In Singapore: What We Teach in Our Handstands Classes!
I still can’t forget the sensation the first time I learned to balance on my hands. It is a mixed feeling of fear, excitement, intensity, and jubilation at that very moment. It’s no surprise for me that more and more fitness enthusiasts in Singapore are trying to learn handstands. And it’s not only fun, but it is also actually a very good workout as well.
You can attend handstand classes at Pilates Plus CBD branch located at International Plaza building directly above Tanjong Pagar MRT, and at our Safra Club Mount Faber branch, which carries the name UMove Fitness. Beginners who have no experience in hand-balancing are welcome.
In this article, I will describe how we go about teaching you handstands in our class.
If you want to try it out, we have a 3 session Into package so you can join our Handstands class.
Building a good foundation
One of the most important stages in training handstands is building a good foundation in your arms, especially in the pushing strength of your shoulders and arms. You have to understand that when you are inverted in a handstand position, you are using your arms as your legs to support your entire body weight.
In our Calisthenics class, we develop the basic upper body strength that is needed for handstands. Push-ups, dips, and Pike push-ups are good exercises for you to develop a good base of strength in your handstands. Pulling work like pull-ups and hanging is just as essential as these drills will counter the bias of pushing work when practicing handstands.
Wrist strength and mobility
Your hands will be your feet, your wrist will be your ankles, and the muscles in your forearm will be the calf muscles when you are supporting yourself in a handstand position. One of the most important elements in both Calisthenics and handstand practice.
Here is a video from my YouTube channel that shows you how to prepare your wrist for more loading in handstands.
Though holding a handstand position is a static skill, entering into an inverted position is very dynamic and requires a good level of coordination to accurately perform it. Good coordination to kick up into a handstand position, land softly onto the floor, and bail out when falling from a failed handstand kick up are all essential coordination skills in developing a safe handstand practice.
Alignment and awareness drills
Aside from handstand being challenging to hold and very demanding for your upper body, it actually requires a good sense of awareness of the body to perform it well. It is actually very challenging to control your hips, legs, and spine when everything is upside down.
Working with our Pilates classes in conjunction with your handstand training will be a good idea.
Though alignment in handstand is not really that important when your aim is just to hold a balanced handstand in the middle of the room, it will give you an edge in your practice as you will be efficient in holding the demanding position when you have a good alignment.
In our handstand class, alignment drills will come in the form of a core workout that is performed with an active shoulder flexion which will replicate the exact position in the handstand.
Once you have built a good foundation of strength from doing Calisthenics training, you need specific strength work to target the muscles used in handstands. If you want to read more about the muscles worked when hand-balancing, here is an article I wrote from our UMove Fitness site about it.
You need to work on wall-assisted handstands drills to target these muscles. Volume training is the key here as you need a good level of endurance before you move on to work on balancing your body upside down.
Hip Flexibility work
Sometimes we think of handstands as only an upper-body workout, but it actually requires a decent level of flexibility to efficiently practice handbalancing. You have to be able to comfortably touch the floor with your palms flat before you kick up into a handstand.
The more advanced you become, the more your flexibility plays a factor for you to progress to a higher level.
Basic hip mobility exercises to open your legs towards a front split, side splits, and forward bending are the essential drills we include in our handstand training.
Here is a video from my YouTube channel on how to stretch your hamstrings effectively:
When you have already logged in enough specific strength work in handstands training, learning how to balance with your hands will be the next step.
It is important that you have enough endurance in the specific muscles for handstands before doing balance work, as it will be very demanding initially. Your shoulders, arms, and forearm muscles must be properly conditioned at this stage for you to be able to progress at this level.
However, there are basic handbalancing drills that you can do for a start to slowly login time in balancing with your hands. Here is a Crow tutorial that you can work at home.
Tips and things you need in the class
- Bring your own towel, a mat is not needed for the class.
- Wear comfortable exercise attire, so you can move freely. You will be doing the class barefoot as no shoes are allowed in the studio.
- We provide water, but you can bring your own bottle. One less paper cup wasted will be better to save our environment.
- Come into the class with a mindset of a student. Learn from our teacher, feel free to ask questions, bring home the exercise with you, and do it safely at home. Our aim is for you to be independent in taking care of yourself, to keep your body fit and strong.
- Be patient and learn the exercises properly before pushing further. It will pay off in the long run if you focus more on the form rather than the quantity or intensity.
- Handstand practice is a skill to develop, which will take time. You may need to commit years of consistent training before you achieve the skill. Enjoy the journey.