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S2 Episode 55: Common Mistakes


In this episode of the Handstandcast, Emmet and Mikael discuss common mistakes they’ve encountered coaching and learning handstands. Going into the detail of the nature of mistakes and the most common mistakes both in overall training and handstand position and how they can be remedied.

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.

S2E55 – Common Mistakes

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Transcript of Episode 55: Common Mistakes

EL: Hello and welcome back to the Handstand Cast with me, Emmet Louis, and my cohost Mikael Kristiansen.  How are things going Mikael?

MK: What can I say?  Been watching a documentary about a French cult all morning.  If any of you want to see some really fucked up shit, look up The Cult of Thierry TIlly, a French guy who basically manipulated an entire family for a decade.  He ruined them both psychologically and financially.  Absolutely insane.

Other than that, can’t complain.

EL: Listening to you talk about a cult, I’m deciding I need to set one up.  Much easier than anyone else.

If anyone would like to join my cult, DM me on Instagram and I’ll tell you how to get in.  DM your bank account and we’ll start there.  Show your commitment to the cult.

MK: Give up all sense of personal autonomy.  Very important.

EL: Simplify things and hand that over to the guru.  We can start a handstand cult, the Cult of the Inverted Brain.

MK: Isn’t that what we have?  We are sitting here, talking to the masses, with all the important things you need to know.

EL: I feel like there aren’t enough people giving me their life savings to justify this though.

MK: This entire Handstand Factory thing is just a ploy.  We give you the real information about how the world actually works later on, when you buy our super special program hidden on the website, only for the real initiates.  You learn about the mysteries of the universe.

EL: How many cults actually come up in the whole fitness industry?  I’ve seen it so much over the years.  Something about people who work in the general fitness industry have pyramid schemes that transition into cults.

Everything from simple stuff, supplements like Keto, or fasting, or prolonged fasting, all these multilevel marketing fitness scams.  But if they last long enough, they transition into a cult.  There’s a few out there.

MK: I was following one unnamed one for a while.  Holy shit, YouTube videos started coming out and going into government conspiracies and all kinds of stuff.  It started with a dude doing weird ass shit with a rubber band.

I do think the correlation comes from..you do get authority once you are in a certain position of being a trainer, even.  When you get enough of that, and have a larger group, you start being influencing their choices significantly.  Mainly, that type of positioning existing will attract people who are susceptible to doing that to people.

The guru mindset will lead people into those types of situations.  Fitness has a lot of them.

EL: So.  Before we go deeper, we should start a second Cast.  If you guys want another second podcast about meta topics, we might do it.

MK: What are we talking about today?

EL: We are going to talk about common mistakes in handstand practices, one arms, everything, what we can come up with over the hour.

With mistakes, or what people call mistakes – is it a mistake or just done out of context?  For me, there’s only one mistake.  There’s what I intended to do and what actually happened.  If what I intended to do is what happened, or my translation of a verbal or visual instruction becomes a close approximation of what I wanted to do, then it’s not really a mistake.  There is a process of refinement.

The other is, I try to do something and my approximation of that thing is totally wrong.  For me, that is basically the only mistake.  What I wanted to do versus what I did.

If someone wanted to do something like hold their handstand with shoulders too open.  Coach B comes along and says, “You need to close your shoulders, bra.”  Actually, maybe they didn’t.  Maybe they made this choice.

When thinking of mistakes, what was the person actually trying to do?

MK: It’s a good place to start such a discussion.  If you use that terminology as a close approximation, that is what it is going to be anyway.  Even when you can do something, what you’re trying to do is make it as close a representation as you can to the mental image or figure or position.  You’re trying to replicate that.

The more times you’ve done it, the easier it is for you, and the closer that approximation will be.  Eventually it will be the same every single time, since it’s second nature.

It’s important.  Through any learning process, what at one stage is basically working, nothing else, trying and calibrating.  Through the calibration, you have to miss the target.

A classic mistake is more so that most mistakes happen methodologically than technically.  It’s a diffused distinction and easy to say that technique is methodology, but it isn’t.

Technique is trying to do something in a specific way, whereas the methodology is how you set the boundary conditions for how you do this thing.

