In Pursuit Of The One Armed Handstand

In Pursuit Of The One Armed Handstand

Set your targets high, develop your strategy and commit to achieving. That’s the TrueSapien way.

Bodyweight and Calisthenics practitioner Richard Blakeway epitomises and embodies the TrueSapien spirit. He recently set his sights on achieving one of the ‘holy grails’ of his field, the One Armed Handstand. The parameters being that he must be able to hold the position for 10 seconds. His initial estimate, bearing in mind he can already hold a full (2 arm) handstand comfortably would be 8 weeks.
Will he succeed? Let’s take a look at the initial stages of his progress ….

Starting Point

Initially Richard did what most would do. Attempt to achieve the objective right away. When the expected failure resulted it created a starting point that allowed him to evaluate where improvements need to be made and how to make them. During his first session he was able to move from a standard handstand to one armed and back, only momentarily. It was clear that a strategy would need to be applied, with incremental steps toward achieving the ultimate goal.

Strategy

During his second session, Richard worked on reducing the transition from full to single handed by reducing the assistance on what would ultimately become the ‘free’ hand. He did this by using just a thumb tip rather than the full hand. His theory being that this would increase the load on his supporting hand to a lesser degree as an incremental step. By day 3, during a lengthy training session, Richard managed a maximum duration of 20 seconds using this technique. But his enthusiasm took its toll. The additional, recurring load on the right, load bearing shoulder caused severe soreness and Richard wisely took a rest day from the personal challenge to recover.

Progress

For the remainder of the first week of training, Richard decided to take away the crutch of the assisting supporting thumb. The resulting attempts caused a roller-coaster of conflicting emotions. Mainly frustration, disappointment and anger, interrupted by only fleeting moments of Joy and optimism. This is how Richard summed it up himself…

When I achieve my goal, for which I will have worked so hard and suffered so much, I will open up this little pot where I have stored all this frustration and by then the madness and rage will have fermented and turned into a beautiful butterfly of happiness….remember the route to success is always through persistent failure’

We will update Richard’s progress over the coming weeks. For more regular updates check out Richards Instagram feed (@richard_blakeway) which also contains details of his YouTube Channel.

Be TrueSapien. Challenge Life.

Reject Mediocrity – How To Avoid An Average Life.

Reject Mediocrity – How To Avoid An Average Life.

Why is it that people everywhere are systematically wasting their potential, seemingly happy living their lives completely within their comfort zones, never experiencing what life has to offer outside of them?

Just because modern lifestyles are made physically more comfortable to due technological advances, is it acceptable not attempting to use our remarkable bodies to the limits they are capable of?
Acceptance Of Mediocrity is Like An Epidemic

How many people do you know that settle for mediocrity or even less when it comes to their health, lifestyle or physical functionality? Maybe you can even count yourself in this category or can remember the time you could.

It’s easy to see just by looking around you, whether at work, in the street or whilst out eating or drinking that it is the majority. They have turned their backs on their natural physical traits and lazily resigned themselves to never physically challenging themselves.

Maybe it’s symptomatic of a culture that no longer encourages healthy competition and a society that is conditioned to taking the ‘easy’ option at every opportunity and looks for excuses for underachievement.

Surely many of the negative health and social issues that are prevalent today exist primarily because society on the whole is nowhere near active enough and lacks the inclination to be so.

 

Buck The Trend And Reject Mediocrity

Because it’s how the majority choose to live their lives DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.

It’s can’t be right to allow your body to fester in inactivity or without regular challenge. If this were so the human body would react positively to such environments and it clearly does not. The human body reacts positively to being pushed, to being tested, to being CHALLENGED! Not to mention the numerous positive psychological benefits too.

TrueSapiens reject mediocrity by repeatedly challenging themselves, pushing and striving to be the best version of them self. TrueSapiens respect and celebrate their physical abilities and seek opportunities to challenge it’s boundaries.

This is the TRUE spirit of the SAPIEN. Reject mediocrity, challenge life and BE TRUESAPIEN.

Are You TrueSapien? Are You Challenging Yourself?

Are You TrueSapien? Are You Challenging Yourself?

So are you TrueSapien? What makes people stand out in life versus those that are happy to merely exist?

There is no exact definition as characteristics will vary from one person to another, depending on their individual beliefs, passions and preferences. For example, what sport or fitness activities appeal to you may be entirely different to another TrueSapien. You may have certain physical traits that lend themselves to certain activities over others. How you choose to challenge yourself may be entirely different to the next person.

