Hi! I'm Anabel and in this article I'm going to leave you with Carol, a gymnast for more than 16 years who brings us the best CrossFit tutorial you can find to do handstand walk or handstand walk.
You can follow Carol on her instagram: @carolteixido
What is Handstand Walk?
Handstand walk (HW) comes from the English language and means "hand-walking". It is a typical exercise of gymnastics. It consists of keeping our body vertical, perpendicular to the ground, supported only on the arms and using the hands as a support base to move. It is an exercise that requires a lot of strength and balance to achieve it.
What muscles and joints are involved?
Although it may not seem like it the CORE is the basis of the handstand where the abdomen, the gluteus, the spinal and lumbar musculature.
The contraction of this musculature allows the body to be controlled as a 'rigid block' (as a single unit) and thus facilitates movement.
The 'rigid block' position is known as 'hollow' and is key to any gymnastic movement.
In order to achieve good stability and control in the inverted position, the most important muscles and joints involved need to be strengthened.
The wrists, shoulders, thorax and hips also participate very actively in the movement. The muscles that cause displacement, movement and stability are mainly the deltoids, trapezius, triceps, biceps, brachialis and dorsals.
Mobility and flexibility of the joints involved are essential to achieve verticality in the HS position.
Good body positioning is necessary to maintain balance and optimize performance.
How to place the body on the Handstand?
- We start in a standing, upright position facing forward.
- Step forward and hands to the floor. We give impulse with the free leg towards the ceiling.
- Hands should be placed shoulder width apart. Fingers apart.
- The head slightly extended, with the gaze centered between the hands fixing on a
point located about 5cm in front of the wrists.
- The shoulders should be positioned in 180° extension (mobility and flexibility of the shoulders).
- Abdomen and pelvis contracted in hollow position.
- Legs and feet together, knees extended looking for the ceiling achieving verticality.
- We lower first one leg and then the other to stand.
All this achieving a linear verticality from the palms of the hands to the tips of the feet. It is very useful to think in three blocks to know the correct position. You have to get an imaginary straight line with the body.
BLOCK 1From the hips to the feet.
BLOCK 2From shoulders to hips
BLOCK 3: From hands to shoulders
Hollow positionas mentioned above, is the basis of HS.
To achieve it we must keep the body parallel to the ground while maintaining the semi-arched position. The lumbar and hip are the only parts of the body in contact with the ground and the arms and legs are slightly elevated.
This horizontal hollow position should be kept vertical for the HS. The only variation should be the flexion of the wrists in contact with the ground and cervical extension to place the head between the arms facing forward.
Importance of joint mobility and flexibility
The flexibility of the joints plays a very important role. to achieve verticality and alignment of the body in the handstand.
This will allow us to achieve greater range of motion, balance, control and strength in the inverted position.
The hand and wrists are the base of the vertical support. It is where all the weight of the body falls and as it is the only point of support, the force for the displacement must be transmitted correctly.
Keep in mind that HSW is a dynamic movement in which we move forward and requires very high wrist extension and joint control.
A good thoracic mobility will help us to have greater ease to perform any exercise with the arms placed above the head and the HSW is one of them. It is also necessary to achieve good shoulder flexion to hold the 180º opening vertically and achieve the linear prone position. This range of motion
will also help us to move our arms forward when we decide to walk on our hands.
The hips are responsible for the extension of the legs in the HS position. The feet must be above the hips and in the same line as the shoulders and hands.
And finally the hamstrings, especially involved at the time of starting the handstand and at the time of lowering when the hands are resting on the ground along with the foot of impulse or reception.
The myofascial work with the use of the Foam roller and the ball will help us to inhibit pain points in joint flexion and extension and gain degrees in the range of motion. It is safer before launching the mobility with the body itself. This will reduce muscle tension and release the tissues that may have created trigger points (trigger points). They are usually a natural consequence of training, is the result of the tension to which we submit the muscles and overloads. This leads to muscle contracture and stiffness, causing a decrease in range of motion and flexibility.
For this I propose exercises to improve this mobility and flexibility of the main joints with the help of foam roller and / or ball and exercises with the body itself.
Specific strength work
- Hollow hold: to hold in this position.
- Repetitions3-4 rounds of TABATA 20'' of work and 10'' of rest.
- Hollow rocksbalancing in this position without touching the ground with the legs and without touching the ground with the legs.
the arms. The swing must be smooth and controlled.
- Repetitions3 rounds of 10 repetitions
- Hollow scissors: slightly raising and lowering one leg and then the other leg in succession.
without losing the hollow position.
- Repetitions: 3 rounds of 30'' work - 30'' rest
- Contractions to hollowFrom the floor, contract the abdomen until you reach the hollow position and relax the position again. Contracting and relaxing consecutively.
- Repetitions3 rounds of 10 reps
Plank positionWith the hands resting on the floor, arms fully extended, the shoulders should be at the same height as the wrists. The body fully extended, keeping the hollow position and the tips of the feet supported.
