advanced frog. I'll probably have to go back to the same thing soon.

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SorenPA

That is actually very useful information. I think you are right that it is applicable. I would be able to increase the number of sets for the FL progression.

Friday I tried to do a negative straddle FL, and to my surprise it was not a complete drop. I could not hold the position, but I dropped quite a bit slower than expected. I also did some weighted pull-ups started out with some low weight though, since it’s been quite long since I did them seriously. I could feel both these exercises hit exactly my weak muscles in the back. I realize now that my training has been way too low on dynamic pulling.

And to Slizzardmans former reply, I'd like to apologize for any frustration my earlier post may have caused. I currently have a weekly schedule with 3 workout days. All days are built around the 4 statics planche, FL, BL and L-sits. Each static is done with a dynamic exercise between the sets, so I alternate between them.

I am thinking of doing a monthly schedule instead. This gives room for more variation in intensity, volume, execution and types of exercises. I will keep to a 3 days per week scheduling and look at the WODs for the past month for inspiration.

Again, thanks for all the replies and help :)

-Soren

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Joshua Naterman

Sure! Just so you know, Coach prefers for statics to be done during warm up. Also, ther are 6 statics. You really need to not skip Manna work. You should be doing straddle L as well, since without a good straddle L you're going to have a hard time achieving Manna, but Manna work specifically balanced the rear shoulder girdle with the front. That is super important! I'm already feeling the positive effects of this myself. Start off with reverse push up if you have to.

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Erik Sjolin

A question about the shoulders (which I think I know, but wanted to clarify); they should always be pulled down (into the body) right? Except for the handstand, of course. This was never really covered in BtGB, but it seems like it should be. For example, the planche should have the shoulders pushing down (to the feet) and forward (to the hands) to get the hands closer to the balance point. Similar to the front lever, the shoulders should be pulled down (to the feet) and back (to the back).

One that I can't decide on is the straddle L, though. Should they be pushed down, in which case it uses a lot of chest, or allowed to shrug up, using the trapezius?

Similarily, what should the scapula be doing? A lot of times, I find mine stick out of my back like prairie dogs (not exactly like them, but you get the idea), so what should I be doing to keep them in?

Also, sorry for attempting to hijack the thread (squak 7500 :P )

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Joshua Naterman
A question about the shoulders (which I think I know, but wanted to clarify); they should always be pulled down (into the body) right? Except for the handstand, of course. This was never really covered in BtGB, but it seems like it should be. For example, the planche should have the shoulders pushing down (to the feet) and forward (to the hands) to get the hands closer to the balance point. Similar to the front lever, the shoulders should be pulled down (to the feet) and back (to the back).

One that I can't decide on is the straddle L, though. Should they be pushed down, in which case it uses a lot of chest, or allowed to shrug up, using the trapezius?

Similarily, what should the scapula be doing? A lot of times, I find mine stick out of my back like prairie dogs (not exactly like them, but you get the idea), so what should I be doing to keep them in?

Also, sorry for attempting to hijack the thread (squak 7500 :P )

I have heard Gregor state that this is a bit of a personal preference, but I would like to know Coach's opinion. I don't have the knowledge for this one.

I DO know that your scapulae should never be "winging," which seems to be what you are describing. You need to work on serratus push ups, AKA push up shrugs. I've personally found a combination of weighted (once you have no trouble with BW) isometric holds and bodyweight full ROM movement to be the best way to teach the body this movement.

Get in push up position with straight arms. Now, lift your body as far off the floor as you can by shrugging your shoulders towards the ground. This will involve protraction of the scapulae, meaning they will glide along your ribcage, moving from near the spine (retraction) to the outer edge of the rib cage(protraction). At ALL times, force your entire scapula to remain tight on the ribs. You will be able to feel the difference, and if for some reason you CAN'T a mirror will help.

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Erik Sjolin
I DO know that your scapulae should never be "winging," which seems to be what you are describing.

Yeah, that's pretty much what I'm describing. I've had that for as long as I can remember (I almost used to be able to hold pop cans with them when I was a kid), and lately it's really been ticking me off, because it feels like sloppy form and that it may end up injuring me later.

Lately, I've been trying to roll my shoulders back and down (work on posture), like I'm holstering them, but that makes it impossible for me to relax my upper body.

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Cole Dano

Its really important for you to work on the winging or you will be plagued by pains and injuries.

Ido's Scapula routine is a great way to start.

It will feel like work at fist to keep the tips of your shoulder blades holstered. (Great analogy BTW)

The bands work really well for re-educatong the shoulders, i highly recommend them. Lifeline even has some special ones just for doing pushups which might be nice for those scapular pushups you should be doing often.

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Joshua Naterman
Its really important for you to work on the winging or you will be plagued by pains and injuries.

Ido's Scapula routine is a great way to start.

It will feel like work at fist to keep the tips of your shoulder blades holstered. (Great analogy BTW)

The bands work really well for re-educatong the shoulders, i highly recommend them. Lifeline even has some special ones just for doing pushups which might be nice for those scapular pushups you should be doing often.

I have those bands, and they are pretty awesome. A weighted vest works just as well though, so it's really about what he's got around.

For me, I've found that with really bad problems isometrics are the best place to start, and when it's possible to move properly with some resistance then to throw in actual movements for re-education. Of course, having a muscle stimulator would be the best, but you can't just buy those lol! Although... you CAN make them... muahahahahaha!

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Erik Sjolin

Your evil laughter intrigues me, slizz.

I'm gonna start doing Ido's scapula routine daily now (anything to fix this), and do what I can to keep the blades tight to my back.

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Joshua Naterman

You'll see one of the exercises he does is in a push up position. That needs to be your primary focus for now! I mean, do any of them that you can make your scapula work correctly on, but if you wing uncontrollably, don't do it. You don't want to re-inforce that! Just do more work with the push up. That's the serratus push up, btw. As you're able to, do his stabilization routine more fully. It's a really good one!

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