You are here: Home | Blog
Handstands: The Fruit of the Gods

Handstands: The Fruit of the Gods by Tim Cormier


As some of you may have noticed, we are beginning an obsession with handstands in our warm ups. Some of you have been reluctant participants, but in the end we have seen many first timers gain achievement in this, the pinnacle of gymnastics.

Why obsess over something as silly as holding yourself upside down?

Because it looks cool.

Is CFA actually a secret breeding ground for ninjas, Cirque du Soleil performers, and other such clandestine agencies?

I am not at liberty to answer that question.

But seriously Tim, will handstands actually make me a better athlete?

Yes, and I can give you three reasons why.

1. Muscle Recruitment

The theory of muscle unit recruitment (which if you’re interested Google “Louie Simmons”) states, that most advanced athletes are effective at what they do because of the amount of musculature that they can bring into each movement. Most of you have noticed a phenomenon while learning to handstand. 9 times out of 10 an athlete that is not conditioned to handstand will fold like a lawn chair on their first attempt. Take that same athlete, on the second attempt they can stay up a little longer, and on the third attempt most people can hold a stable handstand. This is your body learning to use musculature in new ways. The reason for most failed first attempts is that it simply takes a second to wake up after 20-30 years of not being used. Now if an athlete can develop all of these new stabilizers, imagine how much more effective he or she will be on a 1RM day.

Tim, you’re insane, handstands can’t help me back squat more weight!

Oh yes they can. In a 1RM back squat, most failures I see on a regular basis happen when the athlete can no longer maintain midline stability and then crumples underneath the weight. Imagine how much easier it would be to stay tight under a heavy load when you have developed a whole new coating of midline stabilization. Another great mind, Steven Low, who wrote the book Overcoming Gravity, claims that if you go to any gymnastics gym in the nation, the athlete who has the best freestanding handstand will also be the best athlete on rings, floor routine, saddle, and bars for many of the same reasons listed above.

2. Better Overhead Position

If an athlete can hold a proper freestanding handstand, then he or she will have no issue getting into a proper overhead position with one of the weighted apparatuses we use on a regular basis. This means better shoulder pressing, push pressing, push jerks, kettlebell swings and any other movement which requires a full overhead extension. And, once again, more strength for 1RM days.

3. It will help you Muscle Up

Tim, no way! You’re absolutely nuts! Doing a muscle up has nothing to do with handstands.

Oh contraire my friends, being able to do a freestanding handstand will allow every athlete to improve their gymnastic lever. When I say lever, I mean being able to go from a globally flexed position to a globally extended position. In simple terms, it means you allow yourself to go from a bent to a straight position in a stable manner. This can also be seen in weightlifting movements such as the back squat. Lifters bend at the hips and then come back to a straightened position, and the only safe way to do that is to make your midline and posterior level you into a secure and stable position. Gymnastics in particular is about learning to use your body’s levers in an efficient manner. Having the freestanding handstand is an athlete’s base for developing this skill in other movements.

There are a gazillion other reasons why handstands are a great foundational exercise: injury preventers, kinetic awareness, better handstand walking, better handstand pushups, better everything ad infinitum. These are three of my favorite reason and hopefully some of you will understand the gibberish. But please, if this article awakened your inner gymnast geekiness then start reading guys who are way smarter than me like Carl Paoli, Jeff Tucker, or Steven Low and find out why they find the freestanding handstand the best exercise for any beginner to learn.

Posted on by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Recent Posts




Most Read Articles

Friends of

Contact us

CrossFit 28
3201 Skyline Dr. Pineville
LA 71360