Creating Upper Body and Core Strength By Doing Handstands!
I recently had a talk with one of my friends and during that conversation we discussed using a variety of bodyweight exercises to develop functional strength. Many know that I am a big time advocate of bodyweight training. And one of the exercises that I do are handstand push-ups as well as hand balancing. The push-ups against a wall are easy for me.
Normally I will do 5 sets of 12 handstand push-ups followed by suspension strap shoulder presses (again using my bodyweight). While I do those, it is the handstand that I want to primarily talk about in this article.
If we were to go back to the typical gym 100 years ago, handstands were common. So were rope climbing. Both of those exercises were amazing and still are upper body builders. Again, while they were common, not many today can do what the old masters were capable of doing. I think we find handstand today as amazing. And they are from today’s standards. I believe that the old-time fitness buffs would laugh in our face had they been alive today. They would probably think we were weak, and they would be right.
I know that many of my friends believe that I am amazing at my age and if we were to base it on today’s standards, they would be right as well. I don’t base my conditioning on today’s standards. I look at the great old time masters and I would love to be as good as they were.
So, it starts with the handstand and it is something that I fully advocate each of us to do. It doesn’t take any special equipment except our body. And yet, it builds amazing strength. Another thing about doing handstands and in particular, hand balancing, you need excellent core strength.
Too many bodybuilders have a lousy core, and this despite looking good. Big abdominal muscles that are model excellent don’t function very well. Doing handstands will enable functionality of one’s core. It’s needed to help stabilize the body when it’s erect in the handstand position and again, especially during hand balancing.
To get started doing handstands, make sure to place your hands on the ground starting about 12 inches away from a wall. To get into a handstand, throw one leg up at a time. Most people will try to get up by throwing both legs up. While it can be done, it is very difficult and amateurish. So, start out with that one leg up, then follow it by the other one until both feet are against the wall.
When you’re able to get and stay up, start to work your hands closer to the wall until you’re only a couple of inches away. When you are able to do this and hold it, then you’re next progression will be hand balancing. And that is another article. For now, handstands and handstand push-ups will be all you need to develop powerful shoulders, arms, chest and core. Even your back will play a part.
You can do this every other day if you like. Heck, I will do them several days or even 7 days a week at times. I love handstands. One thing I want to mention is that for you to breathe. This is important for those of you that tend to feel pressure in your head and having it create pressure in your ears. Breathing helps to stop it (though not all the time). Eventually your body and head will adjust to it.
I wish you the best as you work with this excellent old-time exercise and build functional strength the right way.
Cheers, Bob Choat