Tag Archives | Handstand Training

Handstand Journey

Just starting out with your hand balancing training? Wondering how long will it take you to master the freestanding handstand? Take a look at this video for instant motivation and to get a rough estimate of how long will it take you to achieve this move.

To fasten up your progress and reach a stable 30-second freestanding handstand as fast as possible, check out one of my best selling courses here.

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How to Land Safely From the Parallettes Handstand

The first part of the video from GMB covers how to get out of bent arm stand, but for purpose of this post we’ll focus on the second part which teaches us how to bail out from a handstand on parallettes. The technique used for both is pretty similar anyway – a cartwheel, but with a twist.

Instead of going up and over, this technique relies on:

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  • Pushing, twisting and going out at an angle
  • Keeping your arms straight
  • Gradual practice of kicking up and going over

For this and other exercises which can be done with or without parallettes, make sure to check out Gold Medal Bodies Parallettes Training program.

gbm-pa1

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Elbow Extension in Relation to Handstands

Here is a great video on elbow extension in relation to hand balancing by Yuri Marmerstein. If you can’t lock out your elbow while in a handstand, this video will give you everything you need to fix this somewhat rare issue. This may not be a big problem in the beginning of your hand balancing training, but once you progress and try to achieve something like the one hand handstand, it might prove to be a bigger issue than you thought initially.

Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups
Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups on Amazon

Some people simply have a psychological barrier which prevents them from fully extending their elbows in a handstand. On the other hand, some literally cannot straighten their arms fully, whether due to tension in biceps or some other physical factor. Yuri Marmerstein shows two different workouts you can do at your home to work on this issue gradually in order to fix it permanently.

Also make sure to check out The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing by Professor Paulinetti and Robert Jones, which is a great resource for anyone who’s into hand balancing.

 

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Handstand Training – My Ten Cents! – Guest Post by Paul “Coach” Wade

If there’s one thing we can all agree on in the world of strength and conditioning, it’s this: The National Handstand Council (NHC) has done a freaking terrible job of promoting the benefits of the handstand.

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Why have they failed? Well, partly because I just made them up. But that’s no goddam excuse is it? Superman is made up, and you don’t see Lex Luthor all up in your face, right? So he did his job. But the NHC? Jesus. Useless. Guys want to work their pressing muscles, and they hit that bench press. Or reach for the dumbbells and do some shoulder presses. Some of the hardcore dudes might work some barbell standing presses. But handstand training? Good luck finding that in a gym, right?

You suck, NHC!!

But luckily the strength world does have a champion for handstand training; a man who has tirelessly promoted the strength and conditioning benefits of the old upside-down work so effectively that he has pretty much become the face of handstands on this here internet. This hero’s name is Logan Christopher. When Dragon Door formed the Progressive Calisthenics Certification (PCC) to instruct athletes in all aspects of bodyweight training, I pretty much begged Logan to get on-board: he’s so much more than “the handstand guy”, but hell, nobody knows handstand training like Logan. History, methods, kinesiology, you name it.

The bottom line: you gotta have those handstands!

I have probably been doing some kind of handstand training since before most of you reading this were born. Bill Pearl used to say that no one approach to training would take care of you for your entire life, and this has certainly been true for me and handstands. In fact, my approach to handstands has gone through at least four different stages.

 

The Brutal Basics: Wall Handstand Holds

When I first started calisthenics, I basically did two pushing exercises: basic pushups and handstands against a wall. This was in my early twenties, and in jail: no weights, no machines, no benches—nothin’. It seems primitive by today’s standards, but looking back, god damn—what a wonderful way to start off! I’d do pushups to work my chest, triceps and front shoulders, then at the end of the workout I’d flip up against the wall and just try and stay locked out for as long as I could. I knew I was doing great work for my muscles as I felt the burn viciously intensify in my delts, traps and arms. Oh man, wonderful stuff!

Brett Jones

The great Brett Jones holds a perfect wall handstand—in Alcatraz!

