THE BENT-ARM HANDSTAND PROGRESSION LADDER

Another gymnastics-style ladder with loads of progressions and a cool-looking end result. You'll need to build massive arm and shoulder strength if you want to master this one...

LET'S TALK ABOUT IT...

It starts with a few progressions towards the humble Frog Stand, but we build all the way to super impressive-looking Bent-Arm Handstand Positions. Learn slowly and carefully and try not to nose-dive too often along the way. Keep your focus on strength and controlling your body positions throughout, then the balance should take care of itself.

TO MASTER THE BENT-ARM HANDSTAND LADDER -- you'll practice The bent-Arm Handstand drills themselves two months out of four in The Strength Sessions Programme, then focus hard on the Push-Ups and the handstand strength drills to supplement.

FROG-STAND: ANCHORED

CRITERIA: 

–> Good connection with knees on triceps
–> More weight must be in the hands than feet
–> Nose must remain unbloodied
–> Bum must be higher than head (your head)
–> Both feet must be off the floor!

WAFFLE

This is where we start learning the Bent-Arm Handstand — on the relatively humble Frog thingy. The arms are in the same place, so we start to build the tricep strength, and kind-of importantly, the balance too. Of course, depending on your experience and starting point, there’s no shame in taking a while to master this first step. You still have nearly all your weight on yor hands, so your arms, shoulders and wrists have to be ready for the stress. Take your time on this step, you need to be comfortable in this position before you can hope to balance it, that's the next step.

FROG-STAND

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Good connection with knees on triceps
–> Nose must remain unbloodied
–> Bum must be higher than head (your head)
–> Both feet must be off the floor!

The challenge here is exactly the same as above, except the strength level is a little higher as all the weight is through the hands and wrists, and you have to deal with the subtle waves of balance, which takes even more strength — especially at first. Then of course, you have to master the balance. For some that’s a quick process, for others, not so much! Embrace, practice and then move on up the ladder only when you can balance easily!

FROG-STAND: SIDE LEANS

CRITERIA: 

–> Side lean must be easily visible
–> Must hold for a full 10 seconds each side!
–> Good connection with knees on triceps
–> Nose must remain unbloodied
–> Bum must be higher than head (your head)
–> Both feet must be off the floor!

WAFFLE

This is arguably one of the harder ladders in The Master The Strength Sessions Challenge.

This move takes the Frog Stand from the relatively easy realm that most folks of average strength and normal weight can master, to a serious strength move reserved for rather strong folk only. So be patient, it might take many months or more to really dominate this step and be ready to lift one knee off the arm (next rung baby!), but stick with it dilligently and your body will build the strength to make it happen.

FROG-STAND: ONE KNEE

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Must hold 5 seconds each arm
–> One Knee must be completely taken off tricep
–> Must hold for a full 10 seconds each side!
–> Good connection with knees on triceps
–> Nose must remain unbloodied
–> Bum must be higher than head (your head)
–> Both feet must be off the floor!

This increases the strength demand significantly on one-arm. It does. More weight is shifted and concentrated on the shoulder and arm of the side where the knee stays in contact. Be careful when practicing, don’t ‘just go for it’ when you’re not ready! … Make sure you got a decent exit strategy.

BENT-ARM HANDTSAND: TUCKED

CRITERIA: 

—> Both knees must come off the arms
—> Position must be held completely still for the time required
—> Head must not touch the floor
—> Nose must remain unbloodied

WAFFLE

Here it is. The breakthrough moment. Once you can do this, you can do this! Mastering the other progressions is just a matter of time and scale now. The real breakthrough is here — when you can actually take all your weight with just your arm and shoulder strength. When you can do this, you know you can complete this ladder!

BENT-ARM HANDSTAND: FLAT TUCK

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

—> Spine must straighten with no extra straightening of the arms
—> Both knees must come off the arms
—> Position must be held completely still for the time required
—> Head must not touch the floor
—> Nose must remain unbloodied

WAFFLE

This next progression simply required you to hold the bent arm handstand position, but straighten out at the spine. This is not a great jump in terms of strength, in fact, it’s easier. But the control required is greater. As ever, make sure you have a safe way of practicing and a sound exit strategy just in case you need one.

BENT-ARM HANDSTAND: FOR REAL

CRITERIA: 

—> Legs must be fully extended
—> Spine must straighten with no extra straightening of the arms
—> Both knees must come off the arms
—> Position must be held completely still for the time required
—> Head must not touch the floor
—> Nose must remain unbloodied

WAFFLE

Again, strength-wise, if you can do the last one, you can do this one. It’s just another level of control to hold this position with straight legs. Extra strength is required for the next two progressions though.

