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.

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

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Chair Press and Poor Straddle Flexibility

Just a couple updates from my hand balancing training.

This chair press is something I’ve played with a few times over the years. This was the first time I pressed up with the lower arm to lockout.

In working on my straddle I have pretty poor flexibility, especially dynamic, so I’ve been working on that. This video shoes to drills a straddle sit and straddle leg lifts.

 

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10 Progressive Bent Arm Handstand Presses

Bent arm handstand presses, of the various sorts we’ll cover below, are an awesome show of strength and skill.

The hard part about that is that they require lots of strength and lots of skill to do. That’s probably part of the allure, but it is also what makes them unattainable for most, unless they spend the dedicated practice required.

The difficult part of the skill equation is that you must balance the whole time while doing these. They’re a far cry from doing handstand pushups against the wall. I would recommend to anyone that really wants to get great at these, to spend your time building a solid free handstand first. I would say until you can hold a handstand consistently for at least 20 seconds that you should build your strength another way, as you focus on that skill. (On that note, my Secrets of the Handstand System will help you get there.)

The difficult part of the strength equation is that they have you handle your entire bodyweight with your upper body strength. If you’re a hundred pound gymnast this may not be a big problem. For the rest of us it is.

I remember working on the frogstand press early in my hand balancing career. Not only was the balance hard but each rep was like a max effort press. This makes it hard to work on the “skill” of the movement when it takes everything you’ve got to do it. And it limits the total reps you can do for practice, whether you make them or not.

All bodyweight exercises need to be progressive. That’s one of the hard parts about these. There is no clear progression. You can’t just unload your bodyweight unfortunately. So what I’ve set out to do in this article is give you ten progressively harder presses to work with.

Note: These are all BENT ARM presses. Straight arm presses are an entirely different animal, requiring more flexibility as well as a different kind of strength to do.

We start with the easiest one. Of course to do this you need to have a minimum of strength and balance. We talked about the balance part. As for strength I would recommend being able to do at least 5 handstand pushups against the wall before starting here.

The order of this list is open for some debate. Due to leverages and other factors some people may find that certain skills are easier than others. But I’ve worked with this awhile to find that it works well for me and others I‘ve trained.

1. Frogstand Press

The frogstand is known by a few different names like the crow in yoga. it’s a basic hand balancing skill that can help you on working towards the handstand. So on that note, its great that its also, the starting place for the bent arm presses. From a frogstand, with the knees on the outsides/backs of the elbows, tip forward more and press up into the handstand.

2. Straddle Press

Usually the straddle press is done with the arms locked out, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be used in a bent arm variation. Spread your legs fairly wide with the hands placed on the ground. Bend the elbows, taking your full weight onto the hands. Bring the legs around and up as you push up into a handstand.

3. Headstand Pushup

Start in a tripod headstand position with your legs straight overhead. From here press up with the hands until you come to a handstand. To make the press a little easier put the hands a little wider than shoulder width.

Headstand

The starting position for this press.

4. Pike Press

Similar to the straddle press, the only difference in this movement is that you’re legs are kept straight and together. This decreases your leverage, forcing you to counterbalance out further and makes it harder to do.

Bent Arm Pike Press

Just after the start when the legs raise off the ground.

5. Handstand Pushup

Kick up into a handstand with the hands shoulder width apart. Lower down touching your nose to the ground and press back up. This can be done with a straight or a curved back, they just change the angle of the press slightly.

6. Tuck Press

Start sitting on your knees (seiza position) on the ground. Press your arms into the ground lifting your body off. Tilt forward, bending the arms then press all the way up to a handstand. This move forces you into a lower starting place and is thus harder to do.

The starting position of the tuck pressup.

The starting position of the tuck pressup.

7. Belly Roll Pressup

There is some skill involved in this movement. You need to learn how to use your momentum and make a good transition as you do it. This is best to do on a padded surface. Start on your knees with the hips straight. Roll forward, arching the back. Your hands will come touch the ground above your hips. Use the momentum to help you press up into the handstand.

One of the steps in the belly roll to handstand.

8. Tiger Bend

Start in a forearm stand, that is balanced across the length of your forearms and hands. This requires a curved back position. Shift your weight forward so that you can come onto the hands in the bottom of a freestanding handstand pushup position. Press up. This requires a more narrow stance of the hands and thus requires significantly more strength.

