One Arm Handstand Twisting

This great question came in from Dan regarding twisting out of position in the one arm handstand. As this is something I myself have experienced I figured its a common problem among one hand handstand training.

Thank you for the handstand program that you sent to me recently. I was hoping you might be able to give me a little more information about the one handed handstand. I am able to hold myself up using one hand and one finger but once a take the hand away my body begins to twists. Do you have any suggestions on how to stop this twisting? I have been working on it for a while now and the twisting does not seem to dissipate. I know that all of the instructions provided say to turn the hand you are standing on to a 45 degree angle but the twisting seems to get worse when I do this. Any info you can pass along would be appreciated.

Jim Bathurst of Beast Skills has been training the one hand handstand a lot lately, and going through much the same things. I’ve taken some small snippets from recent articles that focus specifically on the turning out of position in the one hand handstand.

I was told that the balance should still be more focused on front and back. Do not twist or move sideways too much, as that’s for the more advanced handbalancers. I have always twisted slightly as I shifted over to my supporting hand. I also twist out of my one arm handstand often, so perhaps this is to blame?

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While some can hold this arched one arm handstand…many more people will have problems and twist out of the one arm handstand (myself included). Not to mention that aesthetically speaking, it’s not as pleasant as a straighter body position.

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This deficiency in shoulder mobility was a main cause of why I twisted out of my one arm handstands all the time. Getting yourself into a straight line is much more efficient in the one armer, and you don’t have to fight yourself.

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When shifting onto the supporting arm, notice that I focus on dropping the outside leg. There is no counter-shift back to the left (which twists the body).

Read more here.

It seems to be believed that attaining a perfectly straight handstand goes a long way towards preventing this twisting. Of course, you must be able to maintain the optimal shoulder position. But back in the day many hand balancers did achieve the one arm handstand with a curved handstand too, so it is possible.

I highly suggest you read Jim’s articles for more details. Most people rush to attain a one arm handstand, and even more than balance, this skill will build your patience.

To stop twisting you must not do anything that makes your body need to twist out of the position. This is more easily said then done, but with training taking it real slow you can feel the difference.

Need more on this amazing move? Then check out How to do the One Hand Handstand.

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How to Do a Handstand Pushup

We’ve all seen them. They looked real cool and impressive. Here are some ideas on how to do a handstand pushup.

The first thing to do is to warm up your shoulder muscles. You can do this by simply shrugging your shoulders several times. Continue by making your arms into wings and flapping them up and down. A final exercise is to swing your arms in a circular motion around the shoulder socket. These will get your shoulders in the correct condition. Once you are warmed up, you are ready to begin the handstand pushups.

Beginners who want to know how to do a handstand pushup should use a wall or spotter for support. Start by placing your hands about a foot from the wall. While locking your arms, kick your feet up and over until you are touching the wall. Once you are in the vertical position, slowly lower your body down to the floor. It is a good idea to put a towel or pillow under your head to avoid injury or banging your head on the floor.  Lower your body to the floor as far as you can go. Make sure you do this slowly. A fast movement will not train your muscles properly. Do as many reps as you can. If you kick out of a handstand after each repetition, you will help train your muscles to prepare for the weight load when you do your handstand pushups.

If you have done a handstand pushup before, you can try a more challenging approach by getting into a headstand position and raising your legs up to your elbows.  From here, you can lift your legs vertically to form the handstand shape.  Another good strategy is to simply walk over onto your hands while your arms are fully extended above your shoulders. You just lean forward and walk your legs up to the upright position. From there, you can press down and up. If you’re looking for a real challenge, try doing a handstand pushup with your legs at a 90 degree angle. Be careful not to put too much stress on the shoulders. They are easily torn.

Once you know how to do a handstand pushup, you will be hooked.

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Clothing Related Acrobatics

This video features Damien Walters and Tim Shieff in what I’ve termed as clothing related acrobatics.

The name of it is ‘One Leg at a Time’, which is going off the saying “I put my pants on one leg at a time,” which implies I’m a normal human being just like you. Of course these guys are anything but normal, and how they put their pants on, as well as other clothes, and taking them off in this video, is far beyond the ability of most people.

There’s lots of amazing acrobatics and other stuff, like undressing while hanging on a bar. Tons of cool partner tumbling drills too.

Then there is some goofing off with water balloons followed by some very inventive escalator tricks. I want to try that first one, hanging on it from the outside.

Here’s the previous episode with Damien Walters and Tim Shieff.

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Handstand Workout

The handstand workout that you do will completely depend on your skill level and what you’re looking to accomplish.

One that I did in the past was a circuit with seven exercises.

1 – Wall handstand
2 – Hamstring flexibility
3 – Frogstand to Headstand
4 – Straddle Lift
5 – Shoulder Flexibility
6 – Abdominal Compression
7 – Elbow Flexibility

Each exercise was done for about 30 seconds then you move onto the next one. This is a great beginner workout for handstands and also include flexibility work that is so important for all hand balancing.

Here is another example from a woman who does handstand professionally.

This handstand workout includes:

1 – Straddle Presses
2 – Pike Presses
3 – Shoulder Weave towards Planche
4 – Handstand Shoulder Taps
5 – Straddle Presses with less range of motion
6 – Aerial

It was just one set of each exercise until fatigued here.

