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March 11, 2021

Want a stronger core and shoulders? Get upside down – Sydney Morning Herald

Filed under: Fitness — admin @ 6:00 pm

Admit it: you want to learn how to do a handstand. Mastering one guarantees you possess impressive strength and mobility through your wrists, shoulders and core. It also looks damn cool.

Professional acrobat Brendan Irving supports Jade Twist during a handstand.

Professional acrobat Brendan Irving supports Jade Twist during a handstand.Credit:Rhett Whyman

The Instagramability of the handstand is undoubtedly a major factor in its long-lasting popularity. It’s probably no coincidence that the photo-sharing platform is about 10 years old – roughly the time handstands became a cultural “obsession” that never died down, according to professional acrobat Brendan Irving.

“A professional hand balancer is hypnotic and mesmerising,” says Irving, director of Sydney’s Movement Academy, which lists handstands among its classes. “Seeing someone do it and making it look so beautiful and easy compels you to want to try it.”

The obvious question, then: how fast can I learn to a handstand? Like all obvious questions, the answer is: it depends. You might already be able to perch on your hands and balance your feet against a wall. But if we define a handstand as balancing on two hands with quality form for 10 seconds, then Irving estimates a “generally athletic” person could achieve that after a few months of consistent practice.

In other words, a handstand is a long-term goal. And despite what you might think, you shouldn’t start by standing on your hands. “You don’t necessarily get better at handstands by throwing yourself into handstands,” says Irving, explaining that you’re more likely to improve by breaking it down into chunks.

The starting chunk is drills to build wrist strength and mobility, so you can support your bodyweight on your hands. “They’re your new feet,” Irving says. “If your wrists are immobile or weak, your handstand’s going to be unstable and out of alignment.”


Another chunk is shoulder mobility. Most people, especially those of us hunched over keyboards all day, don’t have the full range of motion in our shoulder joints needed to balance effectively on our hands.

“A straight, strict handstand demands a stacked body line,” Irving says. “The wrists are stacked below the elbows, which are stacked below the shoulders, which are stacked below the bottom of the rib cage, and then the hips, and then the knees, and the feet.” If you lack shoulder mobility, your body compensates by poking out the chest or arching the back. “Straight away you’ve lost that stacked shape [and] you need a lot more effort to maintain balance.”


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