The dish hold

The absolute foundation of gymnastic training is the dish hold, or hollow hold or handstand plank. It’s a super useful skill and a great core and abdominal muscle builder. If you want a L sit, a handstand or a muscle up, you need this!

 

You need to tumble if you want to be a stunt performer

There are many requirements to becoming a member of the British Stunt Register. You can check them out here 
Its clear that for some, tumbling is an essential component: they really need  to learn how to handstand to forward rolls, back roll to handstand, cartwheel, round off
front tuck, back handspring, front hand spring.
The chances are, if you are an adult learner, that fear of going backwards will be a major stumbling block in your future career. At Crossfit london in Bethnal green, we have been running and adult gymnastics programme since 2008 . We have been teaching adult beginners how to do these skills for years.
Im privileged to be part of the tumbling teaching team, even though Im not one of the best ever tumblers.  Im now 58 so some of my demos are a bit wobbly, and at my age, I do like a bit of a comforting spot.
In short I know all about fear and what it does  to your form if you want to jump up in the air go backwards and land on your hands. I leave it to my younger colleagues to optimise your technique and string things together. For me, I know how great it it to nail that 1st handspring, that tuck, that flag. I got those, not when i was 6 or 8 or 16: i got those skills when I was in my 50’s
to be honest, may flag is still work in progress
here is my 1st ever unspotted  back handspring

We have spent our long teaching history building up drill to build your skills. We work almost exclusively with frightened adults !

If you want to check out my lessons in Bethnal Green E2 you can  look at our class schedule and book here.

At the moment, my classes are on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon at Crossfit London  If you want a better gymnast to lead your classes,  look for Matthias ( wed) and Tugs (sunday) . You should really check out our fantastic gymnastic strength classes: handstands, levers, muscle up, planches, the flag.

Loads of stuff for you to learn.

Has Tiger just made my year?

The retailer Tiger, may just have made my year. At Crossfit London, everyone needs pull ups ( both strict and kipping). As  a famous trainer, I’m always setting pull ups as a target,

Im often writing about them. I frequently ask, “What if you have no pull ups, surely no one will want to marry you”.

But often people say, I don’t want to smash my flat up by bolting a pull up bar to the wall  or the ceiling, or Im renting, or I have a nervous cat… sometimes, they say, they are too expensive.

So, it was a delight to see that Tiger has produced a pull up bar for £10. And its one you slot in and pack away. Easy to make, £10, easy to slot into a door of between 61 and 81cm, and , so the box says , will take up to 120 kg person. Obviously not for kipping, so its “just” for strict pull ups.  But strict pull ups are great.

Im not sure they are in every store: they were in Westfield East, but I couldn’t see them at the Stratford Shopping Centre store ( when I looked today).

THE fundamental handstand error

For years I have approached my handstand in the wrong way. I have to teach a lot of terrified adults to handstand, and many find it easier to begin with their hands on the floor. This means that one leg is “long” behind, and the other leg “curled up”underneath.

The tendency is to use the long leg to swing up. Ive been doing it for years, but it makes your handstand erratic because as it swings it moves you into an arch, often meaning your foot is forward of your hands when you attempt to finish it. It also means you are throwing yourself into the handstand rather than place it .

More seriously, if this pattern is taken into the round off, the lead leg zooms around, and the real power leg is de-emphasised.

See if you have this fault and fix it

Squeeze your ass

So many  gymnastic postures require us to squeeze our butt checks together, but why wait till you are in the gym to build up your “Ass Capacity”.

Why not sneak in the odd 10 second squeeze when no one is watching. You might as well squeeze your ankles together to, and maybe make sure the butt squeeze takes you into a flat backed position.

You can turn wasted Tube or Bus Stop time, into  useful handstand practice time

Overcoming mental blocks: value of conditioning and progression.

