Seven Handstand Exercises for Pressing Bodyweight

People who build up their arm strength have more options available to them when it comes to balancing a handstand.

Arm strength will give you the ability to dip forward and save a handstand if you loose balance.

Also you’ll be able to press your bodyweight from Crow or Headstand up into Handstand, and also lower down from Handstand with control and precision.

It’s important to remember that difficult moves are not the result of luck or genetics, they are the result of practise. People who can do difficult moves just patiently practise until they can do them.

Core strength gets the credit for way too much. This move in particular is reliant upon arm strength, specifically Triceps, Pecs, Front Delts, and the Erector Spinae which lifts the legs.

Mis-identifying your limiting factors will cause you to do planks and crunches when you should be doing dips and will result in wasted time and sub-optimal progress.

Core strength is the obsession of beginners and armchair experts who don’t train, and becomes less of a fixation as you learn to move.

  1. Get to a plank position. Dip forward to a half-press-up so your elbows are bent. Bring one knee to one elbow. This has the effect of shifting your bodyweight forward and putting more weight into your arms. It also makes your shoulders and core resist the torque as your weight shifts from side to side. Repeat this for 10 reps.
  1. Rock to crow. Crouch in the ground and prepare yourself for crow by letting your knees touch your elbows. . Keep your elbows inwards so your knee can connect directly with the top of your elbow or triceps. Bent arms make a table top which your knees and bodyweight rest on. The rocking motion is a gentle way to practise entering the smoothly and landing in balance.

Click here for the Ultimate Handstand Tutorial

Acro Library How to Do a Handstand Tutorial. Correct Form. Online Video • Tutorials • Podcast • Acrobatics • Movement • Handstands • Flexibility • Yoga • Circus • Gymnastics • Pole • Dance Music: Benedek - Dial My Number

  1. Once the rocking is consistent, try the same thing with a small jump. That means your feet leave the ground before your knees make contact with your elbows and so there is a moment of air time. This will condition your arms to resist your bodyweight. It’s important to manage your expectations and remember this is difficult. It could take years!
  1. Next Skiing crow. Balance in a crow and take one knee off on it’s elbow and bring it to the centre line so that it’s hovering. Again this will force your arms and shoulders to resist the twist and shift in weight and force them to become stronger.
  1. Press Pulses. Start in crow, press as hard as you can and get your knees off your arms. If it’s not happening try rocking into the crow and using the momentum to help get the lift. This is tough and I usually only do 3-5 reps. 10 reps is too much even for me at this stage.
  1. Negatives. Lower from tucked Handstand down to crow. Negative moments are a great way to get stronger, that’s when your muscles resist your weight as it lowers down as apposed to contracting. For example if you start at the top of a chin up and lower down, then you will eventually be able to pull yourself up.
  1. If you practise the first 6 exercises it will be inevitable that you are eventually able to press your weight from crow to handstand, or from headstand to handstand.

For more free tutorials visit

For the Ultimate Handstand Tutorial visit

Additional stretching exercises will help increase the shoulder mobility and make all Handstands easier.

Additional gymnastic conditioning such as GMB will help overall movement ability

Resistance bands, parallettes and other bodyweight fitness equipment can be found at Rubber Banditz

Ben Lowrey Handstand Classes (Bristol U.K.) + national workshops can be found here

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Podcast Ep.8 – Kit Laughlin – Stretching & Flexibility

In this fascinating 90min interview, Kit Laughlin talks about his experience in the field of Stretching & Flexibility.

Kit has written 3 books, travels the world teaching workshops, and at age 64 his knowledge of the body is extensive. Of particular interest was his explanation of the mind-body connection as it relates to flexibility.

This interview is not to be missed by Yogis, Gymnasts, Dancers, Pole Dancers, Handbalancers, and Acrobats of all kinds.

You can find more information about Kit at his website

For more podcast episodes, and handstand tutorials, visit

Kit developed Stretch Therapy over the last 30 years and he presents workshops world-wide in these techniques.

Kit has written three best-selling books about Stretch Therapy, Overcome Neck & Back Pain (for injury rehabilitation, now in its 4th Edition), Stretching & Flexibility (for performance enhancement, well being, and injury prevention, now in its 2nd edition), and Stretching & Pregnancy, 2nd edition (intended for prepartum and postpartum women), and numerous DVDs, videos and many articles.

