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How to Do a Handstand (And Why You Should Learn)


Ready to learn how to do a handstand? Let's get started.

Step 1: Suspend your disbelief.

"But, I'm not a gymnast." Me neither. If you had told me a few years ago that I'd be able to do a handstand today, I would have laughed.

Step 2: Commit to skill work.

Whether you're learning to ride a bike, speak a new language, or do a handstand, once a week won't cut it. It takes time for the brain to cement new movement patterns. I recommend practicing how to do a handstand anywhere from five to ten minutes a day, five or six days a week.

Step 3: Get comfortable upside down with a box handstand hold.

For many people, the thought of being upside down is terrifying. I can relate. Find a box or a chair, prop your feet up on the chair and place your hands in a plank position. Walk your hands toward your knees until your butt is high in the sky and you can straighten your arms and let your neck fall between your arms. Then, press firmly through your hands while keeping your core tight and shoulders engaged. Set a timer. Work up to doing three or four sets of a 30-second hold to build initial core and shoulder strength.

Step 4: Build shoulder strength with a wall walk.

Bring yourself to a plank position on your hands with your feet next to a wall. You are going to try to walk your hands close to the wall as you walk your feet up the wall and end up in a handstand position. While bracing your core, start by stepping one foot on the wall, and then the other a little higher. Walk your hands in as you walk your feet up the wall. At first, you may only be able to take one or two steps up the wall, but before you know it, you will be able to walk up the entire wall and touch your chest against the wall! Try starting with three or four sets of two to five handstand wall walk attempts. As you build strength, try to hold the handstand at the top of the wall walk.

Step 5: Try a kick up to the wall.

Once you can do five wall walks or hold at the top for at least 30 seconds without too much fear or trouble, try to kick up to a handstand against the wall. Place your hands on the ground roughly 8 inches away from the wall, facing the wall. Kick the other foot up enough to where you get a bit of air and start to feel the weight of your body on your hands. Try kicking up just a little bit at first, playing around with the amount of force you need to get upside down. If you are afraid, you may ask a friend to help guide your legs up to the wall. Once you have mastered the kick up, try holding that handstand position at the top. Doing three or four sets of 30 to 60 seconds will help you build strength.

Step 6: Baby steps away from the wall.

Start with a kick up handstand. Take one foot away from the wall and try to balance. Put that foot back on the wall. Take the other foot and bring it away from the wall. Try to take one leg, and then the other leg away from the wall. Pro tip: Keep your legs together and tight to maintain good balance. As always, keep your core tight and your back muscles engaged. Try three to four sets of three to five attempts each time.

Step 7: Learn to wipe out, and then handstand anywhere and everywhere—and take pictures, too!

Once you've learned to balance after starting against the wall, it's time to learn how to wipe out with grace. Learning how to bail will give you the confidence to keep practicing. Have a friend spot you as you kick up on your first freestanding handstand. You will inevitably feel the urge to turn out to one side or the other. You will step forward with one hand and then let your feet fall, one at a time, to that side. This looks like a sloppy cartwheel. Gymnasts do this, make it look pretty and call it a pirouette. Once you can get out of the handstand safely, keep practicing. You'll master how to do a handstand before you know it!