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Handstands - Do you need a helping hand?

Posted on July 10 2015

Perfecting the Handstand.

The handstand can take hours of practice. Some Cross Fitters with a gymnastics background can already walk on their. Others have done years of yoga and both the handstand and headstand. Whatever the existing ability it is great to set a goal....... to get a free standing handstand in 3 / 6 / 9 months. Here is some tips to help you.

1) Understanding ‘the hollow’

This is probably the most crucial aspect of handstand technique. The hollow is essentially a tight, closed body position, when the floor, lying down flat on your back pushing your belly button right down so that your lower back is fully flush against the floor - now keep it there, without letting your shoulders round too much and keeping your gaze straight again. It should look a bit like a small curve shape. Holding this position should feel really tough, or you’re just not doing it right.

2) Crawling

Crawling is good preparation for gymnastic moves like the handstand. The bear crawl (‘walking’ on hands and feet across the ground or gym) will help you strengthen those essential abdominal muscles, but also from there, you can slowly begin to get more ‘airtime’ with your feet. Try to gradually and consciously increase this with every trip forward and back, perhaps over a distance of 25-40 metres. This is preparing you for a handstand walk!

3) Wall climbs

These are brilliant for not only training your mind but bolstering your body. A common warm up amongst CrossFitters, the wall climb involves lying flat on the ground with your feet close to the wall, pushing up into press up position and then walking your feet up the wall and your hands as close to wall as possible. Holding this position for as long as you can will strengthen the muscles around your shoulders and back, as well as force you to use your abs and switch on your glutes.

4) Stepping up to the wall

At the beginning it’s all right to just throw your legs up into the air and hope for the best. But once you’ve established that you can survive being upside down it’s time to get serious about how you approach that wall. After all, if you throw your legs up with no control then once you come away from the wall, you’ll just topple over. Learning to get up into handstand (and down out of it) with control really is a huge proportion of the battle. By stepping into a sprinter’s lunge position, as if you were readying yourself for a 100 metre race, though with a slightly longer stance, and then pushing off the front leg is a good way to train this. Start with little hops, then make your shape / jump a bit bigger. Practice this on each leg - you will favour one more than the other and when you’re ready, try and go all the way up.

5) Hold for time.

This is a sure fire way to build those muscles that need to be strong for handstands: hold the position against the wall for reps. So, for example, you might want to do a max hold (have a clock somewhere visible or near so you know how long you’ve been up there) followed by a minute’s rest, two or three times. Or you could set yourself a target, like a 40 second hold, and then rest for just half of that, and do it 3-4 times over. Ask your coach for advice, as you don’t want to burn your shoulders out, particularly if you’re doing it before a tough workout. Handstands are best practiced when warm but not exhausted as they require a lot of your body and brain!


Good Luck.


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