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How To Breathe Properly in A Handstand – Guest Post by Ryan Hurst

When you first try a handstand, there are just so many things to think about. Your hand and shoulder position, where to direct pressure through your hands, hip and leg positioning, and every other detail from head to toe.

With all the things you have to think about in the handstand, it’s pretty easy to forget about your breathing, and the tendency is to hold your breath. Well, that’s not a great idea. Along with raising blood pressure there is a chance – albeit small – of passing out when you hold your breath.

Obviously, passing out when you are upside down is not good!

Ryan Hurst One Hand Cane Handstand

Ryan Hurst doing a One Hand Handstand on canes.

Holding your breath is a natural habit though, especially in difficult exercises that require a lot of concentration. The handstand certainly qualifies as that kind of exercise.

In the video below I talk a bit about how I monitor my clients and teach them how to avoid holding their breath. It’s definitely best to have a coach or training partner right there to give you cues and help you, but even if you don’t have someone available, the techniques I’ll share with you can be immediately applied in your practice.

Signs You May Be Holding Your Breath

We receive a lot of different questions from our training clients, and one of the more common issues when people start practicing handstands is a feeling of increased pressure in the head and around the eyes.

Some of this pressure is just a minor phenomena that changes for the better with more practice and improved technique, but breath holding is a very likely culprit.

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

You also may notice fatiguing much more quickly than your current level of conditioning would indicate. Holding your breath while muscles are actively working is not just dangerous, but it will also decrease your performance. Hard working muscles require the increased oxygen intake and carbon dioxide expulsion to work properly and well.

Also common are sensations of lightheadedness and dizziness. I shouldn’t need to tell you this is a bad thing to happen when you are upside down practicing handstands.

Another sign is that when you end a set you hear yourself loudly exhaling. The exhale was loud because you were keeping your air by holding your breath.

How To Keep Breathing

One of the techniques I use with my clients is to simply engage in conversation with them. It’s impossible to be holding your breath and talking at the same time. Along with keeping them breathing and alive (kind of important), it also helps them to focus on just a few points at a time. This is important, not just for the handstand, but also when doing other exercises that require a lot of concentration and practice.

Another way I keep my clients breathing is by having them recite a favorite phrase, or something like the alphabet, over and over again. It might be a bit boring, but it gets the job done.

Other Tactics for Smoother Breathing in Your Handstand Practice

Treat handstands as a skill, not as an exercise in which to get tired!

The key to improvement in a skill is consistent practice with as good technique as you can muster. If you keep pushing into fatigue too often, you may end up ingraining poor form.

RyanteachingHS

Ryan teaching body alignment in the handstand

End the set when your breathing becomes labored and then try again when you’ve caught your breath and can control it.

These basic but important strategies for breath control in a handstand will keep your practice safe, consistent, and successful.

Author Bio

Ryan Hurst is the Program Director for GMB Fitness, with over 20 years of experience in strength and movement coaching. He holds black belts in Kendo, Judo, and Shorinji Kempo, and he practiced for 10 years as a competitive gymnast. These days, Ryan spends most of his time playing with his kids and helping others move better.

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Combining Parallette Presses and Holds to Build Strength and Skill

Ryan Hurst from Gold Medal Bodies is here to show you how to move forward with your parallette training. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2. This is the third in a three part series.


By now, you should have developed some foundation strength in the basic parallette press and L-sit. That’s a great start, but we started off this series talking about advanced exercises like planches, and maybe it still seems like we’re a long way off from there.

Though it’s true we’re still not ready for advanced work, we can prepare for it by taking these basic skills and combining them into a combination routine.

Anyone following Logan is not going to be a stranger to the concept of sophisticated skills such as handstands and bridging. You’ve also been exposes to the idea of building from simple variations to more difficult ones. One way we like to achieve this is by building combinations – what we like to call “flows” – that put the basic movements together in more interesting and challenging ways.

Today’s video covers a simple flow exercise you can do on the parallettes.

As you can see, we’ve added one more basic exercise, then put them together into a simple combination.

The routine goes like this:
1. Pushup
2. Swing forward to L-sit
3. Swing back to inverted press
4. Repeat

Perform this for 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 repetitions. Do this 3 days in a row, rest one day, then test your strength the next day to check your progress. We’ve included a sample two week program using this routine that will get you ready to begin serious parallette training – the kind that moves you toward advanced skills.

