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Renatus Aurelius

René's Handstand Pushup - Oct 22 Challenge

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Hello fellow nerds.  I'm a software developer and am pretty much completely new to intentional fitness.  I've hiked for years, and am pretty active in the warmer months, but this trying to be fit stuff is entirely new to me.  Beyond that I've got an intro in the Intro's section and my character's backstory, linked in my signature.

 

As detailed in my Intro, I'm here to change my life.  I spent about a month and a half figuring stuff out on my own before I finally decided to join a community.  Nerd Fitness was a perfect fit in every way, as there is a clear scientific approach, a complete lack of ads for supplements(this means a lot to me, actually), no-nonsense articles, quality training materials, and of course, plenty of nerd culture.  

 

Since I'm already kind of on my way in the weight loss and strength training, my Main Quest for this challenge will be down the Assassin's path.

 

Main Quest

Perform a well-formed, controlled, unaided, and complete, handstand push-up.

Optional Objective:  Do a set of three.

 

SMART Goals

1. Work toward holding an unaided handstand for 30 seconds. 

2. Strengthen core to help maintain balance.

3. Strengthen upper-body to allow for more push-ups.

 

We'll see if this is too much of a challenge...I'm a newb so I really can't say what I'm capable of, but I went from not being able to stand on my hands at all three weeks ago, even with a wall, to kicking into an unaided handstand and holding it confidently and controlled for five seconds last night.  I believe I'll nail SMART Goals 1 and 2 within the first two weeks.  I believe four weeks should be enough time to make the push-up.

 

I hope I didn't miss anything here.  Let me know if so.  

 

May the force be with you all in your own Challenges.

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Any idea what you can overhead press?  That would give you a better idea of whether or not you'll be able to work up to a handstand push-up in four weeks.  Holding a static, straight arm hold (like the handstand) is a lot easier than a dynamic movement that has you pushing through an entire range of motion (overhead press or handstand push-up).

 

If you find that you're able to work up to a handstand push-up in four weeks... I'm gonna have to (virtually) smack you.  :)  I've got a bodyweight overhead press on my to-do list and it's ssslllooowwwwwwwww going.

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Okay, funny story.  I haven't picked up a single barbell yet. Why?  Haven't found the right gym yet, and, my dad gave me his old Bowflex which is getting me by for now.  Honestly I only took it for the pullup bar, but decided I'd try to supplement my bodyweight training with more weight.  I dunno exactly what I'm doing, but it seemed like a good idea, lol.

 

Anyway, I have no idea what my actual overhead press is, as the "bows" or power bars or whatever they want to call them are very likely not providing the resistance that's labeled.  So, I'm lifting.  I just have no idea how much, exactly.  

 

If the resistance is accurate, I can overhead press 200lbs. 3 times in a row.  

 

But, fun bottom line.  A few weeks ago I did a handstand with a wall behind me, and attempted to do a push-up.  Halfway down, my arms failed and I bailed.  I hadn't tried again since.

 

Until today.  Just minutes ago I tried it again.  And I did one.  One Handstand push-up with a wall behind me... Woohoo!  

 

So, that means I need to up the ante and require an unassisted handstand push-up.  It's no longer a bonus objective.  I'll make one set of three the new bonus.  Lol, and a second bonus of getting to a real gym.

 

Go ahead, smack away, I can take it.

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Wow...great job!  I would love to be able to do this, spinal injury in my neck from a car accident prevents it :( I will live vicariously through you if you don't mind :) 

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Thanks friends, I appreciate the kind comments and encouragement.  

 

At this point, my unaided handstands are getting better, balance is coming along.  I did another pushup yesterday for my kids to see.  Still limited to the one, which is fine if I can do it freestanding. 

16 hours ago, RES said:

Wow...great job!  I would love to be able to do this, spinal injury in my neck from a car accident prevents it :( I will live vicariously through you if you don't mind :) 

I'm sorry to hear about your spinal injury...I wonder if there's any kind of combination of VR, resistance movement, and having your body suspended upside down, that could maybe trick your mind a bit into thinking you're actually performing one.  

