What Does Doing a Handstand Work?

The handstand position develops arm and shoulder strength.
i Nisian Hughes/Photodisc/Getty Images

Handstands are an excellent beginner exercise to help acquire strength in a variety of areas of the body. You should be physically capable to do this exercise before proceeding to attempt it. Perfection of the handstand can be challenging. However, this exercise can yield numerous benefits. Once you are comfortable with your handstand hold, there are other handstand exercises that you may do to further build strength.


    Handstands should not be attempted by people who have neck, shoulder, or back injuries. Also, if you are pregnant or menstruating, or have frequent headaches, a heart condition, or high blood pressure, avoid doing this exercise. Contact your doctor if you have any further reservations about this exercise.

Perfecting Your Handstand

    This basic exercise requires some practice before you can achieve its full benefits. First, practice with the help of a wall and a spotter. Make sure you have plenty of space and a soft surface beneath you. Second, position yourself facing the wall so you are about four to five feet in front of it with your arms straight up over your head. Third, lunge forward by placing your hands on the floor, shoulder width apart. It is important to keep your fingers open to allow for even weight distribution. Fourth, kick each leg up to the wall individually. After you have both legs up, keep your body in line. It can be helpful to point your toes to keep yourself straight. Do not be discouraged if you are unable to get in the position. Ask for help and have someone spot you until you are able to do it on your own. It can take much practice to perfect a handstand. As your strength and comfort increase, gradually move further away from the wall to do a freestanding handstand.

Body Focus Points

    Handstands can strengthen many parts of the body as they require the cooperation of several muscles groups. The shoulders, arms, chest, and back are all exercised during handstands. The muscles that are mainly utilized in the shoulders include the anterior and posterior deltoids. Triceps and biceps also receive a good workout as they help maintain your balance. The pectoralis muscle in the chest and the latissimus in the back also achieve more muscular strength through the regular practice of handstands. Moreover, handstands require some strength from your core as these muscles work as stabilizers.

Physical Benefits

    Because of the physical benefits of handstands, they are frequently encouraged by both yoga instructors and strength trainers. Regular exercise using handstands can help strengthen the brain, arms, chest, back, shoulders, legs, spine, lungs, and wrists. Although there is no significant strength gain in the core, handstands help stretch those muscles. When your handstand is perfected you should also notice an improved sense of balance. Some people even find handstands to be calming and thus helpful for stress reduction. They may also improve mild depression.

Other Handstand Exercises

    Once you have mastered the freestanding handstand, you may continue to build on this technique to do other handstand exercises. Additional exercises include handstand pushups, one-arm handstands, and the handstand walk

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