Handstand Challenge Week 6: Freestanding Handstands

At the beginning of April, we started a brand new 6-Week Handstand Challenge.

During the few weeks, we’re going to be working on different exercises you can do to help you build up to doing a freestanding handstand. Don’t be too intimidated—it doesn’t matter if you’ve been practicing handstands for a while now or you’ve never even tried to do one, this handstand challenge is for you.

During Week 1, we focused on building strength and endurance with wall handstands. Week 2 was all about protecting our wrists and avoiding injuries. During Week 3 we focused on our shoulder and hip positioning with pike rolls. During Week 4 we started working on our balance with handstand wall splits. Week 5 was all about building up our core strength for a better handstand line.

We’re about to start Week 6, but if you’re new to this challenge, no worries, you can still jump right in! To get the most out of this handstand challenge, make sure to join our private Facebook group where you can share your experience and get in touch with fellow members of the 12 Minute Athlete Community.

For Week 6 of the challenge, we’re going to be working on our freestanding handstands.

I’ll be totally honest with you guys: if you’re still pretty new to handstands, it may not be the best use of your time to spend too much time on freestanding handstands just yet.

Freestanding handstands can be incredibly frustrating so if you’re still struggling to build up your handstand endurance and still find drills like the wall handstand splits we did in Week 4 pretty challenging, I’d recommend you mostly keep working on those skills for now until you’re feeling more comfortable with them.

But if you’re feeling more and more comfortable upside down and think you’re ready to try a few freestanding handstands, let’s give it a shot!

Getting into a Handstand

There are two main ways to get up into a handstand: to kick up or tuck up with two feet.

(You can also press up, but that’s much harder and we’re not going to even attempt that today since I’m still working on being able to do this).

The Handstand Kick Up:

  • Place your hands on the floor in front of you with one leg bent. Kick your back leg up and use that momentum to bring both legs up into a straight line.
  • Try and remember to engage your core and push up through your shoulders like we worked on in previous weeks of this challenge.
  • Remember to make tiny adjustments in your fingers, wrists, shoulders, and hips to help you stay upright. We talked about it in Week 4.

It takes a while to figure out the right amount of power with the kick up, so don’t get too discouraged if you kick too hard or not hard enough to start.

The Handstand Tuck Up:

  • Place your hands on the floor in front of you with both feet fairly close to your hands. Your knees will be bent.
  • Jump up with your feet as you tuck up into a handstand. This one takes a fair amount of upper back and shoulder flexibility, so if you’re having a lot of trouble with it you might need to address that first.

It really doesn’t matter how you get up in a handstand, so practice both methods and see which one feels more comfortable to you.

Watch the short video above for a demonstration of these exercises.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fall

You’re going to fall a lot when practicing freestanding handstands so get used to it! The easiest ways to fall out of a handstand are to either cartwheel out or just step back to standing. You’re not going to just fall on your head!

And remember, developing a solid freestanding handstand takes a lot of practice so try not to get too discouraged at the beginning. Work on your freestanding handstands consistently and you will get there one day!

Handstand Challenge Week Six Homework

This week we’re building on wall handstands from Week 1, wrist health from Week 2, pike rolls from Week 3, handstand wall splits from Week 4, and hollow body holds from Week 5. If you missed them, make sure to check out those posts for complete instructions for each exercise.

Here is the homework for this week:

3+ days a week:

#1: Perform 1-2 rounds of wrist stretches before you practice your handstands.

#2: Alternate between the following three times:

  • Perform 3-5 pike rolls with a Swiss ball (or non-Swiss ball option).
  • Hold a hollow body position (or perform hollow body rocks) for 30 seconds or max hold.
  • Practice your handstand wall splits. Aim for at least 15-30 seconds per round, or as long as you can stay up.

Rest as needed, then:

#3: Practice your freestanding handstands for 2-5 minutes. Go back to the above skills if you’re having trouble finding a good handstand line.

#4: Hold a wall handstand for as long as you can for three rounds.

Remember to time your wall holds and make notes on how the other exercises are going so you can track your progress throughout the challenge.

Don’t forget to post your handstand photos and videos in the 12 Minute Athlete Facebook group to get feedback and support from us and your fellow athletes.

Have fun!

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