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HOW TO: CHEST TO WALL HANDSTAND
HANDSTANDS ARE A SKILL THAT MUST BE EARNED.
Build better body control and balance with this routine gymnastics exercise. A balance, core, and upper body workout all in one beginner-friendly exercise.
The chest to wall handstand is a fantastic way to build body strength while working towards a full, unsupported handstand. There’s little arguing that handstands are one of the coolest ways of testing, and indeed showing off, how much control you have over your body. But they’re also one of the most intimidating exercises to attempt. Unless you have incredible core strength, coordination and balance, they might seem impossible, but even if you don’t come from a background in gymnastics or callisthenics, you can guide yourself to being able to perform a handstand over time. There are even a few bonus benefits aside from improving your strength.
Here’s our full guide to performing the chest to wall handstand safely and effectively, as well as some great information on the benefits.
HOW TO PERFORM THE CHEST TO WALL HANDSTAND.
There’s a little bit more to doing the chest to wall handstand than meets the eye, so check out our video guide below and take note of this step by step guide to keep your form right:
A note on safety: If you’re new to handstands, we’d recommend avoiding a hard surface. Gym mats are the perfect surface for this.
1.Warm up your wrists. Before you begin trying the chest to wall handstand, understand that your hands are the only part of you that will be on the floor. Take a moment to flex and loosen up your wrists before you start.
2. Assume the starting position. Get into a plank position and use your hands, not your forearms, to rest. Lean the soles of your feet against the wall.
3. Steadily walk your feet up the wall, drawing your upper body closer to the wall. Keep pushing through the shoulders to keep your arms straight.
4. Bring your hands as close to the wall as you comfortably can, keeping them a little over shoulder-width apart. Around 6 – 8 inches from the wall is a good target.
5. Put your feet together side by side, your “shoelaces” to the wall and point your toes to the ceiling.
6. It’s normal for your tailbone to naturally push out and create a curve in your spine. Pull your tailbone back in towards the wall, in line with your spine.
YOU’RE DOING THIS RIGHT IF YOUR SPINE RUNS IN A STRAIGHT LINE FROM TOP TO TAILBONE.
7. Keep your arms straightened, elevating through the shoulders, and engage your core muscles i.e. your abs, hips, glutes and thigh muscles. This will help keep your spine straight.
8. By now, the tops of your feet should be the only part of your body that touches the wall. Hold the position for as long as it’s comfortable for you.
Remember — You’re upside down now! This means that you’re going to experience a rush of blood to your head. Don’t risk your safety by hanging out in this position for too long. It doesn’t matter if it’s 5 seconds or 30, as long as you’re demonstrating good control over your body.
9. Come back down by walking your hands forward and your feet down the wall. Come to base again in the plank position.
Feel free to repeat the move 2 or 3 times more, keeping an eye on your form, particularly steps 3, 4, and 5.
AT A GLANCE: THE BENEFITS OF THE CHEST TO WALL HANDSTAND
Even though the wall is helping to stabilize your position, you’re working your abdominals, back muscles, hip flexors, hamstrings and thigh muscles by keeping your form correct. If you want to go further and attempt a free handstand in the future, developing these muscles will be key.
Upper Body Strength
You’re holding yourself upside down, so of course your upper body muscles come under some strain. Your upper and lower arms, shoulders, upper back and chest muscles bear most of your weight, so the chest to wall handstand is an effective, and fun, way to build upper body strength without spending time in the weights room.
This is an offshoot of improving core strength. But here’s something to remember: strength doesn’t necessarily mean power. Rather, body strength can be better described as body control, and having good balance is a prime way of showing how much control you have over your body.
Improved Circulation & Respiration
Here’s one of a few bonus benefits! Since you’re upside down, your blood flows towards your upper body, including the lungs, while it relieves the everyday pressure put on our feet and legs. The chest to wall handstand is also a great stretch for your diaphragm, the muscle we use most to breathe. You’ll be able to breathe more easily and deeper by practising this exercise over time.
Improved Mood & Regulated Metabolism
Improving our mood is one of the main reasons we exercise in the first place, and the chest to wall handstand is a fast and effective mood boost. Being upside down can reduce stress, as it’s widely believed that it reduces our cortisol levels. Cortisol, by the way, is our major stress hormone. As for metabolism, our thyroid is stimulated when we handstand, and a healthy, optimally functioning thyroid helps to keep our metabolism under control. Just don’t go thinking that handstanding alone is the new path to weight loss!
WHAT IF I CAN’T DO THE CHEST TO WALL HANDSTAND?
There’s no need to worry if you can’t get it right away. Just attempting the exercise is better than never trying at all. You don’t want to push yourself too far and risk injury, so take it slow and steady.
Instead of trying to walk your feet all the way up until your hands are close to the wall, just walk them as far as you can. Keep your body straight while still following steps 5, 6 and 7 in our above guide. In this same way, you’re still working the muscles required, and improving your balance. On your next attempt, try to go a little bit higher that before. Over time and with repeated practise, you’ll be able to do it like in the video.
Always remember that your end-goal is not simply to complete the chest to wall handstand — rather it’s to improve the body systems that allow you to perform the exercise.
With that in mind, even the slightest improvement is an example of how you’ve taken back more control over your body.
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