 

Just now Googled it...Example, not quite what I mean but worth investigating further.  Looks like VR rehab for spinal injuries may be the future of therapy. Cool!

 

4 hours ago, darkfoxx said:

Welcome to the Rebellion! And starting on a high is awesome - keep it up!

It's certainly helpful to have some early wins to keep the momentum.  Thanks! 

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10 hours ago, Renatus Aurelius said:

Just now Googled it...Example, not quite what I mean but worth investigating further.  Looks like VR rehab for spinal injuries may be the future of therapy. Cool!

That's pretty cool! Thank you!

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On 10/18/2018 at 2:49 PM, Renatus Aurelius said:

Until today.  Just minutes ago I tried it again.  And I did one.  One Handstand push-up with a wall behind me... Woohoo! 

 

RAD!  Congrats!

 

Who would have thought that a Bowflex would be such a good handstand push-up training tool?  :D

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Okay, this may seem silly, or not.  You decide, just my opinion anyway. 

 

So, I'm getting all fit and stuff and i noticed during workouts, especially HIIT and handstand training, that I hate loose fitting clothes.  They throw off my concentration or balance or something. 

 

Working out mostly nude, makes me think of Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs  (horrifying), and Kevin Spacey's character in American Beauty(just, just sad.)  Just how I feel now, maybe when I'm shredded I'll feel differently, lol.  Not knocking anyone for training nude.  Go you!

 

So I got a set of "compression" clothes.  Basically, spandex body suit.  My kids like it because I look like a superhero (lol, minus all the heavily developed muscles.)

 

Anyway, I just got it last night and, I swear to, well I guess you the reader, it's significantly enhanced my handstand.  Nothing special about the clothes, except they're tight, which I think helps provide sort of a spatial feedback to my body.  I can feel where my body is in space and relative to itself a bit better, which seems to help with balance. I'm up to 5-10 seconds before I lose balance at this point.  Before, I really couldn't get past 5 seconds.  

 

Anyway, I thought I'd put that out there. No idea if it's actually helping, but hey, placebos can work for a reason, and I'm still not working out naked.

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Hey, Adam West wasn't heavily muscular either, but he was still the friggin' Batman! ;)

 

I'm one of those "work out naked" guys. :P

Or at least "work out in your underwear".

But I tend to work out late in the evening when no one's around to see me do it. And while working out I can catch my reflection in the veranda windows. Because of the double glass, it's somewhat distorted so I appear far more buff than I really am. I like to think that motivates me while doing the exercises... :D

But I'm weird like that. :angel:

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When you have shark repellent bat spray, you don't need muscles.   

 

Get yourself a body suit then!  You'll be dressed as and have the same build as your favorite superhero in that double pane glass.  Maybe even a 9-pack.  

 

Progress report:  I've upped my handstand practice to 30 minutes a day and then random handstands throughout the day.  Just kicked into a freestanding at work, held for 7 seconds.  Lol, I feel like when I start doing well I get excited and lose concentration.  Plus my necktie was dangling in my face. 

 

Excuses, excuses.  They're like the difference between a duck; everyone has one, and one is both the same. 

 

Ooh, I also tried some of those clapping pushups.  I did 7.  Progressions are cool, you keep making progress (lol, erm...oh yeah!) 

 

And a big shoutout for newbie gains.  Hooyah!

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I agree, it's hard to focus on what you're doing when the wardrobe is in the way....I won't work out nekkid either :lol: That's a whole lotta scary right there!

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Progress report:  Did you know doing handstands on carpet is 10x harder than doing them on nice hard ground? 

 

I went to a calisthenics park yesterday.  After a warmup of pushups and pullups, planks and hollow body holds, I practiced handstands for 30 minutes. I did them on concrete, and suddenly was able to just pop up and hold a freestanding for 20 seconds.  The direct contact with hard ground made balancing a breeze.  It was a really cool feeling, holding it as effortlessly as I was.  Still some effort yeah, but it seemed like effortless effort, if that makes sense.  Balancing became automatic.  

