5 Training Methods To Improve Your Slacker Skills

Want To Get Better At Slacklining?

5 Training Tips To Get You There

Slacklining is an art form that you must practice in order to advance. It’s a rare case that someone can get on a line for the first time and walk across it. So practice it is! Practice, Practice, Practice. Today I’m going over 5 slackline training methods that have helped me find success on the slackline.

They are useful training methods that build muscle and keep your body in balance. Often we get overly comfortable with one side of the body, usually our stronger side, and forget about the other half.  We try something once on our goofy side, struggle, then go back to our strong side. So today we will review 5 methods of training that will build your confidence as well as challenge you.

Slackline training in Isla Mujeres

These training techniques are designed to help you recognize areas of your body that need attention and muscle strengthening. They will also improve your success with static poses and line walking. Furthermore, they will increase your ability to make minor adjustments on the line to maintain your balance for longer periods.

As you become more friendly with the nature of balance, you will see it’s an ongoing search for calmness. To maintain balance, your muscles are continuously firing. As you connect with breath, you will slowly find calmness, even in your incredibly active muscles. Now let’s take a closer look at each of these training methods.

 

1. Train Both Sides

This is a great technique to keep both sides of the body active and in the game. It’s easy for one half of the body to get week from underuse. It happens often, and to most of us. Early on, we pick a dominant side and we identify with that as our strong side. For example, when I ask students to do a cartwheel on both sides, 90+% can only do it on one side. So train both halves of your body to create muscular balance, which will help you find balance on the line too.

Our friend Pablo training both sides of the body

It’s just like yoga. Picture yourself in a Warrior 1 posture. You would never maintain a practice in which you only demonstrate Warrior 1 on one side.  You do a warrior 1 on your right side, then balance out by doing one on your left side. Apply this approach to your slackline practice to unlock transitions and poses, while also training to walk with more ease.

It’s not easy and it takes time, but your body will appreciate you for giving it the attention it needs. All this training on the line also translates to increased stamina off the line. For example, if you hold Tree pose (Vriksasana) on the line for 30 seconds, you’ll then notice that the pose becomes much easier on the ground. (Go figure!)

 

2. Long Holds

Let’s use long holds to isolate certain muscle groups and keep them firing for awhile. This builds endurance but also starts to form a confidence between yourself and the line. Pick any pose (such as Pointer or Slacker Stance) and hold this pose on the line for 15 seconds. Be sure to do both sides and slowly build your hold time. Increase your hold time to 30 seconds, then 45 seconds, then cap it off at 1 minute. After 1 minute, you may start to increase your risk for muscle strain and fatigue.

Exposure straddle long hold

The goal is not to stay in one pose as long as you can. The goal is to maximize muscle control through intelligent training. Start small and work your way up. And as you approach these long holds, remember to look for a way to stay on the line. It’s easy to come down when you think your about to lose it, but just exhale deeply and settle. Train your muscles and mind to work together, and teach yourself you can work towards balance. You can stay on the line, and you can hold any pose for up to one minute. Now let’s move onto our next training technique.

 

3. Reps

When I say reps, I mean attempting a pose or transition multiple times in a row. This even applies to long hold exercises. You can do multiple reps of 15 or 30 sec. long holds with any pose. Again, start small and work your way up. The idea with reps is to train your body to know the pose or transition well. Reps help train the necessary muscle groups to activate when called on later. Doing reps with proper technique, eventually allows you to find ease in the pose or transitions.

Shoulder stand reps by our friend Greg

Incorporating reps into your practice works best when you already know the technique. If you don’t have that piece yet and continue to do reps, you feed your muscles memory incorrect information.  This can make it more difficult to master a pose or transition. Why? Because if your muscles learn improper technique they have to unlearn old habits to create space for new information. This brings us to the next training method, progressions.

 

4. Progressions

It’s better to train a pose by working the progressions slowly than to rush into the pose with improper technique. Most postures and transitions have steps to train before you approach the final move. Training these steps or progressions, provide an excellent way to cultivate long-term success on the line.

Typically designed to activate the muscles needed to complete a pose, progressions teach your body and mind what to do. By learning the process you have a fuller understanding of what it takes to complete a pose or transition.

Lotus progressions starting with (far left) crossed legs, (middle) half lotus, (far right) lotus

If you are struggling with a pose, take a step back and work an earlier progression. For example, demonstrating lotus on the slackline is really difficult. First progression, do lotus on the ground. Make sure your comfortable here, before taking it to the line. Next, practice sitting with crossed legs on the line. After that, train half lotus on both sides of the body while on the line. Finally, after finding comfort and ease with half lotus, start to train lotus.

Training these progressions will make lotus more accessible because you worked for it by progressing slowly through the proper steps. You gave your muscles intelligent information to call upon when you practice lotus. So train the progressions. It is worth the time. Your body and mind will thank you by activating the next time you need them to on the line.

 

5. Try Something New

Remember it’s all about the journey, not the destination. One great way to learn and challenge yourself, is to try something new. No matter how much you know, there is always more to learn. This training technique encourages you to break out of your comfort zone, and try a pose that scares you. By using these training methods, you can approach that which scares you with intelligence. Learn the progressions, do your reps and long holds, and train both sides of your body.

My first attempt at a 200 foot lose highline. Scary and wonderful

Perhaps something new is a new pose or flow, or maybe it’s a different type of webbing, or even a longer line. What matters is that you face your fears, and show yourself how capable you are. You can learn so much about yourself by challenging your fears. And there is nothing more freeing than facing what scares you and working through it. So go ahead, try something new. And while you’re at it, smile.

 

Why Is Slackline Training Important?

The value in slackline training is abundant. It helps provide strength, stability, healthy muscles and joints. Intelligent training also empowers you to progress more quickly with the slackline. Overall, slackline training is a great way to stay in shape and continuously seek balance.

Just like with any training, be sure to use proper technique and be mindful of failed attempts. After three to five failed attempts, move back one progression. As I said earlier, it’s more useful to train the progressions than to continually fail attempts with poor technique.

Training Peacock pose with our friend Timothee

Slackline training is also great training for the mind. It provides a means of focus that is necessary in order to maintain the balancing act. As the mind wanders, you must dial your focus into the balance or you will fall off. This is a great exercise, comparable to meditation in yoga. In both cases, you actively have to focus your mind and energy. This is why slackline training is so important, it provides an opportunity for you to be the best version of you.

 

 

Peace

Buddy Thomas

 

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