Monday, November 10, 2008

You can’t tell me what to do

I had a conversation with my Trainer over the weekend. We were talking about gymnastics work and handstands, and I happened to mention that I could care less if I EVER do a free-standing handstand. There was a long pause, and then he basically gave me a smack-down through the phone and followed up with, “Yeah, we’ll be discussing this”.

Now 99.99% of the time, I just do what my Trainer tells me. He’s that good, and we have that solid of a relationship. But this time, I’m gonna push back. WHY do I have to learn to do a free-standing handstand? It’s not a fundamental move, like the squat or deadlift. It doesn’t limit my ability to improve shoulder strength, core stability and body awareness while upside-down, because I can do inversions and HSPUs against the wall. And it's just not that important to me. So give me one good reason (besides “because I said so”) that I have to learn to do one.

Will it make me a more well-rounded athlete? Sure. But I’m not training for the Olympics. I’m not training for the Cirque du Soleil. I’m not training for any reason other than to satisfy my own personal fitness goals. Which at the moment do not include free-standing handstands.

I know I am breaking the 10th CrossFit Commandment – “regularly learn new things”. But if I am constantly adding new things to my training, I’ll end up further and further down the path of “mediocre at lots of things and really good at very few”. The time I spend training this move (that I don’t care about) will take valuable time away from improving OTHER moves (that I DO care about). Why am I spending time on a specialized move like a free-standing handstand when my back squat, clean, ring dips and pull-ups still need SO much attention?

And yes, at some point I want to open a gym and be a trainer. So can I coach free-standing handstands, even if I can’t do one? Bet your ass I can. I’ve spent plenty of time with Tucker, learning what a perfect handstand looks like, feels like (while spotted) and how to cue clients into that position. I coached this move at the gymnastics cert, and I’m happy to say every one of my trainees walked away with a better looking handstand than they started with.

So again, I ask you… why do I have to learn to do this? The short answer? I DON’T. Radical, huh?

Week 2, Day 8

  • 50 DUs
  • CFWU x 1

Workout – G

“Tabata Your Mom”
  • Push-ups: 8-7-7-7-7-6-6-6 = 54
  • Sit-ups: 12-13-12-12-12-12-12-12 = 97
  • Squats: 19-19-18-16-15-15-15-14 = 131
  • Ring rows: 7-6-5-4-3-3-3-3 = 34
  • Ring dips: 6-5-4-4-3-3-4-3 = 32
Total = 348

I haven’t done a Tabata in ages. Last time my push-up score was 45 (+9), sit-ups were 78 (+19) and squats were 103 (+28). Body rows and dips are a new addition. I forgot how taxing those rows are. That went downhill fast. So did squats, actually. Eesh. I "managed" my push-ups, I could have done lots more in the first few rounds but I shot for consistency. Next time I'll go for 8 per round.

My pull-ups have hit a plateau. I’m not practicing kipping as much, my dead hangs have stalled and my endurance is simply non-existent. Maybe complaining about it here will help. Or I could just start GTG'ing them again. My shower rod has missed me, I bet.

Cash out

3 rounds of circus tricks
  • STC - dislocate - inversion - inverted pike - L negative - handing L-sit


Evelyn Rodas said...

I'd imagine that the core stabilization and balance required to do a handstand push-up would translate to many other exercises. Also, you might be surprised to discover that you're resistant b/c it doesn't seem feasible (I could be totally wrong here) and you may find that once you get it, you're stoked to have pushed past a mental block (again, I may be totally off). Just my two cents, since it sounds like you're kind of mulling this one over. With that said, it sounds like you deliberatley pursue your goats, so perhaps your resistant isn't the avoidance that you'd typically see of stuff folks are less adept at (me: guilty).

Evelyn Rodas said...

Correction: you said "free-standing handstand," not handstand pushup.

tuck said...

I can give you about 10 solid reasons why... And you probably already know all of them... as does your trainer.

But more important to me is to ask why you take such a closed minded attitude toward this movement... when it does transfer to so much of what you do in your training.

Hummmmm, very odd post Mrs Byers.

Sounds too much like, " i will just take my ball and go home "..

Melissa Byers said...

I was hoping I'd hear from you on this one, Tucker.

I get that there are solid reasons to learn this movement. I just spent a weekend with you talking about it. And I get the concept of working through something that scares you, and/or that you are bad at. I've done plenty of that this year. And maybe at some point in a few months or next year, I'll decide it's time to focus on this skill. But right now, I simply don't want to bother with it. I consider it a pretty specialized movement, AND I get a decent substitution for it by doing it against the wall, AND it won't add as much to my training as, say, working back squats, ring dips or rowing. So I prefer to spend my training time on other things.

And I'll even venture to say that it IS my ball, and I can take it home if I damn well please.

