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Vertical/horizontal shape up – 4 weeks

Four weeks ago, I wrote a post (read it here) describing two new physical challenges that I would undertake, both related to vertical pulls and presses, namely handstand push-ups and ordinary pull/chin-ups. I also said that I would report regularly, and seeing that exactly four weeks has passed, this seems to be as good an opportunity as any.

Adding a horizontal component to the same workout

Over the past four weeks, a steady exercise routine has been established, which is performed three times a week (twice before ordinary gymnastics practice and once before diving on weekends). I do the following four exercises in the following order.

  1. Planche
  2. Front-lever
  3. Handstand push-ups (HSPU)
  4. Pull/chin-ups

The first two should be familiar to anyone who has read anything about what I practice during the past three years or so, but I still have quite some way to go before achieving planche, but a significantly shorter time before I get the front-lever. I’m currently focusing more on form for the planche, meaning that I’m doing five sets of 15-20 seconds with what I consider to be almost perfect form. When I have increased this to around 25 seconds, I will start moving out into straddle planche, which still seems a long way away.

Building strength in the vertical plane

I started out four weeks ago with a maximum of 19 consecutive pull-ups and 14 consecutive handstand push-ups. I have followed the exercise program over at 50 pull-ups, both for pull/chin-ups and HSPU, starting from level 5 for chins and level 4 for HSPU. In general, things are going quite well, or at least better than I thought it would. Let’s look at chin-ups first. Considering that my maximum before starting was 19 and what week four looked like, I’m quite satisfied. This is what the progress looks like so far:


Green crosses for completed sets.

Starting with week number four, I have doubted that I will be able to finish one or more sets on any given day, but so far I’ve been able to do the required number of repetitions. Week 5 looks quite daunting, with starting repetitions of 22, 24 and 26 respectively. That means personal records three times in one week with a considerable number of reps to do after that. It’s doable, I think, but not easy. It’s interesting to note that from now on, the strain keeps increasing on the first set, but is actually reduced on the middle three. It’s usually a very demanding first set, then relaxing for three sets and then maxing. I have no idea if this works, but we’ll soon see.

What about the handstands push-ups, then? Admittedly, starting from week 4 for HSPU has been quite easy and I have never been close to failing any set during these four weeks. However, I haven’t jumped ahead in the program simply because I know the perils of advancing too fast with heavy handstand workout. It’s worth to take a few extra weeks to be on the safe side. This is what it currently looks like:


Green crosses for completed sets.

Some final remarks

The best thing with all this is that I feel that the combination of vertical and horizontal components cover almost everything except leg strength. These four exercises are very efficient and can be done four five sets each in less that forty minutes. I feel that the only thing I need strength-wise apart from this is some leg workout and perhaps some extra core, but that’s about it. Managing all the strength training I crave in one program done three times a week. Actually, it feels great!

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