Sunday, August 27, 2017

How to Injury Proof Your Shoulders with Ninja Training

Shoulder Strength

Strong shoulders make strong bboys. If you want to be on your hands and make it look easy get comfortable being upside down. Handstands are the basics you need to master. To get to the next level start training like a gymnast and introduce rings to your workout. This article gives you a peek at how I maintain my shoulder strength to stay injury free and keep performing after 20 years of Breakdancing.

The Basics

You get stronger when you expose your body to physical stress. Your body responds by getting stronger and/or growing more muscle. The physical stress has to be sufficient enough to force your body to adapt. The key is intensity whether it is from high resistance, repetition or frequency.

Handstands are the key for Breakdancing

The first goal is to get your handstands. If you don’t have it here is a video for learning it. You may start this training despite not having a handstand although you will struggle more.
  • 1 minute handstand holds against the wall. I do three 1-minute holds against the wall once or twice or week to maintain my handstand strength. Give yourself about a month to work up to this level and once you have it, it is easy to maintain. Have your chest facing the wall and extend your shoulders towards the floor as much as you can. A common mistake is having a wider than shoulder width stance with your hands, keep it shoulder width and you will find it is easier. If you get tired you can rest your knees and thighs against the wall.
Handstand Hold
  • Handstand Pushups. I do about 20 a week. You can do them on rings, against the wall or on a chair depending on your ability. More is better to a point, I don’t see much benefit after a 100 repetitions a week.
Ring Handstands

  • Handstand Walking. I walk forwards, backwards side to side and do circles.


Ring Training Is the Best Way To Get Strong!

The instability of rings makes them a fast and efficient way to get strong. I do various strength positions on rings on a weekly basis. If it is available learn rings at a gymnastic gym. You can also get very great results by buying your own set of rings and following gymnastic bodies or youtube videos. Gymnastic bodies does a good job guiding you through basic gymnastic ring strength training. My ring training consists of a low ring setup at home and a high ring setup at my local gymnastics gym.
  • Ring Support  This basic hold should be mastered. I hold it for 2 minutes in 30 second increments. As you get better strive to perform the excercise with your palms facing forwards.
Ring Support for Strength
  • Ring Handstand Pushups Advanced move, much more difficult than regular handstand pushups and much more rewarding.
  • Levers Complete upper body training that takes intense concentration. These can also be worked on any bar and beginners should try it with their knees tucked before extending the legs.
tucked back and front lever breakdancing
  • Flags The best excercise for strong and flexible obliques. These also work the shoulder in a much different angle.
  • Iron Cross Not everybody will have access to do this or be able to do it but just training for it makes your shoulders solid. Some common mistakes are bending your arms and going lower than you can control. The stronger you get the lower you will go. I use a set of iron cross trainers that let me cheat allowing me to perform the full range of motion. Perform about 3-4 sets with a low rep range of 3 to 5. We want quality and intensity.
Iron Cross
  • Maltese Another difficult move that gets you strong on the floor just training. Its an advanced move but with the cheater handles it’s doable.
Currently I split my ring training into three days and do the following:
Day 1
Four 30 second ring support holds
10 handstands on rings
30 second handstand hold on rings

Day 2
15 front and back levers
3 flag holds both sides

Day 3
30 ring pushups
20 Iron Crosses
30 second Iron Cross hold
10 Maltese
30 second Maltese hold

Weight Training, the Best Way To Isolate Weakness

Weight training has a proven track record across all sports. The benefit is its ability to isolate muscles and adjust the resistance. Here are some basic exercises to try.
  • Military Press The same motion as a handstand pushup, very good for beginners to try. You can use dumbbells or a barbell they both work a little differently. I prefer dumbbells since I can work each shoulder independently but if you want to move more weight than use the barbell.
  • Arnold Press Similar to a handstand press except there is more range of motion and a twist at the end.
  • Raises There are several variations that work the shoulders at different angles. Lateral raises work the side, front raises work the front and bent over raises work the rear of the shoulders. Depending what is weak dictates which exercise to use.
I perform 2-3 exercises for 3 to 4 sets, each set is 8-11 repetitions. For example:

