*Kicks up into perfect handstand*
*Walks 100ft flawlessly*
*Gracefully lets feet fall back on the floor*
“Wow, that was easy! That was my first try!”
^^^ Said no one ever.
While handstand walking might not be a “foundational movement”, it sure is fun.
It’s also beginning to show up more and more in competitions…
(Spoiler alert: Open 2017?)
If you’ve ever tried (and failed) you probably know the feeling: complete incompetence.
I remember trying for the first time…
No matter how much muscle or determination you have- there is absolutely no way to learn the handstand walk without one thing:
Not just any practice. You need to be smart.
It is nearly impossible to practice the whole thing as a “scaled” movement.
With box jumps, you can lower the box. With snatches, you can use a PVC pipe. With pull-ups, you can do negatives, banded, or jumping.
With Handstand walks … you fall.
So, today I am going to teach you the exact progressions that I used to go from this guy:
(this is not me, I was much worse!)
To this guy:
Here is my 5-Step Progression for learning Handstand Walks:
Long-Form Video with instructions:
45-second “Speed” Progression:
Step 1: Nose-to-wall Handstand Holds
Yes, nose-to-wall. This is different than the traditional HSPU hold with outward-facing body position.
When you climb up (this is called a “wall walk”), try holding a handstand where only your nose and your toes are touching the wall. This will naturally keep you in a stronger hollow body position and it will allow you to support weight in your stable shoulders and not on the wall.
-Feet together and pointed
-Nose touching the wall (forces you to keep head neutral)
Try to accumulate 30 seconds+ unbroken holding this position. Remember to breathe! I like to program these in my warmups on a regular basis.
Step 2: Shoulder Taps
When handstand walking you don’t actually have 2 hands evenly planted on the ground. Instead, your weight is constantly shifting from one arm to the next as you move forward.
It’s just like standing vs. walking (on your feet). Sure, standing is great, but when you walk you are shifting weight from one leg to the next.
The shoulder tap drill allows you to practice this weight shifting in a controlled environment. You are learning how to shift weight from one arm to the next while also maintaining strong shoulders (and balance!).
-Start by shifting your weight and lifting one hand off the ground very slightly. No need to reach all the way to your shoulder immediately. As you get comfortable you’ll be able to lift your hands higher and higher. Try to transfer from one hand to the next smoothly with no pauses.
Learn how to consistently string together 15-20 unbroken shoulder taps before moving on to the next progression. I love to throw these into an EMOM.
EMOM 8 minutes:
1 “Wall Walk” (walk up into the nose-to-wall hold)
16 Shoulder taps
Step 3: Hip Touches
This is pretty much the same thing as shoulder taps, except you are demonstrating an extreme level of control and precision! You are isolated on one hand for a much longer time which teaches you how to maintain body control upside-down.
-Really focus on keeping your core tight! It is very easy to lose hollow position and fall to the floor if you don’t keep a tight core.
Once you can string together 10+ of these in a row, you will be ready to kick some serious butt!
Step 4: Off-wall Handstand Holds
Now that you have established lateral (side to side) balance, it’s time to work on vertical balance (staying upright).
In this step, you simply use your feet to kick away from the wall in order to hold a handstand. The best part is that the wall will give you a “safety net” for your feet to come back down. Practice holding for a few seconds at a time and slowly increase!
*NOTE- when you first try this, find a spotter to make sure you don’t fall forward. Otherwise this can get ugly and turn into some really awkward forward rolls. 🙂
-Start with your hands slightly farther away from the wall so that they can stay in place for the off-wall hold.
Step 5: Walk-aways
This is where it all comes together! Kick your feet off of the wall and allow yourself to be “pulled” forward by your body tipping past 90 degrees. Don’t over-reach your steps. Feel your balance slightly falling forward and then follow that by walking your hands forward to keep up.
-Take short, choppy steps instead of long reaching steps. These short steps will help you keep your balance and move forward without falling!
-Keep your feet together and SQUEEZE your butt. This glute activation will help your body stay rigid. If you are loose, you’ll come crumbling to the ground.
Step 6: Try it!
After getting the hang of walk-aways, you are ready to “go RX’d”! Get out there and try some handstand walks! Don’t be afraid to practice all of these progressions on a regular basis to keep your skills sharp.
I hope that you apply this simple progression to your training right away. If you do, you will see major progress! Sooner or later you’ll be handstand walking through your house, gym, and local grocery store (yep, I’m guilty).
The best way to practice is with a friend, so make sure you share this article with someone you are going to practice with!
Last but not least, feel free to leave a comment with any questions. I am happy to help and can’t wait to help you achieve your fitness goals.
This is a guest post from Ben Dziwulski, the founder of WODprep. He is a former affiliate owner that specializes in teaching athletes in a simple, easy-to-understand way. Right now, he is traveling around the world with his wife and does 100% of his coaching online!