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).
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.
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.
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.
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.