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New website

April 11, 2013

Hi everyone. I have a new website, that I designed to be able to sell my book on handstands on. The book is on in French, and I’m working on translating it in English. All new articles now appear on the new site, not on this one. Here is its address:

http://www.wandererstraining.com/

I hope you all like it. For any question or comment, please contact me.

Ultimate progressions: Upper body presses

March 20, 2011

Here is a very long list of upper body pushing exercises. Most requirements to these exercises are contained earlier in the list. Some aren’t in it, but they will be discussed on the video tutorials when they’ll come out. Exercises will be linked to their videos in the meantime, so you’ll be able to simply consult the list, and click on the exercises you don’t know to see tutorials on them. Hope you find these resources useful, and if you have questions, please send me an e-mail!

Push-ups on your knees with hands higher
Push-ups on your knees
Push-ups on your knees with knees higher
Push-ups with hands higher
Headstand (with hands, as a preparation to handstand)
Push-ups
Handstand (start practicing right there, cause it takes time to get good at it)
Push-ups with feet higher
Planche leans
Dips
Pseudo push-ups
Tucked planche (start working in before you need it!)
Dips in l-sit
Tucked planche push-ups
Elbow lever
Tucked press to handstand with bent arms
Straddle press to handstand starting with feet higher than hands
Tucked press to handstand with straight arms
One arm push-ups with hand higher
Tucked press to handstand with straight arms
Straddle press to handstand on flat ground
One arm push-ups
Straddle press to handstand from l-sit position (with your hands on something higher, like parallel bars)
Handstand push-ups at head level
Pike press to handstand from l-sit position (with your hands on something higher)
One arm and one foot push-ups
One arm push-ups with feet higher
One arm and one foot push-ups with foot higher
One arm elbow lever
Straddle planche
Elbow lever press to handstand
Handstand push-ups at full range of motion
Tiger bents
Straddle planche push-ups
Handstand challenges (at this point, you should be doing LOTS of handstand challenges to improve your balance and your form)
Assisted one arm dips (depending the level of assistance, it can be easier or harder)
Regulation perfect one arm push-ups with hand higher
Planche
90 degree push-ups
Planche push-ups
Planche press to handstand (with straight arms)
Maltease
One arm straddle press to handstand
One arm pike press to handstand
Regulation perfect one arm push-ups
One arm dips (on a bar, try to go lower at every try)
One arm muscle-up
One arm straddle elbow lever to one arm handstand press up
One arm straddle planche
One arm planche (because of counterbalance, it might be slightly easier than the full range of motion one arm handstand push-up)
One arm handstand push-ups
One arm elbow lever to one arm handstand press ups
One arm 90 degree push-ups
One arm planche push-ups
One arm planche press to handstand (with straight arm)

Ultimate progressions: how do they work?

March 20, 2011

I will publish very soon lists of exercises. Each list will be about a motion of one part of the body. Per example: upper body pressing, upper body pulling, core flexion, core extension, lower body pushing, lower body flexions. The exercises will be sorted from the easiest to the hardest. Some of them are interchangeable, or the difficulty can vary from one person to an other. Also, many different exercises can be used in the same time.

Those lists are designed to be used with pretty much no equipment, or very low cost or DIY equipment, allowing you to be able to train in all kinds of environments, while developing awesome extra abilities like balance, flexibility, coordination.

I will keep them updated, as every time I will find a way to improve them, I will make changes on the list. In the same time, I plan on making video tutorials for exercises from my lists (and probably lots of other exercises as well), starting from the easiest exercises to the hardest ones.

It is important to note that some of the hardest exercises of my lists might never have been accomplished, but they are goals to aim for. In any case, if you reach the point where you have to work on them, you probably don’t need my guidance anymore, unless some years have passed since I wrote this post and I reached a whole new level.