Tumbling Illustrated
Tumbling Illustrated on Amazon

Download link for sample program

Of course, there’s much more to using parallettes than this. The possibilities are really almost endless, but you’ll need some basic strength and control before you can pull off the fancy stuff.

The program above is a starting point. Once you’ve given that a shot, we encourage you to check out our Parallettes One course, which takes these basics to the next level, building pressing strength and skill that will serve you well for any goal.


Gold Medal Bodies has a full blown course on Parallette Training. Until the end of March you can save 15% off the price of any P1 bundle by using the coupon code ‘LEGENDARY’.

Parallettes One

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Parallette Training Foundation for Full-Body Power

Ryan Hurst from Gold Medal Bodies is here to show you how to build a training foundation with parallettes. This is the first of a three part series.


If you’ve ever seen a gymnast perform skills like the planche, you’ve probably wished you could too. Maybe you even got right down on the floor and tried one. Then looked around to make sure nobody was watching after you landed on your face.

Walking and Jumping On Your HandsWalking and Jumping On Your Hands on Amazon

Most of the classic bodyweight feats of strength are really damn hard (that’s why they’re called “feats of strength”), but with the right foundation, there’s no reason they can’t be achievable. But how do you build that foundation? Surely, if it were as simple as doing more bench presses, you’d see a lot more people who could perform a planche.

There’s a right tool for every job, and the tool gymnasts use to build upper-body strength for floor work is a set of parallettes.

Parallettes are great for a number of reasons. Not only do they allow greater stability and leverage than our hands have on the floor (which makes it easier to practice many skills), they’re small, light, and easy to build for yourself.

Everyone knows that pushing exercises are key for practical upper body strength, but what you may not know is how basic pressing can lay the foundation for more sophisticated, full-body movements, and parallettes are an ideal tool to help bridge that gap.

In recent years, parallettes have been adopted primarily by CrossFitters, owing primarily to their portability and cost. Unfortunately, the information on the web about parallette training is limited and simplistic. A quick check on YouTube shows tons of videos of people performing maybe three or four different parallette exercises, usually with poor form.

So let’s start there – by learning one high-leverage exercise with perfect form.

Enter The Parallette Push-Up

“Just a push-up?”

When you focus on your form and pay attention to finer details of the movement, you’ll find that doing correct push-ups on parallettes can be much more challenging than you’d expect.

As a reminder:
• Keep your elbows tight in to your side, with hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Shoulders stay over your hands and don’t let them drop below the level of the bar on the bottom of the repetition.
• Push and drive your elbow pits facing forward.
• A three second hold on the bottom and top position, with a locked down core, tight butt and legs will create a whole body tension, and make this into a full body exercise.

This exercise can be performed daily if repetitions are kept low (not more than 5 repetitions in a set).

We’ll have another video in a couple of days that builds on this foundation and really tightens up your core strength for more dynamic movements.

Until then, give these a shot and be sure to leave a comment and let us know how you like ‘em. Do you still think they’re “just push-ups?”


Gold Medal Bodies has a full blown course on Parallette Training.

Parallettes One

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On Parallettes

Back at the end of January I had the pleasure of meeting up with some new friends at a seminar they were hosting.

It was some top quality gymnastic strength type training information suitable for all levels.

It was a lot of fun and some of the exercises and drills were new to me. That’s saying something because I have a bit of experience in this field.

The best part though has to be the progressions. As you know training with balancing and bodyweight exercises it isn’t always easy to make the jump from one skill to the next. Progressions are the key that makes it work.

I’ve convinced them to give you some info to get started regarding training with parallettes.

In case you don’t know parallettes are mini parallel bars. The sizes can differ but they allow for some fun and unique training as you‘ll come to see.

Any pushup bar or similar setup can be used.

In fact in my book The Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups I show you how to make them. But I’m not going to make you buy the book to get started.

Over at my friend Mike’s site he has a good tutorial on how to put a set of parallettes together for cheap.

Walking and Jumping On Your HandsWalking and Jumping On Your Hands on Amazon

And tomorrow Ryan Hurst will show you how to use them. Stay tuned.

Good Luck and Good Hand Balancing,
Logan Christopher

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