Travis Ewart, Invictus Gymnastics Coach, drops some knowledge today. He is a USA Gymnastics Coaching professional who has worked with 4-year-olds all the way to top Games Athletes. We talk about building a handstand pushup from the ground up, getting fluent with freestanding handstands, the intricacies of handstand walking, and so much more.
· (9:59) – Gymnastics levels
· (14:54) – Breaking up the monotony
· (19:03) – Beginners
· (22:54) – HSPU from the ground up
· (27:38) – Body awareness
· (30:05) – Building confidence
· (32:55) – Difference between training for HSPU vs HS Walks
(37:53) – Static Handstands and Walking
This is Travis Ewart and you’re listening to the Airborne Mind Show.
Misbah Haque (00:35):
Hello, everyone, this is Misbah Haque. Thank you so much for joining me today. And welcome back to the show. Whether this is your first, second, 10th or 30th episode, I appreciate you tuning in your time, your energy, your attention, and your ears mean the world to me. Without you listening, this show would not be where it is today. So once again, thank you. Before we get started, the biggest compliment that you can give is by leaving a review on iTunes, you have no idea how much that helps in terms of rankings, bringing more awareness to the show, and bringing on more interesting guests. So if you could take two or three minutes, not while you’re driving, but take two or three minutes go ahead, leave a review it would be greatly appreciated. Also, be sure to head over to the airborne mind comm where you can check out some free resources and the full show notes there as well.
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Today my guest is Travis Ewart. He is the Invictus gymnastics coach and has been coaching gymnastics for over 21 years. He was on for episode number 52. So if you haven’t listened to that, please go ahead and do so. But really what fascinates me is the way that Travis looks at movement and the way he develops the systems to be able to train people. It’s very unique because he wasn’t really exposed to CrossFit until very recently. And a majority of his coaching experience came from working with kids. And if you’ve ever worked with kids before, it’s challenging, and it’s a different ballgame. So for him to be able to take some of those experiences, apply it to elite level athletes, and then beginner and intermediate level athletes as well. It’s really fascinating to me the way that he gets his points across the way he kind of helps you think about a certain skill or movement.
So in this episode, we do dig into things like pull-ups and handstand push-ups and handstand walking, and the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts behind some of these things that I’ve always been curious to ask a gymnastic specialist. And he also gives me some coaching points on my handstand walking based on the kind of what I told him. And I hope you’ll find a little bit of use out of that if you can relate. So I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did, and more importantly, hope you do something with it.
Travis, welcome back to the show, man!
Thanks for having me twice. It’s an honor the first time and even better the second.
Misbah Haque (04:31):
I’m really excited because it’s been a couple months since we saw each other since we did that episode. And on both ends. I feel like a lot has happened. I mean you’ve gotten to travel and do these camps. Your Invictus gymnastics program has grown. And last episode I highly recommend if people haven’t listened to it, they should because we get some more context on like how you I mean this funny stories on how you got into Invictus and just like your journey overall, just to give some context but we started to kind of dig into the way that you look at gymnastics and your overall philosophies on movement and things like that towards the end. So I’m excited to kind of dig into some of that today. Me too. Tell me a little bit about the camp man. How did the camp go? Invictus camp?
We’ve done several camps. Most recent one was here in San Diego. And then before that was Portland, before that was Dubai. And before that was Amsterdam. And then we’ve also said a number of others here in San Diego. So depending on which one you’re talking about, they were all pretty amazing. They’re all really different to have to say.
Misbah Haque (05:41):
What’s different about him? Because I saw the ones mainly the ones that I saw were from San Diego, and then the Dubai, which looked freakin awesome.
Yeah, Dubai was great. Such great hosts are awesome people. The Middle East never thought I’d go there to coach gymnastics to a bunch of muscular people.
Misbah Haque (06:01):
What a ride, huh?
Amsterdam was amazing. It wasn’t an amazing city. It really was. And the weather was perfect for us. And you get to ride bikes everywhere. And people are so nice and very funny, like a laid back group of people. So yeah, that was very, very cool. Same thing with the camp two, as not much of a difference there to the description of the people from the city, but the camp people that are very attentive, respectful, happy to be there, funny and just they all seem like they know what they want, and they know why they’re there. And they’re just ready to listen and work hard. And so all the camps seem to have that in common, but just everybody’s a little bit different. And you get a different vibe, just being in a different gym. So, yeah, they’re just all amazing, but just definitely all different.
Misbah Haque (07:04):
Tell me a little bit about your role within the camp. You have a certain amount of time to coach people in gymnastics and kind of give them the lowdown on what you want them to kind of take away. What’s the flow of what kind of what you do look like?
What I do for cancer three days, you get a Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, typically Dubai was Thursday, Friday, Saturday, which was a little different, but the camp, we have a kind of a meet, greet, and eat, I like to call it on the first night where we get to meet the athletes play around with some things and then just kind of like, Alright, nice to meet you then see in the morning, and then through the, through the time that we’re at the camp, our jobs as coaches are too kind of float and help out supporting whichever coaches are actually coaching at that time. And after doing so many camps because I’ve done the San Diego campus as well. But after doing so many camps, you really know what CJ is looking for in his movements. Recently, we added Jared entertained to our, our staff, our camp staff in our online programs, and learning more about what he wants, and that way, I can walk around and not everybody is like an elite-level athlete, and I’m not weightlifting coach expert or anything like that, but being able to help them with their weightlifting, with the stuff that Sam has them do because I get to do it along with him.
Sometimes we jump in, and we’re working with the athletes by helping like a coach or sometimes we’ll jump in and actually be the athlete. So it’s a good time. But as far as my coaching sessions go, we aim for an hour, we usually break up the group. So, I’ll be coaching while Shane’s coaching the rowing section, or Sam’s doing his breathing or, just we always got something going on. We tried to make gymnastics and our, and then switch groups and I tried to duplicate the information, it’s not really a perfect science at that point. Because you remember something you left out or you leave something out, and you add something to it. But so usually we go through like a global warm-up, and then we’ll strike on a skill and then really just dive deep in the skill, pause to do some work, and then jump back on, the learning wagon and just try to like push solid information, things that we can say absolutely. For certain are these things. And then, take questions as we go.
