How To Approach Handstands When You're Still Kinda Scared Of Them

Photo: Cameron Spencer, Getty

When we launched the handstand challenge last week, I confessed that I’m not really comfortable with being upside down — but I hoped to change that. Yesterday I did a handstand against a wall for the first time, and felt strong and stable. I’ll let you in on a few secrets.

Let's Get Upside Down For The August Fitness Challenge

I cannot do a handstand. Or a headstand. I get kind of terrified even just trying to put my legs up above me onto a wall. Are you with me? Let’s get out of our comfort zones. If you can already do handstands, well, I’ll have some extra challenges for you too.

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First, I followed the advice of reader tallnproud and began watching this series of videos on learning to do a handstand. In the very first video, we learn a few things about kicking up to a wall handstand:

  • Bend over and place your hands on the ground before starting to kick up. Don’t try to make it one smooth motion.
  • Point your hands forward (toward the wall).
  • Make sure your elbows are pointing away from the wall, which means your “elbow pits” are facing the wall.
  • Lock out your elbows, or if your joints hyperextend, just try to make your arms as straight as possible. And keep them locked out — if your elbows start to bend, you’re toast.

As luck would have it, one day I stopped in to CrossFit class and the skill of the day was handstand push-ups. That meant I had a suitable wall, a wide open space, and a coach who would stop me if I was about to do something stupid.

And, friends, that was all it took. I remembered the points above, planted my hands, and — I did a wall handstand. Several, in fact. And then I took the first baby steps toward kipping (cheater) handstand push-ups, which is a whole adventure in itself.

Proof! (Photo: Beth Skwarecki)

If you’re still working on getting upside down, this video from the series mentioned above is a good way to start. It includes a bunch of movements meant to warm up your wrists and shoulders, and ends with practising how to bail out of a failed handstand. Basically, it’s the same motions as a cartwheel, so you just need to get comfortable doing ugly-looking cartwheels at odd angles. Then this video, with many different ways to approach the handstand, is where the magic happens.

So, tell us how the challenge is going — have you managed to get your feet off the ground yet? What stage of the process are you working on?


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