Learning To Handstand
Learning the handstand is at the top of most people’s to-do list when they start calisthenics training.
The main problem when learning how to handstand from scratch is that the small things make a huge difference.
Like most people I learnt how to handstand from YouTube videos and watching people at the gym, there’s one issue though with YouTube videos especially.
Most Youtube tutorial videos don’t go over the small details which can sometimes be the reason that you can or can’t hold a handstand.
After struggling to learn the handstand for around three months I plucked up the courage to speak with the gymnast that trains at my gym, he was more than happy to look at my handstand and offer some advice.
The gymnast gave me a few small tips I hadn’t seen on any tutorial videos before and these tips made an instant difference.
Below is a list of the top five common mistakes that people make when trying to learn how to handstand.
Being able to hold a handstand involves a few elements and one of those is strength and endurance, not being strong enough to hold the handstand is one of the main reasons that people can’t master this skill.
When looking at the handstand it actually looks very easy and this simply isn’t the case which I’m sure you already know as you are reading this article.
There are some very simple yet effective exercises that you can do to build up your handstand strength, the first exercise that you can try is the handstand wall hold, this involves kicking up against the wall (back against the wall)l and holding this position for as long as possible.
My aim was to achieve 3 single 30 second holds before moving onto the more advanced handstand drills like the handstand wall hold but with your chest facing the wall which was the advice of the gymnast.
Once you are able to hold the handstand wall hold for 3 reps of 30 seconds, in my opinion, you are strong enough to start moving on to some more advanced drills as you have built up a good level of strength and endurance in your shoulders.
2. Handstand Walking
This is probably the most frequent mistake I see when watching others practising the handstand, when learning to handstand the aim is to be able to hold the handstand without any support.
In my opinion, you do not want to be walking forward after every kick up, this mistake comes from personal experience and took me over three weeks to remove this bad habit.
Most of the time people end up handstand walking after the kick up as they have kicked up with too much force which has thrown them forward, the best way to go about correcting this is to simply practice kicking up without focusing on holding the handstand at the top, doing this allows you to just focus on learning what is too soft, and what is too hard.
Once you have worked out the perfect kick up for you this will start to become muscle memory and will improve your handstand training massively.
If you find yourself handstand walking after your initial kick up to the handstand then my advice would be to just come back down and try again as this will benefit you in the future.
3. Flat Hands
Having the correct hand position is probably the most important point out of this whole article and was one of the main issues that the gymnast pointed out to me after watching my handstand.
Your hand position is probably something that you don’t really think about, once you think about it, it makes perfect sense as to why it’s so important, When you try to handstand are you gripping the floor or are your hands flat? If your hands are flat this may be the sole reason why you are not able to hold your handstand.
The best way to think about this is to think about your feet, if for example, you were about to fall backwards you would press down into your toes, this would stop you falling backwards and would move you back to the upright position, this is also true for falling forwards.
If you were falling forwards and you moved your weight to the back of your foot this would also bring you back to the upright position, same is true when you are performing a handstand but the only difference here would be that you would be using your hands.
When upside down in the handstand you will be doing micro-adjustments just like you would if you were on your feet adjusting your balance, the only difference is that you will be using your fingers as your toes and the base of your hand as the back of your foot.
4. Skipping Progressions
This is something that we are all guilty of at some point, there are many reasons behind this, most of the time this is down to not progressing as quickly as we feel we should as we see others mastering the handstand in less time than us for example.
There is nothing wrong with feeling like this as the majority of the time on social media we only see the finished skill which doesn’t include the countless fails and frustration. Something else to bear in mind is that everybody is different and will take a different amount of time to learn the exact same thing.
If you stick to a progression based plan you WILL master the handstand!
5. Expecting Too Much Too Soon
There is nothing wrong with setting yourself a goal like “I want to be able to handstand in three months time” for example, this is a quite realistic goal, setting yourself a goal like I want to be able to handstand in one week is close to impossible and will cause you frustration
Learning to handstand will take as long as it takes at the end of the day as we are all different, as long as you’re following a good progression routine and practising daily then you will master the handstand.
Try and not base your expectations on other people’s experiences as they will have a different background to yourself which will make a difference to the time that it took them to learn to handstand.
let me know in the comments below if you agree with my 5 top common mistakes when learning the handstand, Also let me know if there’s something think I’ve missed out.