Whatever the differences, the following points are universal and common across all TrueSapiens……

  • Do you consistently challenge your existing perceived limits,attempting to be the very best you can be?
  • Do you refuse to accept mediocrity?
  • Do you know your overriding purpose in life and your ‘Why’?
  • Are you an ‘encourager’ rather than a critic and do you admire others’ achievements rather than be envious of them?
  • Do you appreciate, respect and admire the world around you?
  • Do you place a higher value on your own functionality for purpose over simply looking good?
  • Do you take any ‘failures’ as setbacks and use them as a positive learning experience?

Being TrueSapien isn’t like becoming a member of a club, body or an organisation. There’s no joining fee or annual renewal. You’ll know from the points described above whether you are or not, or indeed whether being TrueSapien is something in which you believe.

Being TrueSapien is about the attitude you demonstrate as you challenge yourself in whatever way you choose, from OCR or Triathlon Events, Calisthenics or Strongman disciplines, Marathon Running or Crossfit.

Read our Story page to find out more about TrueSapien.

Kettlebells. How To Get Started With Kettlebell Training.

Starting anything can be daunting and overwhelming and that’s certainly the case with adding new and alternative training concepts to your plan.

One of the most popular additions to many functional training programs is Kettlebell Training. The advantages of Kettlebell Training are widely recognised and much lauded. One of the standout attributes to this form of training being that outlay is relatively minimal and training can be performed almost anywhere …… but to get optimal results it’s vital to get the right equipment for YOU.

Jamie Lloyd offers this advice. Jamie is ‘The Total Body Breakthrough Expert’, an award winning health and fitness coach committed to helping people achieve what they had believed to be impossible.

 

Buying A Kettlebell

It used to be relatively easy to choose a Kettlebell as there were few companies selling them. Now they are widely available and you can even purchase them at your local supermarket! But they are not all the same….

As you begin with this form of training it’s possible to get great results from just one Bell. But which one? There are so many different shapes, weights and sizes to choose from.

Kettlebell Weight

Now I’m going to be very generic here with these recommendations. You yourself will know whether your natural strength is above or below average so adjust by a couple of kilo’s either way accordingly.

When starting out, this is what I recommend:

  • Women – 8kg (18lb) kettlebell
  • Men – 16kg (35lb) kettlebell

 

If you do have the available funds to allow the purchase of more than one Kettlebell this is what I’d recommend for the average male and female:

  • Women – 8kg, 10kg, 12kg
  • Men – 16kg, 18kg, 20kg

The Handle

The Finish

When you’re performing repetitive swing, clean and snatches with the kettlebell and it has a rough handle or seam running down it, it will be extremely irritating. So have a good look at the handle and ensure it is really smooth and even. It’s usually the cheaper ones that have a poor finish to the handle so beware, don’t just take a quick look, run your hands over it to ensure it is free from blemishes.

Handle Diameter

The diameter of the handle is really important, especially if you have large hands. Decent kettlebells have a handle diameter of at least 31-33mm going up to even 38mm for the heavier ones. Cheap kettlebells come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some have rubber or really thin handles which make them almost impossible to hold during swings and very awkward during snatches. Also, avoid plastic kettlebells at all costs!

As mentioned earlier, most handle diameters increase in size as the weight increases. My personalfavourites however are competition kettlebells which have a uniform diameter of 33mm which is great for consistency as you progress. These can be a little more pricey though.

 

Summary

So there you have it. An honest opinion of the key factors involved when deciding which kettlebell or kettlebells to choose when starting kettlebell training. If you’re still unsure and in need of further advice seek out and speak to a professional. not somebody who has taken a weekend course but one who preferably competes in kettlebells. Or alternatively contact myself Jamie Lloyd.

 

Thank you to Jamie Lloyd for this article. Jamie is available for Personal Training, Nutrition Coaching, Sports Massage and Group Fitness Training.

 

A Runner’s Training Diary. Run Like A TrueSapien!

Discover what makes runner and OCR competitor Ben a TrueSapien. We’ll be following his and others training and challenges this year and in the process gain an insight into what drives them and why being a TrueSapien and not just an average Sapien, is so rewarding.

What follows is a brief introduction to Ben and a week in his training….


Ben Comery, 27, has been running since July 2015. Having dabbled with weight lifting and cycling for a few years he discovered a love for running through obstacle course racing (or OCR), completing his first Spartan race in October 2015. He was quickly hooked!

