Any tips for Press to Handstand?

Wesker11

More than 300 posts
Working on pressing up into a handstand and I was wondering if anyone had any tips on performing them. Right now I start in a piked position with my feet on a bench and my arms slightly bent. From here I lift one leg up in the air and then try to press up without any extra momentum. Yesterday was my first attempt and I found I really had to bend my arms in order to get up.

Yesterday I alternated these with pull ups. One rep of the press to handstand, rest, pull ups. Then cycled through 4 times. Tomorrow I'll try to make it through 5 cycles, then an easy 3 cycles on Friday. Does this sound like a good way to train this movement?

I know @305pelusa is really good at this movement. I'm sure @pet' is too. :)
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Right now I start in a piked position with my feet on a bench and my arms slightly bent. From here I lift one leg up in the air and then try to press up without any extra momentum. Yesterday was my first attempt and I found I really had to bend my arms in order to get up
Bending the arms usually means you're compensating for strength or flexibility (most likely both). It's a hard habit to get rid of so it's best to avoid it since Day One. You might need an easier exercise.

Yesterday I alternated these with pull ups. One rep of the press to handstand, rest, pull ups. Then cycled through 4 times. Tomorrow I'll try to make it through 5 cycles, then an easy 3 cycles on Friday. Does this sound like a good way to train this movement?
Personally speaking, the Press HS never lent itself to programming for me. I could do 10 total reps today and next time I could get 15 easy ones or 6 hard ones. It varies a lot. Such is the nature of very technical skill work.

Instead of placing arbitrary targets ("5 today, 3 next time"), I just went for 10 sets. If they were looking good, I did more. If they were looking bad, I did less. If I wanted an easy day, I would shoot for 5 sets and autoregulate from there. That's how I still train them to this day and I recommend it.


To help you:
1) Can you do a Floor HS for 20 secs? If so, a video would be good.
2) Can you do an Adv. Tuck Planche for ~5-10 secs? Again, video if possible (or of Tuck Planche otherwise).
3) How deep is your pike? Can you touch palms to floor? Picture to judge compression would be good.


Hope that gets you started.
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

@Wesker11
There are different strategies. Some people start with a "kick up". If I remember well, @305pelusa uses this method. It is "cleaner" and more "the gymnast way". The real good thing about the "kick start", is that you start with straight arms and shoulders, and do not tend to bend the lumbars. So there is no bending. The drawback is that it is easy to "go to far" and then lose balance (to finally "rolling forward").

Some others, like myself, start with a "crow position". The good thing about this method is that you start with an already balanced position. However, this obliges you to do an effort to avoid bending the lumbars. Plus, you are obliged to press to get into the top position.

With "experience", I think @305pelusa 's option is a better investment.

Some things I noticed:
- do not hesitate to put some weight on the fingers "as if you wanted to dig into the ground".
- learning the kick start with a wall "behind" you if it can reassure you. learning the "upside down" position by facing the wall (you make your hands closer to the wall and simultaneously make your feet higher). Plus it will teach you the lean position
- at the beginning, maybe you can go for the press to straddle, because your legs will help you to get balance
- I got better with an arm strength training (kb press, handstand press, push ups, pull ups)

Here are some good tutorials:

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Wesker11

More than 300 posts
Bending the arms usually means you're compensating for strength or flexibility (most likely both). It's a hard habit to get rid of so it's best to avoid it since Day One. You might need an easier exercise.


Personally speaking, the Press HS never lent itself to programming for me. I could do 10 total reps today and next time I could get 15 easy ones or 6 hard ones. It varies a lot. Such is the nature of very technical skill work.

Instead of placing arbitrary targets ("5 today, 3 next time"), I just went for 10 sets. If they were looking good, I did more. If they were looking bad, I did less. If I wanted an easy day, I would shoot for 5 sets and autoregulate from there. That's how I still train them to this day and I recommend it.


To help you:
1) Can you do a Floor HS for 20 secs? If so, a video would be good.
2) Can you do an Adv. Tuck Planche for ~5-10 secs? Again, video if possible (or of Tuck Planche otherwise).
3) How deep is your pike? Can you touch palms to floor? Picture to judge compression would be good.


Hope that gets you started.
Weird, I didn't see this post earlier when I saw pet's reply. I can hold a freestanding Floor HS for 10 seconds. I can hold up against a wall for at least 60. I have not worked on the Planche at all, so no. My pike compression is probably not all that good.

My main goal is an L-sit to hand stand on parallel bars. The press to handstand was just a way of breaking down the movement in pieces.
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
My main goal is an L-sit to hand stand on parallel bars. The press to handstand was just a way of breaking down the movement in pieces.
Umh, maybe there's an issue of nomenclature here so let's make sure we're talking about the same thing.

In this video:
-At 4:50, he performs a bent arm, bent leg L-sit to HS Press on PBs (whew what a mouthful).
-At 7:32, he performs a bent arm, straight leg pike L-sit to HS Press on PBs.
-At 10:40, he performs an L-sit to HS Pike Press on PBs (and a really good one too). This is what most people think of when you say "Press HS".