A very classic mistake, and something I would call a mistake- for example, someone is learning to kick up to handstand.  They come in, are pretty excited, and it doesn’t work on the first attempt.  So they try again and again and again, 15-20 times without resting in between.

If you take a step back and think, what is the likelihood that I’m going to hit kick up number 14, when I missed it on 1-5, when I had more energy and focus, but kept trying…there’s no methodology.  That might be a mistake.  Hey, take a breather.  Think about what happened here.

Rest and make sure the shoulders aren’t burning anymore, then try again.

There is a lot of room for discussing the concept of the mistake.

EL: The classic mistake is not having a plan, or even a map of how the training should be performed, or what you attempt.

Handstand can be quite an analytical and mental skill, but it is analyzing what you did and then how it happened, and can you spot the mistake?  Sometimes at the beginning you have to build up that sensory map, a visual confirmation of the sensory map, then realize what you need to do.

Having a game plan of how you pace yourself, knowing when to stop – that’s always important.  When do I stop and assess myself?

MK: When do you start as well is a good example.  A classic one is when you’re new and enthusiastic and don’t know much about the subject matter, you will try a bunch of things.

There are a lot of good things to be said about attempting intuitively.  I’ve seen this a lot at the gym I’ve been training at.  There are acro mats there, too soft to want to handstand on.  Everyone I’ve seen training handstands, they train on those mats.  I would say this is a mistake, unless they are doing a very specifics gymnastics training, these mats are not helping whatsoever.

I understand why, the intuitive thinking, but it’s actually worse for your wrists.  Also I see people there who come in and cannot handstand, have zero understanding of the handstand.  I see them lean and try to press.  They lean forwards, and do a bunny hop, and a half snake up and fall out of it.

Where is your starting point?  Is what you’re working on, where is that in relation to your current ability level?  As with everything, unless you know anything, it’s hard to have the sensible idea of knowing if there is a point to trying things.

I like to equate it to math sometimes, even though I suck at math, it’s why I like to use it.  If you give me an equation, I don’t remember how to do even the basic shit from school.  I haven’t done that in 20 years.

I sit there and look at the thing and don’t know where to start.  There is no point for me trying to solve this.  With skills where you can try, you will get a sensation you’re doing something.

With math you sit there and can’t do anything; you don’t know what to do.

With handstands, you put your hands on the floor and try to do something.  It might feel like something is happening, but to the experienced eye, you can try for 17 years and get very little tangible progress.  But if you do these 3 things for six months, you could start doing these things.

EL: On the maths thing, there’s a guy who has made a fortune setting up some TV station with his background as maths.  He has cruised to being rich and teaching.  One of the after school programs focused on teaching how to set up maths as a better method.  His whole point on maths was, first lesson: who is good at maths?  No one at an after school program is good at maths, obviously.  They need the extra curriculum.

Do you think boys are good, or girls are good at maths?  Then he swapped it over: who can play an instrument?  Everyone puts their hand up.  Where you good at guitar on day one or did you suck at it?  How did you get better?  Practice.  What did you need to have?  Some methods of breaking things down simpler.

How did you learn to play?  Scales.  Then what?  You put them into practice… Maths is the exact same.  You just need to know the skills, then put them into practice, then make it harder and harder.  This was his way of teaching maths at the high school level as a skill.

Off topic, but it’s interesting that you can apply this idea of breaking things down simpler, then grinding it out until you get good at it.

MK: Now we did discuss methodological mistakes, if you look at technical ones, there is a framework of knowing what you’re trying to do.  But perhaps you’re not able to do it well enough yet.

There is a degree of difference in there.  All this converges so it’s hard to separate methodology from technique.  A good example I thought of now was back when I was doing breaking. I was one of few people who could do a straight arm press, because that’s how my shoulders easily operate for some reason.

The others, many of them, when they’d try, they were very strong as breakers.  They would lean forwards, bend their arms quite significantly, almost to 90 so they could access their freeze strength.  They’d lift the legs up and then straighten the arms.

