The Handstand is probably one of the most popular movements in calisthenics.
If you are a beginner, you might be wondering how it is possible to pull off this move.
Attempting it right off the bat, without the proper theory or experience, will probably not be very successful. It will undoubtedly cost you a lot of time spent on trials and can even result in a couple of injuries.
If you have been wondering how to start and what you should pay attention to, you are in the right place. This article will help you out to master a handstand in a few simple steps.
As always, we will start with the most important attributes that you need to focus on: persistence, balance, concentration, and strength.
The order is not accidental – each of these traits is important, but the one that determines your progress is persistence.
Daily training is a must if you want to progress in the handstand. That way you get your body accustomed to the new stimulus. Balance keeps your body under control, concentration helps you out to remember about all the key factors, and strength gives you the ability to hold this position for a specific amount of time.
Now that we know of crucial components, we can move on to the detailed steps that will introduce you to the full handstand:
This movement is the easiest one and will help you out to overcome psychological barriers.
Having your head upside down may not be a pleasant feeling, so at first, you can try to put your body in a pike position. Having a box or other kind of elevation to put your feet on can help at the beginner stage.
Later on, try to put your hands on the ground (shoulder width, palms pointing forwards) and shift your body weight to the arms. They should be as perpendicular to the ground as possible. If you feel comfortable with this step, you can move on to the next one.
The elevated pike should get you prepared for the following exercise.
Being in pike position (on a flat ground), you make a swing with your leg to the air, trying to get off the ground. I recommend switching legs, as it will be beneficial in the future and will help you out to develop your motoric movements for both legs equally.
Below are 3 tips for the kickup handstand:
This is the place where you will spend most of your time. We can distinguish 2 variations:
- Back to the wall
- Facing the wall
The first one is safer and better for you if you are still not feeling comfortable having your head upside down.
All you need to do is to stand half a meter away from the wall, place your hands at a shoulder width and put your foot on the wall, then add the other leg and gradually try to move closer to the wall with your hands, reaching a vertical posture. It is more convenient if you have a rough surface or shoes with a good grip to prevent your feet from slipping.
The second one is a little bit harder and will prepare you for the free handstand. This time you face the wall with a runner position (hands on the ground in the shoulder width position, one leg moved forward). Then you swing your retracted leg (should be a dominant one) to the air, adding the other one as you hit the wall with the first one). Hands should be placed as close to the wall as possible, so you will not tilt over.
At this stage it is important to pay attention to form in order to avoid major injuries:
A hollow body means that you position your spine and limbs in the most possible straight line that will allow you to maintain your handstand with minimal muscular effort. When you start your practice you will probably tend to arch your body, as it is an easier way to find the balance. Do not worry and stick to it. You may even help yourself resting your stomach to the wall.
If you want to get away from the wall, you need to know what kind of muscles need to be activated. Your abs should be squeezed to help you find your center of gravity. It goes with glutes contraction and pelvic tilt (pelvis slightly pushed forward). This will enable you to find the sweet spot that should be a few centimeters above your hands.
Lock your arms, but remember not to hyperextend your elbows! It is dangerous to your joints and may lead to a serious injury. Try to keep the arms straight and you should be fine.
During the handstand, it is the forearms that get tired the fastest. If you bend your elbows and your arms are not prepared to hold that much weight, you will probably fall. Do it only when you feel strong enough to hold it.
Your fingers are really useful when it comes to maneuvering with your body up in the air. If you feel that you are leaning too much forward, just press the ground harder with your fingertips.
When you feel that you cannot hold your position any longer, it is important that you land safely on the ground. You may release your pose by twisting your legs to the sides of your body or you just tuck your head to the chest, bend your arms, and do a somersault.
Once you will be able to maintain this position and balance your body properly, you can try to do a handstand on your own.
Start with a little toe support, then remove your feet from the wall completely. It will always be there, so you can help yourself in moments of doubts. Mastering the standard handstand will enable you to progress to other, more complicated variations of this exercise, such as wide leg handstand, one-arm handstand, handstand push-ups, etc.
We’ll leave you with our favourite tutorial on this move by Calisthenics Movement:
Patience is a great virtue that you need to be equipped with while training the handstand. Be prepared to fail many times. Try to daily practice your handstand with the wall to get your body accustomed to this position. If you feel tired, don’t push yourself too much and instead give yourself some time to recover. Your supporting muscles, as well as the nervous system, will adapt more with each session, allowing you to endure in that position much longer.
I hope that you found this article helpful and you will finally master your desired handstand. If you don’t understand something, feel free to ask in comments down below and we will try to suggest you how to fix your problem. Remember, persistence is the key. Good luck!
Chris is an experienced Calisthenics practitioner focused on isometric exercises and street workout. He founded thehybridathlete.com in 2017, which was subsequently acquired by theyhybridathlete.com
He is based in Portland and has been working out using solely his own body weight and bars for the past 6 years.