 

I still look back on that early training and thank God I didn’t have access to a modern gym the way today’s guys do. Most wannabe strongmen nowadays sit on their asses on padded benches to press—or worse, they lie down! When you think about the artificial nature of this, you’ll realize how nuts it is. How often in the real world do you ever need to summon huge strength while you are sitting down? Or lying down? Hell, real strength is ground-based. Training while you are carrying your entire weight through the floor forces the entire body to work as a unit to become stronger. Think about it…if this principle is true when your feet are carrying your weight, how much truer is it when your hands are carrying your weight during training?

The answer: much truer. If you want to begin to really tap your strength potential, get on your hands, son.

 

In My Prime: One-Arm Work

I trained this way a few years. I eventually got to the point where I could easily hold wall handstands for over a minute, so I switched to one-arm wall handstands. Oh, fun fun fun, boys and girls! One-arm work does stuff for your body you would never imagine. Your joints have to lock harder to support you, training the hell out of those elbow tendons; plus, my hands became hugely stronger. Just supporting your weight entirely on one hand throws enormous stresses through the soft tissues, and even the bones of your mitts. It made my hands tough as hell—and not just my grip, but my wrist strength and finger extensions too. All with no grippers or external weights. In fact, I wasn’t even trying to train my hands!

Over time, I moved away from the wall and embraced old-school hand-balancing. Again, I used very few exercises. I worked with elbow levers, one arm elbow-levers, free handstands, and one-arm free handstands. I didn’t build much more muscle this way; but boy, did I get stronger! Plus, I was learning to use the muscle I had built already. Over time I fused these core techniques into one “super-technique”—the pushup into a one-arm handstand from a one-arm elbow lever. In reality, there’s not a huge amount of “pushing” in this move. Do it right, and you kick up with your legs, building a head of momentum that carries you up. But it is an amazing movement, and I still feel privileged that I ever learned it at all.

 

Max Shank lever

The mighty Max Shank busts out a two-arm elbow lever.

I think it was during this period that I began to understand the true benefits of handstand training. It’s functional—it really teaches you how to use your body as it was meant to be used. I’ve heard a lot of writers diss on bodyweight, especially the idea that it’s a natural way to train. What the hell is natural about a handstand? They say. Well, I disagree with this attitude. Learning to hold the body up on the hands is natural—in fact, it’s practically hardwired. We just choose to ignore it. We are one of very few species that has chosen to walk exclusively on our hind legs—all other species (and our ancestors) naturally also used the forelimbs—the hands. When we are babies we begin to explore the world by crawling, by walking with our feet and hands.  We get up from the floor by pushing through our hands. When we run at high velocity and tumble over, we inevitably spin into a handstand, if only for a split-second. Handstand training is just a scientific extension of these very natural (but mislaid) movement patterns.

 

HSPUs Convict Conditioning-Style!

When I started coaching guys a few years later, none of them were interested in the arcane arts of hand-balancing. Elbow levers? Shit, why?! They just wanted to get as diesel as they could, as quick and easy as they could. Swole shoulders, boy! So I trained them with handstand pushup progressions up against a wall. Rest assured, I strenuously experimented and “pressure tested” these techniques in my own little “lab”: and just about doubled the size of my deltoids by doing so.

Man, if you’ve never worked your handstands like this, it’s a brutal and super-efficient way to build huge levels of muscle and tendon-strength. You begin with inverse positions to train your body to being happy upside-down, set against the wall. When this gets easy, the handstand pushups begin. Since you’ve pretty much taken the balance element away, all the resources of your body and brain can be devoted to pushing.

 

one hand handstand pushups

With convict-style handstand pushups, who needs barbells?

