Updated: Mar 3
It’s become common sense that exercise is good for your health, both physical and mental.
This view is backed both by science and bro science.
But with so many practices out there- ranging from weight training to martial arts to Crossfit- how can you choose the one which is the most beneficial to you?
“Handstand training did not just help me become stronger, it also helped overcome depression,” says Steve Pilot, a fitness coach, and vegan nutritionist.
Being emotionally devastated after his break up with the love of his life, he used this particular exercise to strengthen both his body and spirit.
“Being upside down in this position, you can’t really think”, he explains.
Thus, making the handstand part a bodyweight exercise and part meditation.
“I really practiced it 5 hours a day”, he continues, “and it cured my depression because I was numb, so it gave me the opportunity to not really think much and shut off my monkey brain”.
You always knew that exercise can boost your health and shape your body but how can a handstand assist you to overcome emotional and mental issues?
Can you, like coach Steve Pilot, overcome a nasty breakup?
Yes, you can. But not by falling on your head.
Scientific research suggests that being in a handstand position, slows the aging process, helps your blood purify due to the reversed blood supply, and improves your concentration skills.
You can’t really disagree.
Supporting your body in the handstand inversion requires lots of focus and concentration so that you do not allow yourself to fall over.
Your brain has to be constantly present because if it wanders around, it will cause the body to potentially be hurt.
As vegan fitness coach Steve Pilot stated, it shuts off the monkey's brain.
In addition, if you achieve a move like a handstand, your self-confidence will skyrocket. You will feel strong, you will feel invincible.
WHO IS THE HANDSTAND FOR?
Although it may seem a bit scary at first, the handstand is for everyone.
Before you overwhelm yourself by thinking it is a difficult static position, let me assure you that you can achieve it if you are dedicated enough and follow the corresponding progressions.
What most people are worried about is the fear of being upside down.
Now, fear is an interesting feeling.
It keeps us out of harm’s way. But too much fear can paralyze us.
Luckily, we can work our way up step by step to overcome this.
We’ll show you how in a bit.
On the plus side, the handstand is a calisthenics move that you can practice in the comfort of your own house.
All you need is a wall, at least the first days or months.
Bottom line is, the handstand is a move that can be practiced by normal people like me and you.
As vegan coach Pilot said, the handstand gives you an opportunity to meditate while gaining some serious upper-body strength. The benefits of the handstand are numerous.
Physically, it will bulletproof your shoulders and your wrists.
Plus your trapezius muscles will benefit in terms of strength hypertrophy. You will feel more confident in your everyday life as you become stronger, leaner, and more focused.
Furthermore, your balance will improve and your range of motion will increase, making you more flexible in the process.
Mentally, it calms you down.
It forces you to stay focused for a period of time. When you end up in the position and return to standing on your feet, this effect is continued for about three more minutes until the blood re-establishes its normal flow.
And finally, it looks cool.
THE FORM DEBATE
Having an athletic background, coach Steve Pilot knows a thing or two about how the handstand is performed in different sports and fitness practices.
In Crossfit, the “Banana” handstand is the dominant form of execution. It’s called a banana handstand because the back of the core is arched.
Crossfitters perform it like that because their main goal is to walk on their hands and do it quicker than others.
Crossfit games require handstand walking over a certain distance of the race.
In gymnastics, the handstand is strict and super straight.
The hands, the shoulders, and the hips are aligned in a straight line.
Gymnasts mainly focus on holding a straight handstand for long periods of time.
In the gymnastics point system, static holds give the most points of execution.
In yoga, the handstand becomes a part of the flow.
Yoga athletes and enthusiasts can use the handstand in any possible combination they can imagine.
If you browse around the web, you can see people give all kinds of shapes to the handstand, even performing it on one hand.
Now let’s make it even more interesting.
It’s time to go through our progressions.
Let’s take a look at some basic exercises you will have to master in order to achieve the handstand.
Keep in mind that we can’t cover everything in a short article like this but still, we will give you useful information on how to work on your handstand.
- Work on your flexibility.
This is important so don’t skip it.
Being flexible enough will set you up for success in the long run and will help you achieve your press handstands when you get there.
Work on your shoulders, wrists, hamstrings, and hips.
On the first days, your wrists will take a lot of stress so take care of them.
- Overcome the fear of being inverted.
Use your gym bro- a friend- to help you out.
Take the pushup position and have him grab your legs and bring them up until you’re completely vertical.
Your arms might tremble but you will not you are safe and get past that fear.
If your friend is not present, don’t give it up, try on a controlled environment and you will get there.
- Elevated pike pushups and holds.
Put your legs on a chair or on your bed and your hands on the floor.
Bring your butt up until your back is straight.
From this pike position, do some pushups, hold, and shift your weight from left to right.
The goal here is to build some basic strength on the shoulders.
- Tripod and headstand variations.
These two moves use 3 points of the floor.
Two points for your hands and one for your head.
To do the tripod, put your hands flat on the floor and your head in front of your hands, some inches away from them.
You might need to use a towel if your head hurts. Your elbows are bent.
Now, bring your knees and rest them upon your elbows.
If your weight is fully supported on your hands and head, you are in the tripod.
To take it a step further, you can try and extend your legs.
The headstand is an advanced tripod where your legs are vertically up in the air.
- Wall handstand holds variations
Start with a belly-to-wall handstand hold.
Focus on keeping your core straight and your times high.
Try to build endurance in this phase.
Once you are proficient in this one, move to a back-to-wall handstand hold.
Hold as straight and long as possible. Always prioritize form instead of time.
Once you are comfortable, it’s time to hold a back-to-wall handstand while switching legs.
Your purpose here should be to win some tiny seconds where you hold a handstand without the help of the wall.
And finally, try it out. Fail, try it out again. Until you make it happen.
To sum it all up, a healthy lifestyle needs to include movement, clean eating, and taking care of yourself in any way possible.
Whatever form of exercise you love, we wish you the best of luck in it.
But if you want an extra challenge and if you wish to become the best version of yourself, we invite you to start handstand training.
It’s been a thrilling journey through the handstand world.
WHO IS STEVE PILOT
Steve Pilot is a professional certified fitness coach and vegan nutritionist.
With over 27 years of fitness experience and a self-tested fitness program, his mission is to positively influence people’s lives by helping them become the best version of themselves through fitness, personal training, sustainable eating habits, and living an active lifestyle.
This goes beyond just lifting a few weights in the gym. He offers a total transformation of mindset, body, and spirit.