Kit teaches Stretch Therapy to practitioners of Chiropractic and Osteopathy, Physiotherapy, medicine, Yoga, Pilates and Massage Therapy and to people everywhere who want to rehabilitate or avoid injury, enhance performance or maximise wellbeing, in Australia and around the world.

He was awarded a Master of Letters degree by the Science Faculty of the Australian National University in Canberra (1992) and was granted an Australian Postgraduate Research Award (1993–96) for Ph.D. research, where back pain was the main case study. This research led directly to his first book, Overcome Neck & Back Pain.

What is Stretch Therapy?

Stretch Therapy (ST) is a comprehensive system that includes stretching, fascial remodelling, strengthening, neural re-patterning, and relaxation. The goals are grace and ease, and this is experienced as enhanced awareness and elegance in movement.

Applications of the ST approach span rehabilitation of specific physical problems, through development of more efficient alignment and movement patterns, all the way to improvement of elite athletic performance. Everyone will find themselves somewhere on this continuum!

We say that ST is a safe, yet extremely efficient, way to improve your flexibility, but that’s only a convenient way to open the dialogue. As one starts to work with the body, new needs will be uncovered and you will find yourself pulling on one of the many strands of the ST approach. Everyone’s path is unique, and our approaches reflect this reality.

ST is practised by thousands of people worldwide, and is suitable for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level.

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Handstand one-arm conditioning 

This is a circuit of exercises that I have been drilling recently.

I like to pick a small number of moves and spend an entire training session only working on those. I often pick two or three things and spend 2 hours drilling them. We can’t master everything at once. The ability to choose something and just work on that is a sign of patience.

There is no end to the number of exercises we could be doing, and if your mind is always preocupied with everything you’re not practising, you’ll find it hard to focus on practising anything at all.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” – Bruce Lee

We can always get better advise, guidance & exercises from new teachers, but dedication, focus, patience, persistence, commitment, consistency, routine, ritual, are going to be the governing factors that make the biggest difference in the long run.

I have not mastered the one-arm handstand yet, but this videos gives you a glimpse of my current training approach and attitude.

Check out my other blog posts for more tutorials.

Additional stretching exercises will help increase the shoulder mobility and make all Handstands easier.

Additional gymnastic conditioning such as GMB will help overall movement ability

A free 20 minute handstand tutorial is available from the homepage

Resistance bands, parallettes and other bodyweight fitness equipment can be found at Rubber Banditz

Ben Lowrey Handstand Classes (Bristol U.K.) + national workshops can be found here

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Handstand Press explained

The more forward bend flexibility you have, the less you will need to lean your bodyweight over your hands, and so the less shoulder strength you will need.

Start with your legs in a medium wide stance, slowly lean into your hands and go up onto your tip toes. This helps get your bum up and your bodweight over your hands.

The only way a handstand can happen is when the centre of gravity is over the hands. If you cannot get your bodyweight over your hands there’s no way your legs can lift. The failure of the lift is often mis-diagnosed as a lack of core strength but it really comes down to insufficient shoulder strength to support the bodyweight as the centre of gravity leans forward over the hands.

The less forward bend you have, the more you have to lean forward over your hands, and the more shoulder strength will be required to resist your bodyweight.

Another important factor is the hip flexibility. If your legs can float up sideways through a wide splits, this will require less planche forward and less shoulder strength.

Flexibility – not strength – is the limiting factor for most people.

Note: everyone’s body is different. People have different leg:arm ratios and so the mechanics are different for all of us. Some people find some moves easier than others.

If you find something difficult or impossible it doesn’t necessarily mean you are lacking effort or will power, it’s important to remember it’s just mechanics, forces, centres of gravity. You can improve your mechanics by increasing flexibility and the strength of muscles but that’s all it boils down to.

You can find Yogi Ranta​ classes & Retreats here (Bristol, United Kingdom)
Ranta Devi Averāte​

Ben Lowrey​’s Handstand Classes, Workshops and Special Events here (Bristol, United Kingdom)

If you would like to attend the Luxury Strength & Inversions workshop at Cadbury Club & Spa near Bristol, United Kingdom, click here


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10 ways to build Handstand confidence using the wall

This video tutorial will take you on a journey from beginner to improver.