Misbah Haque (09:59):
I know you mean, I’ve gotten a chance to take a look at what a program looks like from the Invictus gymnastics program. And it’s super fascinating to me, because it may not be as big of a deal to you, because you’re the one who created it. But it’s like looking from the outside. It’s very interesting the way that you structured and systemized a lot of this stuff to kind of flow for different ability levels. And I’m curious to know, how did you start? How do you differentiate between level one, level two, level three? So people that are kind of listening, how can they kind of figure out where they stand on the gymnastics continuum within maybe a certain skill, because I’m sure that dictates the type of training or the type of movements that you’ll do that will get you the most bang for your buck.
So I give as clear of a definition per level as possible. I think that you received that when I sent it to you, it said level one essentially, is, when you’re building movement patterns and strength for a skill, confidence needs to be grown with that. So even though somebody may be strong enough, mobile enough, or completely understand a skill, there tends to be a little bit of a fear factor as well. So level one is essentially just going through the motions, this is how your body’s going to move through the moat, the skill, building up strength for that making sure that they’re being mobile enough that they have a solid foundation because you don’t want to overlook something, like, say, a catch position in for ring muscle-up, if somebody’s strong enough to do all the polling, but they’ve never been in a catch position, they’re not comfortable, if they’ve never done a muscle up and they’ve they’re not comfortable in a catch position there’s a chance that they could harm themselves have a hand fly off behind them or something like that. Just taking the steps to build a solid foundation, until they get the skill.
And even when they have successfully completed, we’ll use ring muscle-ups, ring muscle-ups successfully. And they’re like, now I’m moving on to level two, they try level two, they’re like, I feel really good about this. But some of this kind of scares me. So they’ll back up to level one because I get access to all the levels. So there’s no harm and going back and just being like, I’ll do them. But I still want to build up my strength in my movement patterns. In that way, I can jump up on the rings and do a muscle up and not be scared, but I don’t need to do them, bang one out after the other level two. So to answer your question, level one, you try to learn the skill. And so once you have the skill, you break into level two, level two is building up consistency and more detail for the movement. So just finding a more efficient way to move. And then yeah, building a volume, which can be a numbing feeling. For a lot of people, I don’t know if, with your experience, I’m sure that you’ve experienced this yourself.
But you go through a movement pattern so many times, and all of a sudden, it starts feeling kind of strange and foreign, and I like to use the word numb. Because if you even say a word over and over the bottle and then start sounding really strange then you have to kind of break up the monotony. So adding a lot of little details into a movement that somebody already has, helps kind of keep it fresh. And then they can start applying these details into their movement to help produce higher volume, build up more strength, and so forth. And then level three, I would consider more of an upper-level competitive athlete. Even gymnastics level three is a struggle for me. I don’t train enough to just go bust out level three, no problem. It’s fatiguing. It challenges you to sometimes throw curveballs like you’re going to do five chess farm pull-ups right into two bar muscle-ups. So kind of throwing a little bit of a twist in there for those that do compete because you never know where you’re going to walk into a competition. So it’s geared more toward the more competitive athlete up to say regional level.
Breaking up the monotony
Misbah Haque (14:54):
Let’s kind of use it, I love the way that you frame the whole bottle and just like accumulating volume and that being that numbing sensation. What if we look at something like pull-ups? Right? That’s kind of a common movement that many of us, especially if you are in the sport of CrossFit, or even it’s just an overall great accomplishment to be able to do one pull up two pull-ups, three pull-ups, what does that look like in terms of what you’re describing with level one and two, like, once we’ve gotten that skill of being able to do a pull-up, and now that we’re building volume upon that, what are some of those things that you may throw in the mix to kind of break up the monotony.
At the program level, one will kind of focus on strict strength. That’s pretty much entirely what it’s based around, but you throw in some kipping movements in there, but not like kipping pull-ups where we’re not, we’re not trying to rip the shoulder out of the socket or anything like that. So there’s a, there are a million different ways that you can break up a pull-up, you can do pulses at the top of the bar you can do lat insertion pull-ups with which is basically from a long hang in a slight bend the arms in back down, slight bend and back down, driving your elbows out to the side, building up that insertion point in your lats for when you are doing butterfly once you get to that point, you can do half pull up pulses, you’re halfway up the bar, and then you’re pulsing. So there are a lot of different ways that you can break up a single movement. And when I’m programming this, I’m trying to hit different parts of the muscle, I’m trying to hit the insertion point, and trying to hit the belly of the muscle I’m trying to take, basically the biceps out of the equation in really use the lats to rotate the elbows on, say, like a chest bar pulses, or something like that. So really, there are a lot of ways to do that. And then, once you get into level two, it seems more monotonous. If you were just that, you’d be like, well now you’re doing kipping pull-ups.
Now kipping pull-ups, they’ve got to learn a butterfly pull-up. Nobody really wants to do kipping pull-ups, if a butterfly is an option, every time you Kip, a swing, you’re pulling on the bar twice. So that’s double the fatigue on your hand. Whereas a butterfly pulls up, you come down, you go right back up. So now you have less fatigue on your hand. Plus, they’re quicker. Plus, they look pretty cool. And yeah, so you can teach them from level two, now that you have a strict strain, and we know you’re not going to hurt yourself. Now we start working on kipping and we get the kipping. And now we have option one, option two, option one will always be easier than option two and three. So option one maybe every 10 seconds for two minutes, you’re going to jump up to the bar and do one kipping pull up. And what you’re trying to do is just establish, we’re not even talking about the pull-ups, we’re talking about how you jumped to the bar. So it’s how you approach the bar to get your rhythm, because that’s a huge part of it, too. Somebody who’s just hanging straight down from bar dangling, kind of swinging back and forth, and they start trying to go into kipping pull-ups.
