Friday, July 26, 2013

Handstands, Part 2: "Supplementing" your Training to Maximize Results

Josh Trammell

Warning: These exercises are to be tried at your own risk. Some of these exercises, if performed incorrectly or before they are properly progressed or prepared, can do more harm than good. Proceed with caution (and patience).

Webster’s Dictionary defines a supplement as “something that completes or makes an addition” to something else. The following tips, exercises, and progressions are just that: supplements to part 1 of the Handstand guide. They are NOT absolutely necessary; however, they can help speed up progress greatly. With that said, let’s dive right in.

Supplement #1: The Frogstand Progressions

One of the biggest factors keeping people from achieving that elusive handstand is the concept of balance. The fingertip “handbalancing” is something that can be felt, but never quite adequately described. Frogstands help to get a better feel for the front-to-back balancing aspect of the handstand.

The progression is simple: once you can do step 1 for 60 seconds relatively easy (it should NOT be a struggle!), move to step 2.

Step 1: Bent-Arm Frogstand

Step 2: Straight-Arm Frogstand

Supplement #2: Wrist Push-Ups

A lot of times, especially after a few weeks, people will complain about wrist soreness or pain. The following progression can definitely help cure weaksauce wrists:

 1. Knee Wrist Push-Ups.

 2. “Long” Knee Wrist Push-Ups.

 3. One-Leg Extended Knee Wrist Push-Ups.

 4. Full Wrist Push-Ups.

Once you can do 10 reps of the first step comfortably and easily, move to the next step in the progression. BE CAREFUL with these and take your time. If you rush it you WILL regret it.

Supplement #3: Wrist Care and Fixing Mobility Issues

Take care of your wrists! I can’t say it enough. If you’re not properly warming up your wrists, it WILL come back to haunt you. If you thought shin splints were bad…you’ve never experienced forearm splints. You don’t want to either. So again, TAKE CARE of your wrists! Rather than reinvent the wheel, here are two great ways to incorporate some wrist care:

1. Use this as your wrist warm-up: Novel Movements for the Wrist, Hand, and Elbow

2. Hammer Wrist and Finger Extension - Joe Hashey has a great set-up here:

Other options include rubber band finger extensions and rice bucket exercises.

3. Smash Trigger Points:

While what is wrong with YOU specifically is something you're going to have to find out yourself, in general, these muscles can all play a role in limiting how 'open' your handstand is: infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis, teres major/minor, lats, pectorals, and the long head of the triceps, to name a few.

Pick 1-2 muscles per session, and spend a quality 1-2 minutes per side. Here's a guide to help you out:

Putting it all Together

The following routine is something you could follow for a while and make great progress. This is just one example of many, and is meant to teach you how to apply the information presented thus far.


1A) Novel Wrist Movements
2A) Wrist Push-Up Progression 1 - 1 x 10 (EASY)
3A) Trigger Point Work: Lats and Infraspinatus - 1 x 1 minute per side for each muscle

Handstand Work: 5 minutes

Finish with:

1A) Bent-Arm Frogstand - 1 x max hold for time (once you hit 60 seconds, progress it up)
2A) Wrist Roller - 2 x 5 w/ 10lbs
3A) Ironmind "Expand-Your-Hand" Band Extensions - 1 x as many reps as possible (AMRAP)

Lastly, cool down with some light wrist stretching: contract/relax, static stretching, whatever makes ya feel good.

That’s it! With time and patience, your handstand will look and feel better and better.

How do YOU normally warm up for handstands? Are there any other tips you think are worth mentioning? Let us know through the comments or email (

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