A handstand, though amusing to watch, is a remarkable feat of strength, balance, and control.
Even seasoned weightlifters admire it as a unique callisthenics challenge, akin to the deadlift in its difficulty to replicate. But mastering the handstand is a demanding journey.
This article explores wall handstands, progressions, handstand wall walks, maintaining a shoulder-width stance, achieving a solid handstand hold, and effective practice. You’ll learn to perform plank positions, pike push-ups and eventually achieve a freestanding handstand with proper form, arms straight and a solid starting position.
We delve into the importance of handstand holds, one-leg variations, and tips for preventing balance loss. It’s a quest for body control, upper body and lower body strength, all while enhancing body awareness and mastering the handstand game.
From static holds to handstand walking and one-arm feats, you’ll uncover the secrets of this captivating exercise. So, get ready to conquer the handstand challenge, one step at a time.
Table of Contents
Why Opt For Handstand Progression Training?
A well-executed handstand, whether against a wall or freestanding, offers a plethora of benefits. These include strengthening the core for enhanced aesthetics and versatility in activities.
Additionally, the handstand, where you support your body weight with straight arms and shoulder-width apart stance, becomes a challenging workout for arms and shoulders, building both strength and endurance. It’s a remarkable tool for improving balance and stability, and it even boosts grip strength as your palms lack heels, necessitating muscular compensation.
Furthermore, the handstand stimulates increased blood circulation, notably to the head. This unusual position jolts your circulatory system, resulting in improved short-term focus and coordination.
Handstand Progression – Prerequisites
Before embarking on the handstand journey, it’s vital to assess your physical readiness, as this exercise engages various muscle groups while demanding stability and control. We suggest achieving these benchmarks:
- Performing 20 strict push-ups in a single set.
- Executing 20 bodyweight squats in one set.
- Completing 20 sit-ups or crunches consecutively.
- Holding a plank for 60 seconds.
While these numbers aren’t set in stone, they provide a reasonable starting point to ensure your safety. If you fall short, invest time in honing these foundational exercises.
For equipment, you’ll require a sturdy wall and an elevated surface like a stool or knee-high bench.
And remember the golden rule: always warm up thoroughly before each session to reduce discomfort, prevent injuries, and enhance your overall handstand experience. Safety first, even in the world of handstands.
8 Tiers Of Handstand Progressions
This course is structured into eight tiers of handstand mastery, beginning at the foundational level and progressively advancing. To ensure effective progression, adhere to the following guidelines:
Frequency And Rest:
Aim for 3-4 sessions per week, allowing at least one day of rest between workouts. Each session should consist of 3-5 sets, with 8-12 reps of each exercise.
Tier 1: Incline Pike Push-ups
Here, we introduce you to incline pike push-ups. These provide an essential entry point into handstand training, focusing on building strength in your upper body, specifically the shoulders, chest, and triceps.
To execute this exercise effectively, find an elevated surface – it could be a bench, a step, or even a sturdy chair. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the chosen surface, and position your body so that it forms a straight line from your head to your heels.
Now, the key movement: bend your body at the waist, keeping it in line with your arms, creating a 90-degree angle. As you descend, perform a push-up without allowing your back to arch or your hips to sag. This strict form ensures that you’re working the intended muscle groups and laying the groundwork for more challenging handstand progressions.
Tier 2: Incline Pike Diamond Push-ups
As you gain confidence and strength in Tier 1, it’s time to move on to Tier 2 – the incline pike diamond push-ups. In this progression, you’ll maintain the incline position but alter your hand placement. Instead of a shoulder-width stance, bring your hands together in a diamond shape, with your thumbs and index fingers touching.
This change in hand position not only intensifies the exercise but also targets your chest and triceps differently. The incline pike diamond push-ups challenge your upper body in new ways, promoting balanced muscle development and enhancing your ability to control your body weight.
Tier 3: Pike Push-ups
Now that you’ve experienced two tiers of incline variations, it’s time to take things to the ground. In Tier 3, you’ll perform pike push-ups without the assistance of an elevated surface. This progression introduces the element of balance and stability.