And they might get a couple but then they have to do a couple of extra swings to break up the odd feeling of going swinging forward and backward, then they can feel like they’re ready to go into a couple more. Teaching them how to jump into the bar, how where your chin should be while you’re doing kipping pull-ups, which I think is a funny point. I don’t know if you ever saw the video that I posted. But say a kipping pull-up that you’re trying to translate into a butterfly pull-up, you’re not going to put your chin over the bar if you’re trying to do a butterfly pull-up. So if you’re if the object is to learn a butterfly pull-up, why would we teach a kipping pull-up with the chin going over the bar. So it just has to break the horizontal plane playing in the bar. So then you coach that you don’t coach the chin over the bar puller?
Misbah Haque (19:03):
I want to know when you look at somebody who is level one, let’s say right, they have a tough time even hanging on to the bar for a longer period of time. And I’m sure people can relate to this. Or as coaches, you may have seen this where people don’t have a business doing kipping pull-ups just yet because hey, we can’t even hang on to the bar for like 60 seconds. What’s the approach for that person aside from developing that grip strength and scalp strength to be able to have an active bar hang? What are some other tools that you’re thinking about with that beginner in mind?
It’s really important to allow a rest period for a beginner, say in a minute’s time, they need maybe at least half a minute to recover. So keeping them moving is really important, but also keeping them feeling like they’re being successful. They’re reaching that goal and that way they feel more inclined to pursue more work. I don’t know if that seems like it’s answering your question. But in order to get somebody to hang save from a bar for a minute, you have to let them know that they can do other work too. So you don’t want to blow them out and just say, you’re gonna do for five minutes pull up negatives at a five-second descent, hold on one second at the top, because they’re like, that’s not gonna happen. So what I do is I scale it, I take the pull-up bar down to the ground, and you band, a barbell to the rig, and then they get to put their feet on the floor. And now you say, now you’re going to spend the last 60 seconds of the session doing scale pull-ups, so you can use your legs as much as you need to, it’s totally fine.
So when their grip starts going there, they’re still struggling at the top, they get all the reps in, they blow their arms out just to the right amount because they’re not going to hurt themselves. It’s not that heavy, eccentric loading, where we’re not going to get somebody Rhabdo those are also things to look for. But so that, in order to build up that strength, you just gotta make it really Elementary, if I consider my mom coming into the gym, and even though she’s probably strong enough to do pull-ups, if I were to have my mom to set up pull-ups, or try to train her to get strong enough what would I do? Yeah, because my mom’s like, 60, something years old. She has, she’s, she’s over 60. But I don’t want her walking away feeling defeated. And I don’t want her, not coming back to the gym, because it feels like her arms are about to fall off. So just finding a nice little happy place there. And then, I layer the options on top of each other. So somebody has the option of saying, oh what, that was a bit strong. I should be doing option one instead of two. They tried a couple of times, they’re like, Yeah, screw it, I’ll go back.
That way they find their own place. They can, they can push themselves because I’m not them they purchase the program. They, they’re following it. They join the Facebook group, they’re posting videos, they’re motivated, do it, I don’t need to motivate them to push themselves, I’m sure that they can keep it in check. In fact, most of the time, I have to tell them don’t push themselves too hard. Anything resulting in injury is not going to be helpful.
HSPU from the ground up
Misbah Haque (22:54):
So if we now think about, let’s say, a handstand push-up. So we know that, okay, you need to be able to hold yourself upside down. You need to be able to maybe do negatives, right. But as I’m kind of looking through this program, there’s definitely like a three-quarter handstand hold on the wall and kicking to handstand on the wall. And like these different variations that are focusing on, like you said, kind of the different pieces or details of that movement. What’s kind of going through your brain when you introduce somebody, let’s take your mom, for example. Maybe she doesn’t really want to do a handstand push-up, but you get what I’m trying to say. You take somebody like that, how do you take them from kind of the ground up?
We have clients in houses, obviously, we do have gyms. So I can see what a lot of people struggle with. If somebody is it, a lot of people have a fear of getting upside down. It doesn’t, it doesn’t matter how strong they are. Sometimes they’re just scared to death, they’ve never had a bad experience with falling over and a handstand, they just start getting upside down, they just freak out. So you just put them in the position where you say, what you’re going to get upside down, but not really upside down, we’re going to get part of the way upside down. And if you can, you’re going to walk your hands in toward the wall a little bit or kick up to a handstand on the wall. I have a scaled version of that you put a foot on the box, he’s got your hands on the floor, and you basically just reach your back foot up without even jumping off the box and reach for the wall. Once they feel the wall, then they’ve got some sort of concept of where the wall is in regards to where their body is, when you turn upside down, your equilibrium is just like flipped 180 degrees, you don’t know where anything is at that point, including body parts so you put somebody upside down, let them hold on to objects that they know are going to keep them safe.
You get them to accomplish a small goal and it builds your confidence. And from there you just add a little bit of something whatever it is, well Now instead of just having a foot on the box or one foot touching the wall, you’re going to keep the foot on the box. But you’re going to keep the other foot off the wall and then just do a two little two-inch hop, and you’re going to hop that front foot off the box, make it hit the wall. So being a gymnastics coach working with kids, kids are fearless, and some kids are scared of their own shadow. So I’ve had a lot of experience with, we’re not going to freak out, we’re just going to do this like that, you’re, you’re not going to do a forward roll, you’re going to just look underneath your knees, and they will get their head upside down, they freak out for a second, they stand up, they know they’re okay, they do it again. And then you just build from that. So that’s why there are so many options.
And the Invictus gymnasts program is you do have to cater to people’s fears and abilities. So the three-quarter handstand on the wall is a good example. For a handstand push up. If somebody doesn’t have the strength to get upside down, I am not going to put them in the position where they’re doing handstand push-ups. I just finished programming next week. And yes, there is an option for a handstand push-up negative in level one. But disclaimer beneath if you begin to even feel like you’re hitting your head hard, abort the mission, and do this and set up the board it basic. There’s no reason why I would want somebody to kick up to a handstand, like, I really want them to do handstand push-ups, they dropped down their head hurt their neck, and then they’re just like, wow, I’m like, good try, no, that’s not what I want. I want them, I want them to feel safe.
