handstand training

There’s no question that most adults, no matter how strong or athletic they are, are intimidated by handstands.

But just because you didn’t take gymnastics as a kid and are scared to death of falling on your head when attempting them doesn’t mean you should avoid handstands forever.

Because not only are handstands fun (I mean, really, what’s more fun than being upside down and feeling like a kid again?), they’re actually really, really good for you.

I’ll tell you why in a second, but first, here’s how to get started with handstands:

How to do a handstand

Just starting out: Handstand facing away from the wall

  • Face away from the wall with your hands on the ground shoulder width apart.
  • Slowly walk your feet up the wall until you’re vertical, then walk your hands close to the wall.
  • Get out of the handstand by walking your feet down.

Try holding a handstand for 5-10 seconds for six sets. If this is too tough for you still, practice walking up and down the wall until you build enough strength.

Optional: Place a pillow or ab mat underneath your head to decrease your fear of crashing.

Next step: Handstand facing the wall

  • Face toward the wall, place your hands on the ground shoulder width apart, and jump up into a handstand.
  • Try not to slam your feet/back/butt onto the wall and practice control.
  • Work up to holding a handstand for 60 seconds. Once you’ve got that down, try working to remove your feet from the wall.

The ultimate handstand goal: The freestanding handstand

  • Start with your hands on a floor in an area where there’s nothing around you to bump into.
  • Jump or tuck up with control and hold the handstand.
  • Lower yourself down with control.

The key with handstand training? Have fun with it!

And now, here’s why handstands are so awesome:

They make your upper body crazy strong

In order to stay in a handstand for any amount of time, you need to be able to actually hold yourself upside down—meaning you’ll be bearing your full weight on your hands for an extended period of time.

And yes, it can be pretty tiring, but they’re worth it: handstands strengthen pretty much every muscle in your arms, shoulders, and upper body, making them one of the most beneficial upper body exercises you can do.

Do handstands often, and you’ll notice you feel stronger and more confident in no time.

They build core strength

Forget crunches—do handstands instead to build up your core strength.

Because they require you to stabilize your muscles to keep from falling over, handstands not only work your abs, they also strengthen your hip flexors, hamstrings, inner thigh muscles, and spinal muscles to create a balanced, super-strong core.

They increase balance

If you’ve ever tried to do a freestanding handstand, you know that in order to stay upright for more than a half a second, you need to be able to control your muscles and make constant adjustments in order to maintain your balance.

Frequent handstand practice will skyrocket your balancing abilities—but you’ll have to get over your fear of falling first (tip: practice on a soft surface like grass or a mat, not on concrete!).

They help with bone health, circulation and breathing

When you’re upside down in a handstand, your normal blood floor inverts, increasing circulation to your upper body while relieving pressure on your feet and legs.

They also benefit your spine, increase bone health in your wrists, arms and shoulders, and stretch your diaphragm, your main breathing muscle, which in turn increases blood flow to your lungs.

They can boost your mood and regulate your metabolism

Being upside down not only makes you stronger, it can actually boost your mood, since the extra blood flow to your brain can energize and calm you when you’re feeling down or stressed out.

Handstands can even reduce production of the stress hormone, cortisol, helping to relieve minor depression and anxiety. Plus, since handstands stimulate the thyroid and pituitary glands, they can actually help regulate your metobolic rate—meaning daily handstand practice could help you maintain (or reach) a healthy weight.

Pretty awesome, right?

Take on the handstand challenge:

Ready to rock some handstands? Take on this handstand challenge:

  • Every morning (or at least 5 days a week), do three handstands against a wall for as long as you can.
  • Rest 10-20 seconds in between sets, and focus on form the entire time. Try to aim for a total of at least 90 seconds.
  • If your arms start shaking, don’t worry—that’s a good sign you’re building up your strength!

Ready? Go rock some handstands!