The bending of the arms was so severe that it was a very pronounced bent arm press.  That is a good example.  It’s a point where both technical and methodological mistakes converge.  Such a person, if they work in that manner, the arm bending would be so severe that there would be practically no way to start in the bottom of a press leaning forwards, and get all the weight into their hands without bending the arms,

They are so dominant in the bent arm position that there is very little to go with in the straight arm position.  That would be the solution to the problem always; it’s a mistake that is extremely hard to break out of, by just trying to do the task.

What these guys would have been better off with, if I’d known the methods back then, was to start in handstand and do straight arm negatives as far as they could, or stomach to wall straight arm negatives.  Then you can get work on the specific thing.  On the other hand, I have taught people that have a micro bend in their press at the beginning.  Give them two months, and the arms are perfectly straight because the mechanics of what they were doing is so similar to the task we are trying to do.  There is a spectrum that is important.

EL: There’s two mistakes we touched on here that are important to formalize.  We have the mistake of grinding too much, and not grinding enough.

In video games, grinding is when you’re trying to level up, and repeating the same task over and over again.  Mikael’s example is the person who keeps kicking up; they are grinding too much.  They haven’t gotten the thing.

On the other side, there’s a certain point where you understand the concept and what you have to do in the kick up, but it’s not right or consistent, or looks like shit.  Then you just have to grind.  You have to selectively grind, working on one focus: I’m going to get my knee locked on one of my legs.  I’ll grind that until I have it.  Then I go on.

You do have personality types.  You tell someone do 100 kick ups.  They have never done one before but will attempt it.  Not waving the fingers at any Crossfitters or anything…

Then other people will need to analytically dissect every single repetition.  Every repetition is a little different, an infinite loop of dissecting.  You have to grind a certain amount, and also analyze a certain amount, but not too much of either.

Know when to grind, and when not to.

MK: To any mother fuckers listening, if you know you tend to either try 1000000 times, or be the person who films every single attempt and analyzes every one, try the opposite for a period of time.  It might put you outside of what you’re used to, and might be useful.

This is very important.  We need the repetition to get good at it.  I remember an acrobat friend of mine who is also a great musician.  He told me it’s really easy to learn.  Oh yeah?  You don’t get tired, you just keep trying for 8h a day if you want.  Makes sense…his mindset was the kind that he learned all these acrobatics by rigorous practice, doing it a ton of times.  The limit of how many times you can do a complex acrobatic combination per session is quite limited compared to the amount of times he can practice the grip on his ukelele.  You need both these aspects.

To take some specific examples, maybe starting from the ground up, starting very basic.  I’ve never been on my hands and am uncertain how it works.  I think the first mistake is doing zero research, because it’s going to get you not that far in a very long time.

Starting out by getting an overview is good.  The other mistake is you buy all the programs you can ever find on the internet and read every single resource and do nothing, because you’re way too busy trying to understand the entire thing to death.  You won’t get good just from doing that.

EL: You also don’t have the discernment to know what is good or bad advice.  There needs to be even a bad tutorial by someone who is kind of competent, and gives you something to try for quite a while.

MK: Most people will tell you it’s good to do a stomach to wall handstand with shoulders elevated.  Yes, if you can hold your body in this position comfortably for maybe 20-30 s, you are not missing out by becoming able to do so.

Starting to do balancing too early on is also going to waste a lot of time.  You are not getting time under tension.  You do not have the tools to do any balancing yet.  Not preparing the body and getting ready for the various tasks is a very common occurrence.

This is also why I like to think of hand balancing as oscillating phases when you’re learning.

You make your body able to hold yourself up well.  You make your fingers and forearms conditioned to grip the floor well.  You build up these capacities.

Then you go from this conditioning perspective to learning to balance a bit with this new framework of control you built.  You built some balance, maybe you can stand for 10s.  You want to stand for 30; perhaps it’s time for another conditioning phase.

When you can stay longer, you want to train more technical aspects again…it’s possible to go back and forth.

It can be a mistake to stay on one forever, only working on highly technical and difficult stuff.  Or, you think you must do 5x2min handstand wall holds.  Why?

EL: All our mistakes have two poles.  The mistake of over and under preparing the body.