Even on the handstand push-up, I’ll have them do headstands for 15 seconds, build up that feeling of being on their head, and support their body with no impact. So just take the time to break the little pieces up to ensure everyone’s safety and smooth growth. And I know a lot of CrossFitters are out there trying to just hammer it and like to get as much done as fast as possible. But the best way to get better at something is the safe way where you’re not getting injured, where you’re not scaring the crap out of yourself, you’re just taking it to step by step, and then learning your body’s abilities and what things feel like, because for a lot of people, I mean, I take it for granted as being a gymnast, so many years, but for some people like these, these movements feel super foreign. And they and just getting them to feel comfortable swinging on the reins. That’s important.
Misbah Haque (27:38):
That’s kind of something we, we may have touched on it a little bit in the last episode, but you have kind of grown up in that atmosphere, and you have an idea, or this awareness, this body awareness that a lot of us maybe don’t have, we didn’t play sports or didn’t explore a wide variety of movement at a young age until doing CrossFit or trying to practice these gymnastic skills. So that feeling like us, you just described it with like having your head on the ground and feeling some of that pressure a little bit feeling what it’s like to swing on the rings. How important is that to you?
That’s fundamental. You have to have that. If you don’t, if you don’t have a sense of like, somebody could tell you how to pick up a pen and write your name. But if you’ve never picked up a pen before, when you write your name, it’s not going to look right. So you have to have some sort of sense of how you’re going to hold that pen, how you’re going to push it on the paper, you’re not going to press the pencil down so hard that it breaks the lead. Like you need to know some sort of, you have to have some sort of gauge to start, a foundational kind of sense to nobody knows how much they wait until they’re on top of their head. Once you’re upside down, you’re like, this hurts a little bit and they have the option of kicking off the wall instead of just saying, you’re gonna do a handstand push up negative just kick off the wall when your head hits.
You can’t rely on that, on somebody’s natural ability to have cat-like reflexes in order to self preserve, preserve, having that sort of sensation of whatever it is, even hanging., the funny thing about hanging in the rain is I’ve worked with some clients that the rings are maybe four inches above their head, or above their hands, and they’re afraid to jump up there. It’s just as if they’re like they’re moving around, I’m like, they’re, you’re fine, I’ll help you up. They get up there and they’re, now that they got some assistance to make them jump four-inch jump. And I guarantee these people can do box jumps all day long. But to get for it. She’s off the ground to grab rings. It’s a foreign feeling to them.
Misbah Haque (30:05):
You’re right. That’s kind of the other element of actually coaching that. I got to see it while I was at Invictus. But you are pretty good at being able to meet people where they are. And like you’ve referenced a couple of times now helping them kind of build confidence every step of the way, and not being like that boot camp instructor type of coach that is just like, well get your ass up there, you know? Is that a learned skill for you? Or is that something you always kind of had?
It’s hard to say I’ve been coaching kids, or I don’t coach them anymore. Well, I coach a couple of them. But for 21 years, I’ve been a gymnastics coach. So I don’t know what it would be like not to consider some of these feelings. If that makes sense. Yeah, I don’t. I don’t want a little six-year-old standing up on a balance beam afraid that she’s gonna fall and break her neck. There’s nothing good about that. And even though you put an adult in a position where they’re scared, they don’t always scream and cry begging for you to help them down. You kind of have to assume that there is that fear element? And you have to expect it. Because if you don’t, you’re just being negligent?
I would say that I would probably consider it something I’ve learned. But just as a kid, I never considered, is she scared? It was more fun when I was a child and somebody was scared. As an adult, you’re actually concerned about their emotional stress. So, people do weird things when they’re scared. So you don’t want somebody to freak out from the top of the Rings bail and be leaning forward and fall on their face or break an ankle or something.
Misbah Haque (32:06):
It seems like your experience with kids and since it’s been so you spent so many years doing it. It’s just innate and like built within you now where it’s second nature to consider somebody else’s feelings. But I’m sure that your experiences with coaching kids had a lot to do with that kind of perspective that you bring. Let’s, let’s go on to what it’s like to come off the wall, right? Because it’s a different sensation when we now come off the wall for a handstand push up or anything like that. And when we’re just thinking about like, let’s say a freestanding handstand, hold or headstand hold or even handstand walking. Like, what are the big differentiating factors between the two there?
That’s a pretty broad question.
Difference between training for HSPU vs HS Walks
Misbah Haque (32:55):
Well, in the way that you would kind of maybe train it. If somebody came up to you and was like, hey, I want to learn how to do handstand walks or what’s kind of the approach there versus maybe developing that handstand push up? Or maybe there’s no difference? Maybe they have to go that route first.
I would say it’s really important to differentiate that a handstand push-up isn’t a handstand walk. Because I know that’s kind of a, like a dumb thing to say. But when you kick up to a handstand, push up, the walls are not moving. So you can slam your feet up against the wall and you’re absolutely fine. The amount of technique that you need in order to get upside down is much less for a handstand push-up than it is for a handstand walk, static handstand, or anything else along those lines. So if, say somebody’s like, I’ve got handstand push-ups. I want to learn how to walk handstands. I’d be like let’s go to the wall anyway. How softly Can you hit the wall? Can you hit the wall with your hands turned out so you don’t have any breaks? Because your hands are straight. You can use your finger’s breaks. Okay, now we’ll turn sideways like lateral to the wall. Can you kick up and press one foot to the wall? Sideways? I call us to side pressing handstand hold. Can you do this? If they can?
Can you now pull your foot off the wall? How do you feel about falling over? Does it scare you to death? Have you ever fallen over? Have you fallen and knocked the wind out of yourself? Because if so, those people will never kick up high enough. And you got it. You got to backtrack, you got to make sure that they feel like they’re safe again. Again, it comes to emotional stress and freaking out under pressure. Now that’s not for everybody and some people fall over and then they get up and they’re just like let’s do it again. But most people once they have that, that wind knocks out of them, if you take them to the open floor, they still need some sort of support. You’re not just you have to wean them away. Basically, you have to wean them away from their fears, you have to slowly build confidence out as you’re weaning them away, and just kind of fill that void as they get away from the wall with confidence that they have the skills to not injure themselves and like be able to use the skills that they have to procure more skill.
Misbah Haque (35:23):
Two things there, you said that I want to kind of dig into one was, he said, using your fingers as your breaks, and the other was being able to kick far enough, right? You said if they don’t have, they’re going to be if they’re not able to do that, or if they fell over really hard, they’re not going to be able to kick far enough. How important are those two things: fingers, rakes, and kicking your feet?
