Looking to switch up your training regime, why not throw some handstands into the mix? They may be something you associate with your younger days back in the playground, but handstands are actually an excellent full-body exercise that require no equipment to master, or at the very least, a wall.
They’re a staple in gymnast and CrossFitter's training regimes and now more and more people are giving them a go, while the hashtag ‘handstand’ has gathered over 19 million views alone on TikTok. Fancy giving them a go? We spoke to Gymnastics Strength Skills Specialist and Personal Trainer, Douglas Ross, who gave us the lowdown on the benefits of adding this old school activity into your workouts.
1. They're fun
How many times when you were younger did you do a handstand without a smile on your face? Rarely (unless you’d fallen over and kneed yourself in the nose). “Not to mention, a handstand is something that looks impressive and with the right amount of work it's a very achievable target for most people to aim for,” says Douglas. “Plus, it’s pretty easy to slot into your training programme as it requires minimal equipment to learn!”
If you’re therefore looking to add some variety to your workouts, handstands could be perfect, especially as they have a ton of physical benefits, bringing us onto point two…
2. They develop full-body strength
Forget a pair of dumbbells to build full-body strength, just do handstands. “A handstand requires a great deal of upper body strength, especially in the shoulders, triceps and upper back musculature,” says Douglas. “Not only this, but it also works the core to create a stacked position and you also need to squeeze your glutes and quads to help create tension, making it a full-body exercise.”
3. You'll have endless exercise variation
“The great thing about the handstand is that there are loads of progressions and exercises to develop the strength required to master it,” says Douglas. These can include things like wall walks or hollow holds. But, once you’ve mastered the handstand, Douglas says the learning doesn’t stop there. “Once you reach your goal, there’s plenty of ways to make it harder such as handstand push ups or handstands walking!” These are very advanced exercises that are popular in CrossFit, so we definitely recommend nailing your handstand first before even attempting these.
4. They improve body control and awareness
Forget doing endless crunches to work your abs, if there’s one exercise that’s going to help you develop superior core strength, it's handstands. “There’s a lot going on when you’re balancing on your hands, as your whole body needs to work as one unit to help you find that balance point,” explains Douglas. Handstands engage all your abdominal muscles, the lower back and hip flexors, all of which make up our core and are integral to its strength.
5. It will boost your confidence
There’s no shame in admitting that handstands can feel a tad scary, but that’s exactly why Douglas says you should give them a go! “Overcoming the fear of falling and consistently practising handstands helps build mental resilience,” he explains, “you’ll be able to work through the progressions at your own pace by starting on the floor and working your way to the wall, only doing what you are comfortable doing”. Alongside your new mental and physical strength, who knows what you’ll have the confidence to do next.