Simple Steps to Holding a Handstand Like a Pro
By Tanya Ho
Along with being a foundation for gymnastic skill, handstands provide a range of benefits including body awareness, balance, stability, kinetic chain alignment, and midline stability. However, it can be a frustrating endeavor to master, especially in conjunction with all those other skills in CrossFit. Spending lots of time with the wall is key, but try not to get too comfortable here. Like all other skills, the wall is just the first step in seeking perfection in this skill.
Already spent enough time on the wall? Then start coming away from the wall.
The free standing handstand is the next progression after mastering a wall handstand. If you are having trouble being successful at holding a handstand, go through this check list about your body shape.
Are my arms shoulder width apart?
Are my arms straight?
A handstand is a resting position for gymnasts. It is the point in their bar routine where they can actually take a breath. Lock out your elbows and push your shoulders up so that you can use your shoulders to stabilize, instead of having flexed arms the whole time.
Is my body straight?
Work on having your body move as one segment. There should be no hip or shoulder angle, and your back should be straight. Any arching or hollowing will shift your body weight and make your handstand more difficult to hold. You want to be as straight as possible with your toes over your hips, your hips over your shoulders, and your shoulders over your hands. Try to be as tall as possible.
Are my ears covered?
Your head should be aligned with your body and your shoulders should be pushed all the way up, touching your ears. If someone were to look at your handstand from the side, your ears should be covered by your arms. If you have to arch your back in order to do this, work on your shoulder flexibility. A quick test can be done by standing up and raising your arms up by your ears. Can you do this without arching your back?
Where am I looking?
Am I squeezing my butt?
Surprisingly, squeezing your butt can make a huge difference! Remember that squeezing your butt does not mean arching your back. This will make sure that you have no hip angle in your handstand and help keep you tall and straight.
Am I using my fingers?
They are there for a reason. Spread them out and use them to make small adjustments to transfer your body weight.
Once your body shape is mastered, have a friend stand beside you to spot and to help you find your center. Do handstands for sets of 30 seconds and work up to 1 minute handstands with a partner, gradually finding the center yourself and needing less and less of a spot. Take advantage of your spotter and fall in all directions. Practice “saving” your handstand by transferring your body weight around and pulling yourself back to the center. If you do not have a friend available, do a wall handstand with your back towards the wall. Walk your hands out about 5 inches or so and pull your feet off the wall. Try to hold for a few seconds and then rest against the wall and repeat.
Handstands w/partner in needed partner holds legs for other