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Christopher Schwab

Losing sanity over handstands

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Christopher Schwab

Hey all!

New to the forum so hey all ;-)

I've been working on my handstands for months now and continually they have been getting worse, despite me working and improving my form, keeping my body tight, keeping the legs together, eliminating the arch etc. At my peak last month I was able to hold a handstand for 7-10 seconds a few times but now I cannot even GET into any handstand at all most of the time, and ym times have slided to around 3-6 secs when I do manage. I work my HS 3-4x a week for around 3-5 mins each at the beginning of a workout so I am fresh, but always warmed up properly.

I just...don't see why my handstand are getting worse, why my kick ups are getting worse etc and I'm seriously close to giving up on them from pure frustration despite them being one of my huge goals.-I am not overtraining them that is a certainty.

Edit: Today, for example, in 4 minutes I only achieved three 3 second handstand, whereas last week even I got a few 7s and a few 5s holds in.

Over to you guys!

Thanks, Chris.

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Nic Branson

You could be doing too much though likely this problem is at least partially in your head. Some weeks are good and some are bad, get used to the ebb and flow of things. Slow down be patient, relax and focus. Also you will find that as your line gets better your balance may suffer as you're not used to that position as much.

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Larry Roseman

If you are consistently getting 3 or 4 seconds then that's is what your skill and strength can support

right now as a rule. I would forget about those previous "high scores" - throw them out for now.

They just show you that longer is possible, but not regularly.

You could also take a step back and work on holding longer stomach to wall handstands.

How long can you hold those? If you are having balance issues more than strength perhaps just

use one foot to touch the wall to maintain balance and work up to 30 seconds doing it that way,

before attempting fully unsupported handstands again... one step back, two steps forward!

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n00man

when i got to that frustrating point where i couldn't even kick up,

i switched to doing belly-to-wall handstands...

just trying something new helped get past the frustration.

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Blairbob

Show video or we have no real way to know what is going beyond throwing out random tips.

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Martin de Jesus Ponce Robaldino

do them in a relaxed state, remember always the same reccomendations:

point your toes, flatten your lower back, flex your abs, pull out your ribs, cover your ears with your shoulders muscles. the balance is from the palm of the hands, not from the body.

remember these, rest for a couple days and then work them again

allso, improve your flexibility and mobility

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Cole Dano

I'll have a good day and then a week of bad. Talking with Mikael 'Handbalancer' he says it stays that way until it gets easy. You just can't let it get to you. I hate this phrase but - enjoy the journey.

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Christopher Schwab

Hey everyone, I really appreciate the responses! I wanted to update you letting you know that some of those form tips did indeed help (and here I was thinking I was a pro at correct form :oops: ). Today actually went significantly better, with the average hold time being in the 6-8 second range.

I am thinking of separating my Handstand work from the rest of my Push workout and having a couple separate handstand workouts, possibly 1-2 spread over the week. I am thinking this may be worthwhile because the Handstand is by far my weakest area and I think I should be paying it special attention.

If I were, I would be certain to include wall runs, wall handstand practice, freestanding practice of course. But I am unsure as to actually produce a routine for just handstands, do you guys have any tips or links to other helpful posts? I have seen a couple very well put together videos and have referred to the stickies, but I seem to be missing where I can have an entire short HS exclusive routine.

Thank you again, guys!

Chris.

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Falcon

get used to it 8)

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yuri marmerstein

I usually try to separate my hand balance training from my strength training as they require a completely different mentality.

and yea, Hand balancing is frustrating. There is a reason you find so few people proficient in it, even among gymnasts and acrobats. The biggest factor in the end is not how strong you are or how good your technique is, but how many hours you spent practicing.

Finding the balance and making it easy can be very tricky and it usually takes a special kind of obsessive personality to push through and deal with the frustration.

I still have plenty of those days where I am just all over the place, it happens but you have to keep going if you are serious in your training

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MH87

Yuri's advice is sound as always. It does take a lot of practice. So try to enjoy it. Your HS is a few seconds? Well you're just getting started... So why be frustrated at all?

3 sec vs. 5-7.. Not that big a difference. What if you put on some weight? It'll take a lil' time for your body to adapt.. Stuff like this could be perfectly natural, and it definitely doesn't have to mean you are getting worse. Do you see what I mean?

You have to accept your current level of skill, and work with what you can, and you will improve that much faster... And probably enjoy it a lot more.