 

So i found some old pieces of laminate flooring for my hands to go on at home, and hopefully that will up my game at home.  

 

As for strength.  I did two pushups in handstand against a wall.  But without the wall I'd have fallen, so a lot of work to do.

 

Not quite as confident I'll pull this challenge off at this point...but if failure wasn't a possibility, it wouldn't really be a challenge, so I'll just keep working at it.

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OHAI, great challenge you have here.  I am also working on handstand pushups (among other things) so it is nice to see others working towards that as well.  Based on your updates so far, it looks like you are doing pretty well.  I was able to get a few freestanding handstand pushups a few challenges back, but they were ugly, unstable, half-rep ones so I decided to go back a few steps to try and make them cleaner, stronger and more controlled.

 

I will be following along to see how things go for you :) 

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21 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

I was able to get a few freestanding handstand pushups a few challenges back, but they were ugly, unstable, half-rep ones...

 

I will be following along to see how things go for you :) 

 

Awesome!  Have any advice I should keep in mind?  

 

I managed to touch my nose to the ground, and get back up.  Does that count as a full rep?  I've seen other's say you need to have hands elevated to allow the head to dip below them, and then another site says a proper rep requires your body to tilt a bit, essentially for the same reason.  I'm not certain I actually got a full rep only getting my nose to the ground. 

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18 hours ago, Renatus Aurelius said:

 

Awesome!  Have any advice I should keep in mind?  

 

I managed to touch my nose to the ground, and get back up.  Does that count as a full rep?  I've seen other's say you need to have hands elevated to allow the head to dip below them, and then another site says a proper rep requires your body to tilt a bit, essentially for the same reason.  I'm not certain I actually got a full rep only getting my nose to the ground. 

I would say nose to ground certainly counts as a full rep.  I was not even getting my arms to 90 degrees so that is why I was calling them half reps.   

 

I guess it all depends on what your end game is for the handstand pushups.  If you are not really concerned about perfect form and you don't plan to use them as a basis for more complex movements later, just getting your head close to the ground and back up is probably more than enough to claim the skill.  I have never heard anyone claim that the hands need to come to the shoulders to count a fell rep, but I suppose there are those who believe that.  I ultimately want to get so I can do a handstand to planche and back (but that is a multi year work that is more fantasy than actual goal right now).  For that, I need to be getting the body tilt and press with my elbows behind me rather than out to the side.  

 

I understand there are rules for calisthenics competitions and xfit games, but if you are not doing any of those, you can probably make your own judgement call on what counts or doesn't for a good rep.

 

As for the handstand itself, I get all of my advice from @Mad Hatter and @raptron

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Wow that's crazy impressive handstand progress!!! :o

 

Not sure what advice you're after, but keep practicing is always a good one when it comes to handstands haha. If you feel you're expending a lot of energy it could be that your alignment is a bit off, a straight handstand should require very minimal energy. But it depends on your goals right. For calisthenics it doesn't really matter, but if you ever want to pursue advanced handbalancing skills then it *might*. Or it could simply be that you're not used to the movement yet. 

 

Re handstand pushup ROM, I've sometimes heard that headstand pushups are to the floor and handstand pushups are elevated. I've once also seen elevated handstand pushups referred to as handstand dips. But whatever. As long as you're making progress it doesn't really matter.

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Thanks for the replies all. 

 

I ask about form because I'd like to pass this challenge as legitimately as possible.  No sv_cheats.  A full, freestanding, good form, handstand pushup. Anything less needs to be a fail.

 

I'm looking toward advanced hand-balancing, and overall gymnastic ability.  I'll be starting rings, sometime, but definitely starting next spring at the latest.  I haven't a good place for them ATM, as I'll need to be outside go hang them.  I'm considering training in the cold but we'll see.


As for tips, I don't know, I guess just any little weird things you happened to do that seemed to help.  Like, I didn't realize the extreme difference in success on concrete vs. carpet.  Tight clothes vs. loose fitting.  Just little things people have figured out.  I've read all the things, now just looking for any little edge up.