We have the mistake of not preparing the body to do a decent amount of work, the general handstand fitness capacity.  The other mistake is over focusing on things, like a 2min chest to wall handstand before free balancing.  Then you try to free balance and can’t do it.

Another one is doing a 3min handstand before doing a one arm, these kinds of things.  I need a 90s dish hold before trying a chest to wall hold.

These things can be taken out of context and certain aspects over emphasized.  Another classic one that kind of dropped off: you have to be able to do X amount of first knuckle push ups in a full body plank before you can balance a one arm.

MK: I remember when that became a thing.  Everyone thought you had to do that to do a handstand properly….I can’t do one, still.  Ha ha ha ha ha! Never worked on that shit.

EL: Maybe that’s why you can’t handstand.

MK: One example in terms of this oscillation and levels of readiness, is an example I have right now in terms of my shoulder injury recovery.  It’s now at the best stage it’s been for over a year, which is really good, very exciting.

What I found here, last week, is that my endurance is in the garbage.  It’s not surprising, but for the last ten years I never really worked on one arm endurance but it’s been acceptable.  I can stay up for 3-4 minutes depending on how much energy I have.  That’s been a basic staple; I can go back and forth on the floor, do straddle one arms for a while.  I start falling due to tiredness when I’m really starting to shake.

Last Friday I tried, and holy fuck, struggling after 90s.  Of course, looking back it makes sense.  I have not been able to train endurance, my shoulder is a bit janky and all that.  It’s completely sensible.

What I’ve been doing the last couple of months is trying my regular practice, running through my one arm positions.  I took for granted that my body was where it was at.  Now I see I struggle with basic holds for time, it’s something I need to rebuild.  It’s going to be tough for me to do long sequences of complex one arms if I struggle with basic ones.

It was literally a mistake; I hadn’t noticed that my capacity here had fallen significantly.  I was trying to challenge the body with a too-complex task for what it was currently able to deal with in the shoulders.

A very clear example of the same – I was trying to highly technically challenge myself on the things I’m used to doing, but I hadn’t noticed I had lost significant capacity.

I would feel my shoulders would wobble out and be weird, but I had not considered that when the shoulders feel stable and normal stuff, and rotator cuff exercises feel good, it doesn’t equate to being effective at solving this complicated task of standing on one arm, just because I’ve been able to do it for ten years.

The conditioning is specific; it’s now at a lower level, and needs to be rebuilt.  Just an example of exactly the same principle as I tell someone who literally is afraid of getting into a wall handstand, applies to me, just in a different context.

EL: A good mistake or conceptual mistake occurs at all levels of training, just in a different manifestation.  Really good one.

I wanted to talk about more technical mistakes as well, in terms of cueing.  I want to talk about body position and run through the whole body positioning of handstand.  We did hands and hand spacing recently.

We kind of did everything, but a mistake, if we start at elbows, we always have this question of how much internal and external rotation of the forearms, and what direction the elbows face.  Is there a set way?  Should my elbows be fully locked?

A mistake you get a lot in coaching – the elbows have to look this way, face that way.  There is always variance in how elbows are positioned.  There is hyper extension, the degree of it, the rotation, which direction the elbow faces – all these are important.  But to say one person has to have one specific elbow shape or form is a classic mistake.

The mistake is that there is one true position for everything, and not variants.  That’s the classic mistake, “Everyone must be the same.”

MK: To go off from that one, a technical mistake.  If you want to do a straight arm handstand, doing a bent arm handstand is a mistake.  Whereas, it’s important to distinguish that it’s not a mistake you want to make, as you want to be attempting to do the straight arm handstand.

If you look at a common mistake and not necessarily that bad, if you do a straight arm handstand but occasionally adjust by tiny micro bends of the elbow, some people do that.  That is their preferred method of dealing with under balance.  It’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world, as long as you’re able to do that effectively without significantly breaking form, it won’t mess with balance or form.

Is it better, yes or no, in terms of not using a micro bend to balance?  It’s very hard to say.  I know people where if you force them to not micro bend to catch under balance, they would not be a professional hand balancer.  And we are talking performance level people.

