June 25, 2012
June 29, 2012

Tuesday brought a little break from the norm, with class splitting into two groups to practice some gymnastic skills. While handstand progressions and HSPU-variations are not uncommon, tumbling is a rare occurrence. Gymnastics, in any form, are a great way to increasing boost agility and build proprioception and kinesthetic awareness.

What exactly are proprioception and kinesthetic awareness? The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually mean two separate things. Proprioception is an inner sense (the central nervous system) while kinesthetic awareness is an external sense (the body in space and time). However, the two are basically inseparable, working together and impacting each other. Thus, a deficiency in one equals a deficiency in both.

Gymnastic skills, such as tumbling, are an important part of our broader athletic skills and set-up a strong foundation for competition in many sports. In fact, Chinese Olympic weightlifters actually begin their training lives with gymnastics such as “tumbling, handstands, flips and a whole lot of bodyweight work to create a good strength structure. They also sprint and jump to develop their explosive abilities.” Chinese coaches believe that by preparing them with many hours of gymnastics, as well as general sports that teach them to use their bodies in somewhat awkward positions such as dancing and wrestling, they train their coordination and help them understand their bodies better. This of course leads to a more innate ability to understand the relation of their body to the bar.* If it works for them, why not for us?

Inch Worm ~40′, 
3 x 10 Squats + 5 Push-Ups, 
Inch Worm ~40′, 
3 x 6 Alt-T Push-Ups + 12 Mtn Climbers 

Skill 1: 

Before jumping right into the rolling, we began with a set of 5 split-straddles, followed by a set of 5 toes-to-floor split-straddles 9roll onto your back, and touch your feet to the ground above your head, before rolling back, splitting the legs and touching the ground in between your feet). Once complete, we began the tumbling work with forward rolls.

 2 x 2 Forward Rolls 

Everyone was required to start with shoulder rolls first (leading with the shoulder, rather than right over the head) to ease into the movement and get people comfortable. A quick forward roll tutorial:

  1. Start in a standing position; 
  2. Squat down, placing your hands on the floor; 
  3. Looking at your stomach, gently propel your body forward; 
  4. Roll over your back; 
  5. Throw your hands forward at the end to aid in momentum. 

2 x 2 Backwards Roll 

The forward rolls were followed by, naturally, backwards rolls. Again, though, everyone was encouraged to exit the roll in their shoulder, rather than straight back on their head and necks. Backwards roll tutorial:

  1. Start in a standing position. Squat down, placing your hands on the floor; 
  2. Use your legs to push you backward and keep them tucked closely to your body as you roll over your back; 
  3. As soon as possible, push off the floor with your hands, which should be ready next to your ears; 
  4. Keep your body tucked while pushing your weight off of your neck and head. 

~2 x 1 Forwards & Backwards & Forwards Rolls 

To put the two together, each group worked through 1 or 2 rounds of a triple roll, completing one forwards roll, one backwards roll, and then one more forwards roll (those who found the backwards rolls a little easier were allowed to do a mirror image beginning with a backwards roll).

 Pill Bug Burpees (AKA Hello-Kitty Burpees) 

The first time CFDC got wind of the Hello Kitty Burpee (borrowed, I believe, from this YouTube Video), was back on Memorial Day 2011, immortalized in video format by Dre! On Tuesday, with a whole crop of new people ripe with new tumbling skills, we allowed those comfortable enough with the tumbling to give HK Burpees a go before they wrapped up the tumbling session. And now, we have a new HK Burpee video:


Thanks Tom A. and Jess!

Skill 2: 
Band-Assisted HSPU 

Tuesday’s HSPU progressions saw the re-introduction of the band-rigs. For more on the how’s, and more importantly, why’s of using the bands for this very special exercise, check out our post from December, 2011 (“AMERICAN HANDSTAND“).

Suffice it to say, having people face the wall allows them to concentrate on maintaining core control, working to cement a solid hollow-body position through-out the movement. However, by simultaneously using bands to assist with balance, we also ensured that they would be able to incorporate their strength. In fact, in this set-up, the bands will allow you to pull your feet away from the wall, and perform an assisted free-standing HSPU if comfort allows. Additionally, placing people’s hands on parallettes/DBs requires full range of motion, but also helps in learning to keep the elbows in towards the body. 

3 x 5 1-Arm OH Step-Ups Left, 5 1-Arm OH Step-Ups Right, 
10 V-Ups, 10 Supermans

To really emphasize the importance of core-control, class finished off with a quick met-con of single-arm overhead step-ups, V-ups and Hyper-extensions (Supermans). Weight for the step-ups was RX’d at 1/4 body weight, although it was highly suggested that people scale according to their abilities – the goal being to maintain a locked elbow and active shoulder through-out the step-up.