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Eddie Stelling

Not sure if this was covered or if this will help you, but the first thing I thought of when I read the original post, was that you are afraid to fall! If you have not already learned how to roll out of a handstand yet, you need to learn asap. Knowing how to safely fall makes you more willing to test the waters with your balance. In one of the many brilliant post by Yuri, he talks about practicing kicking up into a handstand and locking in to the correct HS, not holding it, just finding it immediately and coming down (free standing or back to wall). Combine this with no fear of falling because you know how to roll out, and you will eventually figure out how hard you need to kick up and how to hit good alignment quickly. I suggest you put a mat down, go in the grass, on some carpet, or anywhere soft and practice kicking up in to a hollow body, open shoulder HS, and don't even try to hold it. Hit the position and roll out of it. I bet you money you will improve quickly!

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pdb_atfn

OP - if while undertaking some sort of training or practice you are getting consistently WORSE at your target skill(s), meaning over a period of a week or several, you must immediately STOP and do something else. Learn to recognise it before it happens and you can make your training much more efficient and introduce proper variation before going stale like this.

If you have other skill-based hobbies or interests then no doubt you'll have noticed the same thing. You can't keep improving by giving yourself the very same stimulus indefinitely. After a short while, usually about 6 weeks for physical things for me, you become desensitised to the stimulus and hammering away is only going to make you worse. Five minutes of some novel training will then be worth five years of the same old thing that stopped working.

The great thing about handbalancing, even just "handstands", is that there are really 1000 different things to work on and you need never go stale if you change things when you need to. Take a week off - no similar exercise at all - then start again with quite different training. It will all build on itself and lead to improvements across the board.

The biggest factor in the end is not how strong you are or how good your technique is, but how many hours you spent practicing.

This is a very strange thing to say.

> "how strong you are and how good your technique is" is general enough to cover your entire handbalancing ability, so it is in fact the only final relevant factor. Your handbalancing is as good as it is - no better, no worse.

> Strength+technique is an existing state, whereas "hours spent practising" is a process or action, and so a step removed from the result and a step less clear and less relevant. Imagine if we wanted to predict how good a handbalancer someone was, would you rather know how many hours they've spent practising, or simply how strong and technically proficient they are? Obviously the latter, since it is directly relevant and answers the question right away.

Similarly, "hours spent studying" is far less relevant than "your intelligence and knowledge of the subject" when it comes to predicting academic achievement, for example.

> Sheer volume of practice is largely meaningless and often doesn't correlate well with quality of practice or results gained from it.

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Cole Dano

You're taking Yuri's statement totally out of context.

If you don't know Yuri, he has both strength and proficiency, and he's talking to a trainee who is frustrated and most likely has neither, yet. His advice is sound. Handbalancing is a difficult skill, it takes a lot of practice, even those who are very good at it constantly practice, there is no getting around it.

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pdb_atfn
You're taking Yuri's statement totally out of context.

If you don't know Yuri, he has both strength and proficiency, and he's talking to a trainee who is frustrated and most likely has neither, yet. His advice is sound. Handbalancing is a difficult skill, it takes a lot of practice, even those who are very good at it constantly practice, there is no getting around it.

I've known Yuri for years, yes. What he said was wrong, and his exceptional handbalancing ability doesn't change that.

Hours spent training is not and can not be a better predictor of, or more important in creating, handbalancing ability than one's "strength and technique". The former may lead to and be required for the latter, but it's not "more important" than it - such a thing makes no sense to claim. We aren't scored for effort, only achievement.

If he had simply said that "getting good at handbalancing takes a lot of practice" then, hollow words though they are, I wouldn't have taken issue with it. That sort of thing motivates some trainees, but from what I can see the OP's problem is not that he can't be bothered to train.

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jl5555
...If you have other skill-based hobbies or interests then no doubt you'll have noticed the same thing. You can't keep improving by giving yourself the very same stimulus indefinitely. After a short while, usually about 6 weeks for physical things for me, you become desensitised to the stimulus and hammering away is only going to make you worse. Five minutes of some novel training will then be worth five years of the same old thing that stopped working....
The biggest factor in the end is not how strong you are or how good your technique is, but how many hours you spent practicing.

....

> Sheer volume of practice is largely meaningless and often doesn't correlate well with quality of practice or results gained from it.

I bet most professional athletes might have an issue with your point of view. Have you noticed how many hours golfers spend on the driving range and practice green repeating the same motions? How about hours and hours in the batting cage practicing baseball swings? Hours, months, years of kids spent bouncing soccer balls on their feet, knees, heads? Endless shots from the free throw line (games of horse), etc., I could go on and on.

What they are trying to do is make their swing, kick, throw, whatever motion automatic, build muscle memory so that the movements come with such ease that worrying about the form and technique becomes a minor part of the equation. There is no reason handstand should be any different.

