Sunday, January 12, 2014

Another bodyweight training article

          This post is about my own experiences doing almost exclusively bodyweight training and calisthenics. I wrote a previous entry about how to incorporate bodyweight training which you can read here.....
Or you can just say fuggit becaus I'm going to revise it and repost it in the near future anyhow.

     About a year and a half ago I decided to forego the entire Crossfit thing and dedicate myself entirely to training gymnastics strength elements. I have a spondylolysthesis which made every dead lifting session a frightening experience. Every time I would lift a heavy bar I would be waiting for the time I would throw my back out again.
Then it happened
I was doing the dreaded deadlift during a training session during the summer 2012 and I felt the all too familiar pop in my lower back.  I cursed my luck, dropped the bar and began doing some futile stretches in the hopes of maintaining some of the mobility which I knew I was going th lose for the next month or so. I wasn't even lifting that much. About 100 pounds or so less than my one rep max
Whyyyyyyyyyyy?!? Faced with the next few weeks of not being able  to stand fully straight, significant pain every time I try to put on socks or tie my shoes I said "enough. I can't go through this again". Even just the nerves involved every time I would get under a heavy bar aren't worth it anymore.
     From that moment on I decided I would give up Crossfit, never get under heavy weights again and dedicate myself to the pursuit of bodyweight mastery. Which is something I have been passionate about for many years. During my Crossfit competition years I always excelled particularly at the gymnastic elements and I already achieved pretty much all my powerlifting goals anyway. At the time I had achieved better than double bodyweight squat and better than triple bodyweight deadlift. I never got a 315 pound clean and jerk but that is something that would have required giving up all other forms of training in favour of specializing in the Olympic lifts. Not quite elite levels but I managed all the basic benchmarks to be considered competitive in powerlifting.
      Immediately I set forth intent on learning all there was to learn about calisthenics and bodyweight training and never looked back.
 Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the masters, instead seek what they sought.
       2013 was my first entire year dedicated to solely bodyweight exercise and I must say that I am very happy with my progress so far.  Though I have definitely made some mistakes along the way. At first I tried to hit the ground running at full sprint. I began reading blogs from the gurus of the intarwebz such as Ido Portal and Al Kavadlo. Read all the books I could get my hands on and began trying to mash it all together into one big convoluted training program that had me training six sessions a day twice a week.

       It was intense to say the least. Two push days, two pull days and two legs days a week combined with handstand work every evening. It worked for a while but with that kind of workload was very difficult to recover and I began to notice small nagging injuries in my biceps and slight drops in strength from time to time. Still I made gains and progressed. I learned a lot about programming outside of Crossfit and about my own workload tolerance. I learned about the importance of flexibility and mobility and about the different types of fatigue, be it muscular, CNS or mental, and how they affect performance.

        “Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.” -Bruce lee

          For 2014 I resolve to train less and play more. Such a massive workload was so hard to maintain that I wouldn't be able to do it indefinitely. If not the physical then the mental commitment to that kind of dedication was hard to not burn out from. I said a long time ago that I only want to do a workout if it is fun and something that I really enjoy doing. I absolutely love calisthenics but even that has a ceiling.  This year I have decided that I will back  down to three hard training sessions a week. One push day, one pull day and one legs day this leave three or four days which can be dedicated to handstands and movement. "Play" days more or less where I keep the workload light.  Only one session a day unless I really feel compelled to stand on my hands (and that happens often).  For me handbalancing is a passion. It's not work it's play and training less allows me to play more.

Train less, play more

I find the less I train, the better my handstands a point, because the more I train, the better my handstands are. Sounds confusing doesn't it?  This brings me to the entire point of this article and the single biggest lesson I have learned in all my years of dedication to dealt and fitness.....

We train so that we can live more.

Don't live so that you can train more. Something that I have lost sight of time and time gain even though it has always been in the back of my mind. I have spent years of my life in an almost constant state of overtraining and the combination of a little bit of age and a little bit of wisdom has finally given me the insight to back off. Now I can enjoy doing what I love doing without being too fatigued or trying to work it in around my workouts. Now I can say that I'd rather miss a workout than not be able to play with some handbalancing. Ironically, since backing down to three sessions a week I have been much stronger during workouts, handbalancing sessions have been much better and I have no nagging little injuries that have been plaguing me for years.

These past couple of articles have been more of a memoire. Kind of a re-introduction. Now I can get back to writing more informative articles inthe future. Now I want to leave you with one of my favourite and most inspirational hand balancing videos

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