BENT-ARM HANDSTAND: FULL ROM

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

—> Chest must touch (or very nearly touch) the box or bench or whatever you use
—> Legs must be fully extended
—> Spine must straighten with no extra straightening of the arms
—> Both knees must come off the arms
—> Position must be held completely still for the time required
—> Head must not touch the floor
—> Nose must remain unbloodied

WAFFLE

Whilst it’s nice to be able to do this on the floor, you haven’t really mastered it until you can use full ROM. If you do it on the floor, you can only bend your arms so much until your head thing hits the floor — and that isn’t full range of motion biomechanically, your arms could move more if your head wasn’t in the way. So we need to do it on a platform or box to allow us to go lower.

It takes good control and more strength to lower into this deeper position here, the hold itself might be easier though. Practice carefully, with a trained coach or friend so you don’t hurt yourself.

SHOULDER PUSH UPS

CRITERIA: 

–> Feet must leave the floor at the bottom of the rep
–> Torso must be at least 45 degree angle minumum on the way up and down
–> Torso must be at the same angle on the way up as down

WAFFLE

This is where the ladder takes an exciting turn for the more dynamic. We could have stopped it at the last progression, but where’s the fun in learning to hold a perfect Bent-Arm Hanstand if you can’t push back up into a straight handstand??

For this step we try and build dynamic Push-Up strength to get us ready for actually moving in and out of bent-arm handstand position. Yes, I know you’re really good now and can actually hold a Bent-Arm Handstand, and now I’m just asking you to do a ‘shouldery’ Push-Up here, but without these there would be a massive jump in strength required between the previous rung (just holding a Bent-Arm Handstand) and actually doing real handstand push ups (with or without the wall). Hit 5 of these with perfect form and you’ll be far more ready for the next level.

WALL HANDSTAND PUSH UP: ECCENTRIC

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

—> Must lower head to floor under total control
—> Arms must be locked-out at the top
—> Head must tap floor at the bottom (gently)
—> Spine must not arch

—> Chest must touch (or very nearly touch) the box or bench or whatever you use
—> Legs must be fully extended
—> Spine must straighten with no extra straightening of the arms
—> Both knees must come off the arms
—> You must be able to perform one 20 second eccentric rep
—> Head must not touch the floor
—> Nose must remain unbloodied

WAFFLE

Now we get to actual Handstand Push-Ups, but first we use a wall so we don’t have to worry about balance. Please note that it’s much harder to do Wall Handstand Push Ups facing the wall than with your back to it, but unfortunately it’s pretty much impossible to maintain good form with your back to the wall (you have to arch your spine and we don’t want that here). For this step, we simply need to be able to do one really controlled 20 second rep. Once you’ve mastered that, you should hopefully be ready for the next step…

HANDSTAND PUSH UP: WALL

CRITERIA: 

—> Must lower your head to floor under total control, tap the floor (gently) and press back to full locked-out handstand position.
—> Spine must not arch

WAFFLE

Next you piece it all together and do full Handstand Push-Ups just using the wall for balance. If you can do that, better make sure you can balance so you can access the final two steps.

HANDSTAND PUSH UP: ON THE FLOOR

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> You must start and finish each rep in a fully locked-out, straight free-standing handstand.
—> Must lower your head to floor under total control, tap the floor (gently) and press back to full locked-out handstand position.
—> Spine must not arch

WAFFLE

This step is simply about taking all that strength you’ve built and adding a balance element so that you can do real Handstand Push Ups first on the floor, and second (below) through a full range of motion.

HANDSTAND PUSH UP: FULL (ON A BOX OR P-BARS).

CRITERIA: 

–> You must start and finish each rep in a fully locked out, straight free-standing handstand on a box or platform.
–> Your chest must tap the platform level with your hands at the bottom of each rep.
—> Must lower your head to floor under total control, tap the floor (gently) and oress back to full locked-out handstand position.
—> Spine must not arch

WAFFLE

Here we are then, a fitting end to the ladder that started with a simple Frog Stand I’m sure you’ll agree. Whether it takes you months or years to get here doesn’t matter. It’s a nice move to build towards and once you’ve mastered it, you’ll know you’re doing pretty damn well!

You may notice I haven't made this video yet. Erm, I'll do it soon (I better get training a bit harder!).

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