“I race because I love pushing my limits and being outside my comfort zone. If somebody says i can’t do something I have to prove them wrong ! I love being outside and what better way to explore the country than on my own two feet.
My goals for 2017 are to compete at an Elite level at Spartan Race UK and to continue to push my limits in road and trail race”.

So here’s a brief summary of my running training for last week with how I felt before, during and after (always a great idea to note this I think for evaluation of sessions):

Day 1
Before: Tired
During: Sick from eating 40mins before run
After: Sore ankles
Recovery run- Easy 8km kept hr low to allow the body to recover from Sunday. Feeling very tired but got it done!

Day 2
Before: Sore ankles
During: Strong
After: Fast!
12 x 200m repeats with 200m jog recovery
Building speed and strength. Helps with the “kick” and helps your body deal with huge amounts of lactic acid build up.

Day 3
Rest day! The most important day of the week! Helps me recover and keeps me sane.

Day 4
Recovery miles again just to keep the legs loose

Day 5
Took another recovery day after 2 tough cold days at work . 7km in the bank.

Day 6
1 mile Threshold Repeats.  Aim for 86-88% HR with 1 minute rest after each repeat. Takes your body to it’s lactic limit and then holds it there for an uncomfortably long time. Builds mental strength and teaches your body to deal with huge amounts of lactic acid for long periods. The end goal is to take this threshold and use it as your Half marathon race pace so need to be able to maintain it for 90minutes.

 

We’ll regularly  publish exerts from Ben’s running and OCR training and events as and when they arise!

Are You Planning An OCR Adventure?

Are You Planning An OCR Adventure?

 

If you’re planning your first OCR adventure or looking to improve your skills, Clinton Slater, a Reebok Spartan Race SGX coach and co-owner of Outdoor Physical Training, reveals some of his top training tips and techniques to get you race ready.

 

The Wall

Training tip: Defeating the Spartan walls is all about explosive power through the legs to firstly get you up onto the wall, then gain balance before using your upper body strength to pull your body weight up and over.

Work on your explosive leg power with squat jumps and use dips and pull ups to get you used to lifting your own bodyweight.

My best advice would be to get out there, to your local park or your back garden, to find something that resembles the walls. Practice jumping up and holding onto the top of the wall: this will build the arm strength you need to hold up your own bodyweight.

Best technique: Don’t hesitate! Run up to the wall in one movement and use momentum to lift you up as you jump and grab the top of the wall. Beware of your knees hitting the wall, it’s about timing. 

Rotate your elbows forward as you’re jumping to the top, use the drive to lift your body up and over (taking a pause at the top to balance if you need).

 

The Monkey Bars

Training tip: The monkey bars are 70% back and shoulder strength, 20% biceps and 10% will power.

I always start training with some ‘hang time’ – just being able to hang and hold your own body weight. Once you have mastered this, move onto the back pull technique – using your back muscles (lats) to drive you from one bar to the next, rather than just relying on arms.

To do this don’t just hang with arms straight and locked, engage your back muscles to take most of the strain. 

Best technique: Use the back pull to move across the bars: pull up first to the bar you’re on and the momentum generated from this move will drive you forwards to the next bar.

Once you have your rhythm you can either use the Orangutan-swing movement, or some people prefer to use their whole body to leap from one bar to another with both hands at the same time.

Always ensure you have a good grip on the one hand before releasing the other. Try to get into a rhythm and again, try not to hesitate too much as this will affect your momentum.

 

The Barbed Wire Crawl

Training tip: A great crawl comes down to technique. To train, get in your garden or down the park and simply practice crawling. The more you do, the quicker and fitter you’ll get.

Coordination is also key, as your alternate leg and arm should be driving forwards at the same time. Core work will play a big part in training for this so get familiar with the plank.

Best technique: Don’t stop. The arms should remain bent throughout and bring your driving knees all the way up to your waist as you push forwards. As you move forwards your hips will come up off the ground but keep them low to save energy and escape getting caught on the wire.

Clinton will be back soon with advice on tackling three other common OCR obstacles!

