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Mad Hatter

Mad Hatter does handstands

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Hi! I'm Hatter. I like to do handstands. And also a bunch of other things, but I'm going to try this thing where I don't do everything at once. Say what?? Honestly the logic behind this, besides for science, is that my mental health has not been awesome lately, my strength has plummeted, my energy varies a lot, but handstands is something I can pretty much always do. Yay! Also they're awesome.* That's really the main reason.

 

Besides handstands I'm also trying to sort out the other stuff like sleep and mood, but since I don't fancy having that as my challenge goals I'll stick to a battle log for now.

 

Not much in terms of an intro I know, if you want to know something ask away!

 

*I may or may not also be a wee bit jelly of @@mu and @raptron and @WhiteGhost but let's not mention that.

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Progress videos

Spoiler

Starting point

 

End of August

 

End of September

 

Experiments in leg flailing mid October :lol:

 

 

Underpants etc.

Spoiler

 


 

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To kick things off I had my first handstand lesson yesterday! Not first ever, but the first dedicated handstand class which is taught by the same guy as my acro class last term. It was very good. It's a little unusual for me working with a spotter, but getting live feedback is great.

 

Here's what we did:

 

Warm up

  • A kind of contact improv partner thing. You start facing your partner, holding hands, then the leader "forces" the follower into different positions by manipulating their wrists. We did this twice, the second time when I was leading we got a lot of compliments from the teacher for some reason. I still have NO IDEA what he's looking for in these exercises, but whatever I'll take it. :) The exercise is really good fun, especially when you use the music, and the teacher likes to play old school hip hop tunes which makes it easy.
  • Stick exercises
    • One person kneels down with shoulders in a HS position with a stick in their hands, and the partner pushes down on the stick
    • Moving the stick forwards and backwards in front of the body (protracting and retracting the shoulder blades) 
    • Lifting the stick overhead with correct shoulder sequencing (first protraction, then elevation, finally external rotation)
  • Shaking hands in front of the face and flicking wrists to loosen them up

Drills (all of these were done with a spotter)

  • Plain old HS, just remembering to keep the shoulders in a good position and breathing
  • Holding a straight handstand with pointed toes and legs together, and then relaxing the legs completely on every 8 count. I tried it but found it very hard to not relax the shoulders as well as the legs. Then I got told to stop sea weeding, the bane of my HS life. So I worked on that with a more firm spot and just tried to balance faster, but the firmer spot kinda removed the need for as much balance, so... I don't know if it helped. It's hard. My partner saw improvements in stability so I'll take her word for it, but it's going to take some time to break this habit.
  • Didn’t have time to try the third exercise, but it was shifting the hips on every 8 count. I have to say I quite like the idea of doing exercises on a count. It's interesting to have that external focus, but I can't tell yet if it makes it easier or harder or just different.

Misc

  • Cool down - kneeling on palm/fingers rotating elbows in and out
  • Flex - kick ups squishing a ball in the hip crease
  • Flex - straddle compression where you fold over one leg, with a ball in the hip crease, then try to squish the ball as hard as possible
  • Conditioning - So this one is impossible to explain, but I'll try anyway. One person kneels down on the floor, spinning a tennis ball on a string parallel to the floor. The partner has all limbs on the floor in something in between a plank and down dog position, then keeps pouncing on the ball, trying to get as close as possible to the ball while avoiding getting tangled up in the string. If someone didn't know the rules it'd look like a cat chasing a laser. It's as odd as it sounds, quite tricky but quite fun too!
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3 minutes ago, KB Girl said:

Ohhh a handstand class! Awesome :)

I always love reading your class descriptions. 

I’m not sure how much sense they make haha, but I figure the descriptions could be interesting for some people, both from a training and coaching perspective! Especially this guy’s classes, he doesn’t exactly pick the most orthodox exercises. :) 

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I should mention that I worked a little on handstands this morning too. I’m a little sick, so it was mostly about getting my ass to the office gym to try to build that habit back up again. Couldn’t balance for very long but my form felt good. Being upside down ended up rather cough inducing and I found myself panting on the floor after each attempt. At least I did something.

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Brilliant, definitely on board!

 

2 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Didn’t have time to try the third exercise, but it was shifting the hips on every 8 count.

 

Could you describe that one a bit more, I'm intrigued? what do mean by shifting, sideways? or anterior vs posterior tilt?

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Just now, @mu said:

Brilliant, definitely on board!