Now, concerning the progressions themselves, I suggest the following article:

https://wandererstraining.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/progressing/

It describes a very good way of using my lists, and I suggest that you do that on multiple levels. Per example, if you can do an exercise from a category for 20 repetitions, and an other exercise from the same category for less than 5 repetitions, I think it could be a very good idea to do both at the same time, if it is possible. If you chose exercises from the upper body pulling motions, you could take one arm chin-ups and pull-ups, if you can do both of course. You’d do, let’s say, 4 sets of 1 one arm chin-up, then, two sets of as much pull-ups as you can. And on both exercises, you’d try to progress independently, but in fact, each exercise will help improving the other.

Online training consultations and follow-ups

March 15, 2011

I decided that I would provide online training consultations and follow-ups for donations. I’m going to have to move out of Vancouver soon, but I still want to keep an eye on people’s training.

So if you’re the type of person who doesn’t want or need a trainer to be by your side, and just need a general guideline, someone to answer questions (I already do that), or you don’t know what to do for your training and need a complete guidance, well, I’ll do all that for donations.

I’ll be vagabonding around again, but I’ll regularly have access to internet and eventually to Skype and MSN, so I could even do videoconference if the connection is good enough.

For the donations, I can accept Paypal, Interac e-Transfers, and if anyone have other means of sending them, share your idea with me, we can make it work!

Also, if you know people who might need that kind of services, please go ahead and tell them about me! I offer those services both in French and English, and you pay what you think it deserve. That’ll keep me away from starvation when I’m on the road. And people from all around the world are welcomed, too! 🙂

PS: No, it’s not me on the picture…

Why everybody should do some bodyweight movements?

January 31, 2011

Just reading the title, I’m sure many already found at least one good reason. I’m no soothsayer or mentalist, so I don’t know what you thought. But here’s my reasons:

1. Be comfortable moving your body around. This is very important for being athletic, which also helps in everyday life. With bodyweight exercises, you learn how to apply and coordinate tension in your whole body, which gives you a better muscle control.

2. Mobility. Doing bodyweight exercises helps increasing your mobility, and allows the use of various unusual positions which can play on your flexibility, balance, control, and since our bodies are pretty “light weight” (for most people), I think there is few risks of injury, and the mobility work doesn’t have to be grueling to be effective, you can just do it before or after your regular workout.

3. It can be done pretty much anywhere. To me, that’s one of the biggest points: using bodyweight exercises, I can train anywhere, in almost any situation. The only conditions are that you drink, eat and sleep enough, and that you have a sufficient health condition. If you have those four, you don’t need anything more to train. Besides motivation, of course. So whatever happens in your life, you can still have your training with you. Of course there is ways to get stronger faster, there is no bodyweight exercise that can replace heavy squats. But heavy squats ARE a weighted bodyweight exercise anyways. So, learning to progress with those exercises in parallel or complement to weight training gives you the ability to keep training even if you don’t have access to training equipment.

4. Progressing in bodyweight training means that you have to progress in your ability to move. By getting stronger, you will need to increase your balance and control in order to keep getting stronger. This is a requirement, a condition to improvement when it comes to bodyweight training. You just can’t keep the same exercise all the time, because it’ll become too easy sooner or later.

5. In bodyweight training, being lean is one of the biggest advantages you can have. Your body adapts, and it doesn’t want to carry more weight unless it’s efficient muscle mass.

6. You can combine it (and you should) with other kind of training you’re doing. You can only gain from it. Per example, did you know that one of Louie Simmons’s (Westside Barbell) advices for increasing powerlifters bench press (using the conjugate method) is doing repetitions records at weighted push-ups? If that’s good for guys who can bench press up to a thousand pounds, I don’t see why it would be too easy for weaker people.

7. Bodyweight training works well. It follows the same principles as any other kind of training, and it’s free.

8. It conditions very well your body for all kind of activities, be it your sport, profession, or other strength training and lifting activities.

9. Everybody should master their own bodyweight before starting to use weights. If you still can work strength with bodyweight exercises, you should keep doing them, and slowly incorporate weights in the same time basic bodyweight exercises gets easy. Mastering your bodyweight will help a lot mastering weights, and they will also reinforce natural movements, which can help preventing injuries.

