You have probably figured out by now that the handstand position shows up as part of skills on all of the events in gymnastics. On bars the most basic of those skills is a cast handstand. A cast handstand is an essential skill because you need to be able to get into a handstand position on the bars before you can do giants, or pirouettes. It’s also one of the TOPS skills.
If you’ve already mastered a cast handstand, you can download the GymnasticsHQ Cast Handstand Club Certificate. Click Here to Download
I’m going to share with you some exercises to help you strengthen the muscles you will need for a cast handstand, along with some drills you can do at home, and those you will need to master at the gym before doing a cast handstand.
Muscles You Need to Do a Cast Handstand
Arms: You need strong arms to do a cast handstand because they are what support your body in the handstand, and give you control and stability as your legs are coming up over your head.
Core: You need strong core muscles to enable your legs to cast up over your head.
Exercises You Can Do at Home for a Cast Handstand
Front Lateral Raise against Wall: You can do front lateral lifts with either a weight or therabands. This helps to strengthen the arm muscles you use in a cast handstand. To make sure you keep your back straight, it’s helpful to do these against something, like a padded wall. If you have the handstand helper, it would be perfect to do these against it. To do this exercise, have your gymnast stand against the handstand helper with light weights in her hands, palms facing the ground. Then she should slowly lift the weights up until they are above her head, simulating the movement they would make in the cast handstand. She can then lower her hands and the weights until they are touching her thighs to complete the repetition.
V-ups: V-Ups strengthen your core muscles, which you need to keep you stable in your handstand. To do V-ups, start lying flat on the floor with your arms over your head and your legs straight and squeezed together. Using your core, pull your legs up at the same time as you pull your upper-body off the floor, making sure to not arch your back. You want your hands to touch your feet. Lower both your upper-body and your legs back to the floor to complete the repetition.
Planks: Planks are a great exercise for your whole body, and specifically for the cast handstand they help to strengthen your arms and your core. You can do a plank exercise from either your wrists or your elbows. When you are in the plank position, you want to be squeezing your legs, butt and core. Your shoulders should be over your elbows, and your body should be in a straight line from your head to your feet. As you are squeezing all your muscles and maintaining a straight-body position, make sure to breathe!
Hip Lifts: Hip lifts help to strengthen some of the muscles you use as your hips push your legs straight in the cast handstand. To do a hip lift, lie on your back with your knees bent, your arms at your side and your feet on the ground. Lift your hips toward the ceiling, hold for a second and then lower your hips back to the floor to finish the repetition. Make sure you are keeping your back flat and squeezing your butt.
Drills You Should Be Able to Do at Home for a Cast Handstand
All of the drills mentioned are shown in the video above.
Hold a Handstand on a Parallette against a Wall: Your gymnast can practice handstands on a parallette against a wall, similar to Spiderman Against the Wall. You want to make sure the wall is padded; using a handstand helper is ideal. Your gymnast should be able to hold a handstand for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Hold a Hollow on a Parallette with a Stability Ball: You can practice the hollow shape you will need to do a cast handstand, by holding a hollow with a stability ball. You can first start by just having your hands on the ground, and then work up to having your hands holding on to a parallette. Your feet and legs will then be resting on a stability ball to compete the hollow shape.
Drills You Should Be Able to Do at the Gym for a Cast Handstand
Handstand on Parallette with Toes on Bar: This is a drill to help your gymnast practice the handstand shape. Put a parallette slightly in front of the low bar. And then standing with your back to the low bar, do a handstand on the parallette with your feet resting on the low bar. This will force your gymnast’s body to tighten, and in order for her to hold the handstand position, her core, butt and legs will all need to be squeezed.
Pike Drag Up: You can do pike drag-ups on a block or on the bar. If you are on going to do them on a block, put your hands on the edge of the block while you are standing on the ground. Then pull your legs straight up the block until you are standing on top of the block in a pike stand. If you are going to do them on the bar, start from a front support. Then pull your legs up until they touch the bar. Make sure you have a big resi-mat in front of you that you can jump off on.
Pike Up on Bar Fall Backwards to Back: Pike-Ups on the bar and then falling to your back is the next step in the drill above. You should be doing these on a bar with a big resi-mat underneath it. Do the first part of the pike-up and then fall to your back on top of the resi-mat.
Pike Straddle Up on Parallette with Stability Ball: Start this drill from the hollow body position on a parallette with a stability ball that you practiced above. Your hands are on the parallete bar and your legs are squeezed together resting on the stability ball. Then pull your legs off the stability ball, into a straddle up handstand on the parallette. This simulates the second half of the cast handstand.
Tools for Learning a Cast Handstand
Parallette: A parallette helps you practice a handstand on top of a bar. This is helpful to do on the floor before you move to a bar several feet off the ground.
Stability Ball: A stability ball is helpful for many cast handstand drills to help your gymnast practice the hollow shape.
Handstand Homework Mat: A handstand homework mat is great for practicing handstands at home, without having to do them against a hard wall.
Light Weights: Light weights are useful as resistance in strength exercises.
Once you have strengthened your arms and core muscles, and have mastered the cast handstand drills, you should be much closer to learning how to do a cast handstand. And since a cast handstand is an important advanced bar skill to have mastered, you will be able to then learn how to do other gymnastics skills.