As you might have guessed from my photos and posts, I am totally obsessed with everything there is to learn and know about handstands. During my quest of the holy grail of handstands: gathering as many repetitions, information and hours spent on my hands I have come across many wonderful practitioners and incredibly talented performers and teachers. This is the third issue of my ALL ABOUT HANDSTANDS Interview series, to share the many beautiful souls out there who dedicate their time on one or two hands instead of their feet.
ULRIK ON HANDS
There is people who are very serious about what they do, which is great, don't get me wrong, BUT, they live without ANY notion of humor or a good laugh. When I started following this amazing self taught Handbalancer on Instagram called Ulrik I was intrigued because he IS serious about his passion but he does not lack the occasional pun, joke or funny video. If you've followed me for a while, you know I like to make fun of myself by comparing me to animals in compromising positions and so on. And this kind of lightness of being is what I'm trying to fill my own Instagram feed with: watching people do amazing things and loving life at the same time. Now, let's find out more about Ulrik.
1. Tell me something about yourself: Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Ulrik, I am 27 years old and I currently live in Oslo. I have been a personal trainer for about 6 years and I also trained handstands for about the same time. In the last few years I have done more and more coaching for handstands: both online, 1on1 and in workshops.
2. Your IG name is @ulrikonhands How long have you been „hand standing“?
I have been on my hands for a bit more than 6 years. I remember first trying a handstand falling and falling without knowing how or what to do. I started because I needed a thing to become good at. I tried normal strength training and marathon running, but for me it turned out unhealthy. So I discovered handstands when I saw a picture of Yuval Ayalon and I got so amazed that it was possible.
3. On IG it says in your profile that you are a self taught handbalancer. How exactly did you do that?
With self taught I mean that I have not been to school. I have learned a lot from Mikael Kristiansen who coached me for about 3 years. I still consider him as my mentor.
Before I met him I read and tried to understand from sites online. It almost made me more confused because there were so many different contradicting opinions. But it got me to a somewhat OK handstand, and when I met Mikael he showed my the ropes to further developing my handstand towards one arm.
4. What are your current goals?
My handbalance goals have always been to become as good as I have the possibility to get. No matter how far that is or how long it will take. I don’t have more specific goals than that. I would like to do more performances on stage, so I need to learn how to move outside from handbalancing as well.
5. Is being able to do splits necessary to train handstands?
The more advanced a person gets, the more helpful is good flexibility. For a straight two arm handstand you get away with only having good shoulder and T- spine (thoracic) flexibility. But when you are working on presses, sidebends and one arm better flexibility makes everything easier and also look better. For a press a good pancake and pike is helpful. For a one arm handstand good sidesplit is helpful. For Mexican handstands a flexible back and hips are helpful.
The more flexible you are, the less strength is demanded to do a move. If you have a super good pike and pancake, a press demands very little strength because you are able to keep your hips high and legs close to your center of mass.
6. People who don’t do handstands don’t understand the fascination that comes with it. What made you curious about handstands and what do you love most about it?
That’s true. Many are intrigued because they want to take a picture of it on the beach or something, and when they understand how much work it takes, they forget about it.
What I love about it is that its so very complex. It demands so much from my head and my body. It's something that demands obsession and that is something I like. I need something to be obsessed with. It's a never ending challenge and it builds up over many years. I love that! I got bored from just caring about how my body looks, or how much I could lift. It didn’t give me enough meaning.
7. What are the most common mistakes in training handstands & how to solve them?
The absolute most common mistake is to underestimate how much time, work and effort that goes into becoming good at it. And then give up when realizing that there is no quick fix or trick to become good at it.
Another thing is getting very emotional about the outcome of good and bad days and let that affect your training. It will go up and down. Some days and maybe even weeks will feel horrible. If you let that go into your head and get down about it, you will most likely pull yourself deeper down. Instead you as a practitioner should try to understand what’s happening. Often it can be fixed with focus and understanding why/what’s wrong. Or you can scale the training to an easier level that you can handle on that given day.
8. Your One Arm Handstand is incredible. How did you train to be able to do it so well? Any tips for beginners who are curious about OAH? What would you say are the prerequisites to starting to balance on one hand?
Thank you! It took a lot of time to get some control there. Honestly my best advice would be to get coaching by someone with experience. One arm handstand is many many times as complex and difficult than two arm handstands. There is little things that are obvious about it, so help to understand the form, how to train for it and when you are doing things right and wrong is important.
The first step would be to become damn good at two arms. A two arm handstand should feel like a holiday with good form. Also different shapes and presses should be pretty easy. Then there is different drills that will help: sidebends, fingertip support, block walks etc. That is what I did.
9. I saw that you’re moving to Vienna. How come?
Yes I am, and I am very excited to do so. I am doing it to get closer to people who are doing handstands. In Norway there is a very small and little circus scene. We have less than 10 people who can do a one arm handstand. And the only good pro handbalancer (Mikael Kristiansen) isn’t living here because there is no work here. So I’m moving to pursue handbalancing both as a coach and also as a performer. I hear Vienna has a community in growth for handbalance + it is closer to the east of Europe so I can travel to people I can learn from, and to do workshops.
10. How do you eat? Meaning, what style… vegan, veggie, paleo etc.. Do you use protein powder or other supplements?
I don’t follow a diet that has a name. I am no foody so I eat almost the same thing every day. I know my body very well now so I have learned what works for me. I eat 4 meals per day. Roughly 3300-3600 kcals per day. Every meal has a good portion of protein from eggs, fish, chicken, meat or dairy, veggies and or fruits/berries, fat from eggs, fat fish, dairy or nuts, and carbs from rice, potatoes, oats etc.
"The Friday beer rule: Every friday I drink a beer."
10.1. If you have any rules when it comes to food, please tell me about it, like a Saturday Cheat Day or Carb Loading in the evening…
I use protein powder (it's practical since I eat between practice and work), creatine and in winter time D-Vitamines. I have a Friday beer rule: Every Friday I drink a beer. Except for that I consider my routines as something that should be helpful to me, not restrict me. If I'm at a dinner party I eat like the other people there. If I would like a beer I drink a beer.
It doesn’t come natural to me. I was overweight until I was about 17 years old. After that I was up and down for 3-4 years. So what works for me I have found out the last 6-7 years.
11. What was the last book you read?
I am currently reading Bad science by Ben Goldacre (I am a nerd: I’m into critical thinking and science).
12. What was the last thing you bought that made your life easier?
I just got a new set of canes including a turning cane, that will make my life a lot harder :P
13. Where can I train with you? Tell me about your online coaching.
Right now until 1st of august you can train with me in Oslo, or in upcoming workshops: Stockholm 15-16th June & London, 13-14th July.
And I do online coaching as you mentioned. We start with me getting an understanding of your goals, needs, where you are now etc. You get the information and understanding on how/what you should work on to progress and add a program for it. From there you send video clips and info about your practice and you get feedback and updated program based on that.
Curious about Ulrik? Click these links to find out more:
Facebook: Ulrik Ask Fossum