Think about this; how did you, me, everyone around you, get so good at standing on their feet? It wasn't because they read a book on how to stand on your feet, it wasn't because they watched video of themselves standing. It was just time spent doing it. It's a crude analogy but I think it fits.

So Yuri does have a point, and is probably the one I would hire (ie: pay for). People who always step back to reexamine their technique, endlessly over thinking it, are usually those that never get anywhere with a particular skill.

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Coach Sommer
...If you have other skill-based hobbies or interests then no doubt you'll have noticed the same thing ... You can't keep improving by giving yourself the very same stimulus indefinitely ... After a short while, usually about 6 weeks for physical things for me, you become desensitised to the stimulus and hammering away is only going to make you worse ... Five minutes of some novel training will then be worth five years of the same old thing that stopped working...

Nonsense.

Actually bull#$%@ would be a more accurate adjective, but I do not allow profanity of the GB forum. :)

This ridiculous viewpoint is the favorite refuge of people around the world who have failed to achieve their goals. Children need to be entertained; young adults and adults take care of their business. Achieving excellence is hard work. And usually boring. Often requiring hundreds and thousands of repetitions. For years at a time.

Deal with it.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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pdb_atfn
This ridiculous viewpoint is the favorite refuge of people around the world who have failed to achieve their goals.

Gosh.

Achieving excellence is hard work. And usually boring.

That rather depends how much you like what you're doing, I suppose. Most successful people I know thoroughly enjoy what they're doing. After all, that's the whole reason to do anything and if they didn't enjoy it then someone who DID would come in and beat them quite easily.

Often requiring hundreds and thousands of repetitions. For years at a time.

I don't disagree with that.

Deal with it.

I will do my very best.

While you're here, do you think my post was inappropriate advice for the OP? Since he isn't improving and is indeed getting worse, should he just shut up, knuckle down and keep doing what he's doing, instead of changing something? Does success come from hard work regardless of its direction?

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pdb_atfn
I bet most professional athletes might have an issue with your point of view.

None of the ones I've worked with or encountered.

Have you noticed how many hours golfers spend on the driving range and practice green repeating the same motions? How about hours and hours in the batting cage practicing baseball swings? Hours, months, years of kids spent bouncing soccer balls on their feet, knees, heads? Endless shots from the free throw line (games of horse), etc., I could go on and on.

I don't like to say it, but "what's your point?"

If you're making light of the fact that improving your ability at something usually involves doing a great deal of "it", then yes I completely agree. I don't disagree with it and it doesn't contradict what I said before.

What they are trying to do is make their swing, kick, throw, whatever motion automatic, build muscle memory so that the movements come with such ease that worrying about the form and technique becomes a minor part of the equation. There is no reason handstand should be any different.

Correct.

Think about this; how did you, me, everyone around you, get so good at standing on their feet? It wasn't because they read a book on how to stand on your feet, it wasn't because they watched video of themselves standing. It was just time spent doing it. It's a crude analogy but I think it fits.

Aside from a quirk of your wording there, yes I agree.

So Yuri does have a point

You haven’t even touched upon it in your post, though. Allow me to point it out again:

“The biggest factor in the end is not how strong you are or how good your technique is, but how many hours you spent practicing.â€

I don’t know how else I can express my view that this is wrong and strange.

Which would you rather have, strength and good technique, or a huge number of hours spent practicing? If you have the former, the latter is completely irrelevant. And having the latter is absolutely no guarantee of having the former.

People seem to be thinking that I’m trying to say “You don’t have to practice†or something…? I’m not.

and is probably the one I would hire (ie: pay for). People who always step back to reexamine their technique, endlessly over thinking it, are usually those that never get anywhere with a particular skill.

Vague, and entirely unrelated to the original matter (Yuri’s comment), but we can still discuss it. You can overthink and you can underthink. Far more people fail because they’re mindlessly banging their heads against the wall doing something wrong for months and years on end, and they would benefit from stepping back and thinking, and changing what they’re doing.

Presumably some small minority of people fail to progress because they change things TOO much, but it seems unlikely.

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yuri marmerstein

Pdb, who are you that you've known me for years?

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Joshua Naterman
You're taking Yuri's statement totally out of context.

If you don't know Yuri, he has both strength and proficiency, and he's talking to a trainee who is frustrated and most likely has neither, yet. His advice is sound. Handbalancing is a difficult skill, it takes a lot of practice, even those who are very good at it constantly practice, there is no getting around it.