I can't wait to tell my Trainer that I don't want to learn to snatch yet either.

tuck said...

hell - if you want to start a diet of eggs and earthworms I say knock your lights out...

but if you really feel this way, why ask anyone an opinion, including your trainer.

dont forget to air up your ball before you take it outside and play catch alone again. bwhaaaaa :)

Rayne said...


You wanna get Diesel? Quit screwing around and do what you're told! ;-) Continue to keep variety in your programming. (I say that knowing you mix it up, but...) You do not have to spend ALL of your time working on HS you just need to spend some time. A day or two away from your DL and BS will be good for you and will invariably result in a PR when you come back to them, refreshed and excited. Not that you lack enthusiasm, but imagine how much more fired up you will be after a couple days away.

Just my thoughts, however, the otherside of this discussion is that you could vary well be turning into a pansy!


Melissa Byers said...

Wow. I cannot believe how much shit I am getting for today's post.

Fine, some of your points make sense, and I respect your opinions. I welcome criticism, and maybe you'll collectively help me to change my mind about this.

Christ, I haven't even heard my Trainer's point of view yet... and I am REALLY not looking forward to that conversation.

PS Rayne, if you were east of the Mississippi I would come kick your ass for the 'pansy' comment. Unless it was designed to get me fired up for tomorrow's training, in which case, it's working and thank you.

tuck said...

let me say this... i should have prefeaced the other comments with... i know Mrs. Byers and her Husband Scott well enough to give her shit! She knows my heart and attitude are in the right place... jUst so no one thinks I am just giving her a hard time...

i have always respected the Byers - even if i don't always agree with her... and i don't think she is a pansy...

Gant Grimes said...
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Gant Grimes said...

Do whatever the hell you want. You're a sharp, accomplished gal who can do a lot of different things. Constantly evaluate why you include some exercises and why you exclude others. The time may come for you to include it in your program. Until then, keep trucking.

Eggs and earthworms are a great idea, especially if the worms were taken from good soil. I could exist well on eggs, earthworms, brisket, salsa, olive oil, and beer. And chicken fried steak.

PS Tucker, I don't practice free HSs either, but please let me know if J.Wells is closing in on one. I can't have him beating me to it.

Richard Vanmeerbeek said...

It's up to you in the end. If the benefit is irrevelant to you, I don't know why you should do it. But regardless, practicing free standing HS is not very time consuming and easy to squeeze in your warm-up :)

ON THE OTHER HAND, not learn the snatch ? What's wrong with you !

Brandon P. Petersen said...
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Brandon P. Petersen said...

stop being a (o), and listen to your dam trainer!

ps- still have not put my rings together. Lunch soon?

ova and out

PatrickH said...

Get over your fear, Byers. The first time we trained, I thought, "This chick is cool." Then, you let your soft side show, when you showed me your against the wall handstand. The sunglasses came down and you looked rather startled, indeed a bit scared, to be upside down. You know this, of course, but I'm calling you out on your blog for such a stupid post. ;-)~

Against the wall doesn't train balance like freestanding handstands do. The degree of core stablization required to lock your body out directly above your arms where you could tip in any direction is vastly different from gently bouncing away from the wall periodically, leaning toward safety. More importantly, this is your ultimate goat, and you are feeding it your ass. It's Hard Routine season; you should be having your goat for dinner.

Like Richard said, it doesn't take long. 5 minutes before your workout twice a week. You know the progressions. Get on it already.

scotty said...

I really like your attitude. I think in general, people can run into real problems when they follow their trainers too blindly. The well-used leg press machines in my gym (and the often-open five power racks) is ample evidence of this. In fact, it can be argued that only by ignoring their trainers can many people make their way to Crossfit, SS, or many other sane workout programs.

But I'm puzzled as to why you chose this skill to throw down on. Inverted burpees? Yes. Underwater workouts when rehab isn't involved? Yes. But handstands? Like, 3-5 min/day during a warmup handstands? I don't get it.

Also, please tell us you're kidding about the snatch. Say it ain't so, Josefina.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what's the deal, Byers? All gymnastics is good.
Just do it. It'll take you all of2 minutes.

Aaron Trent said...

Hey Liss,
You know what I think. Screw it! If you don't feel that FS HS/HSPUs fit into your goals right now then there isn't much reason to beat yourself up over it. There are 5 movements that I feel lead the way in GPP. Pushup/dip (counts as one here), Pullup, Deadlift, Squat, Run. Everything else is good but is optional. One day you may decide it's a skill you need to learn, but it has less applications that the others.

Jason Struck , RKC said...


Some of this shit is truly hilarious.

Do what you gotta do babe. It ain't called 'melissa does everything coach says'.

Jason Struck , RKC said...

for a reason