How to Do a Gymnastic Handstand

Beginners will need some help when performing handstands.

Beginners will need some help when performing handstands.

The handstand is a basic gymnastics move that can be performed during floor exercises, or when you’re using any gymnastics apparatus. Performing a handstand not only requires good balance, but you also need strong shoulders and legs, as well as flexible wrists. Beginning gymnasts will typically work their way up to performing a full handstand.

Stand on a large exercise mat or other padded surface. Extend your arms straight above your head. Arch your lower back and set one leg in front of you with the knee flexed, and the other leg extended straight and set behind you.

Bend forward from the waist, keeping your arms straight, as if they were reaching for the floor as you continue bending forward. As your arms drop your back leg rises as you pass through the lever position.

Kick your feet up as your hands reach the floor. Your back leg should reach a vertical position before the other leg, your arms should remain extended and your eyes should look straight back along the path you just traveled.

Maintain your handstand position by pushing against the floor to keep your arms extended, and by squeezing your abdominal muscles to help prevent your back from arching. Maintain proper form by keeping your body straight from your wrists to your feet. Don't let your head lean forward, and keep your toes pointed skyward.

Have a coach or training partner support your midsection, if necessary, as you kick your legs up -- without tumbling forward -- then lower yourself back to your feet. Repeat the exercise until you can balance yourself vertically on your hands.

Tips

  • Perform some stretches before attempting handstands, paying particular attention to your wrists.
  • You can work on handstands alone by standing near a wall. Begin with your back to the wall, then bend forward from the waist, extend your arms and place your palms flat on the mat, at shoulder width or a bit wider. Straighten your back as you kick your feet up onto the wall. Climb the wall with your feet as high as possible.
  • Alternatively, perform a handstand while facing a wall, lunging forward then kicking your feet up so your heels hit the wall at the top of your handstand. Make sure you use proper form, keeping your body straight and taking particular care not to arch your back while in the handstand position.
 

About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

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