EXERCISE BREAKDOWN: THE BENT-ARM HANDSTAND DRILLS
HOW TO DO IT
As with many of our exercises, with these, there are A LOT of stages to master along the way. Best read and get an idea of where you can go / where you should strive to go with these. But then, define the time of your holds and find the progression that you can just about do perfectly for that time.
START BY MASTERING THE FROG STAND:
GET A MAT SET SO YOU DON’T HAVE FAR TO FALL — Safery first please.
SQUAT DOWN – get low and get in the zone: calm, happy, focused, strong.
GET A CONNECTION – Squeeze your upper arms into your knees/thighs/leg things. Feel a strong stable connection and don’t lose it throughout.
PLACE YOUR HANDS – put your hands on the floor, facing straight ahead with your fingers spread.
ROCK INTO POSITION – Gently lean forwards, lower the head (to just above your mat or cushion or soft sensible object), feel the weight shift into your hands.
FEEL THE SWEET SPOT – Stop when you find you are in the sweet spot where you can balance the move. Your hips should be high, your head low and not far away from your mat while you are learning… find something that is the right height for you. Then, you want to feel the sweet spot where you have all the weight in your hands and nothing in the feet, and of course – YOU FEEL BALANCED
LIFT ONE LEG — Then and only then do we lift one foot off the floor. Don’t let anything else move. If you’re in the right place, you’ll still feel balanced and with a bit of practice, you’ll be ready for the real thing.
THEN LIFT THE OTHER LEG – Then you’re officially handbalancing. Practice until it’s easy then move on to the additional stages that take more strength. When hear, squeeze your feet together to create tension.
KEEP YOUR EYES AHEAD – Check your eyes are on the floor, just a few centimetres ahead of your hands.
STAY. HOLD. ENJOY – The way I do this, in terms of balance and control: when you can hold 20 seconds drama free every time, you’re ready for the progression. Once you know you’ve got the balance, you can adhere to your usual time required in the SS Programme.
THEN PROGRESSIVELY TAKE MORE WEIGHT AWAY FROM THE LEGS:
SHIFT SIDE-TO-SIDE — just a tiny shift will massively load one side more than staying in the middle. Go for a micro-shift, hold for time, then do the other side.
PULL ONE LEG OFF — Eventually you’ll be able to hold with one leg off, which dramatically increases the strength demand on your shoulders and triceps. When you do so, squeeze the knee of the leg you lifted into your stomach hard.
PULL BOTH LEGS OFF — After a lot of practice, you might be able to pull both legs off! Now squeeze them together and hold your position.
UNTIL YOU CAN HOLD BOTH KNEES OFF, THEN PROGRESS TOWARDS A FULL DEEP BENT-ARM HANDSTAND:
TUCKED BENT ARM HANDSTAND — this is when you first bring both legs off, but stay rounded and tucked-up.
FLAT TUCKED BENT ARM HANDSTAND — next, hold your arms completely still and extend your spine.
STRAIGHT BODY BENT ARM HANDSTAND — Next, practice until you can keep your arms completely still, but extend your legs!
FULL RANGE BENT-ARM HANDSTAND — Now to finish it, lower down into ‘full range’.
**Please take care when learning these and use a trained spotter/friend to help you stay safe.
HOW YOU COULD MESS IT UP (AND KILL YOURSELF DOING SO).
YOU FAIL TO FOCUS ON CONNECTION — for some, the Frog Stand comes easy. Others not so much. You need to feel a solid connection of your knees on your triceps. If you don’t establish that, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to control.
YOU WIMP OUT — whatever your progression, if you’re too tentative, you’ll never commit, never hit the right position and you’ll never master it. Have an exit strategy, then do it like you mean it.
YOU GOT NO EXIT STRATEGY — Whether that’s putting your head down (for he healthy of neck), having a friend spot you, or confidently turning/rolling out of it for those who’ve been trained, you must have an exit strategy or you risk real injury and wasting your time half-arsing the move.
YOU JUMP INTO IT — The rookie mistake. Not sure I can control this, I’ll just hop into it and see! Don’t do that please! You won’t get a consistent position, you’ll never learn to control it and you risk real injury. Always move slowly and only lift a foot or knee when you know you can hold the next position.
YOU CAN’T BALANCE — Of course, sometimes it just takes a bit of patience and a bit of practice. If it seems to be taking you ages, it’s probably because you don’t yet have the strength required, or that you’ve tried to skip ahead through the early progressions before you are ready. There is off course the non-balancy way of building strength in this position. I’ll add a full description of that soon. Basically, start with your knees down and lower your head and arms into postion, then dig your toes in and try and lift your body into position.
YOU LOOK FUNNY — You have to keep your eyes just ahead of your hands. Do it funny and you’ll be a wobbler.
YOU’RE TOO GREEDY — I know it looks cool and you want to master it, but sometimes you just gotta put in the hours on the basics first.
YOUR WRISTS HURT — this is the case sometimes early on with many gymnastics moves. The fix: diligent, patient practice. Not trying to do too much too soon, and working on your wrist prep.
FEEL THE DELTS — feel your shoulder muscles control the move and you’ll be on the right track.
PLAY THE PIANO — and by that, we mean control the balance by pressing the fingers into the floor — that’s how we stop ourselves from falling forwards.
STAY TIGHT — body tension = control. Too loose and you’ll struggle. Too tight and you’ll be too anxious to balance smoothly. Squeeze your feet together (or knees together if you are on the advanced progressions and you’ll do better.
DISH — In the advanced versions of this, — just like in Handstands — you need to draw the low abs in (as in The Dish exercise) and his the pelvis in a posterior tilt. Do that and you’ll probably control the move.
CONTROL THE PELVIS — when learning inversions, it’s easy to let your pelvis drift forward and you fall ‘over the top’. Keeping your kind in controlling the pelvis can be a useful mental cue.
There are plenty of options if you don’t get on with these. But as ever, you don’t have to add an extra. But if you want to, in order of similarity, here is how you can switch these out:
P-BARS — If you need to give your wrists a break, you can practice on a low set of parrallel bars.
OVERHEAD PRESS — if you can’t get the hang of going upside down m, or don’t feel you’re getting all your strength out, you can switch to a classic overhead press.
SHOULDER PUSH UPS — All the strength, without the learning curve and balance challenge. Great if you’re struggling with balance or want more strength demand before you’ve mastered the basics.
EXTRA PUSH UP WORK — the next best alternative if you struggle with the angle of these.
EXTRA HANDSTAND / PLANCHE WORK – final suggested alternative.
WHY DO THIS TO YOURSELF?
DEVELOP GREAT SHOULDERS AND ARMS — that’s where the strength comes from.
IT’S KINDA FUN & IT LOOKS COOL — it’s a proper move to strive towards.
YOU’LL MASTER THE BENT-ARM HANDSTAND LADDER — and master The Strength Sessions and you’ll get a great physique.
YOU CAN BUILD REAL STRENGTH ANYWHERE — Where all about the convenience and removing barriers. You can really stress the shoulders and arms with these: guaranteed shred!