How to do a Handstand

This is generic information and not to be confused with advice. Speak to a professional for all your health needs and seek their counsel. Children need to be under adult supervision at all times. We disclaim all liability for any physical harm resulting from the information on this website. For more info see our disclaimer and privacy policy

How to do a handstand
A handstand is one of the most important skills in gymnastics. Not only is it one of the basics on floor, the straight-body handstand position is everywhere in other skills. The handstand position is in a giant on bars, in a front handspring on vault and in handsprings (back and front) on both beam and floor. So, it’s important to both learn how to do a perfect handstand, and to master it.

We’re going to share with you some exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles you need for a handstand, along with some drills you can do at home and at the gym to learn how to do a handstand.

handstand workout

muscles handstand

Muscles You Need for a Handstand

You need strong arms and shoulders, along with a strong core in order to master and learn a perfect handstand.

  • Arms & Shoulders: You need strong arms and shoulders to hold your body up in a handstand. You also use the muscles in your shoulders to help keep your balance.
  • Core: You need a strong core to help keep your body in a tight-body position.


Exercises You Can Do at Home

We’ve listed some exercises you can do at home to help you strengthen the muscles you need in order to do a perfect handstand.
planks for hs

  • Planks (1:53-2:11 in the video): You can do plank exercises to help strengthen the core muscles you need to do a handstand. 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 positions, make sure to breathe! Planks are great for working multiple muscle groups, but especially your core.pushups
  • Push-Ups: Push-ups will help you develop the arm strength you need to hold a handstand. Get into a straight-body plank position with your shoulders over your wrists. While squeezing your core and butt, bend your arms. You want to focus on your body position and only go as far down as you can while still maintaining control of your movement. Raise your body again by straightening your arms to complete the repetition.pull ups for hs
  • Pull-Ups: Pull-ups help to strengthen your upper-body, your arms and shoulders. You can do both pull-ups and chin-ups with a pull-up bar for arm strength. For pull-ups, you hold the bar with your fingers facing away from your body, and pull your chin over the bar. For chin-ups, you hold the bar with your fingers facing towards your body.

This is a great video with skill progressions for learning handstands.

Handstand Exercises You Can Do at Home

Many of the exercises we mention you can see in the video above. These are exercises and parts of the handstand you can practice at home.

Lunge: You can practice the beginning lunge for a handstand. Start standing with your legs together and your arms by your side. Then to start your lunge, put your arms straight over your head next to your ears, and step your dominant leg in front of you and bend it slightly. Your back leg should be straight. Hold this position for 3 seconds (you want to be squeezing your core) and then pull your legs back together with your arms at your side.

Lunge & Lever: The lunge part of the lunge and lever is the same, but then you want to get your body in the shape of a