9. Elbow Lever Press

Start in an elbow lever position with the body held horizontal over the ground your weight resting fully on the elbows. Raise the legs up as you start to press with the hands. The hands will need to rotate on the ground to move towards a regular position as you press up.

Elbow Lever

From here press up to a handstand, rotating your hands along the way.

10. Prone Press

Start laying on the ground stomach down. Place your hands by your hips. Lift your whole body and press up to a handstand in much the same way as the lever press. Since you’re starting lower and must support your entire weight, without the elbow support, this one is quite a bit tougher.

This list was made to exist without any tools, like stacked objects or handles. With those added in, you could build out the list a lot further. Also there can be more intermediate steps like playing with hand width more to make each move more or less difficult.

Also note I have not yet personally achieved steps 9 and 10. As I work more towards these I may find some better intermediary steps.

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13 Yogi Ways Into a Handstand

This video features 13 different ways to get up into a handstand.

Specifically, as a yoga practice these are known as Uttanasana, Bakasana, Titthibasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Konasana, Navasana, Kukkutasanana, Padmasana, Supta Kurmasana, and Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana.

And if you don’t speak ancient languages you’ll see a

  1. Straddle press
  2. Tuck press
  3. Pike press
  4. Advanced frogstand or crow pose press
  5. Standing front split pressup
  6. Stalder Press
  7. An odd looking jump up
  8. Different version of a crow
  9. Lotus pressup
  10. Different version of a Stalder
  11. Different version of the lotus
  12. Vsit tuck to press
  13. Crazy legs behind the head pressup

This guy has some great flexibility…

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Brick Mansions Trailer

Check out the new action parkour movie Brick Mansions.

Here’s the description:

“In a dystopian Detroit, abandoned brick mansions left from better times now house only the most dangerous criminals. Unable to control the crime, the police constructed a colossal containment wall around this area to protect the rest of the city. For undercover cop Damien Collier (Paul Walker) every day is a battle against corruption. For Lino (David Belle), every day is a fight to live an honest life. Their paths never should have crossed, but when drug kingpin, Tremaine (RZA) kidnaps Lino’s girlfriend, Damien reluctantly accepts the help of the fearless ex-convict, and together they must stop a sinister plot to devastate the entire city. With stylized action featuring thrilling Parkour stunts (David Belle is the co-founder of this physical training discipline), “Brick Mansions” puts an entertaining twist on the action genre.”

 

 

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Crazy Leg Flexibility for Hand Balancing

This video showcases crazy hip and leg flexibility plus amazing hand balancing skills by Ricardo Sosa.

Many people underestimate how much flexibility is needed, or at least is very helpful, in doing many hand balancing stunts. Now you don’t need to be this flexible, but improving your flexibility wouldn’t hurt either.

In fact I know it’s the one thing that is holding me back, more so than strength or skill, to attaining some of the skills I’m going after.

Unless you’re a mutant you won’t be able to get started with these stretches but if you look closely and watch the video a couple times, you may gain some ideas on drills (at a lesser intensity) that you could do.

Here’s a great place to get started developing the flexibility you need.

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Handstand on Rings

The handstand on the ground is fairly tough but easily doable with a little practice. The handstand on rings is much, much tougher.

Here we have Jim Bathurst on the rings working on his handstands.

What makes ring handstands harder to do? You can’t use your wrists at all in order to balance like you can on the floor or parallel bars. Instead all the balance must be done from the shoulders and by bending the arms as you can see Jim do quite a bit.

The truth is ideally you don’t want to bend your arms just like in a normal handstand, but when you’re first starting out it may happen. Try to avoid it though as it can set in bad habits.

The easy way to do a handstand on the rings is to wrap your legs around the straps. This is comparable to doing a handstand against the wall. Of course the freestanding ring handstand and that against the straps is like a freestanding handstand versus one against the wall, just the rings both are a jump in difficulty.

Still if you work on handstands on the rings your balance will grow that much stronger.

Some other lead up stunts to it would include shoulder stands on the rings and many other skills.

To buy gymnastic rings for training go here.

For a great course on strength training on the rings go here.

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Bridge Acrobatics and Tree Climbing

The acrobatics start around the 2:30 mark. They do some bridging acrobatics. This is different from the gymnastic or wrestler bridging exercises, but instead involve some tumbling, hanging, and handstands on a bridge.