1. People who are building their handstand confidence from scratch should aim to just get one foot to touch the wall. There is no need to stay upside down, a jump and a touch is all you need to begin with. This is the first step in building confidence.

2. Once you can consistently get a foot or toe to touch the wall, the next step is to bring the 2nd leg up to the wall. The first leg can stay bent as a stabiliser. You are now in a handstand.


3. Once you feel comfortable upside down, you can straighten both legs and begin to build your shoulder endurance and body alignment. Aim to stay upside down for 30 seconds. Push as hard as you can so your shoulders are enguaged and stable, squeeze you abs, glutes, and legs. Video yourself on your smartphone, aim to be as straight as possible.

4. Now that you have confidence, strength, alignment, & body-tension, the next step is to begin balancing. Bring one foot away from the wall at a time, keep swapping legs in a slow controlled manner. Legs are straight, toes are point. Use very slow controlled transitions.

5. Eventually you will find yourself balancing with neither feet touching the wall. Try to bring your feet together so that the big toes are touching.

Note: Balance is much easier when there’s a lot of body tension. Push the ground away from you as hard as you can, this engages the shoulders which creates a stable base. Relaxed shoulders are hard to balance. Enguage the legs in the same way. The body should be like a rigid plank and the balance should only be controlled by the fingers.

If you would like to attend the Luxury Strength & Inversions workshop at Cadbury Club & Spa near Bristol, United Kingdom, Click here for more info.

6. Now that you’ve practised one way, it’s time to turn round and practise facing the wall. This ensures you don’t get into bad habits of letting your back bend. Walk your feet up the wall and carefully walk your hands to the wall so that your nose touches the wall. Getting your hip bones and nose to the wall helps teach your body straight alignment. Aim for 30 seconds of endurance. This will build strong stable shoulders over time.

7. The next thing to do is practise alternating legs. You’ll need your hands a bit further away from the wall. Make sure you feel confident to twist out safely, or use a crash mat, or work with a friend who can spot you.

8. Once your legs are swapping in a smooth controlled manner, your final challenge is to bring both feet together. This may take weeks, months, or years. The improvements in Shoulder strength and stability do not happen instatly. Be realistic, this is a very difficult skill and gymnasts, acrobats, and yogis, spend years slowly improving their handbalance.

9. Stretch your shoulders open. Kick up to the wall, let your feet touch the wall first before transistioning your bum to the wall. The closer your hands are to the wall the easier this is. Over time you can increase the stretch by having your hands further away.

10. Finally, face the other direction and walk your feet up. This is an inverted downward dog or pike, this will stretch your forward fold whilst also building your Handstand strength. Pulse backwards and forwards, this stretches and also strengthens the shoulders and will contribute to a more stable and controlled handstand.

You can find more info about Ben Lowrey’s handstand classes, workshops and special events here.

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Handstand Shoulder Angles Explained

The quest for a straight Handstand can be a mystery at first.

It’s important to remember that the mechanics of the handstand are very simple. There is realy only 3 factors.

1. The shoulder angle.

2. The curvature or straightness of the spine.

3. The hip angle.

It’s also important to remember that if you go too far one way, the rest of the body will have to go the other way to maintain balance, this happens in all directions. For example if your shoulders and chest creep too far forward or extend too far back, the rest of the body (back, hips, legs) will be forced to change shape to compensate.

The main reason people have a banana back at first is not because their spine can’t straighten, it’s because the back  bend is a counterbalance for the shoulder position – in an attempt to send bodyweight in the other direct – as you will see in this video.

If you would like to attend the Luxury Strength and Inversions workshop at Cadbury Spa near Bristol – click here for more info.

In this first example, the shoulders are too open, the chest is pushed too far through the arms, the bum is sticking out the other way to compensate, and the hips are piking in order to counter balance the bum.

This is corrected by letting the shoulders come forward more over the hands which removes the need for the arch, and puts the arms in straight alignment with the spine. Then the hips can follow suit and straighten into alignment. (this will involve squeezing the glutes so the tail bone goes under and the hip bones thrust forward)

The other scenario with shoulders too open is that the whole body is in one big arch. This is a cool move if done deliberately, but if you’re trying to master your straight Handstand – then – again – let your shoulders come forward over your hands, this will mean the legs no longer need to compensate and they will be free to come into straight alignment over the hands.

