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Shaping up (not yet)

It’s now six weeks since I said that it’s time to shape up. Since then, I have followed the schedule I devised, at least in general, except for one week I rested because of a troubling pain in my back. I said I would write something about how it’s going later, when I actually have something to say, and that would be now.

First, a general observation. This exercise regimen (see the previous post) is extremely demanding for the forearms and hands, something I anticipated, but didn’t really understand until I had tried it properly. Even now, after six weeks, I still feel that my forearms are not strong enough (or in other words, for some of the exercises, the limiting factor is not strength or endurance in the target muscles, but rather in the forearms and hands). Each session starts with one minute planche progressions and one minute front lever progressions, which perhaps don’t sound that stressful for the forearms. They aren’t, except perhaps at the very end of the last front lever when my grip starts feeling weak. However, I don’t regard this focus on hands and forearms as something bad, because it’s useful for almost any other kind of practice and probably prevents injuries later.

Moving over to the the first of the two routines, the arm/shoulder part of the program has worked very well so far, both regarding self-discipline and actual progress. There were some parts I had difficulties completing the sets (advanced tucked planche and handstand push-ups come to mind), which I can finish more or less easily now. At last, I feel that my planche is progressing, something I haven’t felt for a long time. For the earlier sets, I feel strong and can strive for better posture and raising the hips, whereas at the beginning of this period, I had to struggle even to complete the sets. The planche workout is still exhausting and I still find the latter sets almost hopelessly difficult at times.

Regarding the core/leg program, I’ve had some problems, partly for practical reasons, but also due to lack of self-discipline. I have recently begun playing around with different exercises here, modifying some, removing others. I think I’m homing in on something I like, but it’s too early to be sure. My main problem is finding good core exercises which work well with leg exercises, but perhaps the key is to separate these parts entirely. The only truly good exercise I’ve found apart from L-sit (not really new), is back arches, which for some reason make my lower back feel a lot better (even though my old back problem is mostly gone, it still haunts me, and back arches seem to make it better).

Looking ahead, I plan to finish the eight weeks of the program (three weeks left) and then spend one or two weeks just playing around with various exercises, testing new limits and trying to assess how far I’ve come. I’ll advance some of the progressions, but I’m afraid I still have a very long way to go both for planche and front lever, but these sections will definitely remain on the program in roughly the same manner as before. Other things might change, for instance I might start focusing on the one-arm chin-up again or focus more on handstands. To round this article of, I do feel a lot more in shape than six weeks ago, but I think I need to complete these eight weeks and then forage further ahead before I feel that I’m firmly on the road towards accomplishing some of my long sought-after goals.

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