Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions on handstand training. The most popular of them was: “How to obtain free-standing handstand?” Well, this question is too wide to answer it with couple of words (actually, I could answer with one word “practice”, but this will leave you with almost nothing). So I decided to share my experience and useful tips on how to obtain this spectacular feat of strength.
Handstand is easily one of the most impressive strength feats out there. There’s only one feat that is better than handstand – The One-Arm Handstand.
Handstand can be different. There are several variations of it. For example, straddle, tuck, pike and regular version. However, I want to emphasize here on form. Handstand can be straight and arched. Straight is harder. It requires decent shoulder flexibility, hand strength and core strength. But it’s easier to learn one-arm handstand from straight version rather than from arched.
Sig Klein’s arched handstand on the left and Yuval Ayalon’s straight handstand on the right.
According to Ido Portal, it’s almost impossible to learn “one-armer” from arched or “banana” handstand. So it’s better to learn straight version at initial stage. Anyway, you might not be able to learn it right away due to great demand (especially if your bodyweight is 80+ kg and you lack shoulder and hip flexibility). Don’t get frustrated. Learn arched version first, then learn the straight one. Learning straight version is about understanding hollow body position. It would be a great idea to spend some time learning and researching this position to perform it perfectly while standing on your hands. In addition, you need to work on your shoulder mobility and flexibility big time. That’s much harder than it sounds. Lack of flexibility may be the single most important problem you need to address in quest for straight handstand.
Also, here’s a good self-correcting exercise to straighten your handstand:
Touch the wall only with your toes and preferably upper chest. Place your hands as close as possible but without falling out.
How Did I Learn Handstand?
Well, I learnt it the hard way. At some point I thought that I never will be able to hold it without the wall. However, as you can see, I can do it now. And so would you. Here are 10 tips (lessons I’ve learnt) for you to obtain this awesome skill:
1. Push through fingers. I can’t emphasize on this more. The key to holding a handstand is pushing through your fingers. Here are two photos (I’ve used soft material to illustrate what finger pressure is):
First one – no finger pressure, second – finger pressure. You should always apply this technique while holding a handstand. Again, this is the key to finding a balance.
2. Work on handstand push-ups. I’ve seen tremendous help in training free-standing handstand from full range of motion handstand push-ups. You’ll build necessary strength in shoulders and triceps with this dynamic movement. So you can focus on balance more.
3. You need to find that “sweet spot”. You’ll quickly notice that you can easily hold a free-standing handstand for couple of seconds when you find that position where the center of mass is approximately above your knuckles.
4. Use spotter when possible. The quick way to learn free-standing handstand is to practice it with spotter. He or she should give the right amount of assistance for you not to fall out of equilibrium. This is probably the most beneficial way to practice handstand as you learn correct position from the start.
5. Practice kick-ups. It can be easy for you to hold a handstand, but you might not be able to kick-up in it every time. No big deal. Work on kick-ups. Kick up, hold it for a second or two, then repeat.
6. Use high-frequency. Handstand training requires a lot of repetition. So it would be good idea to practice it daily. But not to failure. And if you feel that you just can’t hold it today no matter what you do, then, of course, it’s time for some rest. With practice you’ll find out when it’s time to train handstand and when it’s better to rest. And, of course, with increasing intensity or volume you’ll need to cut frequency a bit.
7. Don’t skip steps in progression. It will be tempting to hold a free-standing handstand right away. And some “coaches” will tell you to do that. But that’s wrong. Principles of progressive resistance work here as well. You need to hold wall-assisted handstand for at least several sets of 30 sec before moving to next intermediate step – wall-spotted handstand. Then work to sets of at least 20 sec of that. And then you may play with free-standing version. That’s just basic progression. Some individuals will need more steps, some – less.
8. Work on both wall-assisted handstand versions. You need to work on back-to-wall and front-to-wall handstands equally. They both have their advantages and disadvantages and complement each other perfectly.
9. Overcome the fear of falling. There will be fear of falling first couple of times. Don’t worry, you WILL fall. You will fall many times if you’re into this handbalancing thing. It’s part of the process. Of course, learn some ways to get out of handstand if something goes wrong. This will add some confidence to you. But the best and fastest way to overcome fear of falling just to do that damn handstand. Again and again. Until you have the confidence. And again spotter will be useful in this situation.
10. Practice more. There’s nothing better for learning a skill than practice. So practice, practice, practice and then practice some more.
Here’s yours truly doing some handbalancing. My handstand is far from perfect. But that gives me room for improvement.
I guess, I recalled all of them. If I remember something else I’ll definitely add it here. My learning process wasn’t easy. It took me a lot more time than it could take if I knew what I know now. So don’t repeat my mistakes. Read, absorb and use this information. And get that handstand finally. Put in hard work and reap the benefits. Thanks for reading. Don’t feel shy to share this with friends. Like, subscribe and comment. Feel free to contact me.
UPDATE: Here is more recent video of me holding a handstand. Still arching a little bit and need to work on shoulder mobility, but anyway:
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