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S1 Episode 6: Q&A with Emmet and Mikael


Another Handstand Factory Handstandcast Q&A with Emmet and Mikael where they discuss: The benefits of handstand training, more handstand factory materials to come, programming split mobility, strengthening the crow to handstand, a discount code for handstand factory and all the stuff in between that Emmet and Mikael nerd out over.

Want to have your say on the Handstandcast? You can now leave us a voice note here with your Q&A questions for Emmet and Mikael! If you have any specific topics you’d like us to cover, or want to send in questions for our Q&A episodes, please get in touch via our contact form.

S1E6 – Q&A with Emmet and Mikael

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Transcript of Episode 6: Q&A with Emmet and Mikael

MK: Welcome to another episode with questions and answers.

EL: Another minisode to fill you guys in.  We’ve got a lot of questions, as usual. Once again you’re listening to the Handstand Cast with Emmet Louis and Michael Kristiansen, supported by Handstand Factory.

We’re going to do a short episode to just answer some questions.  Bear in mind, if you do have questions, you can always hit us up on social media, @EmmetLouis, @HandstandFactory, @MikaelBalancing.

Or you can go to the website, HandstandFactory.com and use the contact form there.  Up to you.

Send it in.  As we say, if you have good questions we will read them out.  If you have bad questions we will read them out, with your name attached.  You will get your question answered regardless.

That’s a bit of a joke, anyway.  There is no bad question. There are some terrible questions, but no bad questions.

So, first question: it’s kind of a two parter.  I can only relate to one part of it. What is the importance of Mario ROM hacks and coffee spills, and what’s their relationship to handstands?

MK: I guess they’re kind of targeting me there, somehow.  To explain to you guys who don’t know what Mario ROM Hacks are, it’s a bunch of people that created a custom software for Super Mario games.  It is absolutely glorious.

EL: The easiest way to describe it is ‘Mario fan fiction.’  People make their ideal levels for it.

MK: Not all of them are difficult.

EL: Loads of them are really good.  Even if you’re just used to a normal vanilla game, this is a spiritual successor to it.

There’s a category of them we really like called Kaizo.

MK: It’s super precise platforming, built up so it’s ridiculously hard.  You need an enormous amount of practice to get through these levels. So how does it relate to handstand?Well, it requires patience.  I dare one of you motherfuckers to try to play these games.  They are absolutely glorious, but hard as balls, and a great challenge.

I would say even more frustrating than handstands, almost.

EL: I think there’s a good contrast.  Let’s face it; handstand training is frustrating a lot of the time.  It requires a stupid amount of repetition and failure. Most of your handstands, you fall over way more than you ever hold one, if we’re being honest here.

With ROM Hacks, what I really like about them is: I used to think I was really good at video games.  I’m pretty good at video games, Guitar Hero, stuff like that. The ROM Hacks punish you for every mis-input of a button, for 6 frames, 3 frames, that kind of thing.

If you die, it’s because you fucked up.  There is no debate about it. You literally just fucked up; that’s why you die.

MK: You repeat, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat.  It’s glorious.

I’m still playing the easier ones, and they are so crushing.  They just basically put you straight in your place, where you belong.  In the garbage.

EL: I suppose you should put a link or a shout out to Super Mario World Central.  Where you get all the games.

MK: That’s where you get all the ROM Hacks, and download the files.  You take the ROM files, the actual game, and modify the files you find there.  That turns it into whatever hack version of the game you’re trying to play. It is great, so check them out.

And coffee spills – that’s just because I suck.  It is what it is. I’m really fucking clumsy. When people asking me, aren’t you faking your coffee spills? – who the fuck is faking their coffee spills to impress people on the internet?

That’s the thing; you’re not even impressing, just making a fucking fool of yourself.  Yes I spill coffee, it’s a thing that happens. I’m just a clumsy motherfucker. Ask my friends and you will know.

EL: It’s kind of funny watching Mikael, because he’s physically quite a machine on his hands.  I’m still always quite impressed at some of the stuff he can get up to, not even with hand balance, but the other stuff.  “Oh I’ll just go and do one arm back levers for a bit of fun.”

And then, he does origami, which is incredibly intensely fiddly and precise.  It’s very good, if you’ve ever seen his models.

It’s like a character builder.  They put all the stats and physical attributes and precision, but didn’t leave any for regular daily activities of coffee drinking.