Progressing

January 28, 2011

Anyone who trains should search for something: progression. Training is useless if it’s not for progression. At the limit, you can train for maintenance, but not indefinitely, and if you train just to “stay fit”, like by running on a treadmill in a gym for an hour, I hope you like it, because there’s more interesting activities you could do that would have the same effects. But this article isn’t about other activities. It’s about getting better physical abilities, like strength. And let’s use my specialty as an example: bodyweight movements.

There is always lots of different means of progression. Usually, you can notice an improvement when you can do more repetitions, even one, execute the movement better, or with a bigger range of motion, or with a greater leverage, do the same thing with heavier weight, or when the exercise simply feels easier. If you get any of those signs, then you are progressing. I am not talking about muscle gains here, but only about raw, effective physical ability gain.

You should be aiming to get those signs, and little by little you will increase your level. It takes time, commitment, constant efforts, and you need to avoid injuries. A very good way to get improvements is to practice a skill that is just under your maximum for several repetitions, or that is your maximum or very close to it for a couple of sets. Depending of the gradation of the improvement (you need to decompose your progression into graduated steps), you will have to get to a certain point before doing something harder. Here is an example: you’re in an empty room, and you want to achieve full push-ups. All you can do for now is push-ups on your knees. Between push-ups on your knees and normal push-ups, there is no intermediary exercise you can do. Then, there is two things you can do: knee push-ups for repetitions, until you increase the number of repetitions enough to get the necessary strength to do a push-up, or you can do negatives, starting in a high push-up position, then slowing it all the way down, in a motion that takes a couple of seconds. If that fail, you could probably make push-ups on your knees in a harder way, per example if you do them on one hand, or doing negative one arm push-ups on your knees. But you would definitely not fail learning to do push-ups, and you should use repetitions rather than negatives. Depending the number you’re doing, you’ll probably recover faster than if you do negatives, and you’ll be able to train more often. All depending the number of repetitions you’re doing, of course. If there is no intermediate exercise, switching from one exercise to the other can take lots of repetitions of the first one. Per example, for succeeding to do full push-ups starting from knee push-ups, you’d probably need to be able to do 15-20 knee push-ups.

But here’s an other example. Instead of being in an empty room, you’re in a gym, you got a squat rack with pinholes at every 2 inches, and a bar. Suddenly, you get much more options to progress. You don’t have to do as many repetitions anymore, because you can adjust the level of difficulty in a more refined way. Instead of passing from exercise A to exercise B in one step, you can do it more gradually. Instead of increasing very highly the number of repetitions, you can do push-ups with your hands on the bar, and the bar at a high that allows you to do no more than 8 repetitions. As soon as you would be able to do more than 8 (it’s just an example, you could do the same thing with 1 RMs – one repetition maximum -, with 3 repetitions, or with 50, all depending how you like to work), you’d place the bar lower, until it’s at its lowest, then you’d probably be able to do push-ups on the ground. The biggest amount of repetitions you gain, the biggest step you are able to do. The more steps you do, the less repetitions you need to get to the same place. But the way you work also plays a lot on the abilities you develop.

The principle is the same with weights. It is simply a matter of time (and intelligent training) before you achieve your goals. Weights have the advantage of being very precise, and therefore, they can be very gradual. Because of that, you can stick with low repetition sets pretty much all the time (but it’s a good idea to do more reps once in a while, and to variate a bit). Here is a progression that I like to do, because it makes me work lots of different qualities, without even changing the exercise. It is almost the opposite of specialization: it’s generalization. Some people specializes in the maximum amount of weight they can lift. Some other specialize in their appearance. Some of them specialize in endurance challenges. This progression can make you pretty good at all of them. But this progression is better for more experienced trainees, because it requires to start by using a very hard exercise. For beginners, I’d rather advice the opposite. I’ll explain it later.