The other scenario – and the most common – is where the shoulders won’t open into straight alignment with the spine, this tips the torso back the other way, and then the back and legs have to arch over the head to compensate. This is trickier to correct because it’s a result of not enough flexibility as apposed to too much, and so stretching will be needed in order to increase the range of motion at the shoulders.

Anybody who does find themselves in this position can correct it by pushing the ground away from them as hard as they can. This will have the effect of opening the shoulders into a straighter alignment with the spine but stretching will be needed aswell.

Wrapping the shoulders around the armpits is also a way of bringing the chest into alignment and enguaging pecs to stabilise the shoulders.

Something else to bare in mind is position is sometimes dictated by limits in strength… but that is a subject for another article!

Check out my other blog posts for more tutorials.

Additional stretching exercises will help increase the shoulder mobility and make all Handstands easier.

Additional gymnastic conditioning such as GMB will help overall movement ability

A free 20 minute handstand tutorial is available from the homepage

Resistance bands, parallettes and other bodyweight fitness equipment can be found at Rubber Banditz

Ben Lowrey Handstand Classes (Bristol U.K.) + national workshops can be found here

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Six Handstand transitions for Yoga – Downward Dog to Forward Fold

It feels great to float from downward dog to forward fold whilst practising Yoga, which is why I created this short video to give you some exercises to work on.

As with most movements – a combination of strength and flexibility is required. If you have less of one, you will need more of the other to make up the difference.

People with great shoulder mobility and forward fold will be able to position their weight nicely over their hands without relying so much on strength, and people with very strong shoulders will be able to use brute force to support their bodyweight without relying so much on form or alignment. 

Any time your arms leave the vertical position and lean forward (planching forward) then shoulder strength will be required to support that lean.

Check out my other blog posts for more tutorials and articles. 

Additional stretching exercises will help increase the shoulder mobility and make all Handstands easier.

Additional gymnastic conditioning such as GMB will help overall movement ability

A free 20 minute handstand tutorial is available from the homepage

Resistance bands, parallettes and other bodyweight fitness equipment can be found at Rubber Banditz

Ben Lowrey Handstand Classes (Bristol U.K.) + national workshops can be found here

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Tucked Handstand. Bum out? – or not 

A tucked handstand is easier in some ways because the bodyweight is lower and so it’s easier to balance. 

People with good shoulder mobility will find it easier to stick their bum out because open shoulders are a part of the overall back bend. 

People with restricted shoulder mobility will find that their closed shoulders spoil the back bend and so they’ll find it difficult to stick their bum out and balance in a tucked handstand. 

If they are strong enough, they will be able to lean forward and support their bodyweight but it will feel like a struggle, if they are not strong enough then the tuck simple won’t be possible.

These people will find a regular straight Handstand easier to balance, but it won’t be entirely straight because the closed shoulders will cause a slight back bend to compensate, but it will feel easier than the tuck. 

When the arms are vertical to the ground the bodyweight can rest on the arms with very little effort.

Whenever your arms are leaning forward you are then relying on shoulder strength to support your bodyweight. Plus the sensation of leaning forward into the wrists may feel uncomfortable unless you have good wrist mobility.

Your body will adapt to handstanding the more you practise it. 

Additional stretching exercises will help increase the shoulder mobility and make all Handstands easier.

Additional gymnastic conditioning such as GMB will help overall movement ability

A free 20 minute handstand tutorial is available from the homepage

Resistance bands, parallettes and other bodyweight fitness equipment can be found at Rubber Banditz

Ben Lowrey Handstand Classes (Bristol U.K.) + national workshops can be found here

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How to do Forearm Stand in 10 easy steps. Video Tutorial. 

Would you like more confidence in your forearm Stand? Do you get nervous or opt-out of Forearm Stand when you get to the Inversion part of your Yoga class? If so… this short video could be helpful for you!

Be sure to check out the Luxury Strength + Inversions Worlshop + Spa on 11th March. 

1) I highly recommend you practise near a wall. You could ask a friend to spot you but the wall is very reliable and always available!

2) Don’t be in any rush. It’s ok to just get comfortable with your weight in your forearms at first (like a downward dog but in forearms, bum in the air, legs straight), and then practise lifting one leg at a time off the floor. (practise both sides). 

