013: Handstands (Part I)

Season One Mar 23, 2020

Handbalancing is a fun and valuable practice.

Kids naturally hang upside-down. So do our primate relatives 🐵. Is it curiosity? Play? Training for the vestibular system? I'm not sure. But the instinct to go upside-down runs deep.

Whether you already do handstands, or are working on getting one for the first time - there's something in this series for you.

Handstand benefits:

  • Strength: Develop full-body balance
  • Portability: No equipment needed
  • Always-evolving: Never ‘complete’

This is Part I of a multi-part tutorial:

Episode 1 is the introduction

Handstands tl;dr:

With only your hands on the ground, balance your center of mass.

"Stack" the shoulders, torso and hips: Align the skeleton, upside-down. Make small balance adjustments through your hands and wrists. Engage the core and breathe.


First: What draws you to handstands?
Everyone's journey is unique.

My first inspirations were watching the circus.

☝️ a comic I drew in ~2010

Jack LaLanne was another early fitness inspiration.

What draws you to handstands?

There's no right or wrong answer.


You may be thinking:
“No way... I can’t do this.”

My response:

  • People balance on feet for many hours
  • You need far less strength than you think
  • Everyone starts somewhere

Handstands may not be possible for everyone. Still, you're invited to try.


I don't have proper circus technique (or a one-arm HS / planche). In fact, I've been spending most of my time sitting at a desk.

Consult a doctor before starting an exercise program.

Adults face unique challenges:

  • There's more fear of being upside-down
  • You may need to (re)develop strength and range of motion as prerequisites

If you already have a wall handstand, great. We'll talk moving to freestanding.

Wherever you're at, this can all be learned.

The Plan

First, build up the foundation:

  • Strength to go upside down
  • A (safe) range of motion
  • Efficient technique
Triangle with 'strength', 'mobility' and 'technique'

Then we’ll discuss strategy and progression: Tying the physical aspects together with the right mindset and a plan.

GIF of timelapse handstand

In my experience, people get discouraged when they:‌‌‌‌

  • Train ineffectively‌‌
  • Use dangerous practices‌‌
  • Have unrealistic expectations

The trick to handstands?
There is no secret trick ✨  

Prepare the body, study best practices, follow the laws of physics.

Beyond the technical aspects, always remember your "why". Intrinsic motivation will fuel your success, more than specific information or any special tips.  

I'll share my own experiences, recruit some collaborators, and incorporate real-time feedback. I hope you'll join along for the ride.

Preview of future episodes in this series (next one = "strength")

Update: Part II (handstand strength) is out now!

Keep at it ✨