What you’ll do isn’t complicated at all: take something you do for strength, and train it until it becomes endurance. Simply find a weight, or an exercise, that you can only do for few repetitions. Even if it’s only one repetition, it works. So, let’s start from a 1RM. At the first training, do your 1RM 2-3 times. You should do some warm-up sets before, and do other exercises as well. The next training, do one more set of your maximum. Do that until you can easily do 6 sets of 1RM of this exercise in your training. Just a remark, this works really good for bodyweight movements but for heavy weights, you should start further in the progression (more than 1 rep maxes), just to train safely. But bodyweight stuff is pretty safe for doing 1RMs. Keep doing 6 sets of 1RM for a couple of trainings, until it gets easier, until the motion gets faster and more fluid. It is important to get it to a point where your repetition is pretty fast. Once you get that, you should switch to the next one. Here is an example of progression:
3×1, 4×1, 5×1, 6×1
3×2, 4×2, 5×2
3×3, 4×3, 5×3
3×4, 4×4, 5×4
3×5, 4×5, 5×5
3×6-8
2×8+ until you get as many repetitions as you want, or until your strength has increased enough to go to the next step on your progression.

Note that more sets are dedicated to low repetitions than there are dedicated to high repetitions. The reason is simple: higher reps causes more hypertrophy, and I prefer to avoid that to keep a better strength/weight ratio. The goal should therefore be to pass through “hypertrophic range of repetitions” as fast as possible, and to increase the number of repetitions of the sets. If you are able to skip one step of the progression or spent more time on one, it’s okay to do it. You are the one feeling your body. But know that if you spend more time doing the same thing, you will see more “strength adaptations” than hypertrophy. That’s what gymnasts do, and what bodybuilders avoid. Strongmen, powerlifters and company are somewhere in between, and it also depends the bodybuilder’s priorities, ranging from targeting mostly strength and efficiency (like most the first bodybuilders), to targeting only aesthetic gains. Regarding that progression, I think someone should go up to 15-20 repetitions, or more if needed or desired. It always depends what you are trying to achieve, and you should always be spending more time working on your objectives. But I know for sure that it is longer to increase the number of repetitions when they are low than when they are high, so the lower number of reps you start with, the more time you’ll spend in the strength range.

For the beginners, I would recommend to do exactly the opposite. Starting from sets of 20, and working down to sets of strength. There is no real need to go up to working your 1RMs, and in fact it is not even advised for various reasons. But I think that a beginner should start with two sets of twenty, then slowly increase the weight or the difficulty of the exercise. Here is an example of progression for beginners:
2×20
2×15
3×12
3×10
3×8
3×6
3×5

In the advanced progression showed higher, each step can be done in one or two trainings most of the time. I think a beginner should spend more time on each of these steps. Per example, two or three weeks on each. It is important to condition the body, and to drill the lifts or movements in a way that promotes a good execution, a good form. Like that, the trainee risk less injuries.

To come back to bodyweight exercises, the main goal should be to work towards the next exercise, the harder one, all depending on someone’s situation. To use myself as an example, I know I will be back on the road in a matter of months. Now, I have the chance of living in a gym, so I use the equipment to increase what is easier to increase with weights (legs are a very good example). But I also keep in mind that when I’ll leave, I won’t have equipment anymore, and therefore, I should focus to get a good one arm pull-up before I leave, so like that I can start a progression from a 1RM with this exercise. I should also take advantage of the weights to do weighted full range of motion handstand push-ups, because it’ll help me to progress faster towards one arm handstand push-up. Same with weighted dips to one arm dips on a bar.

You gotta have to think about where you are going, and how you will be getting there. That’s how you progress.

Advertisement poster

January 25, 2011

Made a new advertisement poster. For those who live in Vancouver, you might see it around! And if you know people who needs personal training or want to learn stuff I can teach, please refer them to me! 🙂

My training philosophy

December 29, 2010

Stay healthy
Being healthy is essential for doing everything properly in life. Both your physical and mental abilities requires a certain amount of health. Therefore, you should listen your body and eat good foods that contains a wide variety of nutrients. Eat enough, but avoid exaggeration. Manage to always have good quality sleep. This aspect is often neglected, but essential. Keep a good hygiene, but manage to challenge your immune system regularly. Feel what make you weaker, and avoid it, unless you train to be immune to it. Per example, cold weakens your immune system, but by bearing it regularly and compensating with good food, good sleep, and warmth after you’re done, it won’t make you sick, and you can get good benefits from learning to be cold resistant. On the other hand, I’d avoid alcohol completely, as it haves various very negative effects on your body that you cannot (as far as I know) get immune to. You can increase your tolerance to alcohol, but it’s very specific and not very useful in most cases.

