Handstands are about balance, stability, and muscular endurance. You need strong, flexible wrists and supportive shoulders with the endurance to hold your bodyweight for long periods of time. But the key element is balance. Developing your handstand skills takes hours of time and practice, especially if you’re beginning as an adult. But it’s not impossible! You just need to put in the work, regardless of your fitness level. We all have to start somewhere. Below are some tips and guidelines that will have you doing handstands before you know it.
You don’t have to be the strongest person in the world to do a handstand. It’s all about stacking your bone structure upon itself, the same way you would standing on your legs. You will need shoulder strength and wrist flexibility, as well as muscular endurance to hold yourself up. Weightlifting, basic stretches, and wrist exercises are the first places to start to improve in these areas. Below are some weightlifting moves and wrist exercises that you can add to your workout program in order to build your handstand foundation.
Holding some weights, start standing with your arms in front of you and elbows bent at 90 degrees. Keeping your wrists straight, press the weights upward until your arms are straight, then lower back down to 90 degrees and repeat. Be sure to avoid arching your back as you press up by engaging your abs to keep your torso stable.
Start standing and hold some weights straight above your head. Slowly lift your right leg until the knee is bent at 90 degrees. Lower it down and repeat the same movement with your left leg. Continue to slowly march while holding the weights above your head.
Clasp your hands together and interlace your fingers. Then move your hands in a clockwise motion 20 times, switch directions, and repeat.
Straighten your right arm out with your palm facing away from you and fingers extended. With your left hand, gently pull your fingers back towards you. Hold this for 20–30 seconds and repeat for the other arm.
Now that you have some exercises to start you off, the next step is to build up shoulder balance. Using a wall is the best way to improve your muscular endurance and balance for handstands. Many people practice against a wall by facing away from it.
While this isn’t a bad way to improve your strength, this position isn’t completely accurate for building freestanding handstands as your feet reach out behind you. Instead, it’s better to face the wall. Try walking your feet up it until your stomach is against the wall. Once you’re stable, you can slowly move your hands further away from the wall into a freestanding handstand position. If you feel unstable, simply allow your legs to fall back on the wall, restabilize, and repeat.
There are also yoga poses that can help build arm balance skills. Crow pose is an arm balance pose for beginners that almost anyone can do. Start on all fours and place your hands on the ground with your fingers spread out — this will increase the width of your base support. Next, bring your knees forward and press them against the back of your upper arm (tricep). Gently shift your weight from all fours to just your hands by rocking forward. Once you feel your weight on your hands, pick one foot off the ground. If you feel stable enough, pick up the other foot and hold this position for as long as you can.
This is the most important part of training to do handstands. If you don’t put in the work, you won’t see results. Dedicate 15–30 minutes a day and you’ll quickly progress to balancing on your hands.
Maddy has worked in the health and fitness industry for 5 years. She has a bachelors in Exercise Science and has recently received her Masters in Exercise Physiology. She has worked with a wide demographic of clients as a Personal Trainer and loves helping people reach their goals and continue to grow. She is an outdoor enthusiast and dedicates her workouts to rock climbing, hiking and whatever new experiences may come her way.
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