How To Get Better At Handstands INSTANTLY (This Tip Really Works!)
So you’re able to hold a handstand… somewhat.
You can kick up and catch your balance, but no matter what you do, it seems like your body just doesn’t want to stay inverted very long.
Sometimes you might feel yourself starting to fall forward and you need to bail out. Other times you feel yourself falling back to your feet but you just can’t save it.
Most of the advice you hear says it’s all in the hands. Press with your finger tips if you’re falling forward. Press with the base of your palms if you’re falling back. Simple, right?
Not so much.
There’s a critical tip that A LOT of influencers aren’t telling their audiences. Not because they intentionally don’t want you to succeed, but because it’s easy to overlook it.
And that critical tip?
Yep. Only two words: “Get tall.”
I heard those words from an ex-acrobat and gymnast named Luis Sarabia. When he first said it, I had no idea what he meant, but as I’ve practiced handstands over the years it’s become clear as day to me.
It’s all about total body tension throughout your kinetic chain.
Let me explain…
To Get Better At Handstands, Improve Your Body Tension
I want you to imagine two scenarios.
In the first, I’m holding a spaghetti noodle that just came out of boiling water. I grab the noodle from both ends and hold it straight up so it’s perfectly vertical. Then I let go of the top of the noodle.
The noodle flops down to the side and hangs from my bottom hand.
Now imagine that I’m holding a spaghetti noodle that has NOT been boiled, so it’s raw and too hard to eat. I hold the noodle up vertically and let go of the top. And what happens?
Nothing! The noodle stays vertical. It doesn’t flop down to the side.
So what’s the difference? TENSION.
Gravity doesn’t get the best of the raw noodle because it’s stiff, tense, tight, hard, and any other adjective that describes an uncooked spaghetti noodle.
In contrast, the wet noodle that’s been cooked has no tension in it whatsoever. It’s soft. It’s weak. And so gravity pulls it straight down.
Are you picking up what I’m putting down here?
You want to be the RAW noodle when you’re in a handstand – not the cooked noodle.
So let’s look at a few exercises to help you be a raw noodle 🙂
3 Handstand Drills That Improve Your Balance
The first step to improving your full body tension in the handstand is to work on your scapular elevation. When I say scapular elevation, I’m referring to your pressing into the ground from your serratus anterior muscles (just beneath the armpits along your ribcage) to raise your shoulders up by your ears.
The exercise I recommend for this is what I call Serratus Presses.
- The exercise I recommend for this is what I call Serratus Presses.
- Keep your head neutral (eyes on your feet)
- Press hard into the ground from your serratus anterior
- Feel your shoulders move closer to your ears
(Repeat steps 3-5 for upwards of 10 reps)
How do you apply this during your handstand?
Simple. When you’re upside down, hold the scapular elevation as best as you can. Try to hug your ears with your shoulders
Dynamic Hollow Body
The next drill I recommend is what I call the dynamic hollow body.
You want to perform a standard hollow body hold while lying on the floor. Make sure you’re reaching arms overhead, engaging posterior pelvic tilt (clench the abs, glutes & quads) and press your feet away from your body like you’re trying to touch the wall across the room with your toes.
Here’s what makes this a dynamic hollow body: you’re not going to just hold this position isometrically, you’re going to move the legs and feet in various directions and patterns to strengthen your core and leg tension.
Try these dynamic leg movements during the hollow body:
- Left and right (side to side)
- Small clockwise circles
- Small counter-clockwise circles
- Larger circles (both directions)
Remember to be pressing your feet away from you the entire time. Building your core and leg tensions in this way will help tremendously with “getting tall” in your handstands.
Unsupported Back-to-Wall Handstands
The third and final drill I recommend you use to put this all together is a popular one that I see a lot of people using. It’s the unsupported back-to-wall handstand.
What I mean is you’re going to bring your feet off the wall and do a freestanding hold with the wall right behind you in case you need it. This allows you to put it all together and practice getting tall.
Here’s how to do this:
- Kick up into a back-to-wall handstand
- Activate full scapular elevation (press with serratus)
- Activate core and lower body tension (press legs/feet to the sky)
- Remove feet from wall and try to hold your handstand
- Keep total body tension throughout, knowing you have the wall to catch you if you lose balance
Having the wall behind you allows you to practice getting tall without needing to bail out if you lose balance. When you do this, you’ll see what I mean about getting tall making it WAY easier.
This Works INSTANTLY For Better Handstands
I know it sounds a bit clickbait-y, but believe me, as soon as you nail “getting tall” and understand how to engage total body tension in your handstand, you’ll feel INSTANT improvement in your balance.
And once you start getting tall in a freestanding kick up you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
Remember: you are not a wet noodle. You’re RAW. (LOL!)
Thanks for reading. Now go get inverted 🙂