As mentioned what you’re working on and do in your workout will completely depend on your skill level and what you’re training for. Be sure to look around the website for more information that will give you plenty of handstand workout ideas.

For many more ideas on handstand workouts and exercises I recommend you pick up Handbalancing Made Easy.

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Handstand Balance Training

If you’re looking to improve you balance in the handstand this will be a great article for you.

I’m going to split it up into two subjects. One, is if you’re training to gain the balance just for the handstand itself, that is to be able to hold it stable for a length of time.

The second area is improving your balance by working on more difficult positions and moving between them.

Training Your Balance for the Handstand

In the first case I highly recommend you work on lead up stunts first. My Secrets of the Handstand Quick Start System shows you step by step what you need to do to achieve a 30 second handstand.

By working on moves like the frogstand, headstand, and forearm stand you’ll build up the ability you need. Then you transfer that to balancing right off the wall and finally out in the open.

Training your balance in these easier skills will get you to the handstand faster then just going straight for the handstand. This idea also carries over into the next place to go.

Intermediate and Advanced Handstand Balance Training

Once you have that stable handstand you can begin to move forward. Unfortunately when people learn the handstand (and even before it) they often look at the more difficult moves to go for next. Things like walking up and down stairs, doing presses or the one armer.

Instead the best place to really improve your balance is by sticking with the handstand and changing your position slightly. This video will give you a few ideas to try.

Work on changing your back bend. Work on changing your leg position. Change your arm position or your head. All these are more difficult than the normal handstand position and thus are the best place to go for balance training.

If you’re looking for a whole lot more information I highly suggest picking up Hand Balancing Made Easy which has about 80 different handstand variations.

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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.

 

 

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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Swiss Ball Acrobatic Tricks

This video is similar to a recent one featuring Damien Walters and Tim Shieff using a swiss ball for acrobatic tricks. In fact, they may have gotten the idea from James Stewart.

I would only recommend trying these skills, even the basic ball backflip, if you have a great foundation in basic gymnastic skills.

It also ends with some humor, which by itself looks fun to me :)

That being said, has anyone tried doing this? I personally haven’t but may give it a go sometime in the future.

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Guest Article at Breaking Muscle

I’ve written a great new article for a site called Breaking Muscle.

It’s all about Basic Tumbling Skills You SHOULD Have.

If you’re a regular reader here it may not be anything new to you, and the skills easy, but they certainly aren’t so easy for the average person out there.

Breaking Muscle

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How to do a Headstand Yoga

Sirsasana is another name for the Yoga Headstand, which is a challenging posture within the inversion category. Other inversions include postures such as the handstand, the forearm balance and the shoulder stand. There’s a wide array of benefits to be had from learning how to do a headstand in yoga, but one should never attempt a headstand without taking the time to properly learn the correct alignment and setup for this particular yoga pose.

Preparation and Alignment

To get prepped and aligned for the headstand, get into your hands and knees.

  • Lower onto your elbows, making sure your elbows are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Bring your hands together, and interlace your fingers, making sure to tuck under your outer most pinky.
  • Lower the crown of your head down and place it on the floor, cup your head with your interlaced fingers.
  • As if you were coming into the downward facing dog position, bring your hips up over your shoulders by walking up towards your head.

The Full Headstand

Now that you’re prepped and aligned, you are most on your way to learning how to do a headstand yoga. All that is left is to go into the full headstand.

  • Bring your knees and bring them in towards your chest while lifting both of your feet into the air.
  • Allow yourself to stabilize, and then straighten your legs. Do your best to bring both of your legs up at the same time.
  • Push up into the balls of your feet and turn your thighs inwards just slightly.
  • Push down deep into your forearms.

You should try to hold the pose for at least 10 breaths count. Congratulations, you just learned how to do a headstand yoga! To get yourself out of this pose safely, just slowly lower each leg one at a time on to the floor.

Benefits and Risks

There are both physical and mental rewards to the yoga headstand. You’ll find that this pose will increase strength in your arms and legs, as well as positive effects on your pituitary glands and lungs. Some claims state that the headstand pose can alleviate stress and depression, by changing your outward perspective of things. It is a fact that the act of acting against the gravity helps with the cleansing of our intestines. However, if you should suffer from high or low blood pressure, a heart condition, or back/neck injuries, you should not attempt this pose. People without sufficient upper body strength can also compress their spine and damage their body in doing this pose. Make sure that you are totally prepared and capable before attempting the yoga headstand.

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Swiss Ball Acrobatics

There’s a series featuring two of the best athletes in the world, Damien Walters and Tim Shieff, who I’ve featured a whole bunch on this site. In this series they do a bunch of random acrobatic things together, along with some of their other friends.

To start with they work on a slack line, and they aren’t very good. This goes to show that just because you’re excellent at one thing it doesn’t mean you’ll be good at everything. Still the manage a couple near handstand that are probably beyond the ability of many slackliners. And if they stuck with it I’m sure they’d pick up skills very fast with their acrobatic base.

Then they move onto using a physio ball, also known as a swiss ball to try out new acrobatic moves. Some are awesome, but they also miss a whole bunch.

It’s great to watch a video like this where you see people just playing around with their skills, and how often they miss and make them. While your skills may not be at this level, the training could look much the same. Of course, it goes without saying that it’s not recommended to try any of these moves without a proper facility to train in, coaching, and making sure you only work at things within your skill range.

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