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Physical skills and feats – dreams and ambitions

Reading the tag line on this website, it’s easy to believe that I’m a person who enjoy mostly abstract things, or at least activities that require more mental than physical effort. That might be true, but one reason that I don’t write more about physical activities is that there seldom is anything of interest to write. I exercise, I don’t necessarily like to write about it. However, there is one exception.

As I’ve noticed more than once, using my website as a screen on which to project my goals and dreams has been a useful method to accomplish said goals and fulfill those dreams. During my two years in Taiwan, there were a number of factors that limited my progress (mostly climate, but also lack of training partners), but now that I’m back in Sweden, it’s time to get serious if I ever want to achieve anything.

What I’m going to do is specify a number of things I want to achieve (these have stayed the same for a long time and I don’t think they are likely to change a lot in the future) and then I’m going to report regularly (perhaps once every two months or so) to make sure that I’m making progress. Some of the skills I describe here are incredibly hard to learn, and since there are quite a few of them, it’s unrealistic to believe that I will make progress on all fronts at all times. However, I intend to move in the right direction and I intend to start now.

Below is a description of what I want to achieve and where I am at the moment. I’m not going to explain the exercises, so if you don’t know what something is, use Google or YouTube. I will also hazard a very rough guess on how long I think it will take to achieve this skill with diligent practice. These estimates might be completely off, but I prefer to write something which is wrong rather than not writing anything at all.

Planche (nothing weird, just very, very hard)

This is a skill I’ve been working on for quite a while now. It takes a lot longer to learn than most people believe, because of the high risk of injury in the elbow and shoulder joint due to the extreme stress they have to take. I’m still stuck at doing tucked planche with straight back, but I might start experimenting with the straddled version in a month or so. The final goal is a minimum of five seconds.

ETA: 1,5 years

Front lever (on horizontal bar or rings)

I’ve been doing front lever progressions for about the same time as planche progressions, which is some time now, but with too many breaks. I would be ready for straddle front levers now if my legs were more flexible in that direction, but, alas, I can’t.  A tucked front lever with straight back is way too easy (I’ve held it for over a minute), so I need to find another way to progress. Right now I’m doing the straddled version with bent knees. The goal is the straight position for at least five seconds.

ETA: 6 months

Handstand push-up with clap (freestanding, forehead to floor, jump with clap, land with balance)

This feat looks very hard, but I think it firmly belongs in the “easy” range of the exercises I’m presenting here. I have a record of seven consecutive freestanding handstand push-ups and I don’t think I need that much more to add the clap. It will require more explosive strength, but that certainly isn’t impossible to get.

ETA: 6 months

Muscle-up (on bar or rings, with control, from dead hang)

A muscle-up is something I’ve never practiced specifically to achieve, but since I’ve done a fair amount of related exercises, I think it should be okay. The problem comes with the “control” and “from dead hang”. There should be no kipping here. At the moment, I can do an asymmetrical muscle-up on bars and rings, but that’s a lot easier than the real thing.

ETA: 1 year

Muscule-up to handstand (on rings, can you even do this on a bar?)

This exercise is of course a continuation of the previous one and should take a bit longer, but not very much. The biggest problem here will probably be the press to handstand on rings (provided that the muscle-up is already achieved). This will probably be hard, but not as hard as the muscle-up in the first place.

ETA: 1,5 years

Hand walking 100 metres (harder than it sounds)

I learnt to walk 30 metres in a week, but then spent a year moving up to 60 metres. Then I lost courage and didn’t make it farther than 70 or something like that. This is a goal I’ve had for a very long time, but I don’t plan to keep it for very long. Some endurance for hand-walking and handstands should do it, with some dedicated extra workouts now and then.

ETA: 1 year

One-arm chin-up (same as planche, nothing weird, just very, very hard)

Just to make things clear, this is a one-armed chin-up we’re talking about, not just simply using one hand but two arms or something like that. This exercise is similar to planche in that the elbow joint is under extreme pressure and one must proceed cautiously. At the moment, I’m doing weighted chins (5 sets of 3 reps with 15 kgs), but I should alternate with negative one-arms and add more weight.

