Get Comfortable Being Upside Down
The first step to any handstand variation is to get comfortable being in the upside down position. This position takes a lot of strength and control.....and courage as it does strike fear in a number of people! There are many drills and progressions you can follow as you gain confidence in this position but here are some of my favorite.
The headstand allows you to get completely upside down but without having to carry your entire body weight through your arms just yet.
You can first work up just getting your knees to your elbows...
then to just extending 1 leg...
to finally extending both legs for a full headstand!
You want to be sure that your hands and head make a tripod position or a triangle shape to improve your stability in this position. Your core, glutes, and quads should be tight and your toes should be pointed to the ceiling.
If you feel yourself about to fall over, just tuck your head, body, and legs and roll forward.
Work up to being able to hold the headstand position for at least 15-20 seconds prior to moving on to the box handstand.
THE BOX HANDSTAND
Now, we are challenging more weight through our arms and getting closer to that full handstand position. You can perform the box handstand on your knees at first and then work up to your feet/toes.
Here is a good way to practice you box handstand holds:
EMOM x 8 minutes:
Hold a box handstand hold for 25sec at the top of every minute
THE WALL WALK
The wall walk is a great way to challenge your courage being upside but also challenges your handstand strength! The cool thing about the wall walk is that you can walk up as high or low as you feel comfortable for the day. Then, every time you do them from there try to walk your feet just 1 step higher than last time until you're completely upside down.
Try to accomplish performing 3 FULL RANGE, consecutive wall walks with a 5s hold at the top of each rep before moving on to handstand kick ups.
THE HANDSTAND KICK UP
Now that we are mastering the upside down position, how do we get into it? The handstand kick up teaches you how to be able to kick up towards a free standing handstand. You can first perform kick ups off a box or bench and then progress to doing them from a standing position into the wall (as you will see in the next drill).
A great way to practice this drill is to perform sets of 8-10 reps at a time to build your confidence, muscle memory, and muscle endurance for the movement.
Gain the confidence to kick up to at least 80% of a full handstand prior to progressing to handstand kick ups into a wall.
THE HANDSTAND KICK UP INTO A WALL
The handstand kick up into a wall just adds that little bit of security knowing that the wall will catch your fall if you kick over.
Once you can successfully and confidently kick up to a full handstand into the wall WITH CONTROL (without slamming your feet into the wall), then you are ready to attempt a FREE-STANDING HANDSTAND!
One important skill to master as you begin your free standing handstand journey is how to fall safely. Knowing how to do this will increase your confidence for kicking up to the handstand because you know that if you kick to hard or too far over, you can recover safely.
From here, you should continue to practice your handstand hold varieties to increase your time upside down and ability to hold the free-standing position. You can do this with handstand holds against the wall for increasing time, free-standing handstand hold skill work, and handstand hold EMOMs!
Written by: Marissa Oxenford, PT, DPT, CMFA-cert, CF-L1 Trainer, CPT