Handstand Hold

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Michael Lau
Posts: 3
Joined: 19 May 2020, 05:37

19 May 2020, 06:02

Hi Natalie,

I discovered your Youtube channel last weekend and have since watched many of your videos. I have watched other coaches and teachers on Handstands and I must say you are by far the best of them all! Your teachings are very thorough, detailed and insightful, and like what others have said, you deserve to have a lot more subscribers to your channel. Thank you very much for all your amazing videos and for the sharing of your knowledge and experience!

I started learning handstands about 2.5 months ago and can now hold a freestanding handstand hold for 3-5 seconds. I have just purchased Episode 7 of your 7 Weeks Vimeo handstand course.

In episode 7 (between 6:53 to 8:50, and between 17:54 to 30:40), you suggested some exercises to work on increasing the time length of our freestanding handstand hold, and at the end of the video, you mentioned that we should prepare our own practice plan based on our goals/needs and trusting our own judgment.

My question is on increasing our freestanding handstand hold. If we diligently practise only those suggested exercises, are they adequate enough to increase our freestanding handstand hold from say 5 seconds to say 30-40 seconds or more? Or are there other exercises (not included in episode 7) that we can also do or progress to?

Hope to hear from you, Natalie. Thanks very much, and have a great day!

Michael
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Natalie Reckert
Posts: 28
Joined: 17 Sep 2019, 21:14

23 May 2020, 02:19

Hello Michael,

Thank you first of all for your very nice words about my teaching. I would love to have more subscribers, spread the word :)

I general I would say that the best way to increase handstand endurance is by practicing handstand endurance. Your body needs to be exposed to the handstand position in order to develope the muscular fine tuning and specific stength.

Depending on what your body's strenghts and weaknesses are handstand training will always consist of more than just handstands. Depending on what you need that will be mobility or strenght or most likely both.
Episode seven is structured similar to a normal training session. What mobility and strenght exercises you want to use is up to you. There are many to chose from and yes the previous episodes cover quite a few. The ones in Episode 7 are good too. They may not be enough depending on what you need to work on.

The handstand endurance set at the end of Episode seven is what I call the "intensive set". The intensive set is an integral part of your handstand training if you want to progress and is made out of endurance holds with short brakes. It exhausts you, brings you to your limit, it's the grinding part of the practice. Through the intensive set you build up what my Russian colleagues call "resistance" - your body hardens to the work and the load of your body weight.

If you have weaknesses like lack of shoulder mobility those need to really be adressed on your way to a longer handstand and will determine what exercises are part of your daily training. It prevents injuries, makes the line look better and balancing more efficient.

My blind guess is that you probably need to invest in shoulder mobility and thoracic spine mobility because you learned a handstand quite fast, which means you have a lot of upper body strenght which often comes with some mobility limits.

Hope that explains it a bit,
Best,
Natalie
Michael Lau
Posts: 3
Joined: 19 May 2020, 05:37

26 May 2020, 10:55

Hi Natalie.

Thank you for your quick reply. Your detailed comments show how passionate and dedicated you are in helping us get better at Handstands. Thank you again. I will do my best to spread the word about you in my part of this world. 😊

You are correct about having a strong endurance base. As a football (the one that is played with the feet, not hands ⚽) coach myself, I agree with you that muscular endurance is a prerequisite to training/playing longer and harder in any type of sports activity.

Your 'blind guess' is also spot on. I have a fairly strong upper body because of Calisthenics and will then continue to work on shoulder and upper body flexibility/mobility.

I may have wrongly phrased my question in my 1st post. I wasn't enquiring about handstand endurance ability. I basically wanted to find out, notwithstanding our muscular endurance or body line form, if there were specific exercises we could do that would help increase the length of time we can hold a freestanding handstand without any wall or partner support.