What’s in store for Thursday? More breaks from norm? You never know. What you do need to know though, is that the forecast is calling for some hot weather, so be sure to get, and STAY, well-hydrated.

* many thanks to Kirk and his awesome blog “Lifthard.com” for the quotes and information used above. If you have any interest in learning more about the Chinese weightlifting system from a then-lifter, now-coach, check out Kirk’s website and some of the great articles he’s posted there, especially the series focusing on the “Chinese Weightlifting ‘System



  1. Julia says:

    That was SO MUCH FUN!! (Again! Again!) Awesome class and awesomely-detailed blog post, as always. Dunno if I will regret asking this, but why are they called Hello Kitty burpees?

  2. Steph says:

    Man, I suck at tumbling. I was quite good at it when I was younger, but I guess I’ve lost all of my agility, and proprioception and kinesthetic awareness since I was 14. I think it might be the rolling on the shoulder that really throws me off. I’m going to practice.

    The HSPU with the bands were interesting to say the least. I always have a hard time getting in to the hollow position, even right side up, so being upside down and trying to do that seems even harder. One more thing to practice!

    The metcon was fun. Andraea and I shared a box. I used a 25, not 1/4 bodyweight, but there was no way I could’ve used a 30 stepping on that higher box. Wish the 6pm class had enough time leftover so we could’ve had the option of doing 5rds instead of 3.

    Looking forward to tomorrow!

  3. Katie says:

    Julia, I was wondering the same thing. It sounds like there’s no actual reason: http://faustin.livejournal.com/309554.html

    I agree, very fun class, even though I was tired and sore. (I was even struggling during the warm-up.) I did the HSPUs off the box, but I want to try the bands next time. Forward rolls felt good (due to the practice a few weeks ago), and backward rolls are coming along. I challenged myself with a 20# DB for the metcon, which was tough to get above my head but I managed to (mostly) keep it there with a very active shoulder.

    I’m going to try to use propioception in a sentence today and see what weird looks I get.

  4. Sara says:

    I was really happy to be able to participate in the whole class not just the metcon and then I realized I wouldn’t be able to do any of the tumbling cause of the large bruise on my low back. I was sad but happy I still got to work on the HSPUs they really need work. The first set I did after the demo I got a cramp in my calf that made it hard for me to continue. I was attempting the assisted free standing HSPU which I have done before. Later when the second group came over I stayed at the HS station and did another set with no problems. I really like the band drill cause I can really tell when I lose the hollow position.

    I used a 35lb DB for the step ups which I thought would be good. It was too light and I should have gone with 40 or 45. I did toes to bar instead of v-ups again because of the bruise on my low back I also did 5 rounds.

    Agree with everyone this was a super fun class and wish I could have done the tumbling. @steph – I had a hard time with the rolling to the shoulder a few weeks ago too. I am more comfortable going straight.

  5. TomandAmi says:

    I will say it – there is something disconcerting about seeing me tumble.

    There it’s said.

    Of course even more disconcerting would be a video of Ethan tumbling, so thank God someone exercised a little more judgment there,

    Otherwise, great class.

  6. Andraea says:

    I ditto what Steph said, I suck at tumbling too. Not my thing, I felt dizzy afterwards. It was so much more fun when I was 5 years old.

    I should’ve gone heavier with the dumbbell for the metcon. Next time for sure. My legs were still a bit shaky from the squats I did on Monday and my abs were a bit sore so my v-ups weren’t too pretty. 5 rounds would’ve been good, 3 was too short.

    I wasn’t too sure about the band contraption for assisted HSPU but the second time around I felt more comfortable and it definitely made that movement doable for me. Since HSPU need work and I usually can only do negatives I really like the bands so I can do the range of motion.

  7. Erica says:

    I like tumbling. Ironically, it makes me feel better about myself. No explanation will be provided there. I loved using the contraption for the HSPU. I was able to crank out about five each time, which felt really awesome.

  8. edgy reggie says:

    I have to agree that this was a fun class. I’ve never done a lot of tumbling in my youth, but it was fun trying to attempt the forward rolls (thanks for the cues Coach Salty) and the backward rolls (which I performed better than my forward rolls).

    It’s been a while since I performed band-assisted handstand push-ups; even then, my back was facing the wall. Now I will have to practice them with my face facing the wall.

    The met-con was fun. I used a 50# hex dumbbell for the step-ups. I ended up doing two additional rounds because Coach asked me “You gonna do another one?” How can I say “No” to that? 🙂

    I’ll check out the blog later for Thursday’s (June 28) workout. I will not be in for squat session 3.2 this Sunday (July 1), but I will do a make-up session on Monday (July 2).

    Hope that everyone has a great weekend.