By James Sjostrom, SFG II
Let’s cut to the chase. I walk around at 6 foot 3 inches and about 240. Let’s just say that gymnastics is not exactly a gift for me. However, I have found throughout the years that the better at bodyweight exercises I become, the stronger I am with kettlebell and barbell lifts.
I am also a trainer by trade. I work with seemingly normal people that want to get stronger, lose bodyfat, gain athleticism, feel young again, look good naked, etc. etc.
StrongFirst is a natural fit for me even though I run a Crossfit facility. I have learned one thing since I certified under Pavel in 2004: He is always right. So, I listen and I get stronger, my students get stronger and everyone stays safe. (I am convinced most people want to get strong in the gym so they can do stupid things outside of the gym and get hurt out there.)
So for this example of how Pavel was right, yet again: I attended a level II in 2009 or thereabout and, of course, Pavel was teaching the tactical pull-up. He taught us not to use the bands for an assist because they don’t help when we do need them and do help when we don’t need them and of course we should be weighting our pull-ups not making them easier… Use a partner assist if you must do them… He had also mentioned the band could be used for Handstand push-ups if you could figure out a way…
Now being a former Jarhead, I have done my share of pull-ups, but handstand push-ups are just ridiculous. I might be able to do them if I were a pixie, but a real man, of real size, didn’t stand a chance. So I returned to my little gym in Salt Lake City and decided I would try a handstand push-up. And success! I could do exactly 1. So I started doing them – I could sometimes get two singles in a whole day before crumbling to the ground. If only I could lessen the load a bit…
So, we figured out the band trick. One goes on the bar, one like a bro strap or a backpack, and voila, the right kind of assistance. Help when I need it, and less when I don’t need as much. The big guy was able to practice handstand push-ups, I got stronger, many of my students got stronger and the world was a better place.
James Sjostrom first Certified under Pavel in 2004 and currently holds SFGII. James owns and operates CrossFitNRG in Salt Lake City, UT. He is still getting stronger!