Exactly How To Train For A Handstand Or Pull-Up, Per Experts

We reckon there’s been a time when you envied the women nailing handstands on your feed, or you’ve oggled at someone effortlessly bashing out pull-ups at the gym. The good news: these gymnastics-based movements not only deliver body benefits but are totally doable! Here, how to train for a handstand or pull-up, step by step.

Why is training for a handstand or pull-up good for you?

From increased flexibility to all-over body conditioning and beyond, gymnastics training – like tackling a handstand – delivers it all in bucket loads. And you don’t need to master a full twisting layout to reap the benefits. We’re talking the absolute basics: hanging from bars, getting inverted against a wall and increasing that arm strength will, over time, reap rewards. Think: being able to do a handstand, a pull-up or go toes-to-bar at the gym. Yes, these are gymnastics moves! And they build strength, flexibility, balance and a rock-solid core. A 2018 study found that bone mass increased after doing adult gymnastics, something that otherwise decreases with age.

Train for a handstand

Safety first: Eva Thornton, gymnast and coach at CrossFit Algoa in Gqeberha, warns that gymnastics can be tricky if you work unassisted. Always get a pro to watch your back as you tackle new skills, then work on them yourself when you’re more confident. Also, remember that when you train for a handstand, progress may be slow. Don’t give up – every workout brings you closer to that goal.

How long does it take to nail a handstand?

Well… it takes a while. “I think the biggest difficulty many people have is not understanding that gymnastics skills take time and require consistent practice,” explains Thornton. Most of the time, it can take months or years, depending how much time and effort you put in. So go get it!

train for handstand hollow hold

Nail The Basics

You’ll have to start with the absolute basics first. Practise the hollow hold position where you lie on the floor with legs and shoulders lifted, says National Gymnastics Coach Luitha Roux. This builds core strength to be able to balance when upside down. Do it as often as you can and aim to complete 30 seconds at a time, building up to longer holds.

READ MORE: 8 Ways To Build Stronger Thighs

build shoulder mobility to train for handstand

Build Shoulder Mobility

In order to support your weight upside down, get your shoulders mobile, says Thornton. Good shoulder mobility allows for that straight line from hands to toes and it also is crucial to prevent injury in this position.

To train for a handstand, stand facing a wall with your arms held out in front of you. Practise pushing against the wall with your hands while moving your shoulder blades backwards.

upside down wall drills train for handstand

Get Upside Down

Next, do drills against the wall. This specific drill, with your face to the wall, allows you to properly mimic the position of an unassisted handstand while building shoulder, arm and core strength.

With your back facing the wall, walk your hands down to the floor. Now, walk your legs up against the wall. Walk in and out on your hands, repeating as long as you can.

train for handstand unassisted handstands

Try It Unassisted

Now for the challenge – trying to hold your handstand without the wall. Try pushing up and hold your handstand against a wall, then remove one foot and then the other, seeing how long you can hold it without the wall.

READ MORE: Tone-Up From Head To Toe With This Killer 15-Minute Workout

Train for a pull-up

train for a pull-up; Image by Jonathan Borba on Pexels

Build Arm Strength

Per Thornton, start building upper arm strength with ring rows. You can do these with suspension cables or rings hanging from a bar, feet on the floor, pulling yourself up. “That’s your first step to developing pulling strength,” says Thornton. The lower down your body, the harder the pull. Focus on keeping your core tight throughout and go slow – you want every muscle to take the time to grow.

train for a pull-up

Get the hang of it

Next, graduate to the bar, doing pull-ups using a thick resistance band. The thicker the band, the easier the lift. Loop the resistance band around the bar and slip your one knee into the other end of the band. You’ll feel supported throughout and the pull-up will become much easier to execute. Keep going, and the easier it gets, the lighter you can make the resistance band, says Thornton. Another option? The assisted pull-up machine at the gym.

READ MORE: This Scalable HIIT Workout Will Be Your New Go-To For All-Over Gains

train for a pull-up

Pull Through!

Once you’re strong enough (after months of practice), you can try your hand at an unassisted pull-up. Remember this is all core and upper body strength, so if you can’t nail it the first time around, keep practising the foundational moves.

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