Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kaitlin Hardy: Taking your Handstands off of the Floor

While a WOD has yet to be programmed requiring athletes to handstand walk down the length of a balance beam pulling a 45 lb sled, or hold a handstand on the rings for the time equivalent of rowing a half marathon, I think all crossfitters know better than to ever be surprised by the next challenge (21-15-9 Ring Muscle-Ups + Ring Strict HSPU anyone??).

Working on your handstand in different environments and on different surfaces will force you to focus on correct form and body position. Once an athlete masters handstands on the floor and can perform handstand walks efficiently enough to Rx a gymnastics based WOD, they tend to develop bad habits just to get through the exercises. Practicing handstands on rings, balanced on weight plates, or even on a balance beam can provide a new challenge that will ultimately lead to better mastery of the skill.

Strength and conditioning programs created specifically for gymnastics require athletes to hold handstands on the floor, the balance beam, Men’s parallel bars, Men’s still rings, and Women’s low bar. Each of these apparatus require the athlete to work with their hands in a different position, gripping each surface slightly differently and purposefully inhibiting shifting of the body weight around on the fingertips to aid in balance. When the ability to move around on their hands to maintain balance, or even shift weight around between the palms and fingertips is taken away, the athlete is forced to focus entirely on maintaining perfect position and not deviating from maintaining tension in the shoulders and throughout the core. Essentially, there is no way to compensate for less than perfect form.


In the box, the easiest way to take your handstand off of the floor is to put it on a 45 lb plate resting on the floor. Kick up to a handstand with your fingertips resting over the edges of the plate and focus on holding a static handstand position as long as possible without relying on any weight shifting. It may help to have a partner grab your legs as you kick up and let you find your balance before you attempt to maintain the position on your own.

From there, get creative; hold a handstand with your hands facing outward and your fingertips over the edge on a 20” box, set up a pair of kettle bells to replicate men’s parallel bars, if you’re really feeling adventurous lower a set of rings and work towards holding a handstand on them!

-Coach Kaitlin 

Kaitlin will be holding her second class on Handstands at Steel Caliber Crossfit on Saturday 11/30/13 @ 11am and again on Wednesday 12/4 @ 7:30pm. We will be attending (Saturday) and hope to see you there. Free to members and $15 drop in for any non members at Steel Caliber.

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