ETA: 1,5 years

Handstand to elbow lever and back (requires some mean back muscles and balance)

I can do both quite easily since none of the exercises are difficult. The transition between them, with a straight body is something completely different, however. It’s very hard for me to say how hard it is, but I assume that general core strength, more handstands and planche training will do most of the job. I don’t plan to do any seriously dedicated work on this one for quite a while.

ETA: 1 year

Handstand to planche and back (almost impossible, but I’ll include it anyway)

Same as the previous exercise, except the trivial elbow lever is changed to the murderous planche. I don’t seriously think I will achieve this skill in anything that can be called the near future, perhaps never, but since it’s really cool (it requires so many different aspects), I want to write it here anyway.

ETA: 5 years

Front flip (standing still from solid surface)

Everybody knows what this is, nothing weird. I want to be able to do it standing still from a solid surface. The progressions are quite obvious (decreasing speed and making the ground more solid), but I still think I need more height to even try this. Right now, I can easily do this from 10 cm in a swimming pool, but that’s not the same thing. I need more height and better landings.

ETA: 1 year

Back flip (standing still from solid surface)

Same as above, but backwards. This ought to be easier technically, but I’ve worked a lot less on backward rotations in general. Since height is as important here as it is for front flips, they go hand in hand. Rotation speed forwards is not a problem, but it might be backwards. We’ll see.

ETA: 1 year

Front handspring (we’re talking about a lot of stretching)

If you’re ten years old, this skill is not very hard to achieve, but for me it will be. The problem is that my hip flexors are way, way too tight, which means that I probably can’t do a handspring at all, even if my technique was perfect. So what we’re looking at here is a lot of stretching for a year or so and then some practice.

ETA: 1 year

Back handspring (a little bit easier, but still lots of stretching)

I haven’t heard this from any professional yet, but it should be easier backwards. Still, it’s the same hip flexors than don’t allow me to bend in this direction very much, so much stretching will be needed. In fact, that’s the main reason I’ve included it here. I think it’s downright unhealthy to be as inflexible as I am in this particular plane of motion.

ETA: 6 months

Some final comments

If you want to help me achieve this, the only thing you have to do is ask me now and then how it’s going. You don’t need to know anything about gymnastics, simply making me think about this more often and show that you care will help a lot. Also, wish me good luck, because I will need it badly!

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  1. MuggasMorgan’s avatar

    I have had some time to eye through your goals and I realise I had similar ones about a year from know – that’s when I got into elite-fitness and accordingly, adjusted my goals to suit the events for competition in Athletic Fitness and Fitness Five (the biggest fitness-related forms of competition in sweden). The difficulty, from a purely technical standpoint, is much higher for you. I look forward to reading about your progress and will, if I can, provide with inspiration by reporting my own achievements to you. Here are some of them

    Bench press body weight: 30 reps
    Squat bodyweight X 1,5: 20 reps
    Chins: 35 reps
    Dips: 65 reps
    Bicepscurls with dumbell bar (back against wall) bodyweight X 0,5: 35 reps

    Within a year or two, I want to be the swedish champion in both AF and F5. High set goals, but not unattainable by any means.

    Good luck in your endevours. I’ll keep checking in!


    1. Olle Linge’s avatar

      Great! Yeah, I think there is a different focus, but that’s not a problem. Apart from what you said about technique, there is also a maximum strength difference. You want to be able to do 35 chin-ups, which is a lot, but still very different from doing a single one-armed one. I think you can do one of them without being able to do the other.

      I’ve done lots of chins before and that’s the only one of your goals that I think I would be able to reach without killing myself over a long period of time. One limitation is that I don’t have access (or don’t think it’s worth the money to get it) to a gym, so I’ll probably stay with bodyweight stuff (plus weighted chins).

      Looks like we both have a lot to do, so let’s keep going and keep each other posted!


    2. Olle Linge’s avatar

      I can confirm that the handstand is quite “easy” to do on bar. That means that without having done any specific preparations, I can hold a handstand on a bar for up to ten seconds if I’m lucky. The bar is almost floor-height of course, but it’s definitely possible to hold the position.