I have to admit: What comes to bodyweight skills, I have never been too good at them. But the more I read about those things and the more I'm around people who can do amazing things with their bodyweight, the more I want to be able to do this stuff too. One thing I want to learn to do is a freestanding handstand.
I am still pretty new to any kind of bodyweight training. I have never practiced gymnastics outside of school when we had to do somersaults and a couple of vault exercises couple of hours every year. And that was many, many years ago.
Accordingly, I am not too strong nor skilled to do those things that for others may be the easiest things in the world, like handstands, pistol squats or chin ups or pull ups.
Actually, when I posted a video of me doing a semi-pistol on a bench – the easier version of a pistol, a friend of mine told me to stop doing the “lazy squat” on the bench and go do the real one on the floor…
She has been a skier for all her life, has super strong legs and she simply didn't get it how someone is not able to do a simple one legged squat.
So I had to explain her that it's not about being lazy, and the pistol that I was demonstrating in this video was a huge progress for me compared to where I was four months ago.
My Learning Process
The Internet and all social media, for example Instagram, is full of pictures of people doing free handstands, handstand splits, handstand pushups… But people rarely share their journey on how they got there. Did they know how to do those things when they were born? That's what it looks like…
I'm definitely not there yet, but I want to keep track on my progress, so I'm sharing how my trainings are going by checking in here. So, if you are looking for perfectly beautiful handstand splits or extremely strong push ups, you probably won't find them here at least in the very near future.
Instead, you will see my learning process and things that I do to get better. You will also find some pictures and videos of not perfect handstands.
Why I Want To Learn To Do Handstands
There are a couple of reasons why I want to be able to do handstands:
Being able to hold a solid handstand is a sure sign of ultimate strength.
It means that your whole body, especially shoulders, arms, core and upper back are extremely strong. Holding your whole bodyweight on your arms is really hard.
To be able to do a freestanding handstand, you also have to have a great balance and control over your body.
Learning to do anything new that seemed impossible at once, is incredibly rewarding.
I remember the time when I finally did my first chin up. I couldn't believe it. What just happened? Sure, your first pull up does never just happen, there is hard work behind it. But still – what I just did seemed so unbelievable and it got me jumping and dancing around in my bedroom where I was practicing (I'm using this pull up bar in my bedroom doorway).
Being able to do my very first chin up was not only a huge physical win, but also mental. I realized that I can actually do things like that. This emotion transfers to other areas of my life as well. Handstands and pistols will be my next goals.
Four Exercises To Get Ready for Freestanding Handstands
Here are four exercises that I do to get ready for a free handstand one day. I do them about three days a week.
They all help to build strength in arms, shoulders, upper back and core – all that you need for a decent handstand. And while you may train your strength by lifting weights, you need to be upside down and on your arms to be able to do a free handstand one day.
So, here are the exercises. Repeat each exercise 3-4 times.
Walking the Legs Up & Down on the Wall
Start out in a plank position. Then simply walk your feet up on the wall until you are as close to the wall as possible. Then walk back down. Repeat.
Once you have walked all the way up and are as close to the wall as possible, stay there. Focus on pressing through your fingers to maintain tension throughout your body.
As you get stronger, this hold becomes a great resting exercise that you can do between the sets of wall walks or shoulder taps.
Try how many seconds you can stay in this position. Then rest and repeat.
Handstand Shoulder Tap
Staying in a previous position, touch your right shoulder with the left hand, then left shoulder with the right hand. This one is harder than the previous two exercises, because for a short second, you are holding the whole weight on one arm only.
I can currently do 3-4 rounds of 20 shoulder taps. If you feel that your arms are getting very fatigue, I don't recommend pushing it too much! Be realistic with how many reps you can do and take a break when needed.
Handstand Wall Walk
Simply walk from left to right and right to left. A little bit of movement from you core and hips is natural, but try to keep the core as tight and strong as possible.
Learning to do handstands is hard, especially if you have no experience in gymnastics and not much experience in bodyweight skill training. I'm pretty sure it will take me quite some time to me to get them. However, I'm ready to try. At first, even just getting upside down was hard, so there has been a little bit of progress.
Can you do handstands? How long did it take from you to learn them?