Tag Archives | straight handstand

Spectacular Handstand Hops by Yuval Ayalon

We had a guest blog post from Yuval Ayalon a couple of months ago on his amazing 10 minute handstand feat. Today we have a much shorter, but equally impressive video.

While in a perfect straight handstand form, Yuval performs a series of very small and controlled jumps forward.

Before trying out this drill, Yuval recommends learning how to do and hold a handstand, initiating the hop with legs instead from your shoulders, keeping those shoulders elevated and finally – starting with only one hop.

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

Get your copy of “Walking and Jumping On Your Hands” today and discover the easy methods of learning to walk and jump on my hands.

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Handstand Stretching Drills

Apart from regular training, achieving your first handstand requires quite a bit of flexibility as well, especially for the straight handstand. Here are some great stretches to improve your flexibility for this particular handstand variation.

Tumbling Illustrated
Tumbling Illustrated on Amazon

There are four stretching drills in the video – active dynamic, active static, passive dynamic and passive static. As you might have guessed, I like the one with the gymnast bridge the most.

In fact, I just recently wrote an article at Breaking Muscle on this very move in relation to back and shoulder pain. Check it out here.

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Movement Pyramid in Relation to Handstands

Most would agree that the straight handstand is a bit more advanced than the curved handstand, gymnasts in particular. There are certainly pros to going straight for the straight handstand in the beginning of your handstand career, but the curved handstand is a very viable option as well.

The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing
The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing on Amazon

Having said that, here’s a great video for those looking to learn how to perform the straight handstand. Emmet Louis uses movement pyramid to explain what you need to work on before starting the straight handstand training. It’s all about getting basic stuff like mobility and stability in order before gradually moving to the specific movement itself, in this case a handstand.

Hand Balancing Made Easy is currently 50% Off! Grab it while the promotion lasts.

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Hand Balancing Training Variations

When it comes to handstands and hand balancing in general, there are many ways to train and progress. In this video we have a chance to see quite difficult hand balancing moves by Pablo Molina.

Starting with a straight handstand, Pablo goes on to walk on hands and perform various hand balancing moves, including press handstand and even unsupported headstand; but he also shows some amazing one arm handstand variations and handstand pushups on hand balancing stands, which make balancing easier and increase the number of stunts you can perform. Check them out here.

The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing
The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing on Amazon
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Yoga Scorpion Handstand Tutorial

The Scorpion handstand is a quite difficult move, where you bend your back and knees while in a handstand and touch the head with your feet or toes. Check out this video from Kino to see how it’s performed and what you can do to achieve it.

According to Kino, there are three main things to watch for before trying out the Scorpion handstand, also known as vrischikasana.

First of all, you need to be able to to confidently hold a straight handstand for a reasonable amount of time, like ten seconds.

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

Secondly, back bend or your spine flexibility needs to be fairly developed to be able to perform the Scorpion handstand. If not, you’ll need to work on improving that flexibility before trying out vrischikasana.

Finally, you need to be relaxed and calm in order to let your body open and avoid tipping forward.

Most people looking to achieve this move do not have much problems with holding a handstand or being in a calm state of mind, but they do suffer from lack of flexibility. Check out this resource to improve flexibility and increase your range of motion. 

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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.

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.

Tumbling Illustrated
Tumbling Illustrated on Amazon

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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Handstand Evolution

An interesting video by Dave Durante where he explains his take on a proper handstand form.

Dave begins the handstand with slightly bent arms and knees bent at 90 degrees, which should represent the worst handstand form.

Instead, the feet should be together with arms and knees locked out, which really is a classic curved handstand. It’s worth mentioning that Dave consider this form to be less stable than a straight handstand, which is debatable and depends on other factors. To go from the curved to the straight handstand, press your toes up, open up the shoulders and find your “sweet spot” for balancing.

Going from the first handstand position, to the curved handstand and finally to the straight handstand does require a lot of practice, so it’s definitely not for beginners.

The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing
The True Art and Science of Hand Balancing on Amazon

If you are looking for a way to perform your first handstand as fast as possible, check this out.

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Work on Straight Handstands

I’m going to try showing more of my regular practice up here on the blog. One of the biggest focuses lately has been straight handstands.

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

Instead of kicking up, there is a jump up through a tucked position to the handstand. As you can see my body still is curved, but this wasn’t the best example. Body position and balance is improving.

Read more about straight handstands here.

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More Questions Answered

I figured I’d dive into the email file and answer a few questions today.

“I’ve been working on the one armed handstand pushup and have gotten one armed handstand planks. Do you have any tips for faster progression with the one armed handstand pushup. I’m at partial ROM at the moment.”

First off congratulations Jesse, you are much further along then most everyone, including myself.

I can’t give you my personal experience as I haven’t got to that point yet. But I can offer what others have said will work.

The basics of progressing from two hands to one would be to use your off hand less and less. You can do this by raising it on an object or just using less pressure (like going on to the fingertips. This way your ‘working’ arm must do more work.

For more on the one hand handstand pushup I recommend you check out the book Convict Conditioning by a man who was able to work up to this awesome move. You can read my full Convict Conditioning review here.

“I only started hand balancing because I thought it will make me taller??? I’m 16 and 5’9 will I be 6 ft if I do hand balancing???”

Learn How to Back Flip in 31 Days
Learn How to Back Flip in 31 Days on Amazon

This is the first time I got this question. And its interesting. Does hand balancing make you taller? Probably not. Hand balancing and inversion can offer many benefits and keep the spine straight and aligned. This probably won’t make you taller but it certainly won’t make you shorter. Considering that you’re young its likely that you’ll still keep growing.

“I have been practicing handstands for 3 years. I probably practiced it the wrong way because I can barely hold it for 5 seconds. What can I do to extend the life of my handstands?”

Don’t mean to be harsh but yes you must be doing something wrong. It took me about a year to work up to thirty seconds and I think that was too long!

You must be neglecting something basic like keeping the body tight. Without seeing you do a handstand I can’t advise you better than that. No matter what it is though, I encourage you to revisit the lead-up stunts as described in the Secrets of the Handstand Quick Start Guide.

Sir I am practicing yoga since 1 & 1/2 years. I can do difficult postures excluding this handstand. In yoga all boys generally perform curved Handstand instead of straight Handstand. Sir I have one question, What is the role of our back while performing handstand? Is it responsible for balancing Or Handstand is only depends on power in our hands? Also I am 20 year old. I listened that age is one of the barrier in practicing the handstand. Is it true? If possible Please tell me sir, at what age you have started the Handstand?

Whether you have a straight or curved handstand the back is not involved in the balance. IT is used to keep you stable, but you do not arch more or less in order to stay balanced. Balancing comes from the hands and also the shoulders. (For beginners I recommend keeping the shoulders immobile and focusing on the hands.)

As for age there’s a few things going on. Kids are better off at gaining skills. They have more myelin which allows them to gain skills quickly. And by starting early you have more time to build your skill. (Full details on this can be found on the Skill and How to Build It CD found in the Hand Balancing Mastery Course.)

They also weigh less and are closer to the ground. So yes, younger people are much better off at hand balancing. But age is no barrier. You can become good, even great, if you’re dedicated.

That’s enough questions for today. Pay attention to the next post for something special. Until then…

Good Luck and Good Hand Balancing,
Logan Christopher

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