The Gauntlet Pull Up Challenge – Update

UPDATE

Well, it’s June 8th so 1 week to go until the end of my Gauntlet Pull Up challenge. I set a 6 week timescale as I considered this short enough to be challenging yet long enough to make the required progress. However, I think I may have underestimated the challenge…

I have encountered a couple of setbacks. Firstly the pull up bar I ordered was unsuitable so I have been limited to simulating the pull up using my TRX cables. Not great but I don’t think this has hindered me too much. The only limitation it has is that I’m not able to perform the exact form of the pull up with my entire bodyweight. I figured though that it’s muscular endurance that I’m seeking rather than strength with this challenge as I’m already capable of lifting my bodyweight as demonstrated when setting my baseline for the challenge.
The major difficulty I found was fitting in the training without effecting my triathlon and martial arts training. As those were my priority and I viewed the challenge as secondary, if I was in a situation whereby I had to choose between my triathlon swimming training or my pull up training (pull up training would adversely effect my swim performance) I chose the swimming. This is what I must change if I’m going to succeed at this or future challenges. I mentioned in my initial post on this challenge the importance of accepting challenges that align with current objectives and beliefs. I initially believed that this challenge would help my swimming and martial arts with the increased muscular endurance it would bring. I should have stuck to my original belief rather than worried it would have detrimental effects in terms of fatigue. Either that or given myself a longer period to achieve the challenge so I could have fitted training in to my current regime more easily without the worry of fatigue.
Judging on my performance tonight I won’t be a million miles away on June 15th.
There’s a lesson to be learned in everything I guess!
Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel to view video diary progress of this challenge.

THE GAUNTLET Pull Up Challenge

So the Gauntlet has been thrown down from a fellow TrueSapien. My challenge is to complete 20 consecutive pull ups. Considering I have only ever really been able to max out at 10-12 per set at this exercise means that it is a considerable challenge, effectively doubling my current capability, one that will require pushing myself in order to achieve. This is an excellent challenge for me as functional bodyweight exercises and calisthenics align to my main interests of martial arts and triathlon.

As with most exercise or fitness related challenges the first step is to set the baseline and see how many I can currently achieve. This is effectively a specific fitness test which can then be repeated to determine improvement and ultimately success.
Next stage is to set a timescale that’s both realistic but not too lengthy. I decided on 6 weeks, commencing on May 4th which gives me a deadline of June 15th.
Next is to determine the best way to increase my muscular endurance to achieve the required reps. As pull ups are an exercise I can currently do its not necessary to progress  to that exercise from easier variations such as assisted pull ups or suspended pull ups. If I were unable to complete pull ups then there is a wealth of information out there on progression exercises. My plan of attack will be to repeat my max number of reps every day. By Max I mean stopping short (1 rep) of failure as this may take too long to recover from than the 24 hrs. I will perform 3 sets of my max with a 2 min rest period between sets.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress, I’m planning weekly updates!

Workout 666 (Just missed purgatory)

This workout includes 6 cycles of 6 reps for 6 exercises which will total 216 repetitions. You can pick any exercise according to your level and increasing or decreasing the the time of rest will modify the intensity of the workout. Here is the exercises I did with some suggestions of alternative exercises if you begin to tire or need something to help progress you onto the main exercise:

[table id=1 /]

I did this work out with a friend at a local reservoir where we found some bars to play on. You can perform the cycles and sets as you please, alternating the exercises will give you some rest bite to some muscles and allow for minimal rest which will increase cardio intensity or you can concentrate on each exercise to work on strength a little more but either is fine. Due to needing to move around for equipment we completed the first three bar exercises first then moved onto to the others. I will be playing around with the order in future to keep things fresh.

It was great to get outside to train. Bars are in short supply where I live so was chuffed to find these at the local reservoir in Birmingham, UK. It was a hot humid day so quickly got the sweat going and the lungs working but the heavens opened up for a welcome cooling downpour…although from the looks of it passers by wasn’t so pleased as they ran for shelter. I’ve no doubt i’ll be back to the convenience of the gym at some point but nothing beats working out with the sky above and theres always something you do, even without a bar.

There is plenty of help on the web for all these exercises and help with progression and i’ll be providing some tips and techniques in my future blogs but to help point you in the right direction just google the exercise, I have included some resources from YouTube and BodyBuilding.com below:

[table id=2 /]

This workout is actually the easiest of three 666 workouts:

  • 666 (Just missed purgatory) – 6 cycles of 6 reps for 6 exercises (216 reps)
  • 666 (Entering hell) – 6 cycles of 66 reps divided by 6 exercises (396 reps)
  • 666 (In the bowels of hell) – 666 reps divided by 6 exercises (666 reps)

Today, I tackled the first of these hellish workouts. I did the second with help of Evolution of Fitness gym in Coventry the other week which was all pull-ups which was gruelling and i’ll get back to that at a later date.

In the meantime have a stab and feel free to comment or ask questions below. I’d like to thank YouTube (especially Frank Medrano videos), bodybuilding.com, http://evolutionoffitness.co.uk/, http://athletebox.co.uk