THE PISTOL SQUAT PROGRESSION LADDER

EXERCISE BREAKDOWN: HANDSTAND (STRENGTH)

 

HOW TO DO IT
**SAFETY FIRST! — please don’t hurt yourself, it’s counterproductive. Make sure you have a spotter at all times, and only take these on at your own risk.

START WITH LEGS AT 90

PLACE FEET ON WALL — hands down first, then feet on the wall.

WALK TORSO VERTICAL – Or as close as you can get to it. Always with slow purposeful moves.

LOCK ARMS – We need to be completely straight with Biceps spun forward — the upper arm must be externally rotated.

PUSH FLOOR AWAY — I’m not sure the floor will actually move, but the thought of pushing it away — actively — at all times, is what we need.

ELEVATE YOUR SHOULDERS — In a handstand, they should be as close to the ears as possible.

LENGTHEN YOUR SPINE — Strive to stay tall through your upper back.

WORK YOUR CHEST TOWARDS THE WALL — Viewed side on, and we want to see a straight line from the arms right through to the hips.

STAY AND HOLD — Once you’ve got a good position, stay and hold, focus on your one or two main cues and build up your strength.

OPTION: BEND KNEES — On this first move, if your hamstrings are too tight, you might need to bend your knees in order to get a vertical torso. That’s fine. Just make sure you resolve to work on your flexibility as well!!

THEN WORK THROUGH THE WALL HANDSTAND PROGRESSIONS

When you’re used to holding the inverted position, you take all the same technique cues and work your way through the following progressions. Make sure you’ve got a spotter when you’re working into unfamiliar territory!

START DIAGONAL — quite far from the wall.

EDGE CLOSER — For more strength challenge and a more challenging position.

AND CLOSER — Don’t rush, but every time you get totally comfortable with a position, take another step in.

EVENTUALLY HANDS ALMOST TOUCHIG THE WALL — and you’ll have a proper wall handstand.

THEN ‘HEAD IN’ STYLE — I like it because it will help you to learn to ‘Dish’ during your handstand.

THEN MOSTLY ONE-ARM — Once you’re very proficient at the wall handstand versions, it’s time to start working towards one arm!

EXIT STRATEGY — first make sure you are very confident cartwheeling out of the Handstand (or have a spotter). Make sure there are no burning candles or crazy knife games nearby.

LEAN ONE WAY — Edge your feet across one side, take most of the weight in one arm.

DOUBLE-DOWN ON THE PUSH — All the same cues apply, but the force is much greater, so focus big time on pushing the floor away, externally rotating the upper arm, elevating the shoulder, staying tall and not falling on your arse.

THEN GO FINGERTIPS ONLY — The next level is simply a case of proving you’ve shifted appropriately, by flexing the ‘spare’ elbow, lifting the palm — leaving only fingertips down of the ‘spare hand’. It starts to look pretty impressive by this point.

THEN SINGLE-ARM — finally — (obviously there’s more, but for now…finally) — you relive the spare hand, taking it straight out to the side. Push through the floor even harder in your working arm, keep your hand active for balance and hold your long body position with ‘Dish’ drawn in.

HOW BAD PEOPLE DO IT WRONG (BAD AT HANDSTAND STRENGTH)
UN-PREPPED BODIES — You need both strength and flexible (in the shoulder) in order to handstand and do these drills well. If you can’t get a good position, you must stay with the earlier, easier progressions until your body is better prepared for the harder stuff.

TOO MUCH SHOULDER ROM — More common in the fairer, more flexible sex. Some people avoid the ‘strength zone’ by bringing their shoulders too close to their feet, rather than stacked over the hands, they are further in towards the wall. Here you negate the strength gains and simply rest on your joints. We don’t want that — you won’t build the strength and it won’t translate to handstand mastery down the line!

SHOULDERS AHEAD OF HANDS — which we never want. If your shoulders are ahead of your hands (further from the wall than your hands), it will put waaay more pressure on your wrists than you need, and your handstand will never look right.

FLEXED ELBOWS — Which can be caused by lack of strength or by tightness. Identify, and fix please. Keep practicing on the easy progressions at first.

HEAD FORWARDS TOO MUCH — You can move your head to look at the floor, but only a little. We need to keep the neck relatively straight, otherwise its impossible to hold good posture.

ARCHED SPINE — if you can’t get your shoulders flexed enough (overhead), or you don’t have the strength, you are going to have to arch your spine. We don’t want that. If that’s you, you’ll have to stick to the easier progressions for now and work on strength and flexibility before you go further.

GREED — As always, too much, too soon = dodgy mechanics. Training in poor positions and elevated injury risk.

NO EXIT STRATEGY — if you hurt yourself falling out of a handstand, don’t blame me. Always have an exit strategy or a spotter. If you’re not sure how you will get out, you can’t concentrate on the mechanics properly.

WICKED CUES
PUSH THE FLOOR AWAY — simple. important. Always feel like you are trying to push the floor away actively.

EXTERNALLY ROTATE — don’t let those elbows turn in.

REACH YOUR FEET UP — the higher your feet, the straighter your body will be.

LONG BODY — feel long through the torso and you’ll get better positions.

DISH — The cue to remind you to posteriorlh tilt your pelvis.

ACTIVE HANDS — so you don’t forget to balance!

WHY DO IT?
FUN — this is a fun drill of course, lots of people want to master the handstand — but to do it, you’ve got to be in decent knick. That’s why I like it…another thing to keep you motivated.

SHOULDER AND ARM STRENGTH — They’ll get stronger and they’ll look better!

YOU WON’T WANT TO BE TOO HEAVY — or it will be really hard. The more drills that reward you for staying lean, the better in my opinion!

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