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Janet Durant


March 11, 2024

Build Your Handstand With 6 Easy Drills

The first time I met Amy, she told me she wanted to learn to handstand walk. I’d worked with a variety of CrossFit athletes who wanted to learn gymnastics skills. I asked her if she’d ever kicked up onto the wall in a handstand, which she told me she had but struggled with it. I asked her to show me. She started with her hands on the floor, about a foot back from the wall. She proceeded to donkey-kick one leg up, over and over again, before finally managing to get her body up on the wall. 

We had A LOT of work to do.

This wasn’t the first time I had worked with an athlete who was super uncomfortable at kicking into a handstand. BUT this might’ve been one of my favorite stories! Through hard work, tenacious effort, and continuing to trust the process, Amy went from barely being able to kick up into a handstand on the wall, to eventually being able to walk 10+ feet unbroken on her hands! 

It wasn’t an overnight process. Instead, it took a lot of work on her part. But she had a goal and she stuck with it. She decided she wanted to go all in and follow the program I had set up for her to a T. The result was INCREDIBLE.

There is a pretty straightforward method I use to build an individual’s handstand.

This includes 6 easy handstand drills: 

  1. Overhead Holds
  2. Prone and Supine Handstand Shaping Drills
  3. Bear Crawls
  4. Crab Walks 
  5. Inverted Holds
  6. Handstand Holds

Overhead Holds:

One of the first things you should build to be able to hold a handstand is your static overhead strength. The easiest way to do this is by doing weighted overhead holds. 

There are various objects you can use for this: 

Dumbbells or barbells are great tools. You can also use "unsteady" objects such as a PVC pipe with banded kettlebells attached to the ends. Sandbags work great as well!

Whatever you choose, make sure you are hitting 3 to 4 sets. Each movement should be held anywhere from 10 seconds to 90 seconds overhead. Arms should be straight and by your ears the entire time.  

Prone and Supine Handstand Shaping Drills:

This is one of the most valuable tools for training your handstand hold. This drill is specifically used to mimic what it feels like to be upside down without actually being inverted. This is an example of what we call a shaping drill in gymnastics. Shaping drills teach your body to get in the correct shape for a gymnastics skill. The supine and prone handstand hold allows you to feel what your body should be doing in a handstand while remaining on your back or stomach. The variation on your back is a bit more challenging so I usually ask my athletes to start with that one. 

Start by laying on your back. Get close enough to the wall that you can press, your hands flat with your arms completely straight and by your ears. From there, pull your rib cage under, working towards getting your back flat against the floor. Pull your legs together, straighten your knees, and point your toes. When you flip onto your stomach, mimic the same isolated hold. 

Bear Crawl:

When done well, this drill is a great way to feel what a handstand walk will begin to feel like.

This is not your traditional bear crawl. 

Start with your hands on the ground, then proceed to pull your hips over your head as much as you can. shoulders over your hands. Your legs should be straight. From here you can walk forward or even backward. The main emphasis is focusing on keeping your shoulders over your arms as much as possible. And your hips over your shoulders. Your goal is to be as inverted as possible while simultaneously walking on your hands and feet.

Crab walk:

This is a great drill to build external rotation through your shoulders. Crab walks will also allow you to feel your weight shift from side to side. (Which is, what you have to be able to do to walk on your hands.)

Start in a tabletop position with your stomach facing the ceiling. Your hands should be turned out at about a 45-degree angle and are next to your thighs. From there, pull your hips up as high as you can. Then move your hands and feet forward or backward in the direction you want to go. Focus on keeping your arms straight and pushing into your hands. As you press from one side to the other, your hands should remain turned out while you crab walk.

Inverted Holds: 

The next step will be to get upside down- but I don’t want you to start with a handstand. 

Ideally, you need to be able to get into an inverted position with your feet on a raised flat object. Like a bench or box (one used for box jumps). The size of the object will be dependent on how flexible or tight your hamstrings are. Find a high enough object that you can get your toes on top of it, hands on the ground in front of the box, and hips over your shoulders. From here you can practice lifting one leg towards the ceiling. Once you can do this well then you can move to the wall. 

Most people do well to start with a “wall walk”. You can do this by lying on your stomach and then pressing up into a push-up position. At the top of your push-up, lift one leg and place your foot on the wall. Once you have one foot on the wall, repeat by lifting your other leg and pressing that foot onto the wall. At this point, you will have both feet on the wall and your hands flat against the floor. You can then begin to walk your hands towards the wall as well as your feet up the wall. Once you’ve reached the top of your wall walk you should be in handstand hold. In this type of handstand, you will be at or just short of vertical. This will make it a little easier to get into a handstand without kicking up with your back against the wall. 

Handstand Holds on the Wall:

After learning to perform a wall walk, you can learn to kick up with your back against the wall. Most people start with their hands on the floor before proceeding to kick one leg up, followed by the other. This is better to learn with an experienced coach who can give you cues to make sure you attempt this correctly. Make sure when trying a handstand that your arms are completely extended and that your hands are in line with your shoulders. Likewise, you also want your shoulders directly in line with your hips. Kicking up into a handstand with your back against the wall is harder than wall walks for a lot of people. This is due to the handstand with your back against the wall being slightly past vertical when your legs come to the wall at the end of the movement.


I have developed a system to help athletes achieve their handstand walking goals. This same program is what Amy used. And it's how she went from struggling to kick into a handstand to now walking upwards of 10 FT on her hands at a time!

These 6 drills helped create Amy's base for her handstand. But she didn't do these drills on a whim. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for her to build a better, stronger handstand. So, I created a system with a specific number of reps, sets, and times to complete the drills. Since working with her and many other athletes, I've put together multiple 8-week cycles. These are designed to build your handstand walk and handstand push-ups. They include all 6 drills above, plus many more. These tracks have how many sets, reps, and the timeframe you should be completing the drills in. This will not only allow you to learn to do handstands but to DO THEM WELL! 

You can check out these 8-week handstand cycles by going to order one of our specialty programs under the “Programs” tab!

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