For me that is very uncomfortable and non intuitive to bend the arms. But a guy I train with  in circus school is really good.  He jumps up onto canes and always finishes the last part with a little bend and straighten.  He can press perfectly, it’s just his preferred learned method of action there is a small bend.

That is more within the range of variation rather than mistake.  Not having attention on straightening your arms, that is a mistake, I’d say.

EL: We do hand balancing; we have a focus on straight arms.  But we think, what will come afterwards?  That will dictate which way the elbows are going.  Are you cartwheeling into a handstand with the intent to go down into air baby?  Or are you doing capoeira?  There you would not straighten your arms.

The context matters.  And cubital valgus is quite common, much more so than you think.  There’s always an idea of straightening the elbows to someone whose elbows are straight and locked.

One of my clients has come a long way over the last year.  His elbow wasn’t locked, just slightly bent.  I kept telling him to lock his elbows.  He was doing it, and it was looking better…but it turned out that was his terminal elbow extension, and I was just not assessing from the right angle for his one arms.

We had the option to ‘fix’ it but he chose to leave it alone.  He has 30-40s one arms, so no problem.

MK: For shoulders. You have various positions for the shoulder over hands, which we tend to speak of as the default.  Then you have closed shoulders, going more into a planche domain, or arched handstand.  Or you arch by going too open, into a Mexican alignment.  These have their purposes.

If we are to speak about it, having a shoulder elevated and over hand position is something to strive for, since it allows you to learn a lot of the vocabulary, and gives you the baseline placement where you are in the middle.  From there you can go to planche, to handstand pushup, to Mexican, one arm, press, and so on.

It makes sense this is the de facto most used position at this point in time.  In relation to the old school methodology, it is sensible that general handstand training has gone towards this.

Here it’s very much up to what you’re doing.  If you speak about this default as the straight handstand, you want to try to elevate the shoulders to a good degree.  A normal issue here is the extreme push that you have learned, you must push so fucking hard you crank the shoulders as high as you can until it’s painful.  This is a mistake.

However, if you are completely new on your hands, you are not strong yet.  It is going to feel heavy to do this.  Then it might be closer to your rate of perceived exertion.  You have to factor that in.  If you are new it is going to be heavy.  Go to the point where it’s heavy enough so you can work, but don’t kill yourself.  Build up the capacity, and so on.  You want to try to elevate your shoulders because it is, on average, the thing that gives the most bang for your buck in this type of position.  It’s a simple cue to understand.  You lift the shoulders, feel the trapezius doing something, and it can be emulated by standing on your feet and lifting the arms.

It is something to aspire to for that default.

Also, look at the floor.

EL: One of the common ones is shoulders too open.  You had a great post on Instagram recently, showing the different shoulder positions, and how it affects what happens upstream.

I’ve told people more to close their shoulders in the last two years than to open their shoulders.  If someone doesn’t have the range, strength or capacity, it will develop through the functional capacity as your passive and active flexibility develops in shoulder flexion.

It’s like squatting.  There was always this thing like, squat and put the weight back on your heels.  When people learn to squat they have a habit of coming up on their toes, like a sissy squat.  Whatever.

Yes, the cue is to get the weight down, spread evenly over the foot.  Then it became a keep the weight on the heels, where people would over emphasize the backwards drift of the hips, to make sure the big toes were off the ground.

Same with shoulders open.  Someone whose shoulders don’t have the capacity to go there, having the intent to get them open and elevated is great; it will help them develop the flexibility.  Then taking that same quote and extrapolating from the person it was intended to, to you, who has sufficient shoulder strength…it develops the over open function of the shoulders.

When you close the shoulders, that’s what gives the true verticality for some people.

MK: It’s a tricky thing to contextualize.  A lot of people lack the shoulder mobility to reach that position.  Then yes, you need to work on the mobility of your shoulders specifically.  No doubt.

In the context of a mistake, I do think it’s relevant to work up to the degree of shoulder flexion, which makes it possible-

The tuck handstand is a good measure for this.  It will show what your shoulders are capable of, by demonstration.  Very often you find people with stiff shoulders or a lack of active range in a handstand position, will struggle to do a tuck.  Either they significantly start to close towards a planche when they tuck, or they have to force themselves into a Mexican kind of alignment to tuck.

