oleksiy kononov

How to Do a Handstand?

A step by step guide in 7 minutes

to help you do a perfectly good Handstand.

A Handstand is getting more and more viral every day. One can see guys from the social net who are keeping a Handstand on the top of a mountain, in a gym or on a playground. I appreciate those who can control their bodies. However, I get upset when some of them promise to raise you in a stand up in 5 minutes.
I, a gymnast and circus performer of Cirque du Soleil, have spent most of my life on handstands. My sportive career was launched at the age of 4, since then trainings have been overwhelmed with sweat, discipline and a bulk of result-advancing exercises. Now I can be on a handstand with the same confidence as on my feet. This article will provide you with the insight into a handstand in 7 minutes to shorten your path to the goal.

I won’t promise you to master a handstand tomorrow after reading the article. Nevertheless, I will let you know a heap of useful information and working tools that will ensure your safe journey and alleviate many fears.

Base

Before getting down to a handstand you should build up a strong muscle girdle. First, we learnt to hold our heads after birth, then sit, crawl and afterwards – stand. Each stage took us months of ‘trainings’; when it came to go, we had been already prepared for it.

I use similar technique in my trainings: from simple to complex. This approach enables to master any gymnastics element, turning me into a sport machine.

Any gymnastics element involves all the muscles. To cut the story short, I will single out three parts of the body that deserve your attention:

Corps | Abdominal muscles

Any movement starts with the abdominal muscles. Like a plane should keep the door closed before the flight, in the similar way we need to have abdominal muscles tensed before any action, otherwise we fall apart.

The rectus abdominis muscle is the mediator between the pelvis and chest.
Should this rope be reliable enough, it will help prevent heels from dropping behind your head. This trick facilitates keeping the balance.

The extensor muscles of the back, which run along the spine, are also relevant, they are responsible for the vertical position of the body. The Corp and Back Extensors (if viewed from the side) resemble the pillars of a bridge. Removing one bridge support, the construction will collapse.

Before being on a handstand, strengthen your corps and back extensors. You will find exercises to help you with it here.

Shoulders

Get ready for your shoulders hard work from the early beginning. A great part of the workload is entrusted to them. The hands will catch deviations from the vertical position – and the shoulders will be harnessed.

Just as the gluteal muscles are responsible for the balance when we are on feet (compare the butt of a chimpanzee and a human being), so the shoulders are responsible for the balance when we are on our hands.

There are large shoulder muscles that lie on the surface – deltas. They help you settle into your stance.
There are minor muscles that are hidden deeper – rotators. They will be helpful in balancing. Both of them need whipping into shape before getting into a handstand. Exercises to help with this can be found here.

The shoulder joint should be flexible for a technical handstand as well. Try lying on your back, put your arms straight behind your head, touch the floor with the outside of your palm. In this case, do not take off your lower back from the carpet. Did it? This line is your ideal stance; if there is an angle in the shoulders, you will have to bend in the lower back to catch balance, and this is certain to cause injury.
You can see the test here.

Wrists

Your wrists are the first to react to deviations from the vertical position. They will help if you are pulled by the head. But don’t count on your hands if your toes start to fall. The fingers stick out to one side.


To be in a handstand, the center of gravity of the body must be above the middle of the hand. I’ve got 80 kilos. The weight is pretty enough. If you start going on hands as early as on foot, there won’t be any problems. If you are a freshman in gymnastics, you’d better strengthen your wrists well.

Details:

When the base is ready, you can build a skyscraper. A handstand equals to a workout, do it as often as you can. This section will provide you with the secrets that speed up the process and prevent from the worst thing that can be in the life of a gymnast – retraining of the Curve Technique.

Toes to the Ceiling

Without the right direction, the stand will fall apart like a house of cards. Angles will appear in the joints, each new angle will create another one to compensate, all this will turn into a domino effect.

I am an ardent believer in the power of focus when it concerns gymnastics training. More precisely, my rule is: one approach, one trick. And the first thing I suggest focusing on is trying to reach the ceiling with the toes. Endowed with such a request, the brain will stretch the body into a string, and withdraw all corners.

Ears in the Shoulders

The gravity force will beckon, create angles wherever possible, but do not succumb to provocation. During a handstand, the shoulder girdle should be as tense as possible, the whole structure is placed on it. Beginners do not often understand how to get rid of the angle in the shoulders. A Hack in a handstand is to set a goal of touching your ears with your shoulders (keeping the focus of your eyes on your hands). Once this works out, try to keep this position for 3 seconds. Increase the time gradually. If you look at you from the side, your head shouldn’t stick out much.

This secret will help with balance and beauty of performance. The best exercise to help you with this peculiarity is here.

Clamp your buttocks

The gluteus muscles are a mediator between the body and the legs, the main tool for making the body as solid as a stick. I can tell from my experience: when I clamp my butt, the whole body is clamped. It could have been one of the most frequent tips of my coach for this reason.

A secret with a bottle.

Take a plastic bottle full of water, unscrew the cap and try to break it. Got it?
Now take a plastic bottle full of water, CLOSE (screw) the cap and try to break it now. Did it work out so good?

The second case involves water pressing against the walls of the bottle and creating pressure that strengthens the bottle and makes it tough, unbent.

It is the same with the body. If you suck the stomach in and pinch the buttocks (to screw a cap), abdominal pressure is created inside, which will further strengthen the body. Implement this Hack on your way to your perfect stance.

How to keep the balance?

Basically, a handstand is the ideal balance. The wrists are the center of the scales. Ideally, keep the whole body above the center of the wrist. If toes fall, quickly form an angle in the shoulders, try to balance the structure and turn on the deltas, pressing back into the handstand.
Your inner feelings are sure to prompt you this option.

Toes fall over your head – push your chest forward, turn on your abdominal muscles, return to the stand. Balance, in my opinion, is one of the most crucial skills that need to be fairly trained, hence, take the time and patience for this. Exercises to help you with the balance, see here.
Remember: you can not only stand, but also walk. Are you losing your balance? Take a step.
Master the stance step by step. Each new stage will strengthen the muscles and boost self-confidence. You can get over fear by looking at things through the eyes of a child. Children are fearless, they enjoy every new activity. I am deeply convinced that there is a child inside you too – lay pillows around and have fun from the bottom of your heart.


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And remember, if you have a Body, you have already been a Gymnast.
Oleksiy Kononov
Artist Cirque Du Soleil | Professional Athlete
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Set Crazy Goals, Practice Smart. Turn yourself into a Superman.

I believe in you and I know you can do more.
With all my respect,
Alexey Kononov