MK: I just have a tendency to get distracted by things.  There was one time, I was working on this show, sitting and doing some computer work.  I put my coffee cup on a pillow, and thought, this will not go well, as the pillow is very wobbly.  I took the coffee and put it on the ground just in front of my feet. I wrote a few sentences, move my foot, and kicked it straight down.

This consistently happens; it’s kind of uncanny.

EL: It’s not like a perception thing where it’s out of sight and you just kick it over.  The French Press is like your arch nemesis.

MK: Aeropress is actually worse.  Fuck that thing.

EL: It’s not even like you have time to get distracted there.  You just explode them.

MK: I’ve had my share of mistakes.

EL: I have a rule.  In my house, he’s not allowed to operate the French Press.

MK: It’s great because Emmet just makes coffee for me all the time.

EL: You nearly killed the audio equipment this morning with a coffee spill.

MK: I didn’t spill any!

EL: You just fucking wrecked the floor.

MK: I just moved it to a questionable place by the microphone.  But since I’m incredibly skilled at hand eye coordination, I just mastered it.

EL: So what’s the relation to handstand skills?  If you want to get good at handstands, don’t put any stats into putting coffee in face.

MK: You’ll see that the worse you get at hand eye coordination, then that is a sign of you ascending the ladder of handstands with glory.

EL: Next question.

MK: Will there be further material on handstands released after Push and Press series?

EL: Yes, there will.  I’m not willing to give the top secret topics, because we’ll have someone ripping off our names and trying to release it one week before us.  There will be more courses; I think we have seven more courses planned. A lot of stuff covering all levels of hand balance in much more depth, and a range of everything.

We’re also open to suggestions if you think we’re missing something and would really like a course on that.  Let us know, and if there are enough people we’ll make a course on it.

MK: Next: Are you recording a ninja style film with delayed sound effects?  I am sad to tell you no. All of the garbage movies I watch…it’s just like Sharknado and all these modern bad movies.  They’re like lol, look at us, roll eyes, irony, irony, how funny is it we did something bad, haha.

EL: We could set out to make a good movie, like Fatal Deviation, and end up with something terrible instead.

MK: The thing is, you need to be devoid of self reflection when you make this.  You need to thoroughly believe you’re going to make something glorious. By the way, yeah, Fatal Deviation is an Irish movie-

EL: An Irish martial arts movie made in the 90s.  You can find it on YouTube. It was filmed on an old school VHS camera.  The person who did it was sneaking shots in on various locations they weren’t allowed on.  They shot in centres and were kicked out.

MK: Yeah that scene in the shopping centre, they had to re enter several times.

EL: It took them a couple of weeks to do that.  What else? The castle scene where they broke in at night.

MK: I would say, if you want to watch garbage movies, watch Fatal Deviation, Ninja Terminator – it’s pretty rough but doable for most mortals -, Shock and Terror.  If you can deal reasonably well with that you can dig into Godfrey Ho’s Mad World. That one is rough, it’s not fun anymore, but you can try.

Ninja Terminator is a good start, but things get increasingly hard the deeper you go.

EL: Next one.  Do you think it’s possible to build middle splits mobility and do a leg workout in the same day?

Do I give a long or a short answer?  Short answer: yes. Long answer: you basically have to look at training volume on your leg day, and you might have to accept reducing the number of accessory exercises in your program to account for the middle splits.  This depends how you’re training your middle splits, as well.

If you’re training in a passive manner then you don’t really need to do anything.  If you’re training it the way I generally advise, working on the strength element – hip flexor strength lifting the legs into it, the glutes, the transverse plane abduction, or isometrics in the middle split position: these are strength things.  They’re heavy and you’re working time under tension as strength training. Something has to give.

Generally what I advise people, when you’re starting out, just knock a set off your accessory exercises.  For example, if you’re doing a classic leg day. You’re doing one bilateral strength movement, either Squat or Deadlift.  You’re doing something on one leg, like a Single Leg Squat or Deadlift, some pure hip extension, and maybe Leg Curls, to balance it out.

You might do 5 sets of 3-5 on your main movement.  You always want to put all your stats into the main movement; that will give you the biggest training effect.  Then for your accessory sets, reduce that all by 1. Do 2 sets of accessories, and the added volume will be made up.  You still have the same total number of sets, but it will be covered in middle split training.