Fingers break. See how I can organize my thoughts on this. So static can stand where you just kick upside down, you hold the handsy and you hold your hands nice and straight, just like you were standing on your feet, your feet aren’t pointed straight out to the sides. Because they support you, if you start leaning forward, you can press with your toes. So the difference is that our wrists don’t like bending as much as our ankles. And so when you turn your hands out to the side, then you can lean further over your thumbs without having that excessive bend in your wrist. So handstand walking, I teach with the hands turned out not just for the sake of the wrists in the lean but also helps lock out the elbows. So if you do say a hand plank, your hands are nice and straight. In a push up position, chances are that you’re flexing your triceps to keep your arms from collapsing. But if you turn your hands out to the side and slightly wider than your shoulders, the pressure pushing down on your elbows will actually help lock them out. So causes less fatigue over time with handstand walks. Now the handstand with the fingers with breaks, that’s something that you would use to kick to it like a free stand. So you kick up, you feel like you’re going to kick a little too hard. Dig your fingertips into the floor and stop yourself from tipping over.
Misbah Haque (37:13):
Because I’ve heard that before, your fingers are like the toes when you’re upside down. Right?
But the palm is not necessarily like the heel in the bomb. It should stick out a little further on a wrist if we want to be really good at handstand walks. But that’s pretty much the premise, you just keep leaning forward just a little bit, basically weight over your knuckles, fluctuating between your fingertips and your palm just trying to stay away from the pond as much as possible. The other question that you asked about falling over, I’ve got this concept I call the 50% rule. And we talked about this last time.
Static Handstands and Walking
Misbah Haque (37:53):
Don’t think so. Dig a little deeper now. And I’ll tell you.
So the example I use is to say I’m in my garage. And my neighbor’s got dogs that just bark at any noise. And I’ve got to say a four by four post. And I’m just trying to lift one end and get it to balance upside down or balance on its end. Right. So I toss it up and it comes back down to my hands. I toss it up again, and it comes back down my hand. So I know that I’m not throwing it up hard enough. Have you followed me on this so far? So I’m trying to tip it upward. Now, if I throw it too far, I know it’s gonna fall over and hit the ground, the dogs next door gonna freak out and the neighbors gonna be yelling, and it’s just the horrible things in my mind upsetting my pleasant time. And basically, that’s what it comes down to with a handstand is like people, people want to kick to the handstand, they really want to get upside down. But they won’t. So they’ll just keep kicking and kicking.
Because they know that once they go up and over the top if they’ve had a bad experience like that board falling over the dogs barking the neighbor knocking on the door what’s going on in there. They’re gonna have this negative experience because of that one fall. And so for the for time, time on from there, they are going to have this tendency to shy away from vertical because even if I were with that four by four posts, slaying it up there is soon as it got to the top even if it seemed like it was like a perfect toss. It was going to balance itself on end. I would still jump up Freak OutRun over there. Make sure that could catch it before it falls on the other end. Does that make sense? Because it’s so close to being right. But it’s so close to being a disaster. And so when people kick up to a handstand I got that the 50% rule 50% of handstands to go over. So taking the same scenario. Imagine I said, we did not talk about this correctly?
Misbah Haque (40:02):
No we didn’t.
I was hoping you would stop me if we did. Taking the same scenario, say I’m out on the grass, and I’m doing the same thing. And I’ve got no neighbors, I am not afraid of that wooden board falling over. I spent hours out there trying to fling it up, and I’m not afraid that it’s going to go over. So if I don’t throw it hard enough, I don’t lift the end hard enough. I know next time, I have to lift it harder. So that’s basically what I call the 50% rule. So you and I get to play a game real quick. Okay. I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 100. And I’m going to give you four chances. But I’m going to tell you higher or lower. I wrote the number down.
Misbah Haque (40:56):
It’s funny pick 51. It’s lower than 51.
Misbah Haque (41:05):
Is higher than 32.
Misbah Haque (41:11):
It’s lower than 43.
Misbah Haque (41:16):
38 It’s higher than 38.
What’s that? You’re really close. So the number is 41. But if you could imagine, everybody’s got a number for their handstand. Okay. So the handstand, you step out to the floor, you go to kick up to a handstand I’m gonna guess this is a 51, right? And then you kick up and it goes over, but no harm. So there’s no harm going over too far. So that it’s safe to kick all the way up to a handstand, you’re not going to get hurt, you’re not going to die. Nobody’s gonna slap your hand for it. You just go again, and you’re like I kicked them too hard. Last time, I’m going to guess a little bit lower. So have no fear to kick to guess too high. Now obviously, I can’t slap you in person. But if every time you get too high, I smack you with something.
Could you imagine how often it gets too high? You’d be like, what you’re like, 25 I’m like, higher, you’re like 26 I’m like higher like 27 say I get it. You’re not ever gonna get to the number 49. So do you see what I’m saying? So like, if people have this fear of falling over and a handstand, they’re going to avoid kicking up higher and higher and higher, where you take the fear away, and then they’re good. So the 50% rule is basically saying, like the higher low game, half your handstands, in theory, half your handstands should go over too far, and half of them should fall back to your feet. Because if they continue to do one thing or another, you’re not learning from your mistakes, you’re not trying to correct anything.
Misbah Haque (42:52):
Interesting. So is this why you see, like the feet over how you see, like very different variations of handstand walking, where some people have bent legs, some people have like that straddle position. And really is what they’re trying to do just finding that sweet spot between one and 100.
So the 100 is used for, I would say 99% of the time for static handstands, so not applying the hands. When you kick up to a handstand, you do for a handstand walk, you want that extra lean. So if you’re not leaning, like balancing a baseball bat on your hand, right? Say you’re bouncing baseball bats moving around, you want to go somewhere with it, you’re going to let the top and move before you go right. And if it falls over a little faster, it’s fine, you can just move your hand a little quicker underneath it. So When you kick up to a handstand walk and you’re doing that your hands are turned out, you don’t really have that stopping point, your fingers aren’t going to hit the brakes, you’re just gonna start walking into it. And basically, you’re falling the entire time, you’re just falling in a controlled direction with a controlled amount of lean. And that’s the handstand walk.
