How To Do A Handstand: The 5 Moves To Get You There
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Learning how to do a handstand is challenging for sure, but the great thing is that practicing and building strength towards your handstand can be just as fun (and a great workout) as getting to that final “goal.”
At the same time, it can be frustrating and for most of us, scary. There is no “secret” to conquering a handstand except an incredible amount of persistence and consistent practice.
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On the journey to a handstand, there are many ways to build strength and practice. One way of course is to practice the pose itself, but there are so many other ways to build strength, improve your technique and become more comfortable on your hands.
The 2 essential muscle groups for building a strong handstand
Image: Stephanie Ring of Endure Yoga, Image by Simply Perfection Photography
The strength required for a handstand comes down to two main parts of the body.
The first is core strength
. Without a substantial amount of core strength, your spine will not be supported and it will be difficult to hold proper alignment.
The second is shoulder strength
, which is what we hear about less. Without the necessary strength in the shoulders to support the full weight of the body, handstands are almost impossible.
So while you perfect your technique, continue to improve strength in both of those areas and you will see your handstands improve considerably.
Before I get into strengthening, I want to answer for you the # 1 ques-tion I get about handstands: “should I use the wall?”
In the beginning stages of learning a handstand, the wall is really helpful. It can support you upside down and you can use it in a number of ways to build strength.
But as time goes on, it can become a crutch and actually stall your growth. So yes, use the wall to learn what it feels like to be upside down, but don’t become dependent on it.
The 5 movements to build strength for your handstand.
All of these movements include training for both building shoulder and core strength.
1. Shoulder Press with Dumbbells
Strict Press - Endure Yoga from PrettyFit on Vimeo.
Feet start hips distance apart. Bring the dumbbells to your shoulders with the hands facing each other.
Squeeze your butt and tighten your core. Press the dumbbells overhead, open-ing the shoulders completely as you lock out the elbows. Slowly return the dumbbells back to your shoulders.
2. Donkey Kicks
Donkey Kicks Exercise from PrettyFit on Vimeo.
Start with the handstand on the ground shoulders distance. Bring the feet to-gether.
Bend the knees and kick the heels to the butt. Focus on pressing down through the palms and extending through the shoulders.
Try to stack the hips over the shoulders and wrists. If you’re scared of falling, use the wall for support.
3. Wall Walks
Wall Walks - Endure Yoga from PrettyFit on Vimeo.
From a plank position, walk your feet up the wall as you move the hands back. Get as close to the wall with your chest as possible. Then walk the hands for-ward, back to the starting plank position.
Now that we’ve started the journey to a stronger handstand, let’s talk about two ways you can work on form with the wall and away from the wall.
4. Handstand Switch Kicks
Handstand Switch Kicks Exercise - Endure Yoga from PrettyFit on Vimeo.
This is probably one of my favorite movements to help students move away from the wall and train the body to get the hips over the shoulders without fall-ing.
Go as high as you feel comfortable. As you get stronger, you will be able to get up higher and feel that moment of weightlessness in a handstand.
5. Reverse Handstand Hold in Pike
Reverse Handstand Hold - Endure Yoga from PrettyFit on Vimeo.
Here is one way to use the wall and not break form. When we get into a hand-stand this way, we keep the alignment with the wrists, shoulders and hips in tact while understanding where are legs need to be in space relative to the rest of the body to hold the handstand.