1st Exercise Military Press Using Dumbbells
1st set    20lbs      10 repetitions
2nd set   40lbs      10 repetitions
3rd set    70lbs      8 repetitions

2nd Exercise Lateral Raises Using Dumbbells
1st set    10lbs      10 repitions
2nd set   15lbs      10 repetitions
3rd set    15 lbs     10 repetitions
4th set    20lbs      8 repetitions

Watch the Video See All the Moves (Conclusion)

If pictures aren't your thing, then watch the video. This training has been my baseline for 10 years now and my shoulder injuries have stopped. My breakdancing practice sessions are also more efficient because strength doesn't hold me back. Feel free to send me questions, its how I learn what people want to know.


The Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding By Arnold Schwarzenegger (Published over 30 years ago and still the best on the subject.)
Home Rings Pretty much any of the ones you buy will be fine. Wood ones are nice for indoors, plastic better for outdoors.
Iron Cross Trainer Excellent tool for iron cross and maltese!
Gymnastic Bodies (I learned from gymnasts but everything I have seen from these guys has been exactly how I was taught. I watch their videos to remind myself of the basics)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Preventing Pulled Groins

Preventing Pulled Groins

Most breakdancers have pulled their groins during their career at least once. Pulled groins occur most commonly when breakdancers execute power moves. So what is it and how and why does it happen?
What is it?
A pulled groin is a tear in the muscle. The tear can vary from very small to completely severed requiring surgery to re-attach the muscle. Most likely in Breakdancing you will have a small tear that will hurt but not require surgery. If you tore the muscle, you have to let it heal. The best way to let it heal is to get blood in there by doing rehabilitation exercises and not do any activity that aggravates it. Obviously the best approach is to train so groin muscles are strong so it never happens in the first place.
Groin Muscles Are Used When Your Legs Are Open
Severe Tears Cause Internal Bleeding and Look Like This

How does it happen?
In lots of ways it can be a combination of exceeding your strength and flexibility range. Very intense muscle contractions will tear the muscle. Over exerting yourself when doing powermoves and moving too quickly are ways Breakdancings produce intense contractions. A good example is performing a windill and trying to go as powerful and fast as possible which is often the way bboys first tear their groin. Exceeding your flexibility range causes your muscle to tighten making it easier for the muscle to snap and tear with little force. This is easy to do when performing your powermoves at your peak of your flexibility.
How does it affect your dancing?
If you like to pull your legs towards you, a pulled groin will make that hurt. It will be painful and cause further damage to perform top rock and power moves. You may still be able to practice some footwork and practice most freezes.
How to prevent it?
With a good stretching and strength program! When you stretch using PNF stretching (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) you do both at the same time. A good way to think about it is performing your splits unsupported with gravity pushing you down like in a suspended split. You work your flexibility as you go lower and your strength in these new flexibility ranges because you have to hold yourself. The adaptations your body makes to be able to do this end up surpassing the strain of holding splits in power moves thus preventing pulled groins in your bboy career!
So start working your side and front splits but do it the PNF style and hold yourself while you do it and get stronger and flexible at the same time. You can follow my stretching video or read the book Stretching Scientifically.
This Book Has All the Info You Need


This Video Will Guide You Throught the Stretching

Look I'm Showing Off

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How to Headspin Breakdown

How To Headspin

Headspins are a tough move that you shouldn't try as a beginner. They are a pain to learn because of the time it takes to train your legs to stay straight in the move. It is also a move that you lose if you don't practice and maintain it.

Step 1 Find your balance spot on your head

When you are in a headstand move your chin away and close to your chest, this will move your balance spot from the back of your head to your forehead. You will find that spot where it feels comfortable and stable. That is your balance spot.

Step 2 Mastering Being on Your Head

Get used to being on your head for 30-90 seconds. Then get used to kicking your legs and never falling over. You have to dominate the headstands so you never fall.

