The Handstand

The handstand is the foundation for all of gymnastics. Being able to stand inverted on your hands in a vertical position is an amazing test of fitness and relative body strength.

Perhaps the most important piece to learning the handstand is building confidence. Confidence is built by consistent, successful efforts. Here are a few drills that you can practice that will help build your confidence.


Without the use of a wall, kick your legs up into the air just so that both of your feet come off the ground. Stay short of being vertical.

When you kick up, try to get to this position without getting any more vertical.

After a few reps of this, the next important piece is to maintain a hollow position. Don’t allow your hips and knees to break a “hollow-body.” This is one of the reasons why many gymnasts don’t recommend learning with the assistance of a wall.

Weight on Hands

Next, you want to practice balancing on your hands. Start by having all fours on the ground. Then kick off the ground with both feet without extending your legs. You should remain in a tucked position.

As you continue to practice, work on getting your hips over top of your shoulders. Don’t worry about your legs in this drill; staying tucked will actually help you balance.

What’s important is cementing in your mind muscle memory. It’s hard initially learning what the correct position is when upside down. Use your fingers to balance.

Hold Tighter

After enough practice with kick-ups and weight on hands, it’s time to drill your extended handstand position. In the three positions below, try to make your body as long as possible.

The correct position should have your feet, ankles, and legs together while your shoulders are actively pressing up as far as possible. Additionally, your hips should be tilted into an anterior pelvic tilt (i.e. try to eliminate as much of your low back “curve” as possible. Positions 2 and 3 show this position very well).

Position 1
Position 2
Position 3

Putting It Together

These are three drills you can practice over and over again. Remember, when you first were learning to walk on your feet, you fell plenty of times. Learning to handstand is going to be no different.

Celebrate the small wins like you would a child. 10-minutes of practice every day will pay off in as short of time as a week. In a month, you’ll be balancing upside down for 30-seconds!



4 Rounds Not For Time:
Practice one of the handstand drills above for 3-minutes
Run 400-meters

For an in-depth video of these progressions, watch a USA Men’s Olympic athlete demonstrate them here:

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