Pimp my Handstand - Tips & Tricks from an ex-gymnast

I started gymnastics when I was 5 years old, and although it was initially just a class called 'jumping jelly beans' - when I moved into an elite level at the age of 7 I very quickly began the exercises that would help me to develop a strong handstand. 

When teaching handstand, I use a hybrid fusion of techniques from both Gymnastics and Yoga to help build a good foundation.

That's exactly what you have to do to nail your handstand practice, you literally need to BUILD it. 

Would you build a structure from the middle? No, you would build it from the bottom to the top. So with that said, here are 4 exercises to turn your leaning tower of pisa into the firmly erect Gherkin of London (excuse the slightly suspect choice of words ... I need to get my point across).

 

 1. Come into a push up position which just the tips of your fingers on the floor. At first just try to hold for 15 seconds, then progress to performing push ups in this way.

1. Come into a push up position which just the tips of your fingers on the floor. At first just try to hold for 15 seconds, then progress to performing push ups in this way.

Pimp your push-ups with wrist and finger work. The hands and wrists are a very underrated aspect of handstand training,  yet they are the foundation of the structure that is your handstand. Wrist and Finger strengthening exercises are an absolute necessity. Repeat these 3 times per week.

 

 2. Come into a push up position but this time really work on tucking your junk, meaning; tuck your tailbone to facilitate for better core activation. 

2. Come into a push up position but this time really work on tucking your junk, meaning; tuck your tailbone to facilitate for better core activation. 

High Plank Holds - It’s boring but true. If you can’t hold a push up position correctly, you’re going to struggle to hold a handstand at all. Work this into your core routine 3-4 times per week, holding it for up to 30 seconds each set and you’ll really begin to see some core strength gains.

 

 3. Stand with your back against the wall. Place your hands on the floor and begin to walk your feet up the wall. At the same time walk your hands in towards the wall until you reach a fairly straight handstand position. Push your chest, pelvis and feet gently into the wall, while also pulling the belly in so that it doesn't touch the wall. Let your head drop so that you are looking at the wall, rather than the ground. Imagine you are trying to push the floor away.

3. Stand with your back against the wall. Place your hands on the floor and begin to walk your feet up the wall. At the same time walk your hands in towards the wall until you reach a fairly straight handstand position. Push your chest, pelvis and feet gently into the wall, while also pulling the belly in so that it doesn't touch the wall. Let your head drop so that you are looking at the wall, rather than the ground. Imagine you are trying to push the floor away.

Handstand Holds - When I was a competitive gymnast, part of my skills training was to hold this position for 3 minutes. Pressing my feet, pelvis and chest into the wall was a requirement to create the whole body activation that’s necessary for a balanced handstand. I'm not saying you should hold it for that long, but work towards building the strength for a long, steady isometric contraction.

 

 4. Start in an all fours position. Walk the hands forward, being careful to keep your hips above the knees as you do. Try to keep your arms straight as you let your lower ribs become heavy and drop to the floor. 

4. Start in an all fours position. Walk the hands forward, being careful to keep your hips above the knees as you do. Try to keep your arms straight as you let your lower ribs become heavy and drop to the floor. 

Anahatasana (Heart Opening pose) - Last but not least, some mobility work. If you can’t extend your arms over your head because your shoulder joints and thoracic spine are too tight, how on earth will you do it in handstand? Hold this position for 5-10 breaths (daily, if you're shoulders are really tight).

 

Handstands are a full body movement. It's really important that you train them correctly - aim for steadiness rather than just throwing yourself into them.

Oh and also...

Remember to have fun with it. If you're finding yourself getting frustrated, at any time during the practice. Stop. Immediately. Frustration just leads to a negative vibration that will attract a negative outcome (yes, I realise that's a very unscientific / hippie statement, but I'm not sorry - it's the truth). Getting angry at yourself for not being able to do it (yet) will only distract you from the focus that's needed to actually do it - that distraction could lead to injury.

Keep it fun.

*Always seek the help of a professional before you undertake any exercise.

Peace.

x

Miss Vertue.

Shona Vertue2 Comments