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Vertical shape up

I haven’t written anything about practice/exercise recently (in fact, I haven’t written much of anything, but lets ignore that for now). Last time I mentioned anything about this was probably last autumn when I posted a list of dreams and ambitions, some of them loftier than others. I have been working on some of those ever since, but over the last few years, I’ve focused more on exercises in the horizontal plane, mainly planche and front lever progressions. As the title of this post implies, I intend to add focus to the vertical plane (e.g.. pull-ups and handstand push-ups), hopefully without losing too much focus on the horizontal plane.

I like combining exercises that are each other’s opposites, such as the pair front lever/planche and, as in this case, pull-ups and handstand push-ups. They are more or less the same motions, but performed in opposite directions and thus using antagonistic muscles. In this quest for vertical fitness, I’m going to use a two-pronged attack, using two of the programs that seem to be all the rage these days. Let’s look at pull-ups first.

Vertical pull – The 50 pull-ups program

This all started with a friend of mine showing a program where they claim that you can reach 50 pull-ups in only seven weeks. I said something like “no way, José” and simply dismissed this as silly. Of course, these seven weeks requires you to be able to do 15 pull-ups even before starting, but since I was quite sure that I could do that, I thought it was utter nonsense to think that I could reach fifty within two months. I still think it’s impossible, but even if I fail, it will still be some good workout.

Benchmark: Earlier this evening, I performed 19 consecutive pull-ups with good form and without kipping/bouncing. This means that I start in the most advanced category of the program. I performed the first session the same day as I performed the benchmark, but found it very hard to complete the last few reps.

Vertical press – The 50 handstand push-ups program

The loyal reader will know that I have attempted this before, but that I failed utterly for various reasons (I hurt my back the first or perhaps the second week). Before, I used the 100 push-ups program, which made no sense at all because ordinary push-ups are so much easier than the handstand version that most people can develop really fast. This time I’m going to be a lot more careful. I figure that pull-ups and handstand push-ups are roughly equally tough exercises, so a progression that works for one shouldn’t be completely off for the other. Therefore, I’m going to follow the same program for sets and reps for the handstand push-ups as for the pull-up

Benchmark: Apart from the pull-up benchmark, I also performed the handstand push-up benchmark (about three hours later after ordinary gymnastics practice, for future reference). I did 14 consecutive handstand push-ups with good form, of course against a wall. After that, form collapsed and I wasn’t strong enough to go on, although I think I have more arm/shoulder strength left. 14 is not enough to place me in the most advanced category, so I’m starting from level four, which is probably just about right.


I will report occasionally, but I won’t promise when or with what intervals. I will simply write when I think something interesting happens or I feel that I have something I want to write about. Perhaps I’ll write more on Facebook for those that are really interested, but since I think no one really cares that much, I won’t spam my website with progress reports to avoid wasting both my time as well as yours, dear reader. Feel free to cheer me on, though,  or ask how things are going, because that always helps!

Update: I realised that using the 100 push-ups program is just stupid. Why not use the sets and reps from the pull-up program instead? Two roughly equally demanding exercises should be able to develop roughly at the same pace, although from different starting points.

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  1. Slacker’s avatar

    I cheer for you! Beach 2011 kommer bli awesome. Låtom oss komma i form och bli ordentligt starka så vi kan göra saker andra inte klarar av :)!
    Go us!