Since Calisthenics exercises have gradually occupied their rightful spot in the fitness industry, especially in Singapore, so are the handstands classes. Though doing handstands is an integral part of Calisthenics training, it is usually practiced in a separate session as it has its own specific exercises towards developing the strength to support yourself upside down and learning the skills to balance yourself on your hands at the middle of the room.
The best handstands class for beginners that you can find in Singapore should cover the fundamental drills to develop the needed skills to doing handstands. The session should include an in-depth warm-up for the wrist, stretching the shoulder flexion range, straight arm strength, and core awareness, especially in the positioning of the pelvis.
Areas a beginner should work on to safely learn handstands
Though these areas in the body will most likely be covered in a normal fitness class, there are specific pointers that you should learn so you can progress faster in your handstand training.
Wrist preparation for handstands
The wrist is one of the most important parts of the body in order for you to support your entire body weight with your hands. Not only it has to be strong, but it has to be flexible enough into a certain range so you will not end up getting hurt with your wrist when doing the specific handstand drills.
These drills have to be taken as independent workouts by themselves, especially once you will be progressing towards the skills of balancing yourself in the middle of the room. For a beginner, an in-depth warm-up of your wrist to prepare yourself for your normal Calisthenics session will be enough. Here is an article where I discussed more details on how to do the warm-up exercises for your wrist for Calisthenics.
Shoulder flexibility you need for handstands
Though it is possible to be able to do handstands with tight shoulders, it will a lot more efficient to hold yourself upside down if your shoulders have enough range to flex overhead. Your back will end up in a very arch position if your shoulders are tight, and no matter how strong you are, you will not be able to hold the handstand for long.
You might feel like you are straining your back as you hold the position, but this is not because you don’t have enough core strength. Your spine is just arching to compensate for the lack of mobility of your shoulders.
How do you know if you have enough shoulder flexibility for handstands?
Here is a simple test you can do at home. Stand with your back against the wall with both feet 12 inches away from it. Bend your knees slightly and tuck your buttocks so your entire back should be totally flat against the wall.
Bring your arms overhead with your elbows straight and hands shoulder-width apart.
If your elbows can touch the wall without arching your back, you have sufficient shoulder range needed for handstands; if not, you need to work on it.
How to stretch your shoulders for handstands?
One of the simplest and very effective ways to stretch your shoulders for handstands is to hang passively on a pull-up bar. We call this one dead hang, where you just fully relax everything and let the gravity do its work to stretch your shoulders.
How much strength do you need in your shoulders for handstands?
This might be quite obvious that you need to be strong in order to hold yourself upside down with only your arms to support you, but many assume that they can kick up straight to a handstand position even if they cannot do a single pushup.
In our Handstands Fundamental class, we make sure that we address the development of strength properly in the arms and shoulders as this can delay the progress of acquiring the skill.
You should be able to do standard pushups on the floor at least to have enough strength in your upper body. If not, here is an article about how you can progress safely to work on your first pushup.
Do you really need core strength for handstands?
If you can stand up properly without collapsing like rubber to the floor, then you have enough core strength to hold yourself in a handstand. Core strength is a little overrated in handstands training, but what is actually needed is first, your shoulder flexibility, as if you don’t have enough shoulder flexion range, you will never be able to hold a straight handstand no matter how much you strengthen your core.
What you needed instead is core drills that will improve your awareness in your core, lower back, and pelvis, as this one will be needed once you have addressed the shoulder tightness.
What to look for in handstands class
The handstand teacher
The very first thing you should check is if the teacher can do a handstand in the middle of the room without any support for at least 60s. If not, this person has not login enough time to understand how to handstand.
It is very common for a lot of fitness instructors to incorporate handstands in their training, which can be very dangerous if they lack the knowledge to understand the progressions of the exercise.
So you have to check them out and not just doing it against the wall. I was able to kick up into a handstand to the wall on my first day of handstand training; no big deal! But it took me around 3 years to be able to hold my handstands comfortably in the middle of the room from that day.
The students in the handstands class
Check if this teacher has shown results over time, as this is also very important that their methodology works. The other thing you have to check is the age of the students attending the class; if you see a few middle-aged individuals joining the class for some time, then you know you are in safe hands.
Is it a specific handstands class, or is handstands just an add-on exercise?
Another thing you need to check in the class is if it’s a pure handstands class or it is just an add-on to a fitness class or a typical yoga class that incorporates some handstand movement in the session.
As handstand is more favored towards skill development, it requires a specific class to work on. Unless you are not serious about learning the skill, then it is okay for you to experience it as long as you make sure you are safe doing it.
How safe do they approach handstands class?
Learning handstands can be very exciting for beginners, but the only thing is that this skill will require time to learn. It will take you many months or even years to acquire the skill. It will be even slower if you are a late starter and a slow learner like me.
So be sure that your teacher knows the progression of the exercises well and has a systematic way to teach it to you safely. If not, injuries or accidents can happen, and it will not be a pleasant experience on your side.