Using this to calibrate and understand, you want to move the shoulders as little as possible moving down into tuck.  That might take some time to develop.

If we move even further up the body, the entire midsection core hip thing, the mistake there is another of understanding.  Its position will be relative to what goes on underneath, just from a pure concept of architecture.  It will be relatable to what goes on underneath, and will never be separate from what is under.

It only moves in degrees, depending on what happens under in the shoulder joint, the primary moving joint.

The shoulder joint does not mean only the glena-humeral joint, but the entire scapula and the way the torso and arm relate in this position.

EL: I mentally have an image of the top four ribs and the shoulder as intimately related.  It’s very helpful for seeing what’s going on.

If we’re trying to teach someone a straight handstand and their ribs are flaring out, particularly below T4-T7 area, generally the rule of thumb is they’re just not flexible enough.

To tell someone to maintain the arms vertical to the ground, you’re telling them to pull the ribs down.  If they do that, they pull themselves off balance.

You see this a lot in military pressing.  A lot of people don’t have the capacity to get into 180º shoulder position.  The compensation is: vertical position of arms is related to T spine extension.  If you extend your T spine, you get the hands overhead and everything is a bit more stacked.  Cool.

But if we extrapolate that position with a slight curve or arch to the body, it’s the same thing that happens in an arched handstand.  If we had someone who was better, with a more flexible shoulder flexion and range of motion that way, they wouldn’t need this T spine extension to get over.

This is what is happening in our arched handstand.  The common mistake of coaching is telling someone who does not have the range of motion required, either passive or active – generally passive – to pull the ribs down, when it’s a shoulder problem, causing the ribs to flare out.

As a coach, know what the capacity of someone is, so you cue them with something non generic, that is actually achievable.

MK: It would be interesting to move on from the regular handstand….I briefly mentioned presses before.  If you bend the arms a lot that is an issue and you might want to do easier drills to move more, as if in a straight arm press to handstand.

Same with leaning too forwards in shoulders.  Again, working on drills from top down, where you can start in the stacked position.  It will break when it needs to, but at least you are working on the elevation power, rather than front delt action.

If you do not have a good pancake and want to work on pressing, you’re making the task a lot easier by developing a good pancake.  You have zero excuses for not working pancake if you want the press.  It makes the road there a lot easier.

EL: I do think people have too much of pancake and flexibility intertwined as a needed thing.  If you come in, just started training press, you can work on the shoulder flexion strength as a separate entity to the flexibility.  Raise them at the same time.  These are thing that can be worked on.

Hopefully they coincide.  When Mikael comes in, he’s usually tight and not flexible in the mornings.  I remember at a retreat we did, I made you do Stalder presses completely cold to demo.  45º of forward lean on the pancake, and your active flexibility matches at basically 100%.

Then you have shoulder flexion strength, so you can compensate for the lack of flexibility.  Not chest to floor, but you can do a lot of easy stalders in that position.

That is one of the things.  Over emphasizing the physical quantity that might not have exact transference.  Also because you can separate the flexibility, the gollum press as well.

There is a case for bent leg pike presses, tuck presses…

MK: The farther you move into complex material, the more detailed mistakes we get, and it becomes more individual, in terms of how the body responds to various things.

On the methodological side, a mistake in terms of assumption is that a “good technique” performed skill looks the same for each person.  From my experience, the easier the skill is, the more similar it becomes.  When you are very good at it, you can perform it in a myriad of ways.

Things that have high technical complexity, like a one arm press to handstand, which takes a lot of training.

Most importantly, it uses lots of angles, lots is going on.  The joints are traveling through very specific ranges, lots of flexibility, also talent components coming into the mix.  It’s on such a level of difficulty.

Then you start seeing, there are going to be significant variations within a reasonably limited space, of course. The differences will look more like subtleties, because everyone who does them are on a high level.

However, there comes a myriad of various details, more on those levels.  On more basic stuff, most people, you can do a chest to wall handstand that looks very similar, with some training.

