Welcome to the latest installment of my weekly handstands personal challenge. This series is my personal account of my journey to improve upon my ability to execute and maintain handstands. Every Tuesday I summarize the successes and failures of this physical challenge and layout my plan for the upcoming week. In addition to handstands I post about other aspects of my strength training routine. I hope this series entertains and teaches you not only about handstands, but also the importance of maintaining personal goals.
Handstands - Wednesday 25 May 2011
You'll remember that I had challenged myself to do a ten second free handstand during the week May 23 - 27. Due to scheduling conflicts this was the first day of the week that I was able to train at the gym. So as to not waste time I set aside the first ten minutes to work on my handstands. The practice did not go well, my friends. I began with elevated handstands. I kicked off well enough, but I could not keep my balance. I teetered to the left several times and wound up falling to the mat. After that I moved the steps aside and performed handstands from the mat. They weren't much better. For all of my "efforts" I only averaged three seconds, not good enough for a free handstand.
After a two minute break I started a mini circuit which consisted of power rack lockouts (14 total reps at 365 pounds which is 130 % of my bench press one rep max), running in place (4 short bursts of 30 seconds, with a final run lasting 3 minutes), and seated calf leg raise (45 pounds). The power rack lockouts and seated calf raise were for use on Great Chest and Whole Body Workouts, but they worked just as well as part of my workout for the day. Even though my handstands weren't much to write about, all in all I had a decent workout.
Handstands - Friday 27 May 2011
Things were not much better than they were on Wednesday. I'm finding that I prefer elevated handstands to the regular mat, so that's what I set out to do. After placing the step atop six risers, I started practice. The first few attempts were okay, I balanced for three seconds. But then it went downhill from there. I started to overshoot, throwing myself completely off balance. Although I didn't tighten my abs as much as I should have, the real problem was focus: I was so intent on not falling that I actually created situations were that was repeated over and over again. After fifteen minutes of that I knew that I wasn't doing myself any good. I decided to get in my Friday circuit training exercise (which is a story in itself).
I spent the remainder of my time doing a circuit which consisted of floor wipes (six sets of 30 reps using the Olympic bar and two 45 pound plates), pull ups/chin up variations (five completed sets of wide grip, shoulder width, neutral and close grip exercises performing 14 reps per set), triceps/chest dips (five completed sets performing 14 reps per set), five sets of basic push ups (14 reps per set), exploding lunges (12 lunges forward, followed by 12 lunges in the opposite direction) and dumbbell snatches (14 reps right hand, then immediately 14 reps left hand while using a 30 pound dumbbell). I paced myself to the music on the radio, the station played a continuous stream of music and I tried to complete as may sets as possible while a song was playing (they paused for a couple of sixty second commercial breaks, which I treated as part of the music program), giving myself eight seconds rest between exercises. So the circuit looked like this:
30 floor wipes [8s rest] 14 pull ups/chin ups [8s rest] 14 triceps/chest dips [8s rest] 14 push ups [8s rest] 24 total explosive lunges [8s rest] 28 total dumbbell snatches [8s rest] REPEAT
I was making progress, working hard and dropping buckets of sweat. I was doing so good that I didn't want to interrupt my routine for a drink of water, making it my reward following the workout. And I paid for that arrogance.
By the time I started started my sixth set of pull ups, I felt some cramping in left foot. It was bothersome enough that I had to stop for a moment. After the discomfort subsided I decided to try again but the cramping resumed. I waited paused for 45 seconds then started my sixth set of dips. When the discomfort kicked in after my fifth rep, I knew that it was time to call it a day. My mistake was that I had been sweating so much that my electrolytes were becoming depleted. I had begun to feel thirsty. I needed a drink of water for my health but I ignored the feeling because I wanted to finish the workout without stopping. I knew better than that, but I did it anyway. It just shows that there's a fine line between focus and common sense. And I did feel better after I took the time to drink some water.
Handstands - 28 Saturday 2011
I went in for a weekend practice session. I fell down many times before completing a three second free handstand. The week was a wash, I hadn't kept my balance at all. While I was practicing I kept thinking about falling down. My focus was gone. I then realized that I wasn't having any fun doing handstands, I had made the practice into a chore. I wasn't going to get anywhere with that mindset.
I finished up my workout with light exercises: lateral pull downs (six sets at 190 pounds), hanging obliques (two sets), and dumbbell side bends (four sets while holding a 40 pound dumbbell in each hand). I was grateful for the workout, but I hadn't accomplished what I had set out to do.
Lessons Learned and the Personal Challenge for this Week
The previous week taught me a valuable lesson: I need to regain my focus. I kept falling because the handstands practice was no longer fun. It devolved to nothing more than an assignment. Without keeping the focus on what really matters, I'm not going to move forward. So the challenge for this week is to make handstands fun again. Yeah, it's as simple as that. Just have fun doin' them.
Next week I'll tell you how it turns out.
"Handstands - A Personal Challenge Week 7" copyright 2011 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy. All Rights Reserved.