On the surface, handstands appear as nothing more than a neat party trick. It isn’t until we dive a little deeper that we realise how great they are as a means of organically improving upper-body strength, body awareness, discipline, and of course, balance.
In addition to the physical and mental benefits, learning to handstand doesn’t require any additional equipment, making it financially beneficial as well.
The following blog post aims to compliment the above video, expanding on the topics and beginner handstand drills spoken about within.
Warming Up For Handstands
The wrists are pretty important when it comes to handstanding. These joints will be taking the entirety of your bodyweight when you’re upside-down, so it’s crucial that we warm these up and stretch them before all handbalancing sessions.
Take care when stretching the wrists, the last thing we want is to cause any nasty strains. Gently ease in and out of these stretches.
A common problem amongst those learning to handstand for the first time is partially closed hips. This slight bend at the hips can make it significantly harder to hold and balance because the sections of our body aren’t stacked efficiently.
Position drills activate and condition the core to remain tense during the handstand. This will improve straightness of your handstand. The straighter your line, the easier it will be to maintain balance.
Beginner Handstand Practice
Wall-Assisted Kick Ups
Kicking up is the first step to a handstand. This is how we enter the skill.
Initially, learning the intensity we must use to achieve a hold can be quite difficult and a little intimidating without assistance, especially for beginners with no experience being upside-down. Kicking up in front of a wall prevents you from kicking over too far and potentially landing flat on your back.
Keep in mind though that we shouldn’t become too reliant on the wall to catch us. Focus on contacting the wall as softly as possible.
Repeat the kick-ups until we become familiar with the amount of effort needed to enter without going too far.
Accumulating time upside-down is made much easier against a wall as we don’t need to focus too heavily on the balancing aspect of the handstand.
Once you’re comfortable against the wall, explore pushing through the tips of your fingers to bring your feet off the wall, returning to the wall after a couple of seconds. This will get you familiar with correcting your balance when we eventually begin learning to handstand without the assistance of a wall.
I would also recommend using your phone to film yourself from the side while you train. Reviewing the footage will allow you to get a sense of what your line is like and work on correcting it when necessary.
For our first foray into freestanding handstands, we’ll remain close to the wall. However, when we kick up this time, we’ll try not to touch the wall at all.
If you’ve been successful with the aforementioned wall-assisted kick-ups, this shouldn’t prove to be too difficult to progress to.
Keep in mind that it may even take a few weeks to get to this point, which is perfectly normal for those who are just starting out.
The Next Step
Once you’re familiar with the basics, and are capable of holding an unassisted handstand for a considerable amount of time, we can start exploring different elevations, entries, shapes, surfaces, and movements during inversion.
This video of myself from 2016 shows a combination of elevation (on P-Bars), shape (Tiger Bend), and movement (Handstand Push-Up).
As exciting as this looks, we’ll save Handstand Push-Ups, Tiger Bends, and P-Bars for the advanced handstand tutorial, but for now let’s focus on developing a daily practice and accumulating some consistent holds as outlined in the first video.
Seeking Handstand Coaching
If you’re looking for some assistance with your handstands, Aspen Coaching can help in a few different ways:
Online Handstand Coaching is perfect for those who are looking for personalised programming to complete in their own time – regardless of your location.
In fact, if you used your phone to record your position at any point throughout this tutorial, you can send that to me and we can use it as a starting point.
Beginner-Friendly Handstand Classes
If you’re located in Western Australia, you can take advantage of our Handstand Classes in Perth. These classes allow you to progress your handstands alongside likeminded individuals, and receive valuable feedback from an experienced coach. These classes also provide the accountability we all need when learning to handstand!
Understandably, class environments can be a little intimidating for some, but we can assure you that Aspen is a welcoming, friendly, and inclusive environment regardless of what level you’re at.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!