The Upside of a Handstand

Five steps to one of the best exercises you probably aren’t doing.
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If you’ve ever wondered how people kick into a handstand and make it look easy, it’s all a matter of slow and steady progression. You have to build up your strength gradually — you don’t just kick into a free-standing handstand without learning how to master it against a wall.

I sat on the sidelines well into my 30s before I ever had the guts to try a handstand, but when I finally learned how to do it — I felt like I found my fitness superpower! Here’s a cheat sheet to mastering a handstand so you too will reap the benefits — from increasing your upper body and core strength to improving your balance to even giving your mood a lift. Plus, they’re fun!

Keep in mind: Safety is always first. Don’t move on to the next step until you feel strong enough and have a friend to spot you for an added layer of protection. Check with a doctor before trying handstands if you have high blood pressure, a heart condition, eye problems, any injury or if you are pregnant.

Step 1: Incorporate shoulder push-ups and planks with your feet against the wall into your workout; these will provide the shoulder and core strength necessary to perform a handstand.

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Step 2: Wall walk. With your back facing a wall, bend down and put your hands on the floor and start to walk your feet up the wall — only go to a level that feels safe. Practice this to build strength and confidence.

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Step 3: Wall walk to a handstand. When Step 2 feels comfortable, try to position yourself in a handstand against the wall. Practice this by walking up and down the wall for an intense core and shoulder workout.

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Step 4: Handstand against the wall. Stand 3 feet in front of a wall, with your right leg in front of you, and kick up into a handstand. The wall will stop you, so engage your core, push through your shoulders, tuck your glutes under and spread your fingers wide for optimal balance. Have a friend help guide your feet to the wall so you can experience the true feeling of being in a handstand. Practice this until it feels easy.

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Step 5: Handstand. With your right leg forward, practice slowly kicking into a handstand. Stretch through your shoulders, draw your navel to your spine and tuck your glutes and your head under, point your toes and spread your fingers wide for stabilization. Have a friend there to catch your feet to provide a layer of protection until you feel comfortable. Practice and have fun!

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Making your body strong with weights is very important, but supporting your own bodyweight in a handstand makes you feel empowered, and this strength is one that comes from the inside out.

Enjoy finding the fitness superhero in you!