Jasper Roberts - Blog

Monday, June 30, 2014

2014-06-30 The Details of Getting From Here to There

Most of the "How To" guides you find out there on things like the one arm chin-up and the freestanding handstand leave out roughly 90% of the process. It's reminiscent of the cartoon above, where you look at a complex process and skip some major parts of it. One example of this is the CC progression to one arm pull-up.  Not to take anything away from CC, but let's be real...do you know anyone who has followed it religiously and achieved the one arm pull-up? Specifically I'm talking about steps 7 (uneven pull-ups), step 8(half-one arm pull-ups), and step 9 (assisted pull-ups). I was able to complete step 7 and easily do step 9 before I could even come close to doing a single rep of step 8.
Now, maybe everyone is so different that it's meaningless to even talk about how to get there, but I'm betting there is a lot of time left out spent on grinding through some really long plateaus. I'm finding that there are some specific things you need to work on in order to get there (one arm pull-up or chin)and I am seeing results by doing them. Just today after three years I was able to eek out a crappy, partial "half-one-arm chin-up", and safely with zero pain or soreness too- don't forget that important aspect. So there's that.
I'm finding that range-of-motion targeted, isometric, weighted holds; along with a regular variety of pull-ups and chin-ups; one-arm negatives; assisted chin-ups; and believe it or not (for me at least) a little bit of some machine curls thrown in to build up my puny biceps is the secret sauce for getting me there. Am I there yet? Nope. Am I making enough gains to believe that it's in my future? Damn right.
If your method is leading you nowhere for too long, look into other methods.  Try them out, keep the ones that work, and throw out the ones that don't. And then keep coming back to the ones you thought were crap so you can re-evaluate with your new outlook and body skills and strength levels.
Anyone who tells you that to get to a freestanding handstand you just need to keep doing handstand pushups against a wall is probably just genetically gifted and it's the way that worked for him (or her). I guarantee that it's not the best way and perhaps that's not even one of your goals...in which case, who cares right?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2014-06-25 Three Things...

First off, if you want to get strong in pull-ups or chin-ups then you absolutely need to utilize the static hold. Isometrics have been a secret weapon for a long time but they're not well understood by most people. Doing a thousand pull-ups wont do shit for your ability to do a one arm pull-up. And weighted pull-ups help but only to a certain degree. Maybe your goal is to do a thousand pull-ups in ten minutes, and even though I can't possibly think of either a useful case or a party trick where people would have patience for you doing a thousand pull-ups, it's ok if you want to do that I suppose. Have fun. To get strong in pulling you need to develop strength and time under mindful tension at various stages in the overall full range of motion. Here's an example of one tool I'm currently using. I engage the full frontal chain by holding an "L-Sit", utilize accessory weight with a vest, and use the isometric method at particular stages in the range of motion (midway and top bar). This combination is powerful.

When I can hold a one arm chin at half-way wearing the vest, I'l know that I'm ready t do half-one arm chin-ups over decent range. Full OAC are still a way off.

A couple other non-related things: Remember that calisthenics involve neurological training of the body. You're not just "building muscle mass" and the slow, avascular tendon building happens but is ancillary to what I'm talking about here. You cannot do large reps of an exercise that taxes your entire mental and nervous system and expect to get the skill-based results like one arm chin, handstand, and planche like you're hoping for. If you're into building muscle, improving cardio vascular performance for time ad the like then this is a decent tool, but for building the types of skills as above, you need to take extreme care with how you work your nervous system. It's a complex and sensitive tactile system, not a bulk force machine.

Related to this is the next topic: doing pushups on a yoga ball.

So you can do thirty pushups...great! Oh, you can bench press your bodyweight? Impressive....Damn, you can bench press double your bodyweight? Wow, that incredible...Oh, but wait you can't even do a single pushup in full ROM off of a yoga ball? Wow dude, you need to reconsider what functional fitness is all about.

My rant is over. Been one of those weeks.

Friday, June 20, 2014

2014-06-20 Variety

Playing around lightly today since I already trained yesterday. Found out a few things: I beat my all-time record for handstand hold (against a wall) making 1:30. The two minute mark is damn hard for me still but clearly not having even tried this at all for a year and beating my last record first try means my handstand training is working. Also, I found that I could do one arm leg raises off a bar. These aren't super hard but I wouldn't classify them as easy either. These only count if you do them with control- kipping and swinging is bullshit. Lastly, I reaffirmed my respect for those folks who can do slow muscle-ups on the bar, that shit requires some extra special strength. Have a great weekend. Me, I'm attending a hand balancing workshop with this guy.

Friday, June 13, 2014

2014-06-13 Play Day Again

I'm tired form jiujitsu last night and lack of sleep. I mainly worked handstands today, but since one of my students uses weights alongside his calisthenics I decided to try bench press for the first time in probably twelve years.
You can say I'm making excuses but I'm pretty sure I'd have been able to finish the press if I hadn't brought the bar to touch my chest. Maybe that's the standard but if I backed off on weight I think I would have pushed it all the way back up. When I dropped it to half my bodyweight it was ridiculously easy. Considering I don't train this at all and didn't even practice I'd say it went well.

Monday, June 9, 2014

2014-06-09 Blood Was Involved

Look, I've had two beers and two cocktails. It's almost 10 o'clock in suburbia, my one year old toddler is asleep, and my relatives are finally gone after a week visit. Let's test out the camera and do a handstand at night like some psychopath.
Ok, lucky for me I spent twenty years falling down because I did crash into my car after this handstand and yes blood was involved. I'm fine though. The moment strikes and you must oblige.
It's funny- you can spend years working on something and still not be at a level for public display. It is often disheartening. It takes courage and determination to press on in the light of laughter and admonishment. And press on I do. Take the best guitar player in the word, he shows up and misses a single chord people will shout hey he missed that chord! and forget about the thirty thousand hours of practice involved. Human nature I suppose.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

2014-06-04 Split-Handstand Work and Pushups

Some slight progress going. Not the best example, as I'm getting slowly better. Watch out for the volume- there was some ridiculous commercial on TV with a woman screaming for help. Ugggh.

Then for pushups just playing around here with prison pushups as well as my main work of parallet pushups.

Monday, June 2, 2014

2014-06-02 Chaining Elements Together

I learned about some "really important exercises" for combating sitting in a chair from a blog I follow. These were proclaimed as excellent "functional exercises" for the modern world. I won't go into what they were right now but I found these four moves to be quite spot-on for what I do in my daily life. That said, this video contains only two of these things, but then I chain in other movements I'm currently working on in order to reach a goal- which in this case is unilateral vertical pressing with the lower body and hip mobility/back strengthening. This chain is: deep lunge into knee lift, into single-leg deadlift (without weight here), into a pistol squat, into a shrimp squat.
It's a work in progress.