Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The one-armed bandit

Having become obsessed with one-armed chinups and one-armed pullups three weeks ago I wanted to post a quick update on the situation...

I'm currently focusing all of my upper body workout days on my one-armed pulling power. At present I'm able to complete 6-8 'one arm and one pinkie*' chinups on both arms. That is one arm and the pinkie* of the other hand on the branch/bar/whatever. I'm also able to do 12-15 second controlled negatives now that have improved from my 4-5 second ones 4 weeks ago when I experimented to see what level I was starting at.

I've also explored working with a belt wrapped around the bar for my other arm and also tried locking off at various points.

I think the gains in grip strength and pulling power in just 3 weeks of training this technique is pretty amazing. I've noticed definite improvement in my chest, lats, forearms, biceps, triceps and abs just from working towards the goal of one-armed chinups and that's all good.

Other ways I'm testing my one-armed strength is by drilling one-armed arm jumps at the weekends which simply involves doing as many different arm jumps as possible and using only one arm to control the landing. I currently can't to a one-armed climbup but that's something else I'll be working on in the next little while.

Once I can do 10 'one arm, one pinkie' chinups per arm and 20 second negatives then I'm going to add my weighted vest for resistance and begin the process again starting with 8 second negatives and 4-5 'one arm, one pinkie' chinups with weight.

My goal is to be able to do 1 unaided chin up with either arm by 1st May 2007, giving me about 8 weeks to achieve this. I'll keep updating my blog with my progress.

I think this will be the third milestone in my upper body development, the first one being the planche (muscle up) and the second being the planche-en-force (muscle up from strength).

*I'm unable to find a definitive answer as to whether it's a pinky or a pinkie! I think I prefer pinkie because it's longer than pinky and my pinkies or pinkys are quite long.


Ben Nuttall said...

Good target, go for it. Good luck!

So 'one arm, one pinkie' is a one-arm pull-up with just the little finger of the other hand, right?


Max said...

Blane, you're a beast-
'nuff said

Max said...

also forgot to mention; have you considered trying bouldering for grip strength? it's done wonders for me personally

Julian said...

awesome stuff,
Yeah once i get my reps of normal pullups to 20, then im going to start training specifically again for this also.
The one arm and 'pinkie' (lol) idea is really cool and ill definately start trying that out soon.
Also, have you got an opinion on training to failure because i have been doing this with pullups 3 times a week for a couple of months now and was wondering what you thought on it since i dont know whether it is limiting or helping gains in pullup endurance

Chris 'Blane' Rowat said...

Ben, yeah that's right - using just the little finger of the other hand for a little support.

Max, I have considered trying bouldering and there is a place I could go on a Saturday morning to try this but I've not got around to going yet. I've been busy with other stuff but I really do want to venture in to other areas of training and climbing is a natural part of Parkour training. I'll no doubt focus on it for a while at some point, my goals right now just lie in other areas.

Jin, my opinion on training to failure is that it's a good thing IF you can overcome the brain's unfortunate tendancy to induce 'paralysis by number analysis'.
For example if 18 pullups is your max number of reps before failure and you want to improve to 20, as you approach the 13/14 mark your brain is expecting you to stop at 18 from previous experience so it tends to put in the extra effort around 4/5 reps before your previous best to get you to what it thinks is the finish line!
The best way I've found to overcome this is to whack some loud music on to distract me, concentrate on that, pull up like a beast for as long as possible and get someone else to count for me. Make a concentrated effort to lose count and if possible, even try to convince yourself you're still on rep 3 or something and that stopping now would be embarassing! Haha.
It really is such a mental thing, I am convinced that if you could get your brain to agree, your body could do 20 pullups RIGHT NOW.

Another way to get another few reps past the point of where you want to stop is to NOT concentrate on completing the entire repetition as a whole, but focus on each tiny muscle fibre just pushing that little bit harder until you're suddenly at the top due to the result of all the tiny little goals you've just overcome. Break it down more and realise how easy a PART of a repetition is and that by just pushing all the parts together you can do another rep.

So to answer your question, I believe training to failure can be limiting unless you're mentally in the right place.
Before you do your next pullup to failure session, convince yourself you're a total monster - a fire-breathing, brick-bending, atlantic-swimming, lorry-lifting, globe-sprinting beast who eats 20 pullups for breakfast and enjoys a dragon's tail for lunch. ;-)


Anonymous said...

Hi man,
Cheers for the help with lisses.
I'm not sure about venturing into one armed territory myself for a good while yet. Aiming to get 2 or 3 planche en force in a set for lisses.

Also I read a thread on Rosstraining last night about paralysis by numberalysis.
Although it sounds a bit ridiculously simple. Just change the way you count. Try counting down from 20 or doing 10 then up to 8 then 2 etc.


Ben Nuttall said...

"convince yourself you're a total monster - a fire-breathing, brick-bending, atlantic-swimming, lorry-lifting, globe-sprinting beast who eats 20 pullups for breakfast and enjoys a dragon's tail for lunch. ;-)"

That sound like a combination of the best parts of Jin and Blane mixed together to create a superbeast!

"try to convince yourself you're still on rep 3 or something and that stopping now would be embarassing! Haha."

lol Good idea, there are many different ways of getting round that bastard mental block that says you've finished the exercise for now. Jin sometimes tells us we're on the 9th of 10 minutes when we're actually on 14 of 15. Sometimes he makes small jokes to keep our minds off stopping the exercise, like saying '30 minutes left' when he means 30 secs, and such...you get the picture, it can help, I guess.


Julian said...

yeah this was something i always suspected to be limiting me, the way i kind of expect to reach failure around 15 or so, and i have been trying to think of ways to get around this, so thanks a lot for the info thats great.
So true that a lot of it is in the head, can even feel it!
cheers bud,

Phily D said...

Thanks a lot man, gota try these out :D

is there any way you could maybe explain the leg conditioning thomas showed you for taking drops from small height and gradualy getting higher?

would be massive helpage


Yves said...

here phily d read this thread. http://parkour.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=3674&forum=5

Ever thought about doing normal chins/pull ups with really high weight. Around 40kg maybe. Helped me alot with my pullup strength. Used my sister ;-) 35 kg.

Héhé Blane maybe you'll be the first one to do a one armed Planche en force. *lol*


antiggo said...

This is really inspiring! I going to start working on this as well sooner or later.
And you have also inspired me to start my own training blog. :)

gear said...

Blane, great stuff! I have tried off and on for the last year or so to train for the one-arm chin but I always end up overdoing it and ending up with some pretty crappy elbow tendonitis :P

I'm sure you've seen this, but just in case and excellent site for info on this and other skills is http://www.beastskills.com I know Jim personally and he's a great guy, always willing to help, who has had great success with the one-arm chin (he pulled off a couple one-arm chins on the climbing rope in our gym the other day!) If you ever need any tips, don't hesitate to shoot him an email!

Another great site that I just found is the GRIP FAQ: http://www.gripfaq.com/ some excellent info about grip-training there which should help you along the way.

Good luck and I'm loving the updates...since I'm recovering from an injury that keeps me from doing anything weight-bearing at the moment, I'll probably start to dig these skills back up to keep me busy. Keep posting up to keep us all motivated!

Anonymous said...

hi! your training is very interesting for me, this is a motivation for my physical training :) thanks for share your training, sorry for my english I'm spanish :S I'm traceur since 1'5 years of Zenshin Rengö team xD I leave here mi msn for if you want to agrege me xD
bye and luck! :)

Anonymous said...

That bit about pinkie's had me snorting milk through my nose. Thank you for that.
- Pugh