Just so you can get on board with the injustice of it all, in April 2013 I did my 1st  ever unspotted  back flick at the age of 52. It was clunky, legs bent etc, but it was a back flick. Throughout the rest of the year, while working on my Tucks and P bars and round off and muscle up and up rises ( the list is endless), and in between back injuries, Elbow tendonitis  and adductor tear ( in both adductors at different times). My back flick slowly improved it, but became dependent on an emotional spot. I had to have my coach by me, to lightly touch my back before I “went”. There was no actual spotting, but my mental dependence grew and grew.

We started solving this last week: ie my coach started  stepping back.
Boom!!

My form collapsed totally and my back flick, when I can pluck up courage to throw one, is  now heavily twisted to one side or the other and is “dangerous”.

In catastrophe theory, I hit my bifurcation point. This is that teeny change that collapses the whole structure  and from which there is no going back: imagine counting from 1 to 5. And you do it well.

“1.2.3.4.5”

Now your teacher say, ok this time  count to 6… you go

“7, 2, sob, london , kitty cat”

So your teacher goes, ok, ignore the 6, lets stay with the 1-5. You go, great!

“ paris, 4, hiccup, moon beam”.

Hitting a bifurcation point, destroys everything you have built up, its not a question of taking  one step back to where you were: everything gets demolished.

You can try charging at the back flick  ( go to a pit and throw  your self in, time and time again)  but , bearing in mind that a back flick involves jumping backward upside down and landing on your hands and is 100% technique based, a temper based solution isn’t the way.

This brings me to some observations which is based on  the Crossft London teaching method, some of  Grigori Raiport’s work and gym bunny rumour.

An interesting bit of advice is to “keep your mind tight”. Everyone talks about abs and glutes: maybe you need to keep your mind focused too. Just throwing yourself backwards doesn’t work.

That said, what does that mean.  I know many  gym goers who pronounce the value of special thinking  and of special mind techniques, but frankly they normally deal in simple moves.

I offer several approaches to solve and maybe avoid  blocks

1)    Practice the basics

Where possible, base your skill  training on proven progressions, build these progression  into your warm up.  You never know when you will injure yourself or have a brain  malfunction and need to retrace your steps

The moment you hit a  (new) problem your brain goes into an emotional overdrive. Many solutions  are quite basic, but in my opinion, panic, combined with laziness and a wish for drama  makes finding the  solution difficult.

I once (back in 1979) had a friend who was really nasty ( and abusive and violent) to his girlfriend. She eventually kicked him out. He decided to win her back. His strategies, as I recall,   ranged from  expensive romantic dinners, to  getting a  violinist to play while he begged under her  bedroom window, I think he even thought of (a mock) sucide. “then she’ll be sorry…..”

Never did it occur to him to be truthful, loyal, loving, sober ,patient and kind.Basics!!!

2)    Get your mind to control your body.

Its  a bit of a negative view, but there are streams of thought that say, left to its own devises, you will be lazy.  In short the body will get away with whatever it can if the mind lets it.  If the mind gives up, or goes soft, the body wlll auto pilot for a while, then it will do what the hell it likes.

You must have been in one of those classes where you mucked around. You could sense the teacher wasn’t in control, and off you went.

So with these models in mind I re-looked at what happened running up to  my failure.

I tore my left adductor  about 12 weeks ago then, screwed my back in a  deadlift workout,  and then we  had  a  lovely time in Madrid.  I had planned a lull to write a bit more and over the last few weeks was able to stay in bed longer,  ( certainly later) and stay up late. I was able to lounge around on a soft sofa.  In short a long way away from my normal  regime.   In short I let everything go.   My routine went, my focus and drive went with it.

My mind surrendered authority,  my body lost strength.

So why the hell would any animal throw itself backwards ( upside down…onto its hoof presumably)  for a   lazy master.

Here then is the value of underpinning conditioning. No matter how good you do the big skills, do the progressions and your under pinning conditioning   often and well because,  not only are they useful rehearsal , but its is  a message to your body that you, not it, is in charge.

3) that said, it takes a while to re establish control, so there’s nothing much wrong with laying off  a hard skill for  a short time, while you re-establish control

If its10 push ups, a run, or  a WOD drive yourself to do it regularly,

Allegedly, repetition works

But, please stay in control