 

 

Could you describe that one a bit more, I'm intrigued? what do mean by shifting, sideways? or anterior vs posterior tilt?

Awesome!

 

The latter, so you’d alternately get into a slight pike or a slight arch. Which is kinda how I often end balancing instead of using my fingers. :hopelessness:

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1 minute ago, Mad Hatter said:

Awesome!

 

The latter, so you’d alternately get into a slight pike or a slight arch. Which is kinda how I often end balancing instead of using my fingers. :hopelessness:

 

han han I worked on that one a couple of times, very slight pike (my natural lol) and slight banana, and I found it bloody hard to do for reps! From pike to banana, I'm sort of okayish, but banana to pike, I kinda snap out of it still (even with a tiny banana). Possibly because I will tend to sink in the shoulders - and pushing out of it in banana is haaard.

 

Oh yes, a thread for HS nerdy talks :wub::lol:

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On 8/21/2019 at 10:04 PM, @mu said:

han han I worked on that one a couple of times, very slight pike (my natural lol) and slight banana, and I found it bloody hard to do for reps! From pike to banana, I'm sort of okayish, but banana to pike, I kinda snap out of it still (even with a tiny banana). Possibly because I will tend to sink in the shoulders - and pushing out of it in banana is haaard.

  

Oh yes, a thread for HS nerdy talks :wub::lol:

Yes, me too! I feel like it's banana to pike is heavy initially and then the inertia from initiating the movement is what snaps me right back in the opposite extreme. At least that's my working theory. :P 

 

On 8/22/2019 at 3:58 AM, WhiteGhost said:

Ooooh, a nerdy handstand thread? Why didn't NF have one of these already??? 

 

Following along for sure

Cool! :D 

 

On 8/22/2019 at 4:27 PM, CourtnieMarie said:

good choices all around! slowing down to focus on one thing while working to bring the rest of yourself up is great. here to cheer you on!

Yay!

 

On 8/23/2019 at 2:18 PM, KB Girl said:

Something is definitely good! 

Better than nothing at least! :) 

 

On 8/23/2019 at 7:47 PM, Tobbe said:

Thought of you when I saw this tshirt :) 

 

1566034855-150183-womens-500x600.jpg

 

Referral link: https://www.qwertee.com/r/d260a8765d

Hah! :D 

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So I should probably update. Life in general has been pretty ok some days and can't get out of bed hard the next days for absolutely no reason. I'm trying hard to keep up with the basics to try to reverse this, being outside, doing handstands, sleeping etc, some of it is more of a struggle than other things. But I'm TRYING.

 

Now that that part's over, here comes the fun part - handstands!

 

Friday - handstands at the office gym plus some push-ups. Nothing fancy, mostly trying to kick up and hold.

 

Saturday - obsessively trying to figure out a way of making my kick ups consistent, but no such luck. I tried slightly different cues, slightly different methods, but they're still haphazard and I can typically only get 1-2 good kick ups in every set of 5. I think I'm still calibrating my stiffer and weaker body after the movement break. My longest holds are around 15 seconds I think, but they're far and wide apart.

 

Monday - more office handstands plus some arm balances. Single leg crow which I could pretty much do a few months ago is completely gone. Don't have the strength for it anymore. Luckily the scale of my existential crisis, or whatever this is, makes any negative thoughts about being weaker and fatter almost trivial. :P Also a few squats because my legs have been feeling oddly under activated and immobile and I thought squats would help. I focused on form only and kept them super light and yet my quads still hurt today. 

 

Today - handstand class! Stuff we did:

 

Warm up

  • Same partner contact improv exercise as last time
  • Horse stance -> rotate upper body to the side -> sink back as far as you can go on the back leg without losing the rotation
  • Stick exercise for shoulder sequencing (similar to last time)
  • Same shaking and flicking and rotating wrist sequence

Drills

  • Straight HS relaxing neck. Against the wall this is fine, but freestanding it's surprisingly difficult to relax my neck without relaxing my shoulders.
  • Straight HS with straight legs and pointed toes for 8 counts, then completely relaxed for the next 8. Again, if I let my legs go my shoulders go. Most of the times my legs started falling behind me every time I relaxed them, but I managed to balance it a few times with a spot.
  • Straight HS planching and opening the shoulders. Freestanding my RoM is like half an inch, it was hard to balance!
  • Handstand walk drill - this one was hilarious! You kick up into a handstand, your back facing your partner, hook your knees on their shoulders, step onto their feet, and then you walk together. :D Like when little kids dance with their dads, except on the hands.
  • Handstand walking on the spot
  • Straddle side bends against wall. Feels like I have to work very hard for very little RoM.
  • Crow pose to find the balancing rhythm in the fingers. If that was easy (which it was) we could continue to ->
  • Air babies, which are impossible at this point. As I said I've lost my fledgling single leg crow completely, and air baby feels like a step up from that because of the rotation, even without lifting the arm. I could be wrong about the difficulty though and it only feels that way because I've been trying single leg crow more often than air babies. But I don't think so. :) 