There are numerous handstand coaches in YouTube, each suggesting their own exercises to improve freestanding handstand balance holds. The problem with this for us beginners is that we are clueless and confused as to which exercises we should follow and use. Too much info and choices doesn't help in this case. I might be doing exercise A suggested by coach X for a few weeks and if I find that I am not improving, I might abandon it and switch to exercise F by coach Z without knowing if it is better than exercise A until much later. This process of trying out different exercises and being unsure of their effectiveness can be tiring, time consuming and frustrating. 😅

Using football as an analogy, for a skill such as say passing the ball, a person can make big improvements if he regularly works on various game-related pass-the-ball drills that involve changes in the 2 main factors - ball, and player (whether individually or simultaneously stationary or moving at different speed, height and angle). So for skills involved in playing football, the principal concept is that the more varied the exercises a footballer does, the more technically able he becomes.

I am not sure if this concept applies in achieving the skill of being able to hold longer freestanding handstand balance. This skill, although more difficult than any football skill, is actually very simple (as opposed to easy 😅) and straightforward. It is simply being inverted on the floor, on your hands, and trying to hold your body in a good and proper handstand form without any support for as long as you can before you exit/dismount. The parameters are that you are upside down, and you and the floor are basically stationary.

My blind guess 😅 is that because of the simpleness of the skill required, only 1, maybe 2 exercises, are required if one wishes to increase his/her freestanding handstand balance holds. Not 6 or 8 different exercises. The 1-2 exercises basically entail using a wall or spotter/partner to help you work on balancing on your hands in a freestanding position, based on the assumption that the more work you do in this manner, the longer your handstand holds will be, as long as our form is good and muscular endurance strong enough.

Is my blind guess correct, Natalie? Would love to hear your thoughts about this. Thanks again.

Best regards,
Michael
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Natalie Reckert
Posts: 28
Joined: 17 Sep 2019, 21:14

02 Jun 2020, 00:44

Hello Michael,

I like the football analogies, they are very interesting thank you.

To be very clear: the best exercise to help you balance longer are endurance handstand holds, with the wall or with a spot.

It is useful to work on mobility and upper body strength, very important in fact.

But nothing can replace exposing your body to the handstand position itself.

It sounds too simple but you learn a handstand by doing a handstand and holding it for very long (you should feel challenged by the length of the hold)

Once you have done a good amount of handstand holds on the wall you then need to go and try it. Kick up and try to balance for at least three seconds. You then need to do that 1000 times and fight for every second of balance. I call it the three second exercise. Try to get a consistent three second hold, then make it five, then ten seconds.
I suggest take ten minutes every day and get as many attempts in as possible, without long breaks.

Balance is like wire walking, you need to practice balancing in the handstand position.

I think apart from that there are helpful tips but no one exercise that can replace you trying to absolutely fight for balance.

The shoulder shrugs that we did in earlier episodes, where you hold a handstand and then you push the shoulders up and down, they prepare your shoulders for example to be more active. Balance should happen in the shoulders and the hands especially.

Does that make more sense :)
The main thing is to practice with determination every day.
Michael Lau
Posts: 3
Joined: 19 May 2020, 05:37

02 Jun 2020, 05:25

Hi Natalie,

Thank you very much for your advices and comments; yes, they all make perfect sense. I like your wire walking analogy – if you want to get better at something, you have to do that same thing over and over and over and over again. I will do my best, Natalie!

You are absolutely right about fighting for every second for balance and to stay up (or upside down hahaha). I am now at that stage where I realized what this truly means after having previously heard it from you and a few other teachers on Youtube and not fully understanding it then. Our bodies used a lot of time and energy in getting/kicking up into a Handstand position each time. We get tired after some time. So, when we are in a Handstand position, we should try our very best to focus and fight to stay in balance even when it’s for an extra second or two, and not waste the effort of getting into a Handstand position. An extra second in balance is certainly better, more effective, more efficient, and feels so much more satisfying and rewarding than not working hard to stay up and then having to start all over again. When upside down fighting for balance, I try to keep on reminding in my head, “fight, come on, fight, stay in balance, you can do it!”. :)

Thanks again, Natalie and take care!
Best regards,
Michael
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