How to Handstand – 5 Simple Tips that Really Work

A handstand is the act of supporting the body in a stable, inverted vertical position by balancing on the hands.

In a basic handstand, the body is held straight with arms and legs fully extended. Hands spaced approximately shoulder-width apart and the legs joined together.

Perfecting your handstand is crucial for learning other amazing Calisthenics tricks like the planche, front lever and back lever… By including straight line handstand in your daily workout, you can expect that performance of any other exercises overall will improve.

Moreover, this traditional gymnastics move is fun to learn and play around with, once you master it.

Handstand helps you find balance both internally and externally!

Hence, mental focus is really important, as you are essentially practicing in body awareness. You’ll realise that the smallest adjustments can make the biggest difference

Doing a handstand is not only fun, it’s a great form of exercise too!

While it may seem like a purely upper-body move, it also requires core and inner thigh strength to kick up and remain balanced.

Apart from strengthening the legs and glutes, straight line handstand opens up the shoulders, strengthens the core and protects the back…Plus you get the same benefits as you would from any other strength training exercise: increased lean muscle mass, improved mood, increased bone density, and increased strength, just to name a few.

There are many variations, but for the beginners it is recommended to start from the straight line handstand.

Here are the 5 progressions that will help you achieve it in no time :

1. Hollow position

First things first – you can’t handstand properly without holding a hollow position.

This is an important position as it makes a lot of Calisthenics movements easier to hold and better looking!

In order to practise the hollow position you need to lie on your back with arms overhead, biceps by ears, and legs outstretched.

Lift your legs and arms so shoulders and feet are off the ground.

Keep the head in a neutral position.

You need to be able to hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds before moving to the next progression.

2. Pike Hold 

This movement is ideal for anyone who is afraid of trying the handstand straight away.

You get the chance to have a good first impression on how the position feels.

To achieve this, “pike” your back so that your hips are elevated and your legs are straight.

If your hamstrings are too tight for a fully stacked body position you can modify to a straddle leg position.

Elevated pike hold

By elevating your feet on a box or chair, you advance these holds because you are now stabilising a heavier percentage of your bodyweight on your arms.

This step allows you to strengthen your arms and shoulders while eliminating the fear of falling over.

Do reps for 30 to 60 seconds

3. Wall Walks 

Start in the “push-up” position with your feet against the wall behind you.

Walk your feet up the wall, while at the same time walking your hands back towards the wall.

Walk up until you are in a complete handstand position as flat to the wall as you can.

Keep your core tight and back straight…Toes should be touching the wall and palms should be as close as possible. Engage the quads, glutes, and core while keeping neck neutral (look at the wall, not down at the floor).

Press the floor through the palms to avoid sinking into shoulders, without forgetting to keep your core tight engaging your quads, glutes and abs.

It is very important (but also hard) to get used to not sinking into your shoulders and maintain a tight core, so practise it for as long as it takes until it comes natural.

Keep pressing and pressing, like if you wished for your shoulders to touch your ears!!

Hold for a few seconds.

To finish…walk your hands away from the wall and your feet down the wall until you are back in the push-up position.

This progression can help you build strength in your shoulders, really important for achieving the handstand.

So, start with reps until you feel strong and confident in holding the position and then advance in holds.

You need to be able to hold this position for at least 60 seconds before moving to the next progression.

4. Wall Kicks

Start by facing the wall this time.

Place the hands on the floor next to the wall with fingers close to the wall.

Kick one leg to the wall, allowing the other leg to follow at the same time.

Press the floor through the palms to avoid sinking into shoulders, without forgetting to keep your core tight engaging your quads, glutes and abs.

Try to let your feet, one by one, leaving genuinely the wall (with out forcing them by yourself) while continuing pressing the floor and keeping your core tight.

Do reps for 30 to 60 seconds

5. freestanding Handstand

Have a friend spot you as you kick up on your first freestanding handstand !

First you need to learning how to bail in order to keep practicing.

You will inevitably feel the urge to turn out to one side or the other… You will step forward with one hand and then let your feet fall, one at a time, to that side. This looks like a sloppy cartwheel.

Once you can get out of the handstand safely, keep practicing with a friend to spot you.

The spotter is important for your first days practising freestanding handstand… Without him you will consume all your energy entering and getting out of the handstand, without spending any time working on the actual position.

The most crucial thing in handstand is a well-balanced position… Mistakenly placed hands and lack of body control can ruin a perfect straight line handstand.

Here are some rules for a well-balanced handstand position :

  • Fingers should be placed wide and hands should be in the width of your shoulders. Don’t forget about splitting your fingers and using them to hold necessary balance.
  • Elbows should be placed turned inward.
  • Keep pressing with your shoulders like if you wished for them to touch your ears.
  • Feet should be joined, pointed and squeezed as tightly as you can.

As we mentioned in another article, it takes time for your brain to cement new movement patterns.

So start practicing for the handstand as often as possible and combine it with your other Calisthenics skills like the planche, the front lever and back lever.

ENJOY THE UPSIDE-DOWN!

handstand
Handstand in Morocco

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