I've known Yuri for years, yes. What he said was wrong, and his exceptional handbalancing ability doesn't change that.

Hours spent training is not and can not be a better predictor of, or more important in creating, handbalancing ability than one's "strength and technique". The former may lead to and be required for the latter, but it's not "more important" than it - such a thing makes no sense to claim. We aren't scored for effort, only achievement.

If he had simply said that "getting good at handbalancing takes a lot of practice" then, hollow words though they are, I wouldn't have taken issue with it. That sort of thing motivates some trainees, but from what I can see the OP's problem is not that he can't be bothered to train.

I think, at this point, that you should go ahead and post some videos of yourself performing.

You either:

A) clearly think that you have better results than Mikael and Yuri, who are both excellent examples of how everyone in the hand-balancing profession that I am aware of has gotten to where they are. If this is so, you shouldn't be shy to post videos of your advanced skills and how you got there through what you suggest. If you aren't willing to post video, my guess is your mouth is firmly attached to your rectum.

B) Your mouth is firmly attached to your rectum.

It takes substantial time to develop strength and technique in all sports. That's a known truth. People use steroids to try and get around the strength part, and that's why the supplement industry is thriving: People want shortcuts to strength and steroids are illegal. Every bottle sold aims to replace steroids. Short cuts to perfect technique? There aren't any.

Great technique + very little training time = poor development of skill.

The amount of time you spend training a specific technique, along with your recovery methods (as these allow actual tissue adaptation to be maximized), is what will determine how much progress you make. Practice 3 sets of 15s handstands forever and you'll never be doing a handbalancing act.

As you get better, more time is required, and so on. That makes time, given any particular technique, the primary factor. Yuri never suggested bad technique would lead to good results. If you actually know him, or even know of him, you'd know that.

In the realm of athletics, performance is what matters as you have said yourself. If you can't show a video log of progress and/or highly advanced skills and/or a sizeable group of highly advanced trainees then you shouldn't be taken seriously.

Ball's in your court.

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Fiona Silk

I absolutely agree with Coach.

"Repetition is the mother of skill" is the best piece of advice I was ever given.

My mum is learning golf, and complaining that she's not very good at it. I suggested she goes to the driving range three times a week to practise, but she said she doesn't want to - that she just wants to play a round on the course and enjoy herself. This is part of what I wrote on my blog for her:

"If you don't enjoy your practise, then you really need to have a serious think about what you're doing. Practise is what makes you good, it's what refines your skill and enables you to progress. Without it you will never move forward, and if you're not moving forward in life then you're just not living. Enjoying and being engaged with this practise is vital. As you do it more and more you open up all the nuances - the little tweaks you can make to improve your technique, the errors you've been making reveal themselves, and eventually you will settle into a place where it almost becomes meditative - the repetition becoming a calming and steady influence in your life. "

I'm pretty sure you all know this, but sometimes I think it's worth reminding ourselves - I know that I have to have words with myself sometimes, and just remind my ego that with more practise will come the results I seek.

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Aaron Griffin
Nonsense. [...] Achieving excellence is hard work. And usually boring. Often requiring hundreds and thousands of repetitions. For years at a time.

I agree 100%, Coach. To think that repeated practice is somehow negative makes me wonder if people have ever been in the presence of a laborer. When people have manual labor jobs, you can't just show up M/W/F so you have proper rest and recovery for you muscles - you go every day, and you get stronger for it.

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Fluidity

I completely agree with what coach says here. You shouldn'y be expecting to do some "special" or novel way of training for improving handstands. If you want to become proficent at handstands then DO HANDSTANDS. It is as simple as that, no need to make it more complex. If you start doing "novel training", which is doing different random exercises then that is just going to give you random results. If you want to improve your handstands, which which is a skills, you will have to always do handstands if you want to consistently improve in them. Doing something different like batting a baseball, swimming, running, hitting a heavy bag, squatting, are not going to give you consistent results on to your handstands since a handstand is a skill, and you have to observe the law of specificity if you want to improve your skill. Learn to find magic in the mundane.

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Mark Weaver

Just because a successful person thoroughly enjoys something doesn't necessarily mean it's easy to do. And what enjoyable sport, hobby, or career doesn't involve certain aspects that will always be boring to some extent? Maybe how you react to the hard and the boring factors into your success?

ChrisUK - hang in there! My only advice is to take advice from Coach or others who are consistently working with newcomers to handstands and the like. I've been doing them for a long time, mostly for fun until I found GB, and I have a tendency to forget what it was like at the beginning. It takes babies a while to learn to stand and walk on their feet. Maybe the handstand process is similar for adults.

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