Step 3 Rotating

After mastering the headstand you will start walking yourself around in a circle keeping your legs straight, above your hips and in a split position. Once you can walk yourself around like that then you do quarter, half then full rotations.

Common Mistakes

  • Not being on your balance spot
  • Bent legs
  • Legs falling below the hips
  • Not maintaining the split position.
If you find yourself falling a lot watch yourself on video and look at your legs. Its usually your legs not being symmetrical that will make you fall.

Training Strategies

It takes about two months to master the headstand. Then a couple of months to master headspins. Its best to practice small amounts around 15 minutes more frequently than long hour long headspin training sessions.

Video Tutorial Series

Watch and learn then practice alot.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Shoulder Strength and Flexibility Training

Shoulder Training


Shoulders need to flexible and strong to stay injury free. Don't think that just by breakdancing you will train them properly. Make them stronger and more flexibile than you need then breakdancing will be that much easier.
I do the basics for shoulder flexibility as shown in the video. Shoulder flexibility is very important for specific moves such as hollowbacks and airchair, it becomes less important for flares and footwork. However, with greater flexibility more moves are possible. If you aren't spending at least 15 minutes a week stretching your shoulders you are wrong!


Strong shoulders make strong bboys. If you want to be on your hands and make it look easy start get comfortable being upside down. Handstand walking, handstand pushups and handstand holds are the basics you need to master. If you want to go to the next level start training like a gymnast and get upside down on rings.This video gives you a peek at how I maintain my shoulder strength to stay injury free and do all the moves I have in my head.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Keeping your Wrists Injury Free

The most common injury for bboys? Wrist strain! Here is how I keep my wrists working so I can dance on them.  I stumbled upon the ultimate wrist strengthening program while doing gymnastics learning a muscle up. I also show some exercises and stretches that help.

Remember, if you have wrist pain don't do anything that aggravates them! That means limited dancing but you can do strengthening exercises but not stretching.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

One of Your First Moves Should Be the Coffee Grinder

I teach this move to alot of kids, if they listen they pick it up in about 10 minutes. To really master this move you need to be able to do it in all directions. With practice you can start a 1990/2000, windmill, flare, headspin etcetera from this move. If you focus you can learn this one on your first day, most people do.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Why do my wrists hurt?

Ask b-boys you know, almost 100% have had wrist pain in their B-boy career. Why? The quick answer is lack of strength and or flexibility in your wrists. Your wrists just arent used to the rigors of Breakdancing training and if you dont acclimate them to handle your body weight they will breakdown. Lets work on the flexibility, how do you know if you have enough flexibility? Pass this test.
I always make first time students take this test so I can gauge how hard they can push themselves. Some can hold it flat, some cant, the ones that cant need to stretch it. Here how you can stretch it so they can be flat.
 There are two opposing muscle groups in your forearm, this is the more important stretch but you need to do both.
This one will be more sensitive.

Once you can hold them flat, you wont be hyper extending them when you are Breakdancing. Footwork, handstands, flares freezes all require that you can hold your wrist at least flat on the ground with ease.

Flexibility is half the battle, now you need wrist strength to hold your body weight on one wrist and bounce, thats about the most extreme case. You wont be able to jackhammer unless your wrists can handle that. Here is one exercise you can do at home.

You make it harder the closer it resembles a push up. The other exercise which works best is practicing a false grip and doing pullups, you need rings for this though.

Once your wrists are strong and flexible you will be able to practice all the moves without pain. So getting them prepared needs to be your first goal in breakdancing.

My wrists already hurt, what do I do?

Overuse is common, the way to fix is to not do things that make it hurt. It has to heal then you can train them again. Failure to follow this will lead to more pain and strain on your wrists.

How long before they are ready for Breakdancing?

You can get them flexible in about 1-2 months. The strength portion takes more time. It all depends how much you are training them though. Wrist strength and flexibility should be part of your normal warm-up before you breakdance until you stop experiencing any pain.

Any Questions?