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Joshua Slocum

Bent-Arm Exercises For Improving Maltese And Inverted Cross Strength

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Joshua Slocum

I've been doing the same bent-arm strength workout for a few weeks now, and I'm looking to switch things up. This is what I've been doing:

Warmup:

  • ~30s holding handstand position
  • 4-6 skill ring strength routine (e.g. front lever->muscle up to L-sit->hollow-back->back roll->back lever).

3x sets, with 5 minute rest between each set. Each exercise is performed slowly:

  • 4x straddled planche pushups
  • 4x maltese board presses (these are technically straight-arm, but they don't stress my joints much so I do them along with my bent-arm work)
  • 4x inverted muscle ups, performed negative
  • 4x inverted bulgarian handstand pushup
  • 8x inverted rows on rings
  • ~3 minutes manna work

I'm of the opinion that it's important to up exercises every few-weeks to prevent the body from becoming ''acclimated" to a particular exercise. Thus I'm looking for new movements that will hit similar strength areas. Here's what I'm thinking so far:

  • 3x cranks to work core and shoulder retractors
  • 2x cirques on 15' rope to work bicep strength
  • 4x wide-grip muscle-ups to work cross-related strength
  • 3x Galimores to work planche strength
  • ~3 minutes manna work

I'm struggling to come up with exercises to replace the bulgarian hspu's and the maltese board presses. Any help/suggestions? Should I just keep doing those? Should I make any other changes to my routine? My primary goals at this point are building maltese strength and building/maintaining planche strength.

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alec_ar

I don't have the expertise to tell you how to improve or switch up your routine but the title confused me. Bent arm strength is beneficial to an extent to develop prior to straight arm strength for overall conditioning purposes, but bent and straight arm strength are two entirely different beasts. And, at least in terms of direct application, no bent arm exercise, no matter how difficult, will help you achieve a Maltese or Inverted Cross. At least not without the proper SA progressions. Sorry if I'm regurgitating information you already know but the title confused me...

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Joshua Slocum

Well, in any straight-arm strength position there are a handful of muscle groups acting as the 'prime movers.' This would be the lats and pecs for an iron cross and the deltoids for an inverted cross. So as part of my workout schedule I incorporate one day a week where I do bent-arm strength to help build up those particular muscle groups and give my joints a rest. For example, I might work wide-arm pull-ups to help with Iron Cross training, or I might do hollow-backs to help with planche strength.

My weekly strength-training schedule currently looks like this:

  • Monday: light straight-arm work (~15 minutes, lowering through positions or holding with assistance)
  • Tuesday: heavy straight-arm work (~45-60 minutes, holding positions with minimal assistance and pressing through positions with a bit more assistance)
  • Wednesday: recovery day. No strength aside from some basic conditioning.
  • Thursday: as Monday
  • Friday: heavy bent-arm strength work (~60 minutes, as described in my original post).

[i practice 2.5 hours each weekday; before strength work I do skill work, and afterwards I spend 15-30 minutes on flexibility work.]

Maybe I should just do more straight-arm work on Fridays? My shoulders and elbows all seem fine with things as they are, so I might be able to handle it. Mostly I'm trying to avoid plateauing by mixing up my routine. What I'm looking for is exercises of a similar difficulty that target similar strength areas.

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alec_ar

Oh cool beans. I have lots of Maltese and inv cross style exercises I do to try and help build up to the real deal. Most of them are probably too impractical to really share. Did you only want supplementary exercises that will help achieve muscular strength? And how is your scapular strength and conditioning coming along?

All in all if you only want BA exercises that could contribute I would refer mainly to the BtGB. There's a section on wall PPU's and pseudo Maltese push ups that might help. One in particular would be the Maltese PU variation where your feet are supported and you begin in the top of a push up. then you rock back and forth into a push up in the Maltese position with your body rigid. During the rep, your feet should leave the support naturally and then return at the reset.

Exercises like this, with proper scapular orientation, should help. Otherwise I would work my straight arm progressions but you already seem to be doing that.

Just as a side note also, coach says as a rule of thumb he doesn't start his athletes on focused Maltese work until a cross is solid.

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Joshua Slocum

Yeah, I'm looking mostly for supplementary exercises for increasing muscular strength.

Scapular recovery is completed! My bicep tendon is no longer inflamed. I've started easing back into cross training and I've had no issues so far. I have a lot more retractive exercises in my routine now than before, and a lot more stretching in that area, so hopefully I won't run into that issue again.

That pushup sounds like a good exercise; I'll give it a try. I always make sure to have protracted scapula for push skills.

For someone starting from the beginning, I think that's a good rule of thumb. As weird as it may seem, I'm actually weaker in a cross than in a maltese: I can hold a cross with a 25# assist, but only need 15# for a maltese. I'm going for a maltese because I'm stronger in that position. Maybe it'd be more efficacious for me to get the cross first and then the maltese, but I can't see how.