The effects are not unlike heavy barbell presses, but with one exception: they strengthen and build up the vulnerable shoulder and arm joints, instead of tearing them down. Howcome? For one, the hands are flat—instead of gripping as they push. The old-timers who trained me were convinced that gripping while you push (as in barbell presses, bench presses) causes all the elbow and forearm problems so prevalent in gyms today. The flat hand cures these. (In nature, guys pushing heavy objects always do it with a flat hand. So why do we clench our hands while pushing in the gym?) Also, your elbow and body positioning is much more authentic during handstand work—in the gym, guys are forever pushing their elbows out, putting the bar behind their neck, and so on—this is all unnatural and wrecks those shoulders. Another major point is that your range-of-motion is limited by nature during handstand pushups—yer head gets in the way. This change alone cures a huge amount of shoulder problems.

These progressions went on to become a mainstay of my book Convict Conditioning. I stand by this type of work for bodyweight bodybuilders, and guys who want to build muscle, strength and joint health without the balance element of traditional, free hand-balancing.

 

OBHB: “Old Bastard Hand-Balancing”

As it stands, my next “big” birthday is a few short years away, and it has a 6 in it…unfortunately, the 6 ain’t on the good side! In the last five or six years, my inverse training has taken another definite turn. I still love being upside-down, but these days I do things different. Gone are the super-heavy handstand pushups against the wall—in their place, I’m back to traditional styles of hand-balancing. I play with stuff like:

  • Perfectly straight, still, free handstands
  • Timed free handstands (with a body-curve allowed)
  • Asymmetrical free handstands (different arm and leg positions)
  • Handstand transitions: bridge to handstand, forward bend to handstand, etc.
  • Walking on the hands
  • Sideways walks on the hands (try it!)
  • Headstands and shoulderstands

This keeps my interest up, maintains muscle and strength, and keeps my shoulder girdle healthy. And more than that—it’s fun for me. After years of grinding out HSPUs, learning to use balance and equilibrium again is interesting. Discovering the similarities between grace and strength is enjoyable—creative, almost. Will I ever go back to heavy asymmetrical unilateral handstand pushups? Probably. Almost definitely, someday. But like old Bill Pearl said, you need to shake your training up if you want to stay interested and in this game for the long haul.

balance and strength

Balance and strength go together better than most folks realize.

In many ways, this kind of training makes me feel like I’m going back to my roots. My first real calisthenics mentor, Joe Hartigan, was a huge fan of handstands, or “inverse work” as he sometimes called it. For Joe, the most important element of this type of exercise wasn’t muscle or strength gain at all—it was the fact that you were upside-down, or “inverse”. He was convinced that spending time wrongside-up had amazing health benefits, like flushing the lymph system, toning the circulation, and filling the brain with large volumes of fresh blood (he felt that this “fed” the pineal and pituitary glands, the “master glands” of the endocrines, thus optimizing hormonal output). In fact, Joe lumped headstands and shoulderstands into the same group of exercises as handstands. He often performed simple headstands for prolonged periods. I sometimes thought he was crazy—and I wasn’t the only one—but his results weren’t crazy. The guy was a strength legend, pretty much up to the day he died.

Handstands and hormones? Maybe kid. Maybe.

***

So perhaps you can see just from my own brief training bio that there are many ways to skin that cat…many ways to work on those hands God blessed you with. Which is the “best” approach? Basic handstands, gymnastic elbow-lever tricks, HSPUs against a wall, or old-school hand-balancing…?

Hm. Let me answer this way. For many years I was kind of obsessed with finding the ultimate method of calisthenics. But since working more closely with Al Kavadlo—the greatest calisthenics coach in the world—I’ve realized that there is no ultimate way. If you are enjoying your training, and getting better without screwing up your joints, hell, you are winning the game. That’s what it’s all about kid.

Now go get on your hands.

Paul “Coach” Wade is the author of the best selling books, Convict Conditioning and Convict Conditioning 2. These books are a must have for anyone interested in bodyweight training.

 

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How To Do a Handstand and Stay Up

Most of us dreaded gym class in school. One of the hardest tasks was learning how to do a handstand and stay up. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be on the US Olympic Gymnastics team to perform a steady handstand. It takes patience, practice and good technique.

