Congratulations, you can now hold a free standing handstand with good form and no movement, consistently, for at least 30 seconds with good alignment! Oh … you can’t? Then go learn one! You are of course more than welcome to read through this post anyway to start widening your knowledge base and utilise some of the very basic progressions but if you haven’t got a solid free standing handstand stop trying to jump ahead and learn a press to handstand. It’s not going to happen. Hopefully the reason is obvious. Check out my free standing handstand post.
Moving on …
A press to handstand should be learnt in the following order. 1 being the easiest, 3 being the most difficult.
You need a few things nailed to master the press to handstand. Actually you need more than a few but these are the super important ones.
- Core strength (in particular, compression strength)
- Straight arm pressing strength
- Good sense of balance and positional awareness
Below I have outlined advice and milestones for each of the above. Remember these are just guidelines and I’m only concentrating on one movement/skill (you will see below), you will of course need to supplement the below with accessory work.
You need to be holding an L-sit for 60+ seconds.
- Take your current max hold (let’s say it’s 20s), then divide it by 2 (10s).
- Take your target time which in this case is 60s and complete as many sets to take you up to the target. So in this case 6 sets of 10s.
- Gradually reduce the rest periods between sets and then start to increase the sets.
This is a simple, generalised approach but usually works pretty well. I recommend starting with 90s rest between sets. keep good form – feet high. This is aimed more towards beginners but can be used for more advanced athletes as well.
Straight arm pressing strength:
You need to be holding a closed tucked planche for 30+ seconds.
Use the same approach for the L-sit. Let’s take an example …
Current max hold (15s) / 2 = 7.5s
Target max hold (30s)
30 / 7.5 = 4
4 x 7.5s holds, starting with 90s rest between sets.
I picked a slightly more difficult example deliberately. If you can do the sets then round up to 8s. If you can’t then round down to 7s. If you’re somewhere in the middle you should alternate sets I.e. one for 7s, one for 8s, one for 7s and so on.
Good sense of balance and positional awareness:
I’ll say it again. Have a consistent 30s+ second free standing handstand with good form. See my separate blog post on free standing handstands.
Secondly, be able to do a tuck, straddle and pike press to headstand (unsupported). Start with sets of 3×3 in whichever variation you are at and work up to 5×3. Then start at 3×5 and work to 5×5. You can add ankle weights if too easy.
The above isn’t enough to learn a press to handstand, you need to work on more advanced progressions and incorporate additional exercises. What the above will do however, is get you well and truly on the right path and give you the foundations you need.
These are in no particular order of importance or difficulty. I am simply providing you with some examples to give you an idea of accessory work that could be added to the above.
- L-sit press to planche (closed or open tuck)
- Free standing handstands
- Tuck, straddle and pike press to headstand (change tempo and/or add weight to increase difficulty)
- Press to handstand variations e.g. change hand position to reduce stability and work on balance
- Press to handstand with feet elevated
- Press to handstand against a wall (lean shoulders and back against wall)
- Press to handstand against a wall and with feet elevated (even easier)
- Partner assisted tuck, straddle or pike presses to handstand
- Planche and lever progressions
- Maltese presses
- Seated pike and straddle leg raises
Like most skills, even for those primarily requiring strength, flexibility does help.
Specific flexibility for presses to handstand:
- Pike fold
- Straddle fold
- Bridge (emphasis on opening up the shoulders)