I learned to do a handstand in a week with a daily training. I was in a good shape and I have good mobility. However, it’s a skill that anyone, who has alright physique and no serious disabilities, can learn.
As some may know, I train gymnastics these days. I want to clarify that I had just started the new hobby in the middle of the spring season and everyone else was already performing a handstand with ease. I had lived nearly 24 years and never believed that I could do a handstand. Now, I needed to learn it in order to develop at my hobby. The main advantage from gymnastics for my handstand training at that stage was, that I had a place to practice with a soft floor and others to catch me if I fall. It wasn’t like I got a lot of teaching for it, as the others already knew how to do it. You don’t need to be a gymnast in order to learn a handstand.
Also note, that I started practicing handstand only a month ago from today. So far, I can stay at a free handstand about 8 seconds or against a wall around 50 seconds. I have a long way to go but I’m practicing and improving daily. I’m not the best handstand professional (yet) but I know what worked for me as a good start. If I learned it, you can learn it as well.
This text describes the steps that I personally found the most useful. If you will still feel helpless or need a video demonstration, I recommend to check it out from YouTube. For that purpose, I’ve even linked a few videos to the text.
Remember stretching, especially your wrists and elbows. I don’t take any responsibility over your practices. Even if your learning process this took a longer time, the skill is likely to follow you for the years to come. Take your time rather than risk it. A handstand is not a super tricky skill so don’t be overly shy either.
1. Climb Your Legs Up On the Wall
I picked a good wall at home, lay my palms on the floor with fingers spread. I started “walking” my feet up to the wall. I was facing the wall with my feet up. When I was somewhat straight, I stayed there remembering all the handstand tips I had found from internet or heard from someone.
- Legs tight together
- Core tight
- Try to be as straight as possible, hips aligned with your shoulders
- Don’t arch your back!
- Arms very straight; push your shoulders towards the floor
- Mind the position of your head: Look somewhere between the thumbs
- Push your fingers to the floor
- If you want it to be perfect: Straighten your anckles
I practiced this daily for about five days before I moved on to the next step. You should keep practicing as long as you need in order to feel somewhat comfortable there upside down.
For additional training: If you wish, you can train your core and posture with the hollow body position laying on the ground. It’s a very basic gymnastics position. Another possibly helpful practice for learning a handstand is the frog stand which they show well on this calisthetics video. I don’t think these practices are crucial for your learning but understanding the hollow body, might help you to find the right posture at a handstand. Some people learn a handstand through the frog stand but I personally find that way more difficult.
2. Kick Your Legs Up to Do a Handstand Against a Wall
I strongly recommend you to have someone to support you when you first try this.
I asked others at my gymnastics session to help me when I tried to kick my legs up to meet the wall. I was able to kick up a few times successfully. I thought that I could do it on my own as well but I still felt too nervous.
I got back home that day and I looked at the wall where I had been practicing earlier. I knew my biggest obstacle was my own mind. I probably could do it alone – and so I did. I was pretty excited!
When you keep your arms properly straight, it will most likely go either perfectly or you will simply land back to your feet and try it again. Your face will be away from the wall this time, like in the photo.
How to kick up to a handstand:
- Put one feet forward slightly bent and your weight on the back leg. Put your hands straight up over your shoulders.
- Shift your weight to the front leg while placing your palms shoulder width to the floor in front of you. Simultaneously, kick the back leg up keeping your eyes to the floor between your hands. Arms must be straight and strong. Your body is forming kind of a triangle.
- Your front leg follows the first one. You need to find the right amount of speed to get your both legs up.
- Try to get the legs up and straight, close together. Keep the core tight and weight on top of the hands, all straight. Remember to look between your thumbs, it helped me enormously.
If you can’t get it yet, you can just practice the kick ups and little by little get your legs straight up. The wall or your friend is there to catch you. If you need a better explanation of kick ups, watch, for example this video where a little gymnast fellow shows it (after the compulsory stretching part).
Once you learn this, it’s easier and faster than by “climbing” to the wall. It’s also easier to get a properly straight position.
When you learn to do this on your own, the revolution has happened. You will be able to do a handstand. Just keep on practicing daily and stay up there on your hands as long as you can. Remind yourself of all the posture advices again and slowly learn to find your sweet spot.
3. Find the Sweet Spot: Free handstand
Practice the wall kick ups (step 3), try to stay at the handstand position and correct your position. It’s all about finding the sweet sport, or as this video suggests, about getting your mind straight (or wrong, depending on the perspective). Feel your body and find your balance. Experience with the position of your head. You can try to leave your hands a bit further from the wall so you learn to stand freely and still keep the wall there in case you need it. However, try not to kick the legs too far every time because then it will be more challenging when you practice without the wall.
As you can see from the photos, my “handstand wall” is at the hallway. Therefore, I’m passing it very often. If I’m not rushing somewhere, I do a handstand or two to improve my skills and to get my mind familiar with being upside down. It’s also a nice little brain break when I’m studying at home.
I practice daily in three ways: Sometimes, I kick myself up against the wall and simply stay there as long as I can to improve my muscular resistance. Second, I do the kick up a bit further away from the wall and try to improver my free handstand posture. Third, when I have a gymnastics session and therefore access to the soft floor, I train my free handstand position without a wall. I try to learn to get smoothly away from it with a forward roll.
Learn a Safe Way to Exit a Handstand
There are many ways to safely exit a handstand if your balance shifts too far over. The easiest ones are probably the roll and the cartwheel exits. At gymnastics, they’ve been teaching us more the roll one but cartwheel is maybe the more “natural feeling” one as it comes more automatically. It doesn’t need to be a perfect cartwheel however, so don’t worry if you can’t properly perform a beautiful cartwheel (I can’t yet either). Again, for learning these YouTube is a great friend.
I hope these tips will help you to get started. Good luck for the practicing! Let me know how it goes and if I forgot to mention something.
Ps. A recommendation for training music: Paloma Faith Upside Down. It’s one of my favourite songs because of the great lyrics:
“I’m no fool, I’m just upside down.”