Long Live the Handstand

A hallmark of CrossFit is variance as you all know. Variance in terms of everything: how long the workout is, how much weight is used in the workout, the time of day you complete the workout, and of course, the movements. We constantly want to be changing the type of movements we see in workouts. The handstand is, without question, one of the best movements in terms of learning body awareness and control. Go observe the football, basketball, or soccer teams at your local high school. Pick out which kids you feel are the best athletes; they will undoubtedly be capable of some sort of cool gymnastic party trick. The handstand is the base of that. 

Before you can learn the handstand though, we must create some benchmarks along the way that ensure your success. The first of which is simply a headstand. Getting upside down is not normal for human beings. It awakens the vestibular system and if you aren’t used to that, it can certainly be a surprise. A headstand begins with understanding how to create balance with a solid base. The base in this case is your hands and your head. You’re essentially creating the base of a pyramid. Your hands are the bottom corners of the triangle and your head is the top. Once you’ve placed everything on the floor, SLOWLY walk your feet towards your hands. I would recommend beginning this against a wall but once you’ve mastered that, it’s important to move out towards the middle of the room. Ideally, we end up with our feet off the ground with only our head and hands on the floor. 

Once you feel comfortable doing this, the next step would be to ensure you have lockout ability or adequate pressing strength. Simply holding your body weight, not even beginning to discuss the handstand push-up, requires a great deal of pressing strength. You should be able to strict press at least 50% of your bodyweight overhead in order to hold yourself in a handstand against a wall. If that is too heavy, you’ll need to spend some time building more pressing strength. If you can check that box off, then it’s time to actually begin keeping your arms straight and getting your butt above your head. You can start with a box or your bed. Place your feet on the bed or box and walk your hands towards it. Allow your butt to drift up towards the ceiling. Start by trying to hold that for 10-15 seconds increments. Once you’ve mastered that, it’s time to kick up onto a wall. Begin by placing your hands on the ground roughly 6 inches from the wall. The golden rule is to keep your arms completely locked out NO MATTER what. You will tuck one knee into your chest while keeping the ball of your foot on the floor. The other leg will be your lead leg. It will remain straight and try to make contact with the wall as soon as possible. You will drive HARD off the foot that is tucked into the chest. Lead with your lead leg and find the wall. Quickly allow the momentum of your kick to bring the other foot to the wall. Hold for whatever you feel comfortable doing. 

Once you can hold for roughly one minute without stopping, it’s time to practice balance. Begin by moving one foot off the wall. Once you can hold it with boot feet off the wall, it’s time to move to the middle of the room. 

There are few movements where you will learn how to control your body from simply holding a position better than the handstand. It will unlock so much coordination which will in turn make other movements so much easier. Work on your handstand!

Sidenote: These steps will very likely not be achieved all in one hour, all in a day, or all in a week or even month. Building skill takes time. (So, if you’ve never done a handstand before, don’t expect to read through this blog and fly through all of the progressions mentioned. Aka the best place to come & learn is in the gym. What are you waiting for?!)


If you want to learn more about the power of the handstand (you can start with progressions, never fear) and other feats of fitness to make your life better in and outside of the gym, set up a time to talk with us at CrossFit Virilis, serving Cibolo, Schertz, and beyond! 

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