Why You Should Do Handstands On a Regular Basis

why you should do handstands on a regular basis

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 Start Doing Handstands Using the Wall

When you’re just starting your handstand journey, the wall will be your best friend and training tool. Even advanced hand balancers continue to use the wall to build up endurance and work technique.

Here’s how to do a handstand against the wall:

  • Face away from the wall, place your hands on the ground about shoulder-width apart, and walk your feet up into a handstand.
  • Push up through your shoulders and keep your core engaged and ribs pulled in as you walk up to vertical.
  • Once you get to the top position, push up even more, point your toes, and continue to engage your core.
  • Work up to holding a handstand for three rounds of 60 second holds.

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

For a more in depth look at working up to a freestanding handstand, check out this post on helpful handstand drills.

Here are some of the top benefits of working handstands on a regular basis:

They Make your Upper Body Super 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 Overall 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.

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!

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35 thoughts on “Why You Should Do Handstands On a Regular Basis”

  1. I completely agree Krista. Handstands are such a great way to build many strength and balance among other things. Plus they are a ton of fun. I get my athletes practicing them on a daily basis.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. I have a goal to do a middle-of-the-room handstand by my 65th birthday which is in January 2014. So far I can hold a 2-3 second facing-toward-the-wall handstand pretty well. Love your workouts. Thanks

    • So cool, Lea! It takes a lot of practice, but try and work on handstands just a little every day and you’ll build up the strength and balance you need pretty quickly. Good luck, and let me know how your progress goes!

        • Hey, Krista! I have been training handstands for about a year, and I am finding it hard to stay on my hands for longer than 40-50 seconds. Feels like I’m stuck on a pretty serious plateau. In your experience is this just something you have to struggle through or is that kind of problem related to poor form? Just looking for a key to help me unlock the next level..

    • Did you achieve your goal, Lea? I sure hope so! I have the same goal! I’m 22 so it’s a bit less impressive but i’ve always wanted to increase my ninja skills! (Ninja skills currently at 5%…)

      • How nice of you to followup on this comment. No, I still need the wall for security to do my handstands but it’s only because I’ve been working on other fitness goals. BTW, did you ever create more boxing training videos? I saw one but I kind of remember that you were going to do more… Maybe? I got some gloves and a punching bag. I really enjoyed your first boxing video and would love to hear if you have another.. Thanks

  3. I love doing handstands… however against the wall. It feels really great. I am 36 and want to continue doing this till whatever time.

  4. Just came across this article about Handstands and fitness, great article! As a kid and into young adulthood I was constantly doing handstands and walking around on my hands quite frequently. I had no idea at the time how much fitness I was gain inning by doing it. For me, doing freestanding handstands and walking around on my hands was almost as natural as walking upright at the time. Alas, I’m now past middle age and no longer do handstands but after reading the article I’m thinking of gradually working my way back to being able to do freestanding handstands again and improve my over all fitness. Thanks so much for such a great article!

  5. Hi there, I really love that you wrote this article and that you are sharing so generously with people. I would also love to share some of my knowledge regarding handstand work and development, perhaps I could write an article on the tools and methods we use as circus artists and gymnasts etc? If you are interested just let me know or have a look at my Facebook page, I post videos on tools that will help your wrists and shoulders for the work ahead. Facebook.com/themovementguide. Nice work again Krista, love your site. Hope to hear from you.

  6. Hi Krista,
    Any chance of a video showing how to start doing a handstand? I attempted them for the first time yesterday but could not get my legs up.
    Thanks in advance. Love your workouts by the way.

    Avi Charlton

  7. Hey everyone! Im 30 male, always been in some sort of athletic activity but i never tried this before in my life! I started crossfit 10 days ago so i thought i d give it a go yesterday. I hit it within 30 minutes!! They really are fun! I must have done more than 500.000 abs in my life but my abs HURT now with this!!!

    Its awesome guys, do what it says on the article and you ll be amazed how happy you ll feel!!!

    • Hey Help!
      Handstands are a full body strengthening exercise, because everything from your fingers to your toes are engaged. But your arms, shoulders, upper and lower back and abs do the most of the work. Because you squeeze the glutes and point your toes, also your leg muscles are working.

  8. Why when my grandson did handstand a few times he started crying saying his chest hurts he was holding his chest ,he’s 12 years old

    • Sorry to hear that, Janet! It’s hard to tell what it is, and we’re not specialists, especially when it comes to kids… So it’s probably better to stop trying to do them. If the chest pain is present also when doing other physical activities, be sure to talk about it with your health care practitioner.

  9. I do handstands everywhere. Iffeltower, beaches all over the Caribbean , Europe I have pictures with most iconic structures. #handstansaroundtheworld is my #
    And I’m 52.

  10. After reading this I decided to go for it, I’m a 38 yr young dad and my 12 yr old daughter does great handstands so I have been wanting to learn to handstand for a long time now along with learning a front and back flip (I love parkour 🙂 but they will come in time, handstands are great as I can learn on my own but I’m finding my wrists do hurt a degree whilst performing the handstand, I’m back to the wall and can hold up to 40 seconds+ before my wrists really complain, can I safely assume this will go in time once they adapt and strengthen to the new stresses I’m putting them through?, it’s not a pain I’m too worried about but I’m keen to know if any body else has had the same issue, thank you 🙂

  11. I remember my first kick up to the wall, I was scared to death (from thinking I’d fall over and bump my head or face)! Gladly it didn’t happen and now I can train my free handstand everywhere without any help (this is my second month practicing my free handstand)! I can hold a couple of seconds, but still on my way to better activate my core and glutes (sometimes still arching a bit). I can do the dragon flag (bruce lee sit-up) with perfect form easily, but consciously recruiting my Core doing a handstand is a different story! As your article said, this is one of the most fun and challenging skill to master with (especially if you’re into Yoga or Calisthenics). You can be big, muscular and all, but handstand is on another league. Thanks for the well-written article by the way! PS: I’m 34 and just into Calisthenics around 7 months ago, and I used to be fat and not athletic at all!

  12. I am 51 year old and keep a very active lifestyle with gym runs etc. Recently diagnosed with slight hypertension. Can I attempt hand stands with such a condition because I have been getting feedback not to try it. Please advise

  13. A great presentation on handstanding. Have started to train handstanding against the wall, and it is really fun, and a good workout for the upper body. Starting at age 61 and will continue as long as I can, hopefully it will help me to stay in good shape for a long time.
    And hopefully one day I can do it without the help of the wall.
    Thanks for the presentation.

  14. i do handstand against the wall every morning for a 1 minute. 10 Seconds of it i try to balance without wall. My back muscles feel dense in a good way, however i think stretch exercises are necessary here too.

  15. I (age 70 male ) enjoy this for 10 years.
    The greatest balance for moods
    The greatest feeds for my blood 🩸
    The greatest feel for balance body and keeping your spine and more
    I know some people can’t try it but try it if you can ( ask your Doctor before)
    I saw 👀 it before I started, it is the biggest Yoga exercise

  16. I do handstands all the time, I can do freestanding handstands but my biggest problem is once I’m up after a few seconds I loose consentraition and come down not sure why I have recently started wall handstand push up and can do 2 aiming to do better as time goes on


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