Repetitions: 3 rounds of 30'' of work and 30'' of rest
- Dynamic PlankIn plank position from the elbows, extend one arm and then the other to get into plank position on hands. In this way, apart from the core, we strengthen the muscles of the arms, trapezius and dorsal.
TABATA 20'' of work and 10'' of rest
3-4 Rounds of 12 Reps
- Push upsFrom the plank position with hand support, we bend the elbows, keeping them close to the body until the chest touches the floor. The body must remain extended without losing the hollow position and the only points of support remain the hands and feet. Then the elbows are extended.
until returning to the initial position. If it is too complicated, it can be done with knees on the floor.
- Repetitions: 3-4 Rounds of 8 reps
- Plank shoulder tapsFrom the plank position on hands, we take off one hand until it touches the opposite shoulder, we put it back on the floor and do the same with the other hand. In this way we will support all the weight of our body in one hand.
TABATA 20'' of work and 10'' of rest
3-4 Rounds of 12 Reps
- Plank shoulder taps in L positionSame as above but taking an angle of 90º with the body.
Stability and strength
Shoulder stability and strength is very necessary to achieve balance in HS. For this I propose four very useful exercises to achieve it.
- Carry with double DB/KTB in OHwith two DBs or KTBs, we raise them overhead, lock elbows and walk forward and backward to gain shoulder strength and stability in a position very similar to the HS.
- Repetitions: 4 sets of 10 meters.
- Turkish get upLying on your back, with one hand outstretched holding the object and perpendicular to the floor. It consists of standing up while holding the DB or KTB and finishing with it in the OH position. It requires a very precise technique to perform the correct movement.
- Repetitions3 sets of 6 repetitions per arm.
- KTB Bottom Up Press: Holding the KTB (light weight) by its handle, in an inverted position keeping the load stable at the top. The point of support is the hand/back and you have to try to achieve the OH position by raising it in a controlled way. Perfect for strengthening the shoulder and gaining stability and mobility in this position (demo with dumbbell).
- Repetitions3 sets of 6 repetitions per arm.
- ER Band Press: We tie the band in front at the same height as the shoulder. First we have to grab the band with one hand and extend the arm, bend the elbow while performing a scapular retraction, seeking to join the scapula with the spine backwards. From this position make an external rotation of the shoulder to bring the elbow facing the floor and the hand with the rubber facing the ceiling, finally make a shoulder press to reach the OH position.
- Repetitions3 rounds of 10 repetitions per side.
Learning to fall
One of the most important points to master the "hand walk" is to learn how to fall. It is basic because the fear of falling is very high in many athletes and slows down their progress and advancement.
Falling backwards to the ground is usually the biggest concern. To maintain balance there has to be a slight weight forward and if we lose balance in that position falling backwards to the ground will be more likely.
If we know how or learn how to fall, it will give us the confidence to try new, more complex movements and avoid injuries.
Falling by moving the arm to one side
The simplest and most practical way to fall if we lose our balance in HS. It is to move one arm forward, while lateralizing the body to the same side and lowering one leg and then the other to go down. How do I practice it?
- From MSM facing the wallIn MSM position facing the wall, take off one arm and place it perpendicular to the other, take off one foot and rotate the body to one side and once you are facing the wall, lower one foot to the floor and then the other.
- From MSM wheel downFrom handstand hold facing the wall, lower to one side as if we were doing the wheel. We could also go up to that position to increase the difficulty.
Falling doing the somersault
Very practical but more complex is to do a somersault from handstand position. Normally this is used when you lose balance in the speed of displacement or when we have rushed too much forward swing and make a half turn is very complicated. In this case it is about dropping the dorsal area of the spine to the floor in a controlled manner, hiding the head between the arms looking at the feet and placing the body in a ball to roll on the floor doing the somersault.
Hand walking progressions
- HS position on groundBefore venturing to try the inverted position, it is interesting to try the position lying on the floor. With the palms of our hands touching the wall, we lie down on the floor with our belly supported and adopt the hollow position. In this way we can visualize and practice the desired position later in HS.
- Semi wall climbLying face down on the floor, feet touching the wall and perpendicular to it. The body is in full contact with the floor. We bring our feet up to the wall and we get into a plank position. Hold in this position. Support yourself with one leg, then with the other to gain stability in hand support.
- Wall climbStarting in the same position as the previous one, the idea is to go up the feet, climbing the wall, while bringing the arms towards the wall, keeping the hollow, until the handstand hold is achieved with the face facing the wall.
- Handstand HoldYou have to make good use of the wall to work the position, keeping the tension and the body blocking without leaning totally against the wall. Only the feet should be in contact with the wall.
- Back to the wallHolding in hollow in this position is more complicated but at the same time it is the real position to adapt it later in the handstand walk.
- Handstand hold peeling off: From the handstand hold position, leaning with your feet on the wall, progressively take off in either position and try to maintain your balance without touching the wall. If you lose your balance, you can return to the support.
- Handstand hold semi free: This is a handstand hold with the support along the arms. The arms are the ones in contact with the box. This progression is more advanced and is focused on promoting the activation of the shoulders and forearms by learning to control the balance supported by the hands.