Now you’re talking about bent legs, straight legs, a lot of people just improvise on the way that they shift their body weight. The bit leg thing, not a huge fan. I am not a huge fan of that at all. Most people will suffer from some sort of low back pain after long periods of handstand walking with that especially ladies. But the legs apart that doesn’t. That doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on the quality of the handstand walk. It doesn’t make it better or worse. In fact, if it’s more comfortable, they should opt for it. So yeah, that the legs apart is more like the side shifting if you could imagine like a penguin waddling or something like that. So head on drifting left and right to help shift the bodyweight over one foot to the other. It conserves energy.
Misbah Haque (44:57):
This is a super interesting man. I Love your examples?
Well talking to a six year old, I’m like the penguins? Waddle tune. So that’s what you’re gonna do with your body.
Misbah Haque (45:11):
How about head position, what’s with like, Should Where should our head in a static handstand. And then also, when we start to walk, what’s kind of the ideal head position?
Ideal or realistic or totally different. So the ideal head position would be a neutral head position for, say, a static handstand. So you wouldn’t be looking at your hands, you would be letting your head basically hang naturally beneath your body. And then you’d be looking basically, just way across the room the same height as the floor. So that would be a reasonable concept for a static handstand. But something about being that close to the ground, and then trying to control your balance is a lot more difficult. So watching your hands makes it a lot easier, you can see your hands move, you can use your head as a counterweight. If you start falling in one direction or the other, you can tuck your head in, or you can stick it out like a turtle and try to save a handstand. I’m skipping over a lot of details about that. But um, and then for a handstand walk, that’s kind of a tricky one, too. I’ve gotten to the point where I was doing a handstand walk for such a long distance that the back of my neck just started killing me.
Because I had it, it’s like you’re not used to pulling your head, the back of your noggin toward your butt for that period of time with resistance. So when you do that, sometimes it starts, getting into your neck, you try to let my head drop down and walk with my head look in the direction I came from the kind of like walking backward. That’s the view that you see. So t’s hard to tell somebody not to look where they’re trying to go. You’re like, don’t worry about the obstacles in your way. So I mean, looking, where you plan on going is pretty natural. The problem is, is that when people start sticking their head out too much, start losing a little bit of that upper body positioning their chest starts poking out, to keep that balance, they start arching their back and letting their legs troop over a little bit more so you’re just exchanging weight from side to side to get a better view of where you’re going.
And that’s, that’s not really advantageous in the long term your body is going to start breaking down from holding that position for so long. Here next is going to start hurting your shoulders or in a more of a disinclined position, and you’re using more like, pec minor than you are, trap. So that it just starts switching all sorts of mechanics around. So keeping your body relatively straight. And I say relatively because you can get away with a little bit of an arch, and it feels pretty comfortable, but relatively straight is probably as far as energy is concerned, most efficient.
Misbah Haque (48:09):
What would you say for so when I think of myself, and when I record myself doing a handstand walk, and I think this comes back to what you said about when you’re upside down your equilibriums, just kind of out of whack. And sometimes you don’t know where the rest of your body is in space. And I know, I noticed that my left leg kind of wings out a little bit. Like it’s hanging off to one side, and I don’t feel it’s like, I’m walking. But when I do break after whatever meters, it’s usually because that left leg just went too far off to the left and kind of brought me down. What do you think about the rest of your body? Are there any cues that you give people or any ideas or frameworks to keep in mind for keeping optimal positions that way?
First, I have to ask you, do you start with your right foot forward on the handstand?
Misbah Haque (49:04):
Right foot forward, as in the one that I kick up with?
Yeah, or the one in the front that you lead with?
Misbah Haque (49:14):
Okay, it’s my right. Yes.
Okay. Do you know how to do a cartwheel?
Misbah Haque (49:19):
Yes, but I haven’t done one in a very long time.
Okay, so your left legs. Just picture this. So how to do a cartwheel. You also know how to turn out of a handstand. I, I assume? Yeah. Okay. So you start with your right foot, your left foot, the first one to go up in a cartwheel, which is the first foot to land.
Misbah Haque (49:41):
In a cartwheel, which is the first one to land? Yeah, it’s your right foot on my left, right. My left. Yes.
So you start with the right and you land on your left. So you’re doing a handstand walk. You are going X amount of distance, your left foot starts dripping things off. And I guarantee it is the first one you land on, isn’t it?
Misbah Haque (50:03):
Yeah, if I don’t just bail off crash.
If you don’t bail and crash. So what you’re what it sounds to me is like, you’re already thinking in your mind the planes are not ready to land on the ground, but you got the landing gear down. So if you can look at it from that perspective you’re not really, I would say, you probably have a habit, but you also probably are expecting that you are going to be coming down. And that’s the way that you’re going to be coming down. So you’re, you’re already heating your body’s basically giving a tell that you’re not confident that you’re going to land safely and you’re ready to bail at any time.
Misbah Haque (50:44):
I can totally see that.
So that’s, that’s what I would start with is not like, Hey, you should have your feet together or something like that. And be like, hey, doesn’t seem like you’re as confident in your ability to finish this without crashing. So let’s talk about that.
Misbah Haque (51:03):
And so that goes back to what you were mentioning before, which is actually I don’t know if he touched on it but coming out of a handstand. You know what do you teach people, tell them to tuck and roll, turn out of the handstand, and land in that cartwheel type of position. Like how do you train that element?
My first approach is to teach them how to fall straight over without getting hurt. Yeah. So that’s the tricky part is you teach them because they need to know where vertical is. Right, right. The problem is, say for example, what you’re doing. So if I asked you to kick up to a static handstand, maybe you’re a little less confident than you already are. Pretend like you don’t have handstand walks yet, but you do know how to land, right? So how to do a cartwheel. What it feels like to like land safely. So you kick up to a handstand, you get 90% of the way upside down, and your body starts turning immediately, because you’re like, I kicked up too hard. I’m gonna have to come down, I got to keep myself safe. So what you didn’t experience was what it’s like to be straight all the way up vertical and a handstand, past that position, and then turn or and then fall. Because you’re never going to know what it’s like to hold that handstand position until you are actually in that position, the way that you plan on holding it. Did that make sense? So basically, people are like the same thing as what I said about your hand, or I’m sorry, your left leg sticking out the side of your handstand walk is if you always have this tendency to preserve your body by trying to bail out of something when it seems like something could go wrong you just pull out the last minute and just hit the eject button, put your feet down. If you have that tendency, then falling out of a handstand isn’t really your well.