3) Once you feel comfortable lifting legs, then start to hop. Keep the legs nice and straight and toes pointed. Hop from one foot to another.

4) Eventually it will feel natural to hop all the way up so that one or both feet touches the wall. It’s ok to have both legs together or stay in splits, either is fine.

5) Get comfortable just staying in the Inversion, breath, find some calm and stillness. This will help your Strength, endurance, and mental focus. 

6) Once you feel confident in the Inversion try bending your knees so the tips of your toes slide down the wall closer to your head and to the ground. This is a Scorpion pose. 

7) Once you are comfortable looking between your hands (at the wall), try tucking your head through so you’re now looking towards your bellbutton. This will help stretch your shoulders and triceps open which is useful for all inversions including handstand. Be sure to push your chest through away from your hands as far as you. This will feel like a nice stretch. 

8) You are now ready to move away from the wall. (It’s ok to have a friend spot you). If you fall to far whilst practising  just lift one elbow and it will twist you out sideways so you can land on your feet like a cat without any problems.

9) Repeat the same steps you did against the wall by lifting one leg at a time, then start to hop from one foot to the other until you eventually find some balance in splits. (Splits is easier than having feet together.)

10) Once you are confident balancing without a wall or a spotter, try bending both knees in splits (sometimes called Stag, or Attitude, legs are split front and back but knees are bent.) let one leg fall back so the knee bends and the foot comes towards your head, let the knee of your other leg tuck towards your tummy, keep your feet and toes pointed. Now the extra step is to tuck your head through so your looking towards your belly button!


thanks for reading this article.

Feel welcome to attend my handstand and Inversion classes in Bristol United Kingdom, or check out the free 20 minute video tutorial on 

Ben Lowrey

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Why do Pole Dancers love learning Handstands?

Handstands are addictive… really addictive. In some ways they are the holy grail of party tricks, the trophy move.

For a start, they can not be blagged or faked, there’s no easy version.. the handstand is either happening.. or it’s not.

Just like any accomplishment, handstands are gratifying because they are an outward demonstration of the huge amounts of patience + persistence + dedication + consistency that were required to accomplish them.

“Is it all about core strength?”

No. It’s true that learning to engage the core muscles will help your body be tense which will help the stability of the handstand. But really this amounts to nothing more than squeezing your abs and your bum and pushing really hard through your shoulders.

The whole body needs to be under tension. That means hips, legs, feet, glutes, shoulders, abs, there’s nothing particularly special about the core.

“What’s the secret to being able to handstand?”

In a nutshell: Squeeze everything and push as hard as you can.

The slightly longer answer is:

1) A confident + controlled entry.

2) Alignment

3) Body tension

4) Shoulder strength + stability

5) Balance

(If you haven’t seen my free 20 minute handstand tutorial video, anybody who is on my workshop newsletter can view it.

There’s 2 types of people who find handstand easier:

1) Really strong people, and 2) really flexible people.. but the flexible people find it easiest.

Check out these resistance bands which can be used to progress Strength + Flexibility

Handstands can be perfectly inserted into a Pole or Yoga routine.

Pole dancers love to transition on and off of the pole via handstand. It demonstrates another dimension of strength + control + body mastery beyond just being on the pole. A solid handstand can give you an edge over other competitors in a competition, or make you stand out when performing.

Yoga people love handstands because it is a great challenge to incorporate into one’s own practise and is a bench mark of body mastery, strength, control, and balance.

Flexibility is the most common limiting factor… not strength. 

If you have enough shoulder mobility to get your arms straight in the air with your arms + spine straight in one continuous line, you will find handstand easier.

If you shoulders do not open that far, it requires a lot of strength to hold your bodyweight without that straight alignment. Some people ARE strong enough to do that (think buff weight lifters, crossfiters) but they fatigue quickly. On the other hand, super flexible people can easily position and align themselves without needing much strength.

On the other hand, people with more strength have more leeway to dip and save the handstand than a weaker person.

If you would like to book a 90 minute handstand workshop for your Pole, Fitness, or Yoga studio, please get in touch.

Ben Lowrey

Bristol, United Kingdom


I hope to see you soon, either in my weekly Bristol classes, or at a Workshop near you.

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