I hope that helps.  Other than that, you can also just do your middle split training on another day.  Treat it as second, third leg day.

See how you’re reacting to training as well.  If you’re getting really bad DOMS, it’s better to group it.  If you’re not getting super bad DOMS, spread it over the week.  There’s no hard and fast way.

For some people the middle split training will be more effective after the leg training.  For others like myself, there’s no point in me doing any stretching training after my leg training.  I just don’t get the same training response I want, so I have it on a separate day.

Play with all these things, find what works for you.  You’re an expert in yourself.

MK: Next one: What do you need to strengthen and improve on to work on lifting from crow stand into a handstand, and handstand pushup?

There are a couple of ways to do it.  One way is to go into a crow stand, and you straighten your arms while your knees are resting on your arms.  Then you go up, turning it into more of a press to handstand. You’re still connecting the knees to the arms as you straighten the arms.  Usually I see that happening more when people do the crow stand variation where the knees are rather high up towards the armpits.

EL: I think that one is called a crane stand.  Might be, I’m sure someone will give us some comments on that.

MK: How I look at a crow to handstand is your knees are resting on your elbows, a little bit higher.  Your arms are bent. The first thing is you keep leaning the weight slightly forwards, and you take the weight fully into the front of the delts.  You lift your knees off the arms, and from there you do a handstand pushup.

What I usually advise is to be able to do a negative handstand pushup.  It’s a good idea to be able to do. Specifically, be able to hold yourself in the bottom of a handstand pushup.  This should be done on the floor.

There’s a very significant difference between the shoulder stand that people do on parallel bars, and a handstand pushup position.  You need to have the protracted and externally rotated arms. If you do it on the floor, you’ll have instant…feedback on whether you’re doing it or not.  If you’re not keeping that protracted position you will fall through it and need to put your feet on the floor. You want to be able to hold that point in the bottom of the handstand.

EL: I think there’s a category of people approaching this who haven’t actually training a lot of the overheads, generally from yoga.  What I advise here, because for handstand artists, they have their press or something. People who see this as the end boss, one way to train it is to just start bending the arm on the crow and pushing.  The head is going down forwards, slightly, getting you into this half handstand pushup.

If you imagine a crow stand, the head or spine angle is about 45º.  We want to get that almost vertical. Using that as your measure of progress, you might want to take video and see if you’re getting your spine closer to this vertical handstand alignment?

Then you’ll find there’s a moment where you begin to feel the knees become lighter on the elbows.  You’re doing like a bent arm tuck handstand. So that’s nice to get used to that.

There’s another thing that’s nice to play around with.  For tumbling, it’s good to get used to these: kicking the legs up, then following through with the arms.  It’s like the handstand pushup equivalent of a push press. You’re using the legs to generate some tempo and dynamic movement, then following through with the arms.

That one is interesting, because if you can get into the start position and get the timing right, it’s incredibly easy.

It’s the same motion as headstand, but the head is not touching the floor.  Going from crow to headstand and back again will build some of the strength, as well.

MK: I think in general, building the comfort around it, because the crow stand doesn’t require a lot of either strength or balance.  The point where your knees come off your elbows drastically increases that.

The handstand doesn’t require so much strength, a little bit of a bent handstand, either.  But if you go from crow stand and take the knees off, you go immediately into the absolutely hardest part of the movement.  There’s a big gap there for most people, so I think it is good if you learn to do a solid negative handstand pushup with reasonable technique to have very good control in the bottom.  If you have the isometric hold in the bottom, you might be assisting yourself with leg kick as well, to understand the ascending movement.

I think those are staple things you’ll be well off doing if you want to learn this motion, rather than just going into crow stand and trying to lift into handstand.  That will likely fail; you won’t be getting much training effect out of just trying to do the movement.

EL: Thank you for listening to us ramble.  Hopefully you listen to the main podcast.

Once again, if you have questions for the minisode, or us, find us on HandstandFactory.com, on the contact form.  Put podcast as the title.  Send your questions through, or even ask us on social media as well.

You can find me at @EmmetLouis on Instagram, Mikael @MikaelBalancing, or on the main account @HandstandFactory.

Other than that, thanks for listening and we’ll speak to you soon.

MK: Cheers.


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