Train for efficiency
First, you have to know why you’re training for, and train accordingly for that purpose. You can have many different goals. Mines are simply to be ready for all situations, and always find my way out of it. Surviving by overwhelming anything that can go in my way. I think that if you train with that purpose, it can give you good results in everything you do, be it sports, martial arts, professions, general fitness or getting big muscles. I also think that you should train motions, and not particular muscles. Thinking about articular muscles too much leads you to forget that muscles are never used alone, always work in groups, and have a particular range of motion that’s almost always a good thing to improve. But you can work in isolation to correct weaknesses. There are also particular abilities that can be more important than others. A good example would be strength, that leads to ease every effort you make, and is essential to develops other qualities.

Learn to never give up, then learn to give up
You should be training all your life long. Unless you train solely for a career, there is no reason why you should ever stop training. But like for training, life isn’t always easy. Learning to never give up in training helps to prepare you to overcome every challenge life can throw to you. It is a mental training. You shouldn’t always train your mind in every training. But make sure you’re ready, and feel when you need to train your mind. You can decide to meditate, run 100 km, do a high intensity training that makes you puke or pass-out, do something that scare the shit out of you, fight, inflict yourself pain to learn to manage it, take a frozen shower. Or simply going to train every time you’re supposed to, when you dislike it, and make a healthy habit out of it. But whatever you do, do it well, and never give up. That’s simply how you learn not to give up. And after learning to not give up, you have to learn to give up, to help you, at the end, to endure what you might face by not giving up.

Training sessions never end
Once you stopped doing exercises, you’re never really done with your training. You have to recuperate. You have to stretch often, and keep a good blood circulation in our body. You have to keep eating properly, to sleep well. And you have to do everything the best you can, seeking the highest quality you can achieve. By doing that with everything, you learn to do that in your training as well. And while you do something else, you can also seek the most efficient motions, and find challenges, which leads you to develop better qualities.

Training should give you more independence
At the end, your training should be leading you towards a greater independence, by improving what you’re able to do, giving you a better knowledge of yourself, and teaching you to face your fears and unknown. It should teach you that you can rely on yourself as well as some of your limitations, and how you could push them further away or not. It’s why you should understand your training, even if you are being trained by someone else. If something ever happens, you should be able to keep training yourself, and even if you want to keep being trained, which is not necessarily a bad thing, understanding your training will help you and your trainer to give you trainings of a better quality. And, let’s face it, there’s less things that can stop an independent person than a more dependent one. You should also make in sort not to be dependent of your training. Don’t ever say you can’t train because you can’t go to a gym, or because you don’t have a trainer. You can always find a way to train, and that is part of making sure your training is also independent.

Train to be complete and useful in all situations
As I already said it, I see training in a really practical way. You have to carefully chose how you train, and why you train. I personally think that specialization can lead you to have overall more handicaps than being pretty good at everything. It’s sometimes the case with sports. Here’s two examples: a high level marathon runner, and a high level powerlifter. Both sports brings big benefits, but at the expanse of other abilities (if you go far enough in specialization, of course). Highly specialized marathon runners doesn’t have any power, and to be lighter, they don’t have any upper body strength. They get incredible times in marathons, thought. But what about the rest? Highly specialized (especially the heaviest ones) powerlifters can also develop problems related to their sport, and if one can squat over a thousand pounds (with gear), he might as well weight 300 pounds, and that is pretty tough on the heart. Plus, there’s good chances they’ll end up with a serious lack of mobility. An other aspect of training to be complete is also identifying our weaknesses, and correcting them so they don’t slow us down anymore in the future. Correcting our weaknesses also leads to a greater independence.

