The first time I did my proper handstand training surprised me how much strength and conditioning it requires to complete the session. I was totally gone every set, my heart rate was up, and my adrenaline was spiking up all over the place from the mixture of fear and excitement of learning the skill. Since then, I was totally hooked and committed to learning the skill.
Handstand training is a good way to improve your fitness. It requires the arms, shoulders, core, back, and leg muscles to work together to balance in a handstand position. Aside from being a coordination exercise, doing a few sets of handstand kick-up drills can be an intense cardio workout.
Doing handstands has become an integral part of my training program. When I was just getting started, I treated handstand training as a separate workout altogether as it required a lot of my energy to finish my program. As I got better, I have the option to use handstands as my warm-up on strength training days or as a different session itself when I work with more higher-level handstand drills.
Can you do a Cardio workout with handstands?
Even though learning to handstand is classified as more of a skill training than a conditioning workout, it still requires a decent level of fitness to tackle a handstand program. This is especially true for beginners.
And if you tweak a handstand program so that you can do a series of drills consecutively with very little rest in between, you will end up with a good cardio workout. The best time to do this is at the end of the training session, where you have already finished the more important skills to learn. Choose 2 drills that are relatively easy for your level, preferably one upper body and one lower body exercise.`
We will use an easier version of your wall kick-up drill and push-ups as an example:
Exercise A: Kick up with left leg 10x, Kick up with right leg 10x
Exercise B: Easy version push-up 10x
Repeat exercises A and B for as many sets as you can in 10 minutes. Beat your number the next training session.
Choosing the easier version of the drills is important to ensure that you are doing them with good form with little rest in between. If you are unsure what version of pushup you can do, you can read my article on pushup variations for beginners.
Do handstands help with your weight loss?
The short answer is handstand training can help you to lose weight; the long answer is it depends. Any activity that you add to your day that will require your body to burn more calories will help you to lose weight, that is if you don’t put more calories than you used to.
In the long run, we can still say that you will be overall healthier as you have built new muscles and have a better fitness level than before which will increase your chances of successfully going into a weight loss program.
6 Tips to make your handstand training a good workout
1. Make sure to warm up your entire body, especially your wrist. Proper warm-up in the right area will not only give you a better quality session and prevent injury, but it will also enable you to push harder as your joints are ready to take the load for the session. You can use this wrist warm-up routine for your handstand training.
2. Do the easy coordination drills specific to handstand training in the warm-up rather than doing general warm-up movements. This will free up your time to add more quality and intense work in the training session.
3. Do the drills that require more concentration and skills in the early part where you still have more energy to do them with good quality. These are the movements that require you to balance or more intense exercises that you need to exert more strength, such as chest-to-wall drills.
4. Pair a lower-body training program instead of just doing a pure handstand session. You will be more efficient as you can do your lower body exercises while you rest in between the handstand-specific drills. This will be taxing at first, but if you want to improve your fitness while training handstands, this approach will be very effective.
And you can really pack in a good quality workout in a single session. One thing to remember is to make sure that the workout that you choose to pair with your handstand training should not work the same muscles otherwise, you will dilute the quality of both exercises.
And easy pairing will be lower body strength work and handstands, mobility and handstands, and core training and handstands. You can also do pulling work and handstands but I wouldn’t advise this for beginners as it will still fatigue your upper too early, and you will compromise the quality even though it’s an opposing muscle group.
5. Place a conditioning workout at the end of the session that is related to handstand training. Examples of exercise related to handstands will be pushups, pike pushups, any type of plank training with the elbows straight, handstand kick-up drills, and wall handstand drills. If you only purely do handstands in your training, it will be a good idea to insert some hanging and pulling work at this type to develop a more balance musculature. Check my article on how to do pull-ups if you want to know more about variations of pulling work for beginners.
Once you have selected the movements that you are going, you can do a circuit type of training with very little rest in between the exercise or an AMSAP(as many sets as possible) or AMRAP (as many reps as possible) type of training. This will push your fitness and conditioning to the next level while learning the handstands.
6. Core training at the end of the session is a common thing we do in both our handstands and Calisthenics classes. This will not only train your midsection, but it will also build the foundation for your handstand alignment in the future once you progress to an advanced level.