Beginner Handstand Challenge: Week 1

12 Minute Athlete

Welcome to week 1 of the Beginner Handstand Challenge!

We’re kicking off the challenge by focusing on two essential exercises that will help you build the strength, endurance, and positioning you’ll need to be able to eventually hold a freestanding handstand: hollow body holds and half handstand holds.

Why aren’t we starting our handstand challenge with a freestanding handstand? 

When you’re learning a new skill, it’s important to break it down into small, manageable steps.

It can be tempting to start with the end goal, especially when it’s something as cool as a handstand. But this approach can actually get in the way of your progress and lead to discouragement, quitting, and worst of all, injury.

Learning a challenging new skill like handstands will take time and hard work. It’s not going to happen overnight, but working hard on it over the long run is SO worth it.

Learning a new skill like handstands takes time and hard work. It’s not going to happen overnight, but working hard on it over the long term is SO worth it. 

Follow along with the 12 Minute Athlete community by posting pictures of your progress on our Facebook group, and tag us at @12minuteathlete and #12MAHandstands.

Remember, one lucky challenge participant will win a copy of my NEW book

Beginner Handstand Challenge Week 1 Skills

Hollow body holds and half handstand holds will help you to begin to build strength, endurance, and confidence necessary for handstands. These exercises will also help you start to understand the correct positioning you should be in while in a full handstand.

Check out the video below to see the full breakdown of both skill drills, and aim to practice them both at three to five times this week.

Hollow Body Holds

Why do it:

  • Help you understand the position you want to feel in a full handstand
  • Pulling your ribs in in this position will help keep you from arching in your handstand later on
  • Builds up necessary core strength for handstands

Key points:

  • Lie on your back then raise your arms and legs up simultaneously
  • Keep them as low as possible while keeping your lower back pressed to the ground
  • Think about pulling your ribs and belly button to the ground
  • Push long through your arms and legs and keep your shoulders by your ears
  • Point your toes


  • Reach your hands toward your feet
    Tuck your knees toward your chest

Half Handstand Hold

Why do it:

  • Helps you understand the stacked position you want to achieve in a full handstand
    Builds strength through your shoulders and core
    Helps build confidence upside down while not requiring your full bodyweight

Key points:

  • Hands about shoulder-width apart
    Think about stacking your hips, shoulders, and wrists on top of one another
    Pull your ribs in and keep your core tight
    Push up through your shoulders as much as possible (feel like you’re pushing the floor away from you)

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6 thoughts on “Beginner Handstand Challenge: Week 1”

  1. OMG I have so far to go … had to do the real easy version of the first one and my half handstand just looked like a plank! I could hear my back creaking. There is so much room for improvement here. Thanks for putting up such a clear video to follow. My goal is to get to a handstand by the end of the year. Putting that out there now.

    • Rachel,
      The Challenge I instructions are to hold each position 30-60 seconds, for 3 rounds. I can’t find a cue for how long to rest between each round.

    • Hey Rachel! Try to hold the exercises for 30-60 seconds at a time, and do three rounds of each, resting as little as possible between sets.


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