UPDATE: The 28-day Handstand Challenge eBook!
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The 28-Day Handstand Challenge
The handstand. Ah, the handstand…
It is the most useful tool in my fitness utility belt. But, in most cases, a 5 year old can show you up without even trying. Even if their hold is just for a split second, that’s better than what you can do.
A handstand is impressive yet simple. It’s just standing on your hands while most people stand on their feet. Despite its simplicity, what do you immediately think when you see someone in a handstand?
“Wow, what control!”
“I wish I could do that.”
“What a display of strength and finesse.”
“That looks really cool.”
But what made the handstand earn its spot in my heart?
Learning how to handstand is like buying yourself an amazing piece of home gym equipment and putting it in your pocket. The handstand is the smart phone of fitness – utility, fun and portable.
For those without regular gym access (or who opt out of the gym all together), the handstand is crucial. With handstands you can perform high intensity bodyweight skills (like free-standing handstand pushups) and low intensity skills training (long-duration holds).
That, and it’s just really cool.
The handstand isn’t really that hard. It’s difficult to you because your brain has been programmed for your whole life to stand on your feet and stay upright. The good news is that we can get past that.
Most of the problems with tackling the handstand are not with your body. They’re with your brain.
Part of it is fear, part of it is a loss of the neurological capability to balance on anything aside from your feet. Surprisingly, holding a handstand doesn’t take that much physical strength. (OK, if you want to hold one for 5 minutes, you are going to need to be pretty conditioned. To get your first impressive 10 second or even 1 minute hold, it’s really not so hard.)
Getting your first handstand takes only two things: Fear Conquering and Consistent Practice.
The Secret 2-Step Method
- Evaluate Your Ability
- Use the 28 Day Handstand Challenge spreadsheet to stick with your program
The 28 Day Handstand Challenge Spreadsheet
This spreadsheet is the secret sauce. This is what will unlock your potential. This is what will get you from 0 to 1-minute in 28 days. Here is how it works:
- Print the spreadsheet and fill in the start date.
- Every day you do your 5 minutes of handstand work, check the box next to the date.
The goal is 28 days in a row of handstand work of some sort (and continue on beyond that).
Every day, find some time in the day to set a timer (most smart phones have one built in) or use http://e.ggtimer.com/5minutes to start a 5 minute timer. Take that time to practice handstands at your current level and push the boundaries towards the next level. Don’t worry about working the whole 5 minutes, but just set aside 5 minutes every day.
Make it a habit.
Why does this method work? With skills like the handstand, the hardest part is just sticking to it. Feats like a 400 lbs. deadlift or 300 lbs. bench press are limited by the capabilities of your body and muscles to adapt. With the handstand, the limiting factor is usually not strength, but consistent practice to get over the fears and learn the balance.
What You Work Towards
The nitty gritty details of getting started and progressing are covered in the free 28-day handstand challenge eBook. Sign up for the full challenge to get your copy within minutes.
But if you just want to get an idea of how quickly you can progress, here are some guidelines…
Inclined Plank Hold
Not everyone can just get into a handstand against the wall, especially if you have the fear we discussed earlier.
Put your feet on the wall. Put your hands under your chest. Push up. If you can hold this, start moving your hands closer to the wall until you are holding it standing completely upright against the wall.
No saggy hips.
Chances are, you are already physically capable of holding a 1 minute handstand against the wall if you can do hold an inclined pushup for 1 minute. This step is mostly to help you get over the fear of being upside down.
Put your feet on the wall and walk your hands back until you are straight up against the wall. When it gets too hard to keep holding, walk your hands away and come back down. No risk, no mess.
As you get better, let your toes come off the wall ever-so-slightly. Balance gently away from the wall. This step is mostly to help you get over the fear of being upside down but also helps develop the required strength.
By the end of your 28 days, you should be able to hold this for at least 1 minute solid!
This is where it gets fun, especially now that you have less fear of being inverted. But what happens if something goes wrong?! If you are losing your balance, you need to make it back to your feet. If you start to fall towards your head (not your feet), you need to pirouette as shown in the demo video below.
Note: This is not the time to focus on form. That will come later. If you need something to focus on, it should be getting as close to the wall as possible without being uncomfortable and keeping straight arms (locked elbows). That’s it.
After some practice, you should be able to get some time under your belt before being forced down. When you get here, this is where you can refine. You can experiment with different kickup techniques (like the HDLU technique covered in my book), and work on increasing your hold times by fixing form and letting your brain learn how to balance.
Right now, form doesn’t matter. You are just getting started. Get to here, and we will progress.
You think this is BS? Put it to the test. Experience has shown me that 28 days is enough time to get:
- A 1-min handstand hold against the wall.
- Able to hold a handstand near the wall without touching.
- A 2-second freestanding hold or better.
- Addicted to throwing up handstands everywhere. (Once you are addicted, it’s amazing how fast you will improve.)
How does this compare to your handstands right now? When will you get your first handstand if you don’t start right now? Maybe never?
If you want to be strong and impressive and have the liberation to workout anywhere, you need this challenge. Sign up for your free copy of the 28-Day Handstand Challenge eBook. What have you got to lose? It’s free and only 28 days!