This video shows getting up into a handstand from a yoga perspective. I’d approach it differently but there are some good tips here.

 

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If you have never attempted a handstand before, have a friend hold your legs as you kick up into a handstand. You can also practice against a wall. Whichever route you choose, make sure to follow the same guidelines below on how to do a handstand and stay up:

  • Place your hands on the floor in front of you. Make sure they are about shoulder width apart. If you get too wide, you will fall and not have a good balance.
  • Another tip is to spread your fingers out to make a wider base. It is essential that you lock your elbows once you begin the handstand. This is crucial for a good platform.
  • Begin by placing your hands on the floor in front of you with your elbows locked.
  • Place your dominant leg forward and kick up into a handstand with your weaker leg.

You may need to practice doing a few kicks to get the right balance. If you are worried about falling over, try to use a softer surface to practice your handstand on. Grass is good to start. Once you are able to get yourself up into a vertical position, look at your hands to keep yourself balanced. Avoid moving your head around and keep your legs locked together. It is a good practice to point your toes to the sky. This helps your balance and presents a nicer image. Allowing your legs to dangle over your head is not a good technique because it could throw you off balance and it doesn’t look good. Use your palms for balance. If you start to fall forward, push with your fingers. If you find yourself falling backwards, push on your palm heels for balance. Staying up in the correct shape requires a lot of strength, which can be achieved through practice.

Finally, watch the video and take notes on things that you should not do if you want to stay up when doing a handstand. Like most things, it will take time and practice to know how to do a handstand and stay up.

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Handstand Games

Hand balancing is fun. If you can even more fun to your training why not do it? That’s where handstand games can come into play.

We’ll list some handstand games here, but you can come up with your own. Creativity is key!

For any of these games you’ll need two or more people who are approximately at the same level of handstand ability. If one person is way better then another you may need to come up with some other games, as these are best for evenly matched opponents.

Timed Holds
Hold a handstand for time. This can be a regular handstand or a different position from normal. Both people start at the same time and the longer hold wins.

Handstand HORSE
You’ve likely played the basketball game of horse sometime in the past. This is where a person gets a letter if they can’t match what their opponent does. The first person to spell the word HORSE loses. Instead of trying trick shots you’ll do any handstand skill. This can involve holds, walking, hopping, presses, different positions and anything else you can think of.

Handstand Race
There are a couple variations of this game. You an an opponent can go for time and thus speed while handstand walking or running. You can cover a distance and whoever gets there in the least number of attempts would win.

Obstacle Course
This is a great one in a gym where you can easily setup steps or objects to circumnavigate. See who can get through the entire course within falling out of a handstand.

Handstand Battles
This involves actually trying to take the other person out of the handstand while you remain in it. Warning this is more dangerous then any of the other games.

The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing
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This video with Roger Harrell from Crossfit may give you more ideas of handstand games to play.

Try out some of these games with your friends. You’ll have fun while improving your skills.

If you want more details on how to do all these hand balancing skills and more then I recommend you check out the Hand Balancing Mastery Course.

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Give Me Your HSPU Questions?

I’m nearing completion of the second draft of The Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups. And I could use your help.

You see, Chapter 11 addresses all the common problems people may have when doing handstand pushups. I have a bunch of questions already from a survey I did awhile back, but I want to make sure I cover all the bases.

Read the questions I have so far below then comment below with any others you have.

********************

How do you combine handstand training with other exercises?

How can I train HSPU’s with an injury?

How often should I workout?

How long should I rest in between sets?

How should I warm-up before HSPU’s?

What do I do if I cannot lock out my arms?

I seem to be stuck at a plateau. How do I break through it?

I don’t have a good place to practice HSPU’s. What should I do?

I seem to have problems just kicking up to the handstand. What should I do?

Handstands seem to make my wrists hurt? What should I do?

How should I include HSPU’s into my training schedule?

