In everyday life, seeing an adult do a handstand is not very common. However, walk into a CrossFit box or even a yoga studio and you will see something different. CrossFit is about testing your strengths and pushing your limits. Handstands, handstand walks, and handstand push ups are a few common things that you can expect in CrossFit, if you haven’t already seen them in a skill practice or a WOD. They can be some of the harder movements for many to master. These tips, with the supervision and assistance of your Coach, should help you begin your progression to not only get you upside down, but to feel great doing it!
Grab a Box
Using a box is a great way to help someone who may not have the upper body strength, or who is afraid to get upside down. You’ll want to get in push-up position with the box at your feet. Get close enough to the box so you can place your feet/shins on the top of the box while your hands are flat on the floor. Straighten your arms so you are in push up position, moving your body into an “L,” bent in a 90 degree angle. From there you will keep your head neutral, looking directly at the box and when you feel comfortable, attempt a push-up. These aren’t exactly handstand push-ups, but they will certainly help you get there.
Walk the Wall
Wall Walks are great for those who are ready to be upside down but not quite able to kick up themselves up into a full handstand. These will help you gain upper body strength as well as work on midline stabilization. Starting in a push-up position with your feet against the wall, pick up one leg and place your foot on the wall behind you. Your arms should be straight and your core tight. Once you feel balanced, pick up your other leg and place your foot on the wall. You will then simultaneously “walk” your hands closer to the wall as your “walk” your feet higher on the wall. The idea is to get as close to the wall as you can–ideally with your nose/belly touching. Once you get as high as you can, hold it for a few seconds. Carefully and with control, walk yourself back down the wall to your starting position. Repeat for a few sets and try to practice them often.
HandStand Against the Wall
Once you get to this point, the rest is easy, with a bit of patience and proper form. Be sure your toes are pointed and your core is tight, with weight in the mid-palm and fingers gripping the floor. There are two ways to kick yourself up into a handstand. One is to face the wall and from a standing position place your hands on the ground shoulder width apart, tighten your core and kick up with one leg following the other until they are both against the wall! Boom..you just did a handstand! Try to hold it for as long as you can and carefully let yourself down. Another way to start is by facing the wall and placing your hands and head on the ground at the same time. Be sure to keep your head neutral by looking directly behind you. Then give yourself a big kick up with one leg and the other will follow.
Handstand With a Partner
Kick up into a handstand, with a partner assisting as much or as little as needed by steadying your feet. You may feel more comfortable kicking up away from the security of a wall, knowing that you have that extra bit of help to stay steady.
Before moving onto a freestanding handstand, you’ll want to work on your balance and body positioning while against the wall or with the assistance of a partner. Having active shoulders and a tight core is key! Pull your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pull in your belly button to bring your rib cage down, and squeeze your butt to help eliminate the arch in your lower back. Once you are comfortable you can start working on your balance by picking one hand up at a time. You may not be able to pick it up very high or for very long but with some practice and patience you will. When you are ready, move away from the wall or your partner and give a freestanding handstand a try. Before you know it, you’ll be doing handstands (or even handstand walks) at your Box or at the beach, and posting pictures all over social media!
Handstands can be a challenge to master, both mentally and physically, but the benefits are great–increased strength, balance, and over time, even greater bone density resulting from increased weight bearing on the wrists. If you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, cardiovascular disease or kidney problems, of course consult with your physician before attempting a handstand. Otherwise, get kicking!