To fall out of a handstand, the way that I would recommend isn’t really the first approach. So I want somebody to know that they are able to go straight up and over. That way they know what falling out of a Hansen actually is. Because if they don’t know what that feels like, I’m in a handstand. Going over, I’m going down and then being able to land safely. They don’t know how long they can wait before twisting, cartwheeling out which is the answer to the question in a big roundabout way. I do recommend cartwheeling out of a handstand. You just need to make sure that you build up the fundamentals. In the foundational knowing where a handstand is where vertical is before you actually twist out of this thing otherwise, who cares? Like how to fall great, but you don’t know how to handstand. Then every time they kick into a handstand, they’ll be like having this little quarter twist. It’s funny, somebody knows how to fall out of a handstand. They don’t know how to do an actual handstand, they kick up their hips are all twisted because they’re already thinking about coming down.
To fall out of a handstand, the way that I would recommend isn’t really the first approach. So I want somebody to know that they are able to go straight up and over. That way they know what falling out of a Hansen actually is. Because if they don’t know what that feels like, I’m in a handstand. Going over, I’m going down and then be able to land safely. They don’t know how long they can wait before twisting, cartwheeling out which is the answer to the question in a big roundabout way. I do recommend cartwheeling out of a handstand. You just need to make sure that you build up the fundamentals. In the foundational knowing where a handstand is where vertical is before you actually twist out of this thing. Yeah, otherwise, who cares? Like how to fall great, but you don’t know how to handstand. Then every time they kick into a handstand, they’ll be like having this little quarter twist. It’s funny, somebody knows how to fall out of a handstand. They don’t know how to do an actual handstand, they kick up their hips are all twisted because they’re already thinking about coming down.
Misbah Haque (55:19):
And I guess this is where those tools that you mentioned earlier with using the wall and going past vertical and learning what it feels like to go about past vertical kind of really comes into play. Very cool, man. I love that. I feel like we just did an in depth discussion on enhancing. No, I love it. No, because the way that you’re describing it I haven’t heard it described in that way before. And it just kind of put some light bulbs off in my head. So I got a couple more rapid fires for you. Okay, and then I’ll let you go. So we didn’t get to this last time, because I remember we were in the office, and we had like a tight deadline, and we had to leave. But I want to get, I want to ask you this. So let’s say that you had a couple billion dollars, right? And you had 40 people working for you, these 40 people are top performers, top thinkers in whatever it is that you’ve recruited them for. So time, energy, money, all that stuff is not really an obstacle, and you want to just do something with it. What kind of comes to mind for you?
I would love to have clean earth. I think that’s pretty simple. I mean, I would love to get the trash off the earth. And I mean recycling clean it up, like stop having all these disgusting oceans and garbage float around and drive down the freeway and have like a Safeway bag, hit your grill and stick to it. I just want everything cleaned up. I want more trees, less cars, less garbage. Just anything I can do to kind of promotes that.
Misbah Haque (57:16):
I love that. Cool. I love the speed of your answer on that one.
Well, it’s frustrating, I hate watching people litter, things like that. And then now there’s all this talk about global warming and our wonderful president not believing it. And it’s just like, I was watching something on a big hole in Antarctica. It’s startling. And Earth that takes care of us. If we don’t provide it with help, then. I don’t know what we can expect it to provide us with.
Misbah Haque (58:00):
I’m with you on that, man. Let’s say that you’re still a billionaire. And you want to give 123 books to every person in the world. Okay, I’m not much reason to mind.
I really don’t. I’m like more of a sci-fi guy anyway. So it’s not like, oh, yeah, I think this kid read the gargoyle. It’s really interesting. It’s about this girl. Like, no, we’ll skip me. Rapid fire. I don’t want to waste anybody’s time.
Misbah Haque (58:42):
I want to say like, let’s, let’s take books out of the equation, right? And you think of 123 pieces of content. So I don’t care. It could be movies, it could be a YouTube video. Something you find that’s useful to you or has been useful to you in the past? Maybe it’s just entertaining. But if you want to get it you have the option to get it in the hands of everybody in the world.
Said rapid fire. I don’t think there’s gonna be a very rapid answer. There’s, I mean, there’s so many things right?
Misbah Haque (59:14):
Don’t be ashamed of your sci-fi obsession. You can totally throw that.
But that’s not one of those things. I’d be like, dude, everybody needs to watch the matrix. Or like that, is it? And I don’t know that’s a really tough one. I don’t think that there are things that I’ve seen, I mean, huge ones like science. Also, not just science fiction, the actual science. About just life in general. I love National Geographic or things along those lines where people get to see parts of the world that they may not ever, ever get the chance to Seeing and just see how amazing everything is that they like to see, like documentaries of people that are doing charity work for those that can’t afford it. Maybe I can’t think of anything in particular, as a title for you, I really can’t.
Misbah Haque 1:00:27
No, that’s fine. That’s, I mean, what you just said is kind of what I’m looking for. It’s like, the kind of commonality between everything you just said is like, being able to give people a different perspective, right with, whether it’s National Geographic, or a documentary, on somebody doing meaningful work. It’s like, you’re giving people opportunities to be exposed to a different way of looking at things.
I think that’s pretty good. I just like it when people can, like, kind of get back down to the reality of us here. And there’s so much bad news lately shootings and these, these terrible massacres, terrorist attacks. And those are things that are really focused on a lot in the news, and it’s important to identify these situations, but I feel like, it can cause a little bit of a distraction from the other things that there are what are all the, for example, I was just, I walked to the store a little bit earlier, I turned around, and then the Diego, it’s always beautiful, but the most beautiful sunset and clouds, and it was just like, like, the perfect temperature. And I’m just like I wish I could take a picture of this, but it’s not even worth it.
