So You Wanna Do A Handstand?


Besides just being something cool to be able to do, handstands are actually a great skill to learn for core control, balance, and coordination.Whenever I  post a photo of me doing a handstand, I often get comments like, "I could never do that!", or, "I'm scared of going upside down!". But some people actually want to know how they could learn to do one, so I thought I'd share how I learned!

First of all, I had the same fears about doing a handstand. Growing up, I'd never been able to do a handstand because I would chicken out as soon as I tried. Getting my legs up over my hands was so scary to me! I don't have any gymnastics background whatsoever-it was just something I taught myself with lots and lots practice!

When I started doing CrossFit a few years ago, a handstand was one of the things I really wanted to learn to do, so I made it a goal of mine. A few years later, I am now finally at the point where I can hold a handstand for 10-20 seconds and even walk on my hands(although I'm not very good at that yet!).

Now, this may not be the BEST way to learn a handstand, but this is what I did to learn.

First, I practiced just kicking up to a wall. I had the upper body strength, so it was more about learning how much force I needed to use get my legs up over my head. I would practice this until I got to the point where I could easily kick up to the wall and hold myself there for 30 seconds. From there, I worked on kicking away from the wall and trying to balance on my hands. I would usually do this only for a few seconds, but I worked on it a few minutes every single day.

When I got confident with that, I went to free standing handstands. It was scary at first, but I just had to do it to conquer my fear! At first I was just scared of not knowing how to fall out of the handstand if I lost my balance. So I had my husband spot me-as I kicked up, he would hold my legs or just keep me from falling over. Or I would practice near a wall, so that way if I fell over I would have the wall there to catch me. Eventually I got to the point where I could do it on my own and just sort of cartwheel out of it when I lost my balance. There are ways to tuck your head and somersault out of it, but I never did it that way. 

I finally got to the point where I could hold myself up for a second or two, and so I just worked at that over and over and over and over. Over time, I eventually learned how to balance myself with my fingers and wrists by "gripping" the ground, and I found that thinking about pushing myself into the ground by activating my lats and shoulders, as well as sqeezing my butt and keeping my core tight really helped also. After practicing almost every single day, a few seconds turned into 5 seconds, and then 10 seconds, and then around 20 seconds, which is the longest I've held.

Now, I definitely have not yet mastered this skill by any means! I still practice for a  few minutes every other day or so, and now I'm working on keeping my core tighter and not arching my back as much. There are still days when I go up and just fall right back over! It usually takes me a few tries, but I keep trying until I can get one good hold for about 10-15 seconds. Occasionally, I'll work on my handstand walking, but I'm not as persistent with this as I was with my handstands, so I gotta keep at it more consistently!

So, here's my challenge to YOU! How about setting a goal of being able to do a handstand before the end of the year? Here's how you can start:

*Assuming you have sufficient upper body strength, practice kicking yourself up to a wall a few times every day. Put your hands about a foot away from the wall. You could even start by walking your feet up the wall first to get into position and get used to being upside down.

*Once you can do a wall handstand, hold 10-45 seconds a few times every day. Work on pushing into the ground, keeping your abs tight, and squeezing your legs and glutes as hard as you can. This isn't easy! When you can do 3 sets of 45 seconds, then you can start working on kicking away from the wall, or having someone hold your feet after you kick up.

*If you can do a wall handstand, start working on a freestanding handstand for a few minutes every day. That's all it takes. You may not feel like you're getting any better from day to day, but keep working at it! Let me know how it goes!


Here are some good handstand articles for you to check out if you're interested:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5501/10-Reasons-to-Do-a-Headstand-Every-Day.html
http://www.lostartofhandbalancing.com/handstand-benefits/
http://www.beastskills.com/the-handstand/
http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2013/10/24/how-to-handstand-better-than-luke-skywalker/
http://unitedworldofyoga.com/2014/05/08/5-reasons-you-should-do-handstands-every-day/

Comments

  1. I DO want to do a handstand! The last time I tried though, I ended up with a really stiff neck for about 48 hours. I must learn to fall gracefully, is the lesson I learned from that.

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    Replies
    1. Aw, never had that experience! Hopefully you'll keep working at it!

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