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Why do we do Handstands?

Why do we do Handstands?

Why do we do handstands in CrossFit. They are not an everyday activity (outside of CrossFit gyms and instagram/tik tok), so why are they included in our “functional movement” training?

These are just few of the possible reasons that come immediately to mind. When we look at the 10 CrossFit physical skills: balance, flexibility, coordination, agility, accuracy, speed, power, strength, stamina, endurance, handstands help us train at least 4 if not more:

Physical Benefits

  1. Balance: this would seem to be an obvious one – if you work on handstands then your balance is definitely going to improve.
  2. Flexibility: shoulder flexibility is necessary in handstands to allow our hips and shoulders to stack directly over our hands. As with all functional movements, performing them with the best form possible will help increase flexibility over time.
  3. Strength: in order to hold the body up in a handstand we need strength, not just in the shoulders, arms and fingers, but also in the butt, abs and spinal erector muscles which prevent falling into the “over-ripe banana” position. This strength transfers over to daily activities such as lifting something heavy onto a shelf or a bag into a train's overhead rack without hurting your back.
  4. Stamina: long handstand holds against a wall also train our muscles to work for longer periods of time before becoming fatigued.

Psychological Benefits

The benefits of handstand practice are not just physical. Being upside down gives us a totally different perspective on life. The process of learning to do a handstand may be a little scary, but overcoming fear and finding success is a challenge which is part of being human.

Another often overlooked mental aspect of handstand training is increased concentration. You can see this for yourself immediately. Try holding a handstand against a wall and observe how much you need to concentrate on not falling down or collapsing to the exclusion of all else. Once you are somewhat comfortable with being upside down handstands also introduce awareness training. We become able to shift our concentration to areas which need improvement. Is your butt squeezed? Are your abs tight? Where is the balance point on your hands? How is your breathing? Are you able to breathe at all? The more comfortable we become upside down the more we can investigate these and other feelings/questions that arise and we become better at everyday life.

Finally, handstands also open the way to other physical skills and methods of training. If you can do a handstand and eventually a handstand push-up then you have a great way to work on upper body strength outside the gym. Once you have confidence in your arms to support your bodyweight then you can begin to play with cartwheels and handstand walking – and, you know, have FUN!




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