This is followed up by some interested tree climbing. Instead of going up the base they start at a branch and move across to another one.

At 5:30 they say they’re starting with some parkour. What it really is is jumping off a tall building into some crash pads. Although this move wouldn’t take much skill I’d still say many people would be afraid of doing it.

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How to do a Handstand for Kids

Every kid loves to kick up some dirt and spring into a handstand. It’s a fun way to release energy and show off a little bit for their friends. It’s important to make sure that when learning how to do a handstand for kids, both the child is comfortable and strong enough for the handstand and the adult is comfortable spotting for the handstand. Be sure that you’ve fully mastered the headstand with the child to ensure that they are properly conditioned in order to learn how to do a handstand without injury. Similarly, it is important to make sure that when teaching how to do a handstand for kids, you ensure the safety of both you and the child.

Beginning the Handstand

To begin instructing how to do a handstand for kids as the spotter, get down on one knee just off to the side of the child, near the head. Have the child get down on their hands and knees with their wrists beneath the shoulders, knees below hips. Sometimes it is useful to place a sticker, or a toy between their hands. This keeps their focus down onto the floor where it is needed in order to safely perform the handstand. Before the child begins, as the spotter, place your hand on/under their shoulder. There is a real possibility that the child’s elbows will buckle and they could fall onto their head. Having your hand in this position can help add support and prevent head and neck trauma in the event of a fall.

Going into the Handstand

Similar to the headstand, in order to go into the handstand, the child should bring one knee in towards their chest while extending the other. As the spotter, place your hand under the extended leg to assist. The child should then push off using the bent leg, lifting the extended leg, and bringing up the bent leg to meet it. If the child has trouble pulling their legs straight up and together, just work on the push off and bringing the legs together without worrying about getting the legs straight up. When you’re both comfortable, you can try for the fully extended handstand. Be sure to always provide proper support while the child is learning now to do the handstand.  Again, it is always important to ensure the safety of both you and the child.

Posture during the full Handstand

Once you and the child are comfortable and they have lifted into a fully extended handstand, you can focus on the proper posture while holding the handstand. Be sure that both you and the child have your tummies tucked into your backbone. As the spotter, slide your hands up the length of the child as you straighten your knees to standing. Focus your support on their waist. At this point, you can add an element of fitness to the pose. The ‘straddle’ and the ‘pike’ are two fitness positions you can add on once the handstand has been mastered.

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How to do a Headstand for Beginners

A headstand is an intense display of upper body strength. To attempt it without proper preparation could lead to severe personal injury or permanent damage to your body. It is also probably not best for you to jump into something like the headstand without having any idea of what you’re doing. It’s important to build on your core and shoulder strength before attempting to learn how to do a headstand for beginners. This is one of the more enjoyable and extreme gymnastics moves to master, and it’s best to have someone with you to spot you when you’re first learning on the process of a beginner’s headstand. People commonly feel refreshed and revitalized after being in an inverted position such as the headstand.

Preparing to Enter the Headstand

  • While facing a sturdy wall, lower yourself onto your elbows and knees.
  • Keep your hands together in front of your head and place the center of the top portion of your head down onto the mat.
  • Make sure that you never put the back portion of the top of your head down on the mat.
  • If you can’t go exact center, further to the front is acceptable.
  • Keep your elbows fairly close together by lining them up under your shoulders. Keep your breathing controlled and steady.
  • Now, straighten your legs by lifting your knees and buttocks and bringing your heels off of the ground. Rock back and forth on your toes a bit to get loosened up.

Entering and Exiting the Headstand Pose

The last step to learning how to do a headstand for beginners is to actually do the headstand.

  • Start walking your feet, on their tiptoes, closer and closer to your head.
  • Once it feels right, lift one of your legs up to the wall.
  • Let your other leg follow the first one up; this is a great time for your spotter to step in and help you straightened up.
  • While you’re in this pose, take some deep cleansing breaths. If you feel comfortable, close your eyes and count to five.
  • Don’t stay in an inverted pose like this for too long at a time.
  • Make sure that you do this slowly and in a controlled way.

Part of learning how to do a headstand for beginners is to learn how to make every movement involved steady and controlled. It keeps you from injury as well and helps strengthen your body against its own natural resistance.

 

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