This week I discovered something about myself and how I hold goals in my head that will hopefully make my gym sessions a little less daunting and much easier to achieve mentally.
The sweet thing is that it is a really easy thing to change and will hopefully have a dramatic effect both in terms of achievability and in terms of feeling good when they’re reached:
Only take and look at today’s goals for the gym session.
I was tired and a little grumpy and I could feel the thick and grey cloud of fatigue gathering around my peripheral vision and I’d only done the warm up for my first exercise!
I’d been up late the night before at gymnastics and working all day and here I was in Bulks trying about to embark on an hour and a half of awesome movements challenging gravity with even more weight than last time. My coach was doing a good job of encouraging me and avoiding my bad mood and as I wandered over to the training programme to remind myself what exercises and weights I was targetting today, the mental strength that I’d manage to last the session was definitely fading.
It wasn’t until after the session, having pushed through and completed everything (except leg raises at the end which I cried off due to pulling an oblique at gymnastics) that it dawned on me that I may not be using my goals to their most effective and that seeing the weeks of increased weights and sessions stretching across the page was not helping focus on what I needed to here and now.
So next time I head to a training session, I’m going to copy out the goals for that session and only take that piece of paper with me. That way I can focus on what I can achieve today and not get distracted of feared out by seeing the goals for the next 12 weeks at the same time. Easy!
A small change but something I know will pay dividends next time my willpower and motivation is feeling low.
In April this year I started working on gymnastic based exercises and I started working with a personal trainer who introduced me to Olympic Rings (Amazon link to some good ones) and bodyweight workouts.
Anyone who follows me on facebook or Instagram will have seen various pictures and videos of my workouts and progression and a friend of mine recently picked up a set of rings for himself and asked me what he should be working on. I wrote the following as an email but here it is for the world to see for all those others out there who want to learn some rings based exercises but are not sure where to start.
There are lots of exercises and routines to work on on YouTube and other places but I find having just a few to work on focuses my training and means faster progression. The following are the essentials that I’ve been working on. You may want to do some others so checkout the sources section at the bottom.
This is essential for working on muscleup and pullups on the rings. This video is the best I can find and gives you a really good idea of how to work on it.
This will take time (it took me 3 weeks I think) to master and will be sore the first few times.
Aim to get to the point where you can hold at the top for 30 secs for 5 sets with 2min break between sets. This will hurt your chest, ribs and rotators and you’ll be wobbling all over the place until you build the muscles to control stability (which thankfully should grow relatively quickly)
It is essential work for most ring-based exercises. Progression involves starting to hold support with your hands slightly further away from your body.
Pullups on Rings
Self explanatory really but make sure you’re in false grip (above). When you’re doing pullups, aim to bring your nipples to your hands. Point your elbows forward and keep the rings as close to your body as possible – further away = harder. When you’re working to progress into muscleup, you’ll get to this point, then do an imaginary header through the straps and transition into a deep dip.
Aim to do 5 sets of 5 and don’t hang around. There is rebound effect to use when you come down: come down and then bounce straight into the next rep. This applies to all exercises including dips.
[only the first 3 mins or so of the following video]
Start doing regular dips and aim for 5 sets of 5 dips.
When you get to the top (unlike in the video above), twist your hands out so your palms are facing forward (this is Support Position).
Aim to progress to dips with a weight jacket then on to these:
I love these bad boys! Hang the rings really low (4-6in) to the ground and start in a pushup position on the rings with the straps running up your arms and shoulders, body in plank position (you can start on your knees and progress to toes). Keeping your arms straight (straight!!), allow your arms to go out horizontally either side of you. Hold for 2/3 secs and squeeze your arms together to come back in. Make sure you keep your shoulders above your elbows and your arms straight (otherwise you’re just doing a pushup).
This video is using TRX straps (also worth investigating) and relatively poor technique but gives you some idea
Start in the same position as the flyes but push your arms forward, hold for 2/3 secs and then squeeze to bring back in. I find this really hard, especially on my lower back which often results in my collapsing. As a result, I’ve been working on back-ups, dead lifts etc to strengthen it. In terms of form, aim to keep your body in the same position throughout the exercise so it’s only your arms that change angle as they go forward and back to vertical.
Mental video here:
Front & Back Lever
Levers are probably my weakest area because, like everyone: we all have our weak areas, my lats are my weakest muscles and are receiving a lot of attention from me at the gym and on the rings.
Back lever (awesome video as it has other preparatory work):
Front Lever (I’m a big fan of Sam’s work – checkout his videos of doing Cyr Wheel!):
This video will get you doing muscleups in no time (though I would suggest that the guy has his rings too far apart in transition from pullup to dip and you’d do well to keep them closer to your body – aim to have your hands touching your body all the way through).
I strongly recommend you checkout Strength Project. They have loads of inspirational stuff and awesome tutorials.
Barstarzz – Another essential channel and website (and Instagram actually)
Ring Fraternity – Actually discovered these guys putting this together and their tutorials on YouTube are awesome! Checkout the Muscleup one.
There are loads of other exercises and stuff to do but I’ve found that having too many results in me not doing any, so I’ve put down a few here to get you going.