I don’t even want to put a camera between me and that for people, for people to kind of get their head out of their asses and actually start looking at life and treating people like people and being real, responsible to everybody and everything around us. Without being so self-centered, I feel like that’s kind of what I wish upon people is to stop looking inward and start looking outward taking care of the things that surround them. Because the more you can do for somebody or something near you, the more that’ll spread because things get pushed outward, somebody does something nice for you, you do something nice for them. It’s that whole Pay It Forward thing in a certain respect, but I feel like the whole thing can be seen through these documentaries. Where people really do care where animals make friends with humans that aren’t trying to shoot them. So that’s where I would go with my ability to show the world my visual favorites.
Misbah Haque 1:03:12
Yeah. I love that. What would you do now, let’s say if everything you had was gone, right? Like everything you’ve accomplished is gone. And you only have $500 and a laptop? How would you get started, even if you want to kind of get back to where you are now? Or take a different path? What would be kind of your first step to hustling?
If you want to call it hustling. I already had thought of mine and I’m like, wow, that’s where I was going with that. I caught myself there. I’ve been coaching for many years. So it would be something where I would try to help other people by coaching them or working with them on like, I don’t know, just being a lightly paid shoulder to cry on if somebody needed to vent be one of those suicide hotline people, cuz you could probably do that from a computer. Something along those lines. As a coach, we don’t really get in this business for the money. I would be seeking something along those lines.
Misbah Haque 1:04:28
Is there something you wish people would ask you more about? I’m sure you get a lot of questions revolving around gymnastics and you love it. But at the same time, is there something else that you wish you would get more questions about?
I like it when people ask how my family is doing. Because I like asking people how their families are doing, because I think when we, when we talk to somebody and we see them, we’re like what’s up? But we are not really looking at the people behind them that help them grow into the person that we like and love. So I think it’s nice as people out there families are doing instead of just being like, how are you are like, good like that’s good for normal, I just waving by I’ll say it all the time walking through the gym how’s it going? I really do mean it like everything is good. But sometimes it’s really good just to stop and just be like, how are you? How’s your family? Things? I’m really happy to hear that. Wverybody’s healthy, great to hear. It’s things like that. I think, are few and far between when people actually do something like that. So you asked me because I want other people to ask each other. I think it’s important for us to kind of touch base and just show that we’re not just in your presence, because something that you have, we actually care about you and the people that you care about, too.
Misbah Haque 1:06:19
I love that man.
Misbah Haque 1:06:24
All right. Well, that was my last rapid fire for you. Where can we point people to work? We kind of follow along with what you’re doing and kind of support this journey of yours.
I’m not much of a social media dude. But we’ve got the Invictus gymnastics. It’s Invictus underscore gymnastics, on Instagram. So you can see some fun posts of our clients, online clients and house people, awesome athletes, and some goofy ones of mine. So there, we also are on the Invictus website, which is CrossFitinvictus.com. And you can find us under the well we’re changing the website pretty soon. But Invictus gymnastics you just Google that you can find us pretty easily. And if you guys want to come down to San Diego, doors are always open. We’ve got three gyms and we would love to have you at any of them. Drop-ins are totally cool. And I hear it a lot. A lot of people say that they’re like Invictus is such a big jam. It’s kind of a daunting feeling like going in there. We are nice, happy loving people. We’re a big family. We love visitors from out of town. We really want people to come in there just because it’s really cool to see new faces and get to meet people. So join the family just at least for a day.
Misbah Haque 1:07:50
I can totally attest to that. After being there for a couple of months, I was somebody who had that similar notion before coming there. It was calm and surrounded by intense athletes who are just like, I don’t know, like, there’s just this seriousness attached to it. But you realize that there’s normal people around, surrounding you, and everybody’s kind of very friendly. And it’s a nice homey environment. And the coaches are great.
And in addition to that you said there are normal people flowing around, but even the athletes art, or Garrett Fisher’s and Lauren NaVi, they’re, they’re great athletes. We have New York. Are you familiar with New York? bodkin’s daughter. Oh, okay. So married to Blaine. She’s a high-level athlete, then we get Kristin Holt coming in, we just got some awesome people in there. And they’re actually awesome people. They’re not just like, some face that you see, slaving away at CrossFit Games just like living their life in a weird secluded world. Like they’re nice people that you can walk up to and say hi, and they’re funny, and they’re kind of goofy and it’s a good time for them also everybody’s training but the six some of that seriousness out of it, and I think that’s what CJ said a really good job of since I’ve been there at least as just keeping that lightheartedness in the fun to it because when it gets serious, nobody’s really having a good time. And I think we’re all doing this for a good time and for our health but we really want to have a good time. So yeah, even the competitive athletes, everybody’s awesome. I love my job.
Misbah Haque 1:09:45
Anybody who hasn’t listened to the first episode with Travis, make sure you go and do that. But thank you, Travis for coming on once again, and dropping some knowledge, and we’ll definitely have to have you back on sometime.
I am honored. It’s a pleasure. It’s good to see you. I know you can’t really tell everybody how it is here but you look great man. Great shape.
Misbah Haque 1:10:09
Thanks, brother. I need to make a trip out to San Diego soon. I really miss it there.
The weather. Seriously, it’s been amazing because my shirt at night is like shorts and T shirt in the daytime. It’s beautiful. So make it back out.
Misbah Haque 1:10:28
Thank you so much for listening, guys. I appreciate you taking the time tuning in and lending me your ears. Two things I want to leave you with before you head out. Number one, if you are a coach or gym owner, head over to V airborne mind calm and check out some of the free resources we have for you there. Myself and a clinical psychologist are partnering together to create a course called “The Art of connection through questions”. It’s something I’ve loved and studied and has fulfilled me for years and to be able to finally put this together in a way that’s going to help other coaches and gym owners connect deeply with their clients is super fulfilling for me. So if that sits well with you, head over to airbornemind.com and check it out. Number two, leave a review on iTunes. It’s the best compliment that you can give and it would mean the absolute world to me. But other than that, hope you enjoyed this one. Until next time