Handstands work your core and improve balance while giving you the benefits of increased circulation and lymph flow. You’ll engage your whole body while using your shoulders, arms, core, and back.
Take a look at these handstand prep options and variations. There are plenty of options to suit all levels and abilities.
Here are some exercises that will help you put more weight on your hands and arms while having one or both legs in the air. They will also help you get used to being upside down and build up core and arm strength for stability.
With this move, you practice “hopping” on to your hands by briefly picking both feet up off the ground. Practice this against the wall to work your way up to landing into a wall handstand. if this is too difficult then work on the next progression. The Pike Holds.
- Start in the Downward Dog position with your right leg raised.
- Bend your left knee and kick your left foot off the floor, lifting your right leg more. This will only last a quick second at first before you land back down.
- Do 5-10 repetitions on each side.
Next, try hopping up with both feet at the same time. Do 5-10 repetitions.
Pike Hold/Elevated Pike Hold
Pike Holds and its elevated advancement works the anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, triceps, back, and core and can even help improve hamstring flexibility. This move will help prepare these muscles to manage your upper body in an inverted position. As you are able to hold this exercise comfortably for 9 - 12 seconds then you can increase the difficulty by elevating your feet from the floor until you are able to perform the next move: the wall handstand.
- Assume a push-up position on the floor. Your arms should be straight and your hands should be shoulder-width apart.
- Now lift up your hips so that your body forms an upside-down V. Your legs and arms should stay as straight as possible.
- Hold the position for the designated length of time.
A wall is a great support device or “spotter.” Use the wall as a touch point as you build up balancing on only your hands.
These two approaches have you come into a handstand so that a wall is behind your back.
Handstand Method #1 (Back to wall)
- Stand with your right foot in front of your left foot and your arms raised. If you prefer, begin in a Downward-Facing Dog instead of this standing lunge.
- Lift your right foot slightly. Then lower it back down to the floor as you place your hands on the floor and kick up your left leg, and then your right.
- Align your body so that your feet, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line and hold this position for as long as possible against the wall.
Handstand approach #2 (Belly To Wall)
- Start in Downward-Facing Dog or folded forward with your hands on the ground, one to two feet from a wall.
- Pressing your hands into the ground slightly wider than shoulder distance, then lift your hips above you, keeping your legs and feet engaged.
- Slowly walk your way up the wall until your face, stomach and knees are all touching the surface.
- Hold this position for as long as possible.
Once you get the hang of it, plant your hands farther away from the wall so that your feet only touch the wall if you move too far forward.
Now this is a bonus feature which most persons wouldn't recommend however it can prove quite effective if you use it right; and that is, the banana back handstand. When you just start getting the hang of moving off the wall for your handstand you most likely wont transition into a perfect form from kicking up.
This is where you will apply a slight tilt to the pelvis and allow your feet to hang over your head while looking just beyond your fingertips. This can eventually be corrected when you become more adapt to being in a free handstand without wall support.
Furthermore you will want to slowly lift your head up tucking your neck close to your traps and alter your torso to align the arms with the rest of your straight body. This will need more assistance from the wall to get the form right so warming up with some of these will help you be mindful of this position.
Things to keep in mind
If you’re just starting, work on building muscle in your body and getting used to the idea of your hips and legs being over your head.
Find a friend or teacher who can assist you, since sometimes simply having someone stand next to you can give you the confidence to try new things.
Being upside-down can be a bit disorienting, so it’s also nice to have someone able to provide you with clear alignment cues and help you figure out which corrections to make.