 

As for alignment, mines pretty good, I took a video to check.  I've got room to improve with lower back, so lots of hollow body holds.  AND, I've since learned to make my head more neutral.  This video was taken before that tip came along.  No, I don't care that you'll now know my secret identity.

 

 

If this is fast progress, I'll attribute it to: no fear, low starting weight (150lbs), and either newb or retrain gains.  Not sure if boot camp 15 years ago helps with retrain but that's the last time I worked out.  Oh, and much of my effort is on strength right now, not mass.  

 

And a little help from my kids. If my daughter(6) can do a split and my son(4) can headstand to bridge, I should be able too too, lol.  (Their mom was a gymnast, too, so I kinda wanna be better than her :p

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3 minutes ago, Renatus Aurelius said:

Like, I didn't realize the extreme difference in success on concrete vs. carpet.

Yes I really don't recommend learning on carpet or grass or squishy surfaces in general. You need the finger tip sensitivity! Tight clothes vs loose fitting shouldn't really make a difference though, unless the clothes get in the way. That one's psychological. ;) 

 

4 minutes ago, Renatus Aurelius said:

 As for alignment, mines pretty good, I took a video to check.  I've got room to improve with lower back, so lots of hollow body holds.

Lower back arching tends to be compensations either because of lack of hip extension, or lack of shoulder or wrist flexibility, rather than from a weak core. Hollow body holds translate better to gymnastics handstands, where you need to keep a super tight core all the time, rather than a "circus" handstand which treats the straight handstand as a resting position, and starting position for doing the advanced stuff. There's nothing wrong with hollow body holds, but they probably won't help lower back arching.

 

Whatever your reasons for fast progress it's still very impressive!

 

7 minutes ago, Renatus Aurelius said:

And a little help from my kids. If my daughter(6) can do a split and my son(4) can headstand to bridge, I should be able too too, lol.  (Their mom was a gymnast, too, so I kinda wanna be better than her :p

Haha love it!

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14 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

Hollow body holds translate better to gymnastics handstands, where you need to keep a super tight core all the time, rather than a "circus" handstand which treats the straight handstand as a resting position...

A-ha!  See, helpful tip.  Now I need to go learn about circus stuff. 

 

I still want a core that will eventually allow for human flags and such, but didn't realize there were handstands beyond banana and "proper".  Good tip!  

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There are about a gazillion different handstand variations. :D That's why I don't want to call anything "proper" - they're all valid, just different. The concept of a straight handstand is relatively new anyway, 50 years ago it was all about the banana handstand and that was fine too.

 

Training for a human flag is very different from a handstand and they don't really translate to each other. Except that they're both cool. ;) 

 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

There are about a gazillion different handstand variations. :D That's why I don't want to call anything "proper" - they're all valid, just different. The concept of a straight handstand is relatively new anyway, 50 years ago it was all about the banana handstand and that was fine too.

 

Training for a human flag is very different from a handstand and they don't really translate to each other. Except that they're both cool. 

 

That's the best part of handstands to me, they're just fun to master, it doesn't even feel like training.  

 

And I REALLY want to do some of the cool banana handstands I've seen too, in time.  Straight seems easiest to me.

 

But to your point about not translating well.  I do get that they're not really related, but would you say they're opposing goals at all?  Like power lifting and marathon running are kind of opposed to each other?   I'm asking from ignorance.  I haven't even looked into flagpole beyond seeing it's cool and putting it on my list next to plaunche, levers, and rings type awesomeness.  

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Quite the opposite, I think they’re great together! That way you get both the pure strength from the calisthenics and a lot of skill and body awareness from the handstands. Plus for some more advanced handbalancing skills you’ll need a lot of strength, some of which will transfer from BW training.

 

If you practice them in the same session I’d put handstands first though so you won’t fry your shoulders (or your brain) beforehand.

 

As an aside, if you’re serious about gaining higher level handbalancing skills you might want to consider eventually adding flexibility training into the mix as that’s notoriously slow to develop.

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