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Handstand

If you have never done a handstand, you may want to begin by trying a headstand. Be sure to practice on a soft surface, and have a friend spot you by keeping you from toppling over onto your back. If you don’t have a spotter, practice doing front rolls (front somersaults) to make rolling out come more naturally. To roll out, tuck your chin into your chest and let your back round as it comes down to the ground to make sure you don’t land flat. Soft padding really helps when you are first getting started.

To do a headstand, bend over and put your hands on the ground about a foot or so in front of your feet, approximately shoulder width apart. Place your forehead on the ground a few inches ahead of your hands, so your head and hands form a triangle. Start to transfer your weight forwards onto your hands and head. During a headstand, the majority of your weight is kept on the hands to minimize the pressure placed on the neck. Begin by trying to get into a tucked headstand position. Do this by placing your knees on top of your elbows as you transfer weight onto the head and hands. Once you feel balanced in this position, try to extend the hips and legs up towards the ceiling, keeping the core as tight as possible. Think about squeezing your abs and your glutes to keep your body tight.

Headstand

Headstand

Once you feel a little more comfortable being upside down, it’s time to try a full-out handstand.  You can begin either facing a wall or with your back to the wall.  A handstand facing the wall is easier to get into, but if you fall over backwards you will need to roll to make sure you don’t slam your back into the ground.  Practice those somersaults, and use a mat if you’re not confident, or use a spotter.  To get up, start in a pushup position with your feet against the wall, and walk your hands in until you are upside down.

Handstand - Front

Handstand

 

Facing the wall helps you hold a more technically proper handstand.  The proper position for a handstand is a hollow position.  Think of making your body into a slight C-shaped curve, with your feet and hands slightly in front of you, and your lumbar spine held tightly enough that the curve disappears.  If you laid down in this position you would be able to smoothly rock back and forth from your shoulders to your hips without any hitching at the lower back.

You can also perform handstands with your back against the wall.  Doing them this way has the advantage of the wall behind your back, so you are less likely to fall over backwards, and instead will fall down onto your feet.  These also allow you to practice your kickup into the handstand, which is an important skill to learn.

Begin by choosing a spot about 6-12 inches away from the wall to place your hands.  Take a step towards the wall using whichever leg feels more comfortable, keeping the arms locked straight up overhead, and bend down, placing the hands on the floor at the spot you chose.  Think of throwing the trailing leg forwards towards the wall to gain enough momentum to bring the legs up overhead.

As your feet approach the wall, actively squeeze your glutes and abs to try and control your body as it straightens up, and keep your shoulders active by pressing down into the ground.  With practice you will be able to stop yourself in the handstand without using the wall to stop you.  When you are first learning, make sure you use your feet to cushion your fall against the wall rather than your hips or back.

Handstand - Back

Handstand

 

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