Sunday, 22 February 2009

Where I am re: The Challenge

So, I have laid down the gauntlet to anyone who is interested in taking it. As this blog began as a Facebook group, it has already been going a while and I have had a chance to make a dent in the list. Here is my progress in the aforementioned challenge:

1) Free-standing Handstand push-up: My handstand requires some serious work. There was a time when I was working it quite regularly and was improving but it's been a while. I tried a few days ago and found that I can balance for between five and twenty seconds somewhat inconsistently though with good form. My inflexible climbers wrists make it difficult to press into it statically; it's far easier on parallel bars.

As far as the press is concerned, I can handstand push up on the ground without much difficulty. On bars, the increased range of motion allows me to lower into a position from which I cannot push out from. I need to strengthen the range of motion on the bars.

2/3) The one arm chin/pull up: These were the feats that inspired me to create this challenge. I am happy to say that I can pull a single rep of both the one arm chin and the one arm pull. It took me about ten months of training to achieve the chin and a further two to achieve the pull. Unfortunately, it comes at a price. I have suffered from severe medial epicondylitis (a form of tendinitis/Golfers elbow) for eighteen months now due to the severe repetitive strain of the skill. I am now beginning to see the end of it but anyone pursuing this should be aware that tendonitis is inevitable. I'll post a vid of me doing it as soon as I'm fully healed.

4) Box splits: Little progress as I wish to build up to this very slowly. I am about ten inches from the floor.

5) Front splits: No progress; I have not had the time to work this yet.

6) Front Lever: Practising on rings. After achieving the back lever, I began working on the significantly more difficult Front lever. I started with the "tuck" which is a Front lever with both legs tucked in. The straight arms and back are paramount in building up the strength to move onto higher levels. I can now hold the one leg front lever and wide straddle front lever for about ten seconds.

7) Planche: I find this one extremely difficult as the inflexability in my forearms prevents me from leaning forward very far over my hands in the extended position (fingers stretched away from palm). I have been holding sets of five seconds in the tuck planche and regularly stretching my wrists to improve flexability. It is much easier on parrallel bars but I don't wish to be limited to them.

8) The Flag: I can pull slowly into a seventy-eighty degree flag and hold it for about eight seconds. I am working at strengthening my core to lift in the ninety degree position and a post will follow with my progression training. I never jump into the flag as I feel it's more satisfying to pull slowly into it.

9) Dragon Flag
: I have not attempted the Dragon flag since my tendonitis began as it is even worse than the OAP (one arm pull up) for destroying your flexor tendons. I was very close to it before and believe that it will take very little work to achieve from here.

10) The Iron Cross
: I began working on the rings five months ago but did not sart training the cross until the beginning of January 2009. I wanted to build up my stability with basic ring positions before takling the cross so that I'd have a lower risk of injury. I have been training with a device which replaces the usual rings and straps around your forearm as well as having the handle you hold onto where the ring would be. You can then attach the ropes higher up your arm (closer to the shoulder) in order to reduce the leverage and make the progression into the full cross more gradual. The device has five holes to attach the rope to which I will refer to as level 1 (starting near the elbow) through to level 5 (near the wrist). I began on two reps of level 1. I am now five weeks in and can manage sets of eight reps on level 1 and sets of three reps on level 2! A more detailed post will follow.

So there you have it, I feel like I've been training forever and I still have a long way to go. The important thing to remember is that the enjoyment is not derived from attaining a skill. The enjoyment comes from a sense of progression; a
gradual process of improvement which is punctuated at times with failure and frustrating plateaus. Don't for a moment ever believe that you'll be happy when you attain your goals because you wont; happiness doesn't work that way and every goal achieved will be replaced by an even greater goal. Instead realise that attainment is unimportant and that striving toward something is where happiness lies.

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