My back seems to arch a lot when I try HSPU’s and I fall out of the handstand? What should I do?

When I try a harder variation of the HSPU I find it difficult to maintain my form?

I don’t think I’m working on HSPU’s enough to really get better at them? What is the minimum amount I need to do?

I have problems with my feet sliding up and down the wall. What can I do?

*********************

There is much else covered within the other chapters of the book, but I want to make sure I get everything you need to really make this the ultimate guide.

And something equally important.

I’m closing down the pre-publication sale in 48 hours. Consider this your last warning to save almost $20 off the retail price of this book.

Oh yeah, and stupid me, on the page I forgot to mention my guarantee. Everything I offer includes a 3 month money-back guarantee. That includes this guide and the three months won’t start until the day you receive it.

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Trampoline Handbook on Amazon

So send in your questions and if you haven’t already, join the many others who’ve taken advantage of this special off before its too late.

The Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups

Good Luck and Good Handstand Pushups,
Logan Christopher

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Handstand, Tumbling and Athleticism

Wanted to start off today’s message with a powerful comment from a subscriber.

How to do the One Hand Handstand by Professor Orlick
ow to do the One Hand Handstand on Amazon

Logan,

Your website is absolutely fantastic and it has helped me learn a whole new approach to physical-culture training. Over the last few months, I have incorporated handstand push-ups and some elementary handstand training into my weightlifting routine, and the results have been nothing short of incredible.

A while back you received a comment from somebody who was upset that you are putting acrobatic videos on the Internet for all to view. He was apparently concerned that some people may develop bad form or bad training habits without direct supervision from a qualified trainer. While I’m sure this gentleman meant well, I must say that I have benefited enormously from watching the videos you have posted. I suspect that many other people have too.

Viewing your videos and reading your articles helped me to refine my views of what is possible with physical culture training. Before I made a visit to your site, I paid virtually no attention to the athletic side of physical training, and I new very little about the many benefits which can be derived from doing handstands and related movements. I have no desire to become a professional gymnast or acrobat, but I find that the type of training which you promote on your site improves my athleticism and strength tremendously.

Thanks for running a great and innovative site.

Rob Drucker

Thank you, Rob. Comments like these really make my day. It brings a smile to my face to read about the success of people like you.

Handstands have been proven over and over to strengthen the body. If you have to start against the wall, you’ll still get many of the benefits. The truth is going from handstands against the wall to free standing is the transition many people make, myself included.

As far as athleticism though, that is just the beginning. Can you imagine where you’ll be at if you add just a few of the following into the mix?

Forward Rolls, Backward Rolls, Diving, Head and Hand Balancing, Hand Balancing, Forearm Balancing, Cartwheels, Roundoffs, Head and Hand Springs, Hand Springs, Backward Hand Springs, Back Bends, Upstarts (Kips), Somersaults (Flips), Combination Rolls, Combination Hand Springs, Combination Hand Springs and Somersaults, Combination Hand Springs and Rolls, Combination Balancing and Rolls, Miscellaneous Combinations, and Novelties.

Those are the 21 chapters found in the soon to be released Tumbling Illustrated. As of writing this it’ll be available in 4 days, 23 hours, 57 minutes, 34 seconds. To find the updated time go to https://lostartofhandbalancing.com/tumbling.html

I wish it was ready now, especially since a few people have inquired about buying it already. But I’m still waiting on the printers for the main book. Plus I want to be able to ship it out the day you order it.

You don’t have to be a professional gymnast or acrobat to get the benefits of this training. (If you are though, more power to you.) Even if you work on just a few of the 248 different moves you’ll learn how to control your body to a extraordinary degree.

Tomorrow I’m going to reveal a few details on the companion workbook to Tumbling Illustrated and how you can use this workbook will increase your skills even faster.

Good Luck and Good Tumbling,
Logan Christopher

P.S. I’ll try to get another video up showing some acrobatic conditioning in action before the launch. Maybe even a sneak peak of the workbook.

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