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Brian Li

I don't know much bent arm exercises to help with maltese or inverted cross besides the ones you listed, but have you trained floor malteses to help with your rings maltese before?

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Alessandro Mainente

as Coach Sommer said, bent arms strength and straigth arms strength are 2 completely differents things. there is no bent arm strength wich can provide the same stress over the joint as SA strength and the same brachialis conditioning as SA strength. so for example say that "you need 10 free rings hspu to train inv cross or you nee 8 oac to train cross" is just stupid and this does not make sense.

i don't know your current level of BA strength and foundation strength but i assume that if you are doing cross or maltese work you have already mastered all the basic strength exercises of BtGB and the preparations sets for iron cross work.

i don't think you really need a schedule with straight arm/bent arm work until you reach a solid foundation, maybe the best thing is stay with basic programming as killroy template or WOD.

hear from you that you bicep tendon was inflammed , is a sign that you are not ready for heavy SA exercises, during the SA elements there is no reason to to feel the tendons in big tension, inflammation is a simpton of that.

so my tip is slow it down, complete the foundation then move yourself into more complex movement.

 

Alex

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Joshua Slocum

First, thanks for taking the time to reply and offer your advice. 

as Coach Sommer said, bent arms strength and straigth arms strength are 2 completely differents things. there is no bent arm strength wich can provide the same stress over the joint as SA strength and the same brachialis conditioning as SA strength. so for example say that "you need 10 free rings hspu to train inv cross or you nee 8 oac to train cross" is just stupid and this does not make sense.

Yeah, I was under some misconceptions about the nature of strength when I originally wrote this post. I've since switched to a 3/week SA strength regimen.

 

i don't know your current level of BA strength and foundation strength but i assume that if you are doing cross or maltese work you have already mastered all the basic strength exercises of BtGB and the preparations sets for iron cross work.

i don't think you really need a schedule with straight arm/bent arm work until you reach a solid foundation, maybe the best thing is stay with basic programming as killroy template or WOD.

 

I would like to think that my foundation is pretty solid. I can do a muscle-up+45#, a bent-arm straight-body press, a tempo-reverse muscle-up, and a straddle-planche pushup. In terms of straight-arm strength, I have a rock-solid front and back lever and straddle-planche. 

 

 

hear from you that you bicep tendon was inflammed , is a sign that you are not ready for heavy SA exercises, during the SA elements there is no reason to to feel the tendons in big tension, inflammation is a simpton of that.

so my tip is slow it down, complete the foundation then move yourself into more complex movement.

 

Alex

The inflammation was due to a shoulder impingement. I've since corrected the issue through flexibility work. I've not had any shoulder issues since. 

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Alessandro Mainente

do you have rings RTO L-sit? rings RTO handstand? rings straddle planche?

if you have mastered all the movements of BtGB you can progress over the exercises i've cited for more tendons conditioning..

really you can do tempo reverse muscle up? i'm meaning to concetrich not eccentrich!

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Daniel Burnham

That is awesome! but is it really considered a reverse muscle up?  You seem to be missing the ring curl part of it.  It looks like more of a backwards roll or felge to HSPU.

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Joshua Slocum

I called it a 'tempo' reverse muscle up because I'm using momentum from the crank to help me through the curling part. 

 

I believe in 'Overcoming Gravity' this skill is called "straight-body rotation to handstand" (though in the example illustration, there is no use of the straps). 

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Daniel Burnham
I called it a 'tempo' reverse muscle up because I'm using momentum from the crank to help me through the curling part. 

 

I believe in 'Overcoming Gravity' this skill is called "straight-body rotation to handstand" (though in the example illustration, there is no use of the straps). 

Ah ok.  When I think of tempo I actually think slow and controlled.  Like a 3 sec concentric with 1 sec hold and 6 sec negative.(just an example).

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Alessandro Mainente

ok, also i can do it and also the back kip to handstand, but now i stopped to train them, are not pure strength movements and the difference with reverse muscle up is very very very big. at the beginning i loved the  movements with kip or swing with bent arms, but in some cases you cannot have a real transfer on different skills, there is not evolution after that, cause reverse muscle up is a different motion. i prefer use normal rolls forward and backward with very slow tempo and straigth body with no kip o swing, more like a slow bent arms azarian..

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Joshua Slocum
Ah ok.  When I think of tempo I actually think slow and controlled.  Like a 3 sec concentric with 1 sec hold and 6 sec negative.(just an example).

That's the problem with using the word 'tempo' to describe speed: it's ambiguous whether you mean fast or slow! If the common usage around here is that 'tempo' means 'slow', then no, I can't do a tempo reverse-muscle-up.  :D

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