- Free handstand hold: To be able to hold in handstand without any kind of support. Try and accumulate seconds in this position.
- Lateral displacements in HS HoldIn handstand position against the wall, move sideways with your arms. Take off one arm by moving it to one side and approach with the other arm.
- Shoulder tapsFrom the pike position on the wall, raise one arm to touch the shoulder, lower it, and then do the same with the other arm.
- Hip taps on handstandIn handstand position on the wall, raise one arm to touch the hip, lower it, and then do the same with the other arm.
- Handstand hold by raising arms to disks: Take your arms off the floor to get on the discs. In this way we provoke weight changes in the hands, we raise one shoulder and then the other. We can also add discs, one on top of the other to increase the height and make it more complicated.
We can place the discs in front of the hands, behind or to the sides.
- Handstand walk to the wall: Move 1 or 2 meters away from the wall, perform a handstand and try to approach the wall walking vertically and finish in handstand hold leaning against the wall.
Hand walking positions
As you improve your strength, control and balance in the handstand position, and when you have mastered the exercises we have reviewed above, it is time to start practicing the free wall handstand walk.
In CrossFit you will have seen many styles of handstand and all of them are valid.
However, maintaining a good position will give us more stability, more control, more effectiveness and efficiency in the movement. In addition to health in joints and back that will prevent us from possible injuries.
What is the best position for Handstand Walk?
The ideal would be to walk upright while maintaining an aligned body position.with the legs and feet together and the abdomen contracted to move forward.
However, if we break this position slightly, leaning the legs forward a little, the forward weight will provide inertia for walking. The body weight helps us a lot when moving.
Another option is to give inertia with one leg and then with the other, like a scissors, coinciding with the displacement of the arms. This option requires more control and a lot of coordination, but it is very effective. Surely you have seen athletes moving their legs in this way.
To have the best balance try to:
On the other hand, if we abuse the balance, that is, if we pull our weight forward in an excessively arched position, initially we will achieve more speed and inertia to move, but at the same time it will cause instability, lack of control and consequent fall. This position is commonly known as scorpion.
Before we start walking on our hands, we can practice moving in a more stable and safer way. At the same time we will gain strength to increase the complexity.
In these exercises we need the help of a partner.
Displacement on hands
- Plank position: The partner grabs our feet, the athlete is placed in plank position, keeping the hollow and seeks to move on the hands without losing position. The direction of the displacement can be varied to gain strength in different ranges.
- Plank on partner's shoulders: Same as above but with the feet at the same level as the partner's shoulders. The aim is to extend the body.
- Position of L: Same as above but achieving a 90º angle between trunk and legs. The weight of the body is on the shoulders. The position of the upper trunk is the same as in a HS.
Maintain a blocking position supported by the hands.Exercises to learn to hold the body in a static rigid block on the hands and then transfer it to the handstand position.
- Plank position: From the plank position, the partner grabs my feet keeping them together. In a controlled manner he/she will release one foot and then the other, so that the athlete will exert force to try to keep the feet together at all times without losing the hollow position.
- Raising and lowering the feet: From plank position, the partner grabs my feet, keeps them together and lifts them up. This exercise involves raising and lowering the feet, varying the shoulder width so that the athlete maintains the hollow position without breaking the hollow position. Here you can also play with releasing one foot while raising or lowering the position.
HANDSTAND HOLD: The athlete stands on the handstand while a partner holds him/her by the side so that he/she does not fall.
- Soft touches: When the athlete is able to stand on his own, the partner will only touch him when he is about to fall. When the athlete loses balance, the partner will help the athlete to recover the position to keep trying to hold on without falling. The partner acts as a support, not as a constant hold.
- Pendulum on handstand: The athlete performs the handstand and partner with arms extended and open perpendicular to the floor and the athlete's legs are swung from side to side like a pendulum. The athlete has to maintain the locking position constantly.
Once we have mastered the hollow overhand position, we have the strength to hold the handstand, it is time to try to do the desired HSW. We always start with the help of a partner until we assess that it is not necessary.
- Handstand walk with pike/rubber support: With the aid of a stick or rubber band, the partner holds the stick or rubber band with arms extended forward and will create a support at the athlete's feet. The athlete will have to perform a handstand until he/she touches the pole/rubber and move forward together with the partner. In this way, with this semi leg support we get stability in the free handstand position. This way we will gain confidence, practice and strength to be able to walk. The partner accompanies the forward movement while the athlete moves forward with the arms.
- Handstand walk with partner fist support: Same as the previous progression but instead of a pike/rubber the partner will extend an arm perpendicular to their body making a fist with their hand for the athlete to grab onto with their legs. It is very interesting to hold on because it causes the athlete in HS to contract his legs and contract his body creating an overall tension of the body in an upright position.
- HANDSTAND WALK: Practice HSW free of help and support. It requires a lot of practice and patience. Little by little you will see improvements and results. With perseverance and hours of training you will achieve your goals and results. Patience and above all enjoy the journey.
I hope you found it useful, if so, please share this article with your Box colleagues! Thank you!