But for one arm flags, you see drastic differences in terms of side bending, shoulder positioning, and so on.  We’re asking the body to do a very complicated thing with the assumption the bodies are not 1-1 replicas.  So they prefer specific ways of moving instead.

If we move towards more complicated areas like one arms, the biggest is underestimating how hard it is and how long it usually takes to learn.

I’ve had many clients who say it’s six months; I’m going to show you.  Then three months pass by and I’m like, where are your videos for this week?  “Yeah my wrists are not feeling good.”  I told you so 3 months ago…then you never hear from the guy again.

That is certainly one.

Not having built up the solid general understanding of your body upside down in various angles, positions and myriad of possibilities, so you are robust on your hands.  If not, it will take you longer.

You want your handstand roads to be wide and well paved, not walking a tight rope, forgive the dumb analogy.

EL: You want to pave your road on your handstand journey nice and wide.  Ha ha ha!  The yellow brick road of handstand progression.

MK: We’re trying to do what the Romans did, build a glorious network of…I’ll shut the fuck up now.

EL: Everything is the number one mistake.  If you’re making that mistake, it’s the number one mistake.  At the time.

In general, making the mistake of basically underestimating and overestimating the amount of time and consistency it takes to get advanced skills.

Particulalry for one arm, there is a process people have to be brought through, and it takes time.  Some people get it quicker and that’s fantastic.  But to use an outlier without a solid assessment…Don’t extrapolate someone’s rough results without a proper assessment of that person when comparing analysis with yourself.

If someone learned one arm in three months, and they’ve done dance for a long time, did handstands for a super long time, and only recently started to focus on one arms.  They are flexible in all the ways and have very good coordinative capacity.  Yet you can’t touch your toes…maybe you’re not that person.

Looking at the variance in training response is important as well.  Over a long period of time people tend towards an average level, but there are peaks in that, variations.  If it weren’t true, we wouldn’t have the Olympics.

You can’t just say someone learned X in Y time, so I can too.  There is an on average thing.  Generally the goal is to hope and pray you are not average and things come quicker in your chosen activity.  But..most likely you are average, on average.  That is ok.

Assuming you are exceptional is a big mistake.

MK: This becomes more relevant the farther you go with it.  Summing up a lot of these things, we could say when you do a one arm, people don’t shift their hips diagonally enough…this we have talked about before.  I urge you, in case you wonder more about very specific details on skills, we have a bunch of episodes on these, so look through those.

The more I think about this, when discussing it, I do see that the most interesting mistakes to me are methodological.  This is something you can turn into principles to some degree.  A lot of them have to do with very basic things like patience.

Make sure you are ready for the thing you want to do.  Make sure you rest enough before doing the next set.  You can’t know if you will manage the thing on your next set.  What you can do is set the boundary conditions with which you enter this next set.

Am I fresh?  Am I ready?  If I am, I will try.  If not I might wait a bit more, unless doing specific endurance or strength workouts.

These are important, and in relation to all this, understanding what kind of practitioner you are will help.  We start developing our habits and ways of working.  Sometimes it might be good to  try to break out of those, or see what happens if you change things up.

You might not always be doing the smartest things for yourself.  It’s both in the technical realm of doing this and not that, but it’s larger on the principle side of things.

As a side note, another big mistake is to think there is just one narrow path you must follow because someone said.

If you find examples of the other or opposite, by definition, the belief cannot be an axiom.  It exists in opposite of it.

EL: I think we will wrap it up there for today.  Common mistakes we’ve made so many times in the past that we actually realize we made mistakes, to now share with you.

Other than that, thank you for listening.

I do have a request!  If you have gotten this far into the podcast, it means you must like us.  If you like us, I’d really appreciate it someone, anyone, can drop us a review or rating on whatever podcast app you’re using.

We’re doing really well on ratings, #1 podcast in a lot of countries recently for fitness, in smaller countries.  Pretty damn good.  But if you rate us, we could be more popular.

If you can, that would be awesome.

Please rate us. This is how I occupy my time.

To our listeners in Canada and Bulgaria, we’ve been the top podcast for a while.  Thank you so much.  I will stop rambling and hit outro.


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