Then I stayed behind after class for a short while just kicking up into handstand and trying to hold them to see what they felt like without a spot. I should say that pretty much all the handstand drills we do with a partner lightly spotting so even if I say I do a drill freestanding it's with a spotter. I'm happy about this class because so far everyone's experienced enough to know how to spot decently, and it also makes them easy to spot in turn. I say easy, but I really feel like being a good spotter for handstands is a skill on its own.

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it may not be the fun part but of course super important. i've read great things about being outdoors but mixed reviews on sleep. some say sleeping too much could exacerbate the poor feelings. may you start to find balance in both the fun and not-so-fun parts :) 

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9 hours ago, CourtnieMarie said:

it may not be the fun part but of course super important. i've read great things about being outdoors but mixed reviews on sleep. some say sleeping too much could exacerbate the poor feelings. may you start to find balance in both the fun and not-so-fun parts :) 

Sleeping too much is not great for sure, at least for me. For the sleep part I'm trying to make sure I go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and I'm experimenting with not drinking coffee except for in the morning and stuff like that. I've also tried a couple of falling asleep exercises but no luck so far, though that's not as big of a problem now than it was a few weeks back. 

 

Thanks. :) 

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10 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

So I should probably update. Life in general has been pretty ok some days and can't get out of bed hard the next days for absolutely no reason. I'm trying hard to keep up with the basics to try to reverse this, being outside, doing handstands, sleeping etc, some of it is more of a struggle than other things. But I'm TRYING.

 

Hoping the good days take over the bad days soon!

 

10 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Handstand walk drill - this one was hilarious! You kick up into a handstand, your back facing your partner, hook your knees on their shoulders, step onto their feet, and then you walk together. :D Like when little kids dance with their dads, except on the hands.

 

That HS class sounds lots of fun!

 

10 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

As I said I've lost my fledgling single leg crow completely, and air baby feels like a step up from that because of the rotation, even without lifting the arm.

 

I feel the same about those. Also, after working for a while on air babies (rotation + both arms), I now keep opening my hips whenever I lift a leg in crow, and I'm not sure that's very helpful for anything but air babies. Rotating the hip is not making me progress towards lifting the butt (eg to improve bent arm press)

 

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4 minutes ago, @mu said:

Hoping the good days take over the bad days soon!

Thanks! :) 

 

4 minutes ago, @mu said:

I feel the same about those. Also, after working for a while on air babies (rotation + both arms), I now keep opening my hips whenever I lift a leg in crow, and I'm not sure that's very helpful for anything but air babies. Rotating the hip is not making me progress towards lifting the butt (eg to improve bent arm press)

Oh interesting. But when you're solid in single leg crow is it still useful as a progression for bent arm press,  regardless of rotation, or would you be better off with something else?

 

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2 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

Thanks! :) 

 

Oh interesting. But when you're solid in single leg crow is it still useful as a progression for bent arm press,  regardless of rotation, or would you be better off with something else?

 

 

I think it's still very useful for the level of load. But the rotation affects the weight distribution somewhat. There is this crow progression where you swap on leg and then the other, to start slowly being able to lift both. What I have started to do is opening the hip to the side, lifting the leg slightly to the side instead of back. Which means I can swap without lifting my butt much. It's not a huge height difference but it does affect how much I have to take in the shoulders. Now maybe I could have started cheating without knowing about air babies, it's quite possible :lol:

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39 minutes ago, @mu said:

I think it's still very useful for the level of load. But the rotation affects the weight distribution somewhat. There is this crow progression where you swap on leg and then the other, to start slowly being able to lift both. What I have started to do is opening the hip to the side, lifting the leg slightly to the side instead of back. Which means I can swap without lifting my butt much. It's not a huge height difference but it does affect how much I have to take in the shoulders. Now maybe I could have started cheating without knowing about air babies, it's quite possible :lol:

Gotcha, thanks! 

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