One of the skills that many beginners want to achieve is to be able to handstand using their own strength, without jumping to it. This is one of the most important movements, because it will give you the ability to do handstand in parallel bars without any problem. It will give you basic strength to lots of planche exercises and control over your handstand so you can do it anywhere.
In Calisteniapp we have a plan to achieve this movement, and many people get confused about it, because this plans consists basically in doing a lot of sets of the same exercise. In this article we are going to analyze how this plan works and why.
The key exercise
Muscles involved in strength handstand are mainly shoulders and triceps, with assistance from traps, pecs and core. That's why the exercise that we are going to work on is assisted handstand push ups.
Before going into the actual routine, lets see what you can do if you are not able to do assisted handstand push ups yet. This way we don't leave anyone out.
If you are starting from level zero, my recommendation is to first improve in exercises like push up isometrics, regular push ups, decline push ups, pike push ups, and assisted handstand isometric.
Also you should start strengthening starting positions like frogstand and tucked planche. If your goal is just to handstand, you can do tucked with flexed elbows, but if you plan to keep going into planche, it is better that you practice with locked elbows.
Here you have an example of how you could work on those exercises until you can do them without any problem. When you are comfortable with this, you can start to work on your short range assisted handstand push ups, until you can do them with full range. This routine is in the app under the name "Handstand Preparation"
- 4x8" Tucked planche
- 4x10" Frogstand
- 4x45" Assisted handstand Isometric
- 4x10 Pike push ups
- 4x12 Decline push ups
- 4x15 Push ups
Also you can see how in this article, the different exercises are showed in the floor and in push up holds. It is not necessary to have this holds, you can do everything on the floor without a problem, but I recommend you to use both options, because it will be better for you when you go to try handstand in parallel bars.
Once you can do assisted handstand push ups full range, lets see the routines to strengthen your shoulders until you can handstand without jumping. It is a cluster type of routine, which consists on doing lots of sets of the same exercises, getting a really nice work volume but not that intense. On the app you have 6 levels, the first 3 are for working on the level zero exercises, lets see the other 3:
- Level 4: 10x5 Assisted handstand push ups
- Level 5: 10x10 Assisted handstand push ups
- Level 6: 4x1 Frogstand to handstand and 10x10 Assisted handstand push ups
As you can see, in the first routine, 10 sets of 5 reps of assisted handstand push ups, you'll do a total of 50 reps. Rest times 1:30 and my recommendation is to do it once or twice a week until you can finish it without problems. Then you will go to the next level, where you will do a total of 100 reps in 10 sets, and then in the last level we add tries of frogstand to handstand at the beginning so you start to get it.
I have chosen this method of doing lots of reps of the same exercise because assisted handstand push ups is the key exercise for everything handstand related, and it is the method that I used, and that I have done in other people, so I know it works.
Once you can do this routine, you will have the required strength to go to handstand by strength.
When you can do it from frogstand, you can try to keep working on it until you can do several reps, with that you will get more strength and you will be able to do it from tucked planche. In my personal case I got it from frogstand, then from tucked planche (elbows flexed) and then from tucked planche (elbows unlocked).
Handstand by itself
One thing that I have not said but it is really obvious, is that you will also have to work on your handstand balance. Getting all that strength will make everything easier, but balance needs practice and getting used to it. For example in my case I could do frogstand to handstand but I will fall because I had no balance and had to practice it a lot until I could control it.