I have been training to reach a level of mastery with the unassisted handstand. While I haven’t reached a full level of mastery quite yet with this lift (I still need to work on fully extending my legs and holding the pose for at least 10 seconds), I have been able to suspend myself without wall support for a period of time without falling flat on my face. Hey, progress is progress right?
Before you even begin to attempt this stunt, I highly recommend picking up a copy of the book “Convict Conditioning” by Paul Wade. Be sure to study the section related to handstand practice in general. I have been taking my time and working through all the progressions leading up to this point in order to gain proper strength to hold this position. There are three moves in particular I wanted to mention here that have helped me get to this point. I will list them below.
1. Bridges. Practicing bridges actually helps strengthen muscles around the spine, as well as they help develop proper spinal alignment. When we align ourselves properly and master our bridging technique over time, we will be able to apply the load of our own body weight in an inverted position with ease. Currently, I do 2 sets of 10 full bridges as part of my convict conditioning workout.
2. Crow Stand Holds. I have mentioned this move before in a previous post, but I cannot speak highly enough about this lift. The crow stand hold will get you comfortable with supporting your weight on your arms and shoulders. Again, you will want to take your time with this particular progression as it is a lot harder than it looks. Rest assured, once you can hold yourself in a crow stand for a good 30 seconds to 1 minute, you are on your way to handstand heaven. Currently, I am able to hold myself for 1 full minute in the crow stand position.
3. Wall Assisted Hand Stand Push Ups. Obviously, nothing really prepares you for a hand stand like hand stand pushups against the wall. The added benefit of loading your body in an inverted position while having to push yourself up and lower yourself down ads to the much needed coordination required for an unassisted handstand. Not only do you load your shoulders, but you also have tense your core muscles to such to a large degree in order to stabilize yourself upside down. Talk about a full body workout! I normally set my handstand pushup practice as a ladder set at 1 push up, the 1 hold in the hand stand position, then 2, then 3, resting and repeating for a solid 10-15 minutes. This by no means is easy, but the strength gains from this practice have been nothing shy of amazing! Go a head and give it a go!
Now that I have outline the training steps for the handstand, here is my current progress with the unassisted handstand itself. I have attempted this and filmed it now on three separate occasions. Below are rounds 1, 2 and 3 of my attempts.
Not too shabby, but there is definitely some room for improvement on this one. My legs were not fully extended on this hand stand and I think I kind of rushed into the hold too quickly. Nevertheless, my first attempt lead me to try some more handstands at my apartment to see if I could remain still a little longer in the lift. Here’s round 2.
ALRIGHT! There was some improvement on this attempt. My legs were a little bit more even on this lift, but still not fully extended. This round showed that I CAN stay in one spot and not “walk around ” on my hands like I was there a little bit in round 1. Of course, I did kind of enjoy walking on my hands in the handstand position, so I had a go at taking a few “steps” on round 3.
Sorry, I had to try this ;)! And hey! Looks like I can walk at least a little bit on my hands without falling flat on my face. COOL! 😀
As I mentioned before, I still have a way to go here to reach a level of mastery, but so far, I am very happy with my progress. This just goes to show you that when you slow down, allow your body to adapt and let yourself try something new, you inevitably come to a point where you can experiment with some pretty incredible feats of strength! Have at it folks! Nothing is impossible! Get out there and try something new today!
That’s it everyone! Remember to eat smart, train hard, and enjoy your life!
Janelle Pica, RKC and PMF Instructor