One the fitness goals I have been pursuing in the past few months is the Freestanding Handstand. The goal is to hold a static freestanding handstand for 60 seconds at the end of the year.
It’s one thing to building strength and mass by adding more weight to the bar. It’s an entirely different thing to learn how to balance your body by improving muscle coordination and motor control. While I am still all about getting stronger by moving higher loads, I consider learning skills such as the handstand, muscle up, essential skill that will greatly diversify your training and make a more complete athlete.
My goal is neither to be a pure bodybuilder, nor a pure gymnast, nor a pure powerlifter, nor Olympic weightlifter – I want to take the best lessons from all of these domains and combine them in myself (sounds very much like Crossfit, but that’s NOT what I am after).
My Road to the 60 sec Freestanding Handstand
Anyhow, ever since I moved to Copenhagen, Denmark I have made handstand practice a priority every time I stepped into the gym. I usually train the handstand 3 times per week as prescribed by this excellent Handstand Mastery E-Book. Of course, I wasn’t making progress every single workout but roughly 9 weeks in I can say that my handstand has never been better.
Below is a progress video where I pull of a solid 20 sec freestanding handstand without too much wobbling. I am also commenting my form because there are still a few things that I am not happy with.
Details I Need to Work On
I am quite confident that the 60 sec freestanding handstand is not far away anymore. But there are still small details that prevent me from achieving this goal. To fix these details, I have to focus on:
- Adopting a more hollow body – as I mention in the video, not being able to keep the hollow body causes me to overarch with my legs swinging too much.
- Keeping my head more neutral – if I can force myself to NOT look at my hands while upside down and keep my head more in line with the rest of the body, the center of my body mass will distribute more evenly.
- More tension in my lower body – in the video you see see that my feet still wobble around too much because I don’t actively keep them steady.
Special Mention: Hollow Body
I suspect that the reason why I am having such trouble adopting a hollow body is because I lift heavy weights. What I mean by that can be best illustrated by the example of the deadlift. When you deadlift heavy and don’t want to herniate a disk in your lower back, you HAVE TO ARCH YOUR LOWER BACK. This is the exact opposite from creating a hollow body where you are SUPPOSED TO ROUND YOUR LOWER BACK.
The image below shows the gold standard exercise gymnasts train each day to create a rock solid hollow body for their advanced gymnastic movements. I am currently working towards keeping this position for 1 minute at a time repeated 5 times, with 1 min rest in between.
In addition, HERE’s an excellent video tutorial on holding the hollow body.
I am working on my freestanding handstand – which skill are you working on at the moment?