When serial killers took me to a field

December 28, 2010

It was the beginning of 2009’s September. With a friend, we were leaving Winnipeg, heading West. We walked on Portage Avenue, until we got at the limit of the city. We dropped our bags, and lifted out thumbs. A couple of minutes after, I see a car approaching, really slowly. But even if that car was going slowly, it was still zigzagging. I had the feeling it would stop, but this time, I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or not.

The car stopped right in front of us like I felt it would. Inside the car, there was two native americans. They asked us if we wanted a ride, through the lowered passenger’s window. I wasn’t sure at all about if I should accept or not, but they didn’t smell like alcohol, so I agreed. I opened the back door of the car, pushed my back as far as I could in the car and hopped in, followed by my travel mate. As soon as he closed the door, our new friends started rolling again, still very slowly and zigzagging.

When they asked us where we were going, we answered that we were heading West. They answered they weren’t going really far, but that they’d just drive us further outside of the city, at the condition we could help them with something. I asked what did they need help for, and they said: “There’s a guy who sells fruits. But he sells them in packages only, never at unity. The other day, I wanted to buy him just a single apple, and he refused. In the trunk, we have an old television. I want to throw that television right in front of his kiosk, so when he looks in front of his kiosk, he just sees a TV staring at him, empty and broken.”

That seemed really strange to me, but after my travel mate and I exchanged a look, we agreed. After all, it wouldn’t hurt anyone. But on the sun visor, I noticed a letter. I discreetly start reading it, but all I can read is: “For Mr. *****, from Mr. *****, psychiatrist”… I also noticed that the driver had a very long knife along his leg. I think about trying to communicate it to my travel mate, but well, I didn’t want to show any kind of fear. Most of the time, one of the worst things to do is to show that you actually worry rather than staying cool.

So, they drive in front of the fruits kiosk, we throw the TV in front of the kiosk, and get back of the car. A lady stare at us from the kiosk, and the front passenger says to her: “Hey, can I get only one single apple?”

– No, I’m sorry, we only sell those in package, she answers.

-Tell your husband he’s a bad man! said the passenger.

Then, they started to argue, and we ended up leaving. Weird. Then, something more weird happened. With a scary expression, the two men asked us if we wanted to see where they grew up. They described the place as some old house we can access by a dirt road across fields a bit further. That was a bit too “serial killer looking” to my taste, and I gently said that I would appreciate seeing that, but that we’d prefer to go further on our road before the sun sets. They insisted, so, we accepted, not wanting to be disrespectful to people who were, after all, helping us.

Ten minutes later, they turned out of the highway, on a narrow dirt road across fields. They kept going for maybe five minutes on that path, then we arrived in the middle of a field, and they stopped the car. There was no house around, and under the car’s tires, the soil was dried and hardened by the sun. I was really wondering what would happen, and was mentally getting ready to fight, without letting it appear. They get out of the car. I hesitate to leave the car, because I don’t want to leave my few belongings in some weirdo’s car. But they ask us to get off, so we do it.

The driver says: “Here is where I grew up. I have a question for you guys. Do you live from the earth?” Seems to be a honest question. So, I answer honestly: “Yes. All of what we eat and drink come from the earth. We sleep outside all the time, and we really like nature, it’s beautiful, and we’re grateful to be on earth.” Then, the driver pulls his knife out of it’s sheath.

I thought that now, they would attack us, because they thought I was lying, or something like that. But I stayed still, calmly smiling, waiting to see what would happen next. Then, he raised his knife, seized the blade with his other hand, and pointed the handle at me, saying: “You’re good guys. Here, we’re in a garden we used to grow vegetables in when we were kids. There’s still people growing vegetables. Take my knife, and use it to get as many vegetables as you want.”

We took lots of carrots, radishes, and tomatoes. Since I was really hungry, I ate a tomato right away, and I can tell you, it was the best tomato I ever ate. Thanks a lot to those guys. Yes, they were weird. But they were good people, respectful of the earth, and they had hearts of gold. And they haven’t been the only “scary” people that helped me on my way.