It's possible to do an "L-sit to HS Straddle Press". You straddle once your feet clear the PBs. But this isn't very common.


So which one are you interested in?
 

Wesker11

More than 300 posts
Umh, maybe there's an issue of nomenclature here so let's make sure we're talking about the same thing.

In this video:
-At 4:50, he performs a bent arm, bent leg L-sit to HS Press on PBs (whew what a mouthful).
-At 7:32, he performs a bent arm, straight leg pike L-sit to HS Press on PBs.
-At 10:40, he performs an L-sit to HS Pike Press on PBs (and a really good one too). This is what most people think of when you say "Press HS".

It's possible to do an "L-sit to HS Straddle Press". You straddle once your feet clear the PBs. But this isn't very common.


So which one are you interested in?
Actually, I would like to obtain the version at 4:50 first. Then I would work towards the one shown at 10:40.
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Actually, I would like to obtain the version at 4:50 first. Then I would work towards the one shown at 10:40.
Ah well in that case just work on your Handstand and the Handstand Push-up. And add this in as skill work. There isn't some crazy secret; you'll get better at it the more you practice. That variation doesn't require straight arm strength nor flexibility so it's just about being strong and coordinated. Good luck :)
 

Wesker11

More than 300 posts
Ah well in that case just work on your Handstand and the Handstand Push-up. And add this in as skill work. There isn't some crazy secret; you'll get better at it the more you practice. That variation doesn't require straight arm strength nor flexibility so it's just about being strong and coordinated. Good luck :)

Thanks, I will. My main problem is actually falling forward on the Tuck Sit. I can bring both legs up, but then my torso just falls forward and I can't keep myself upright. Right now I put myself in the tuck position with both feet on the ground and then lift one foot up.
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Thanks, I will. My main problem is actually falling forward on the Tuck Sit. I can bring both legs up, but then my torso just falls forward and I can't keep myself upright. Right now I put myself in the tuck position with both feet on the ground and then lift one foot up.
I'm not entirely sure what you mean (you're "falling forward on the Tuck Sit"? Like falling while holding a Tuck L Sit?), but maybe a video will help.

Also, just in general, a 10 second floor HS is a bit on the shorter ends for these kinds of skills. I'm not really sure you'll get much out of these skills unless you develop your HS a bit more. Personally, my Floor HS is at around the 25 second mark and even that I've found is a bit flimsy. If you can't just go on the ground and hit a 20 second HS in 1-3 attempts, perhaps your time will be better spent there.

At the very least, make sure you're really hitting that HS at least thrice a week for 10 min of work on the side.
 

TMRowlett

Double-Digit Post Count
I used to coach gymnastics and trained hundreds of people all ages to do the press to handstand. Your best bet is to start with standing straddle and tuck press to handstand. No don't ask me to post a video demonstration as that was 20 years ago and I couldn't do one now to save my life.

The key is to keep your arms staight at all times. I see guys learning it first with bent arms but this really doesn't help as it takes different muscles to do it. It's mainly the shoulders that are working to raise you up and your arms are used to keep your arms locked while your hands and wrists and fingers are working over time to keep your balanced. Bending the arms automatically takes the load off the shoulder by at least 50 % and puts it onto the arms for the press. Keep your arms straight no matter what and don't cheat or your not working the press anymore.

Doing a straddle or tuck press removes the weight of the legs form the press and is therefore much easier that a Pike press (legs together and straight). For straddle start standing on the the floor with your feet more than shoulder width apart. Put your hands on the floor and lean your shoulders over your hands while useing your shoulders to press your hand into the floor while your press your finger tips into the floor to keep you from falling over forward. Now here is the key. The higher your goal is to slowly press and role your hips up over your torso and shoulders. The closer your can get your hips to directly over your shoulders and the higher you can roll your hips over your torso at the start the less weight you have to press. Think of a lever and force applied. The longer the never the more force applied (hence the straddle). The closer you get your hips over your shoulders and the wider your straddle the shorter the lever.

Your shoulders are the fulcrum. The more of your body sticking out vs straight up the more weight on the starting side of the fulcrum and the more mass you have to move a greater distance. Now slowly rock forward while you staddle your legs wide and roll your hips over your torso and shoulders and press as hard as you can into the floor with your shoulders while locking out your arms and dressing into the floor with your fingers.

At first it will feel impossible but what you have to keep in mind is the further you go into the press the easier it gets as the weight lessons the more of your body moves over your torso (mainly your hips). So the sticking point is the start of the press then it slowly gets easier after a few moments while your hips slowly role over your torso and hips.

Some tips to help. You can start by giving yourself slight jump or push off with your toes but this will only help so far as the main difficulty is the strat of the press and jumping bi passes this point. Another and best option is to have someone stand over you in front of you and assist the press by grabbing your waist (back) or the top of the things and help you rock forward and roll your hips. Basically a spot. This way they can take off just enough weight for you to do as much of the press as you can and practice that first part of the press. If you don't have a partner to help an alternative is to use weights to mimic the lift to build the strength. It won't be exactly the same but it will help. Hold the weight in front of you while standing upright and with arms locked raise the weight straight up in front of you while you picture yourself pressing into the floor and don't a press. This will help to develope the shoulder strength.