Start with a push-up position. Here, you must maintain the crucial 90-degree angle at your waist that characterises the pike push-up.
Your legs should remain straight, forming an inverted “V” shape with your hips as the apex. Lower your head towards the ground while keeping your back straight, then push back to the starting position.
This tier builds upon the strength you’ve developed in the previous stages while introducing the challenge of balance. It’s a crucial step towards mastering the freestanding handstand.
Tier 4: Diamond Pike Push-ups
In Tier 4, we return to the diamond hand placement but at ground level. The diamond pike push-ups combine the balance and stability acquired in Tier 3 with the intensified muscle engagement of the diamond hand position.
Performing this variation strengthens not only your upper body but also your core. Your body must work cohesively to maintain the proper form throughout the movement. The diamond pike push-ups are a bridge between the earlier progressions and the more advanced handstand stages that follow.
Tier 5: Decline Pike Push-ups
Tier 5 introduces a notable increase in difficulty by incorporating the decline pike push-ups. In this progression, you’ll again use an elevated surface but in a different way. Instead of placing it in front of you, position it behind your body.
Begin in the pike push-up position. Keep your hands facing the ground and your feet elevated on the surface. This added elevation significantly challenges your upper body strength and balance. As you perform the push-ups, you’ll feel the resistance of your entire body weight against gravity, which is excellent for building both strength and muscular endurance.
Tier 6: Wall Walks
Now, let’s transition towards the actual handstand. Tier 6 introduces the concept of “wall walk.” This phase involves more than just strength; it incorporates balance and coordination into the mix.
Start in a plank position with your feet against the wall. The goal is to begin walking with your feet upward on the wall while keeping your body tight and balanced. Try to elevate your feet as high as possible without losing your footing on the wall.
The wall walks require a combination of shoulder strength, core stability, and body awareness. It’s normal to take time to adapt to this stage, so don’t hesitate to incorporate squats and additional decline push-ups into your routine during breaks to further strengthen the necessary muscle groups.
Tier 7: Wall Handstand
In Tier 7, we take a significant step towards achieving the freestanding handstand. Here, you’ll focus on flipping yourself into a handstand position against the wall. While the objective is clear, executing this manoeuvre can be challenging.
Begin by facing the wall, and then kick your feet upward, attempting to land them against the wall while keeping your body in a straight line. This part is tricky as you must control your body to prevent any bending or arching upon contact with the wall. Once you’re in the wall handstand position, strive to hold it for 30-60 seconds.
Moving on to Tier 8 depends on your ability to consistently and confidently execute the wall handstand while maintaining proper form. Your readiness to progress will be determined both by your proficiency in flipping into the wall handstand and your ability to sustain the position.
Tier 8: Handstand Hold
Tier 8 represents the culmination of your handstand journey. At this point, you should possess the necessary strength and body control to perform a handstand without wall support. Now, your focus shifts primarily to balance and mastering the art of holding a handstand.
The ability to balance in a handstand varies among individuals and is influenced by factors like body proportions and prior training. Therefore, achieving a 30-to 60-second handstand hold will be a personal journey. Your goal is to find the balance point that works best for you and refine your control in that position.
Reaching the full 60-second mark in a freestanding handstand signifies a significant achievement in handstand progressions. You’ve not only built incredible upper body strength, core stability, and body control but also mastered the art of balance in an upside-down position.
Mastering handstand progressions is a journey that transforms your body and mind. From the humble beginnings of handstand practice against the wall to achieving a full handstand with legs straight and arms locked in position – the path is a testament to determination and discipline.
Remember to bend forward, keep feet shoulder-width apart, and engage your core for stability while performing a handstand or hand walking. Embrace the challenge, even if you find yourself in a downward dog or the hollow position, and persevere through moments of losing balance.
Ultimately, this one exercise will reward you with the exhilarating sensation of achieving hip touches and standing tall in a flawless handstand.
Founder of www.calisthenics-101.co.uk. Training calisthenics since 2012.
Currently working on: 30 second one-arm handstand, muscle-up 360, straddle planche.