This is a guest post written by Tyler Bramlett creator of CT-50.
(Note from Todd: When I was working on my handstand I met Tyler out in California for a fitness event. I mentioned to him that I was struggling with my handstand and that my form was off. He shared with me a technique that has helped immensely. He said that posture is critical when doing a handstand and that I should practice facing the wall with my hands as close to the wall as possible. This technique alone accelerated my results. Today, he is sharing with us his process for achieving the perfect handstand!)
The freestanding handstand is one of the coolest exercises out there.
It displays strength, balance, and coordination that only a few athletes have.
However… most people don’t understand how to properly learn how to do their first perfect handstand.
Today that changes because I’m gonna teach you the exact step-by-step method I use on my personal clients so you to achieve your first perfect handstand!
I divided this article into 4 different sections to make it easy for you to use.
The first section is focused on building a strong foundation.
In this section, you will learn how to build the strong foundation you will need to hold a perfect handstand.
In the second section, you will learn how to get used to the uncomfortable position of being upside down.
Many people fail in their quest of learning their first handstands simply because they never acclimated their body to hold the inverted position. This section will show you how.
The third section will teach you how to build strength and build a perfect position on a handstand.
This section is the most important step that you need to master! This way, when you go to kick up to your first real freestanding handstand you already have ample strength and perfect form.
The fourth section is where you will learn the exact steps you need to take to go from being able to perform a handstand against the wall, to performing a free-standing handstand.
The tricks and tips that I highlight in this fourth section will shave months off the amount of time it will take for you to learn your freestanding handstand.
Make sure you go through each step that I outline in the system and take your time to master every exercise in each section before moving on to the next section.
If you follow the exact sequence outlined in this article you will get your first handstand, I can guarantee that!
However, if you skip a step, if you go too fast, if you don’t master the foundational drills then you may never get there.
So, let’s get you started on your journey to achieving your first perfect freestanding handstand.
SECTION #1: Build A Strong Foundation
The first exercise you need to learn in this section is the hollow position hold. To perform the hollow position hold, lie down on your back with your arms overhead and your legs outstretched.
From this position press your lower back into the ground and lift your legs off the ground about 2 inches.
Stay tight as you point your toes, squeeze your ankles together, lift your arms off the ground tucking your chin slightly so that your head is in a straight line with your spine.
Hold this position for time.
When you first start you may only be able to hold this position for 3 to 5 sets of 10 seconds.
As you get better, work up in time until you’re able to hold this position for a full 60 seconds without losing your core strength.
The second exercise you need to master in this first section is the elevated plank.
The elevated plank will help you build the arm and shoulder strength, core strength, and body position necessary to hold the freestanding hand.
To perform the elevated plank, start in a pushup position with your feet against a wall.
Walk your feet up the wall until they are higher than your hips. Hold this position keeping your pelvis tucked and make sure that your lower back does not arch and try to hold for 60 seconds.
Once you can hold each of these positions for 60 seconds move on to the second section.
SECTION #2: Get Familiar with Being Upside Down
In order to be able to perform a perfect freestanding handstand, you must be acclimated to holding an inverted position.
I remember trying to teach a friend of mine years ago how to hold a perfect handstand and he was not comfortable in the inverted position.
Every time he kicked up to a wall he immediately collapsed to the ground.
Since then I’ve learned a few tricks that are to help you get used to the inverted position, here they are…
The first exercise is the wall headstand.
To perform the wall headstand place your head about 3 inches away from the wall and your hands about 3 to 5 inches in front of your head.
Assume the kick-up position as outlined in the picture below.
From there, kick up against the wall, hard enough that you can achieve the inverted position.
Make sure you press your hands into the ground the whole time in order to take pressure off of your neck.
Work on holding this wall headstand position for 60 seconds before moving to the next exercise.
The next exercise is the back-to-wall handstand.
This is a great exercise for building the strength necessary to hold a perfect freestanding handstand.
Assume the kick is a position in the picture above and just as you did with the headstand kick up with your back facing the wall into a handstand position.
If you can’t make it your first time, try to kick so hard that you put your foot through the wall which will ensure that you have enough momentum to get up to the top position for the back-to-wall handstand.
Hold this position for 60 seconds and once you’re able to hold this position for a full 60 seconds then feel free to move on to the section 3 exercises.
SECTION #3: Increase Strength
In section 3, I want you to learn how to build the strength and the perfect position that you’re going to need to be able to hold a perfect handstand.
This one exercise is perhaps the most powerful exercise you can use to build upper body pushing strength as well as prepare you for holding the perfect freestanding handstand.
This exercise is called the walk up to a face the wall handstand.
To perform the walk up to the face of the wall handstand, start in the same position that you had in the elevated plank.
From this position begin to walk your hands towards the wall.
As your torso gets closer to the wall you can take small steps with your feet or wear a pair of slippery socks and allow them to slide up the wall.
Bring your hands as close to the wall and hold the perfect handstand position for 10 seconds.
There are some key points of alignment that you want to address with the face the wall handstand position, it may be beneficial for you to have a partner watching from a side view or to videotape yourself in order to correct yourself into the perfect handstand position.
Your feet should be squeezed together and toes pointed.
Your hands should be no wider than shoulder-width and your elbow should be fully locked.
Press your hands into the ground and see how far away you can make your hands from your toes.
Your pelvis should be tucked in the same position you had in the hollow position hold in section 1 and you should have no aggressive arch in your back whatsoever.
Hold this perfect face the wall handstand position for 10 seconds trying to maintain active muscular tension the entire time before walking back down to the elevated plank position.
From there walk back up and hold the position again.
Once you can do three walk-ups and hold the face the wall handstand position with complete muscular activation for three sets of a 10-second hold then it’s time to go for your first freestanding perfect handstand.
SECTION #4: The Freestanding Handstand
Going for your first perfect freestanding handstand is awesome, but before we begin let’s cover the ground rules and key points that you need to know before kicking up.
The first thing you need to know is how to roll out of a handstand position.
In order to properly roll out of the handstand position start in the same position as you did in section 2 with your head on the ground and your hands slightly in front of your face, instead of kicking up to a full headstand kick up and curl your spine as if you’re trying to bring your knees into your chest and simply do a somersault rolling over onto your back.
This will properly prepare you if you find yourself overbalancing in your freestanding handstand.
Next, work on your freestanding balance and body position by practicing the freestanding headstand.
To perform the freestanding headstand set yourself up just like you did in section 2.
With your head on the ground and your hand slightly in front of your face, kick up gently to a freestanding headstand while maintaining the perfect body position you had in the face of the wall handstand.
Hold this position for time and work up to holding this position for 60 seconds before moving on to trying to kick up to your first perfect handstand.
Okay, you’ve mastered the rollout, you’ve mastered the perfect handstand position, you’ve mastered your core control and strength necessary to hold handstands, and finally you’re ready to kick up to your first real perfect freestanding handstand.
A few things to note before you try your first freestanding handstand.
Make sure when you kick up you do not move your hands at all.
In fact, if you move your hands while working on the perfect freestanding handstand you will train bad form and it will become harder for you to achieve a perfect handstand every time you try to kick up.
So, make sure you do not walk around on your hands trying to get a perfect handstand.
The second is to make sure that your fingers are as strong as possible to help you balance in this position.
Try to maintain what’s called a crimped fingertip position where your second knuckle is bent and pressing into the ground the whole time.
This will give you better balance and build better hand strength.
Begin your kick-up by assuming the same position as you did for your back-to-wall handstand in section 2.
Start by gently kicking up to your handstand position not actually trying to reach the full position but rather as a means to build confidence in your hands and also so you know how much effort it will take to kick off the ground into a perfect handstand position.
As you kick harder and get closer to the handstand position just kick up slightly more until you find yourself getting into the perfect handstand position.
Once you reach this position immediately lock your elbows, press your hands into the ground, squeeze your core, squeeze your feet together, point your toes and try to maintain your balance exclusively through the strength of your wrists and fingertips.
Now… Don’t for one second think that this can happen easily overnight, in fact on average takes me 30 to 60 days to teach someone how to hold a freestanding handstand by themselves under my watchful eye.
It may take you less or it may take you more, but… the golden rule to getting good at freestanding handstands is patience and persistence.
Practicing your handstand daily for a minimum of five minutes is crucial if you really want to get good at holding a perfect handstand.
More training is better, however, I tend to focus on the minimal dose necessary to become competent and five minutes seems to do the trick for most people.
I hope you enjoyed this article, I hope you achieve your perfect handstand and if you’re interested in learning more about me or my Progressive Movement Philosophy, check out my CT-50 system where I segmented 20 of the most powerful movement patterns (like handstand pushups, one leg squats, etc.) into 5 different progressive movement levels so you can go from weak and wimpy to strong and powerful using progressions like the ones I just taught you.