Also makes sure to practice your handstands as you can't very well do the press unless you can hold a handstand unassisted . Handstands will also help build the shoulder strength necessary to do the press. Other than that it's like any lift. Practice tension and time under tension.

I hope that helps.
 

Karen Smith

More than 300 posts
Master Certified Instructor
Iron Maiden
Have you tried the straddle to hs with your back to the wall or have a partner guide you at the hips?
These can help and they will also show you how much abdominals are required to pull from the ground up to a full hs.

This may have already been stated above... but it is very important to stack your hips over your shoulders in the set up vs being too angled in your pike or straddle.
 

Protato go

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
Hey guys I am currently looking to pick up the press up to handstand. I am having trouble because I can’t left up my legs at all. Same thing when I go into a handstand. Once my legs drop from the handstand they can’t go up . What muscles are responsible for contracting legs towards the back side and what exercise can I use to strengthen them
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
To piggyback on what @Karen Smith said, I recommend starting with a headstand, not a handstand, so that the initial focus is simply getting your hips where they need to be and then on abdominal strength. This takes only a little pressing/shoulder strength compared to many other ways to do this. This is an exercise one can do for repetitions - head and hands on the ground, get into position, and if necessary, use a little momentum to get started towards vertical. Better is being able to slowly pull your legs up.

But once you're vertical, the reps are lowering the legs until they just barely touch the ground and then you head back up again.

-S-
 

amru.shaban

Still New to StrongFirst Forum
I can see that this is an old thread but looks like there is some activity here, so I'll write what I know.

In my experience, skills like the press to handstand are better worked by breaking them down and doing each component on its own. And by bringing them all together afterward, you get a press to handstand.

For the purpose of this write-up, I will assume you are talking about a pike press to handstand.

So if we look at this skill, I would break it down as follows:

  • Shoulder stability
  • Compression strength
  • Hamstring flexibility
  • Shoulder flexion flexibility
  • Wrist extension flexibility

1. Shoulder stability (& straight arm strength)

This area is crucial. If you don't have shoulder stability, your shoulders will not be able to support your weight when you lean on them. Furthermore, you need straight arm strength to make sure you don't turn your straight-arm (SA) press to handstand into a bent-arm (BA) press to handstand, which is a different skill.

Basically, if you can do a SA Press to handstand you can also do a BA Press. It doesn't necessarily go the other way around.


2. Compression strength

Compression strength represents your ability to bring your knees to your face (not your face to your knees!).

If you don't have compression strength (read hip flexors strength) you will find it very hard to take your feet off the ground. Honestly, I feel like it also helps a lot with moving the legs away from your body when pressing up, even though it is the opposite movement.


3. Hamstring flexibility

If you lack this you won't be able to keep your knees straight. You will have to make up for it by either leaning more (which requires more strength!) or bending the knees. Either way, you will have a hard time bringing your hips over your shoulders.


4. Shoulder flexion flexibility

Again, lacking this will force you to lean more on your wrists and, again, require way more strength than necessary, turning your press to handstand into a planche press to handstand (exaggeration, but you get the point).


5. Wrist extension flexibility

If you lack the wrist extension flexibility you will have to make up for it with crazy amounts of hamstring flexibility, shoulder flexion, and compression strength. Again, not ideal.


Ok so what I recommend, now that you know what can happen if you fall short in any of the areas, is to start working on all of them. You don't need to be a master in all. However, if you miss any of them, you will have to compensate a lot in the other areas, to make up for that stubborn one.


Working on the mentioned areas:

1. Shoulder stability:
at the end of your workout, do 3-4 x (5-8) Pike Press Walks (YouTube video linked on the name of the exercise)

2. Compression strength & hamstring flexibility: you can easily pair these; twice a week do a yoga forward folding routine for the hamstring flexibility, at the end of which you would do 3-4 x (8-10) seated pike compression, holding your legs up for 10 seconds in the last repetition of each set, for the compression strength.

You can also incorporate the seated pike compression in the warm-up or at the end of a workout.

The hamstring flexibility can be worked on separately however you want. Personally, I found follow-along yoga forward folding routines to be the most beneficial.

3. Shoulder flexion flexibility: I like the puppy pose from yoga. Get in a puppy pose and do 10-15 pumps followed by a 30-60s hold in the bottom position. Repeat 3-4 times.

(To save time, you can do these as an active rest during your leg day, because they will not interfere with your training)

4. Wrist extension flexibility: during your warm-up, spend 5 extra minutes working on your wrist extension flexibility by leaning on it and doing pumps (10-15) then holding for 30s. Do it for 3-4 sets.


The value of breaking the movement down is that you don't have to do all the exercises at once. Just sprinkle them throughout your day/within your workout routines, so that you have a frequency of 2-3 for each exercise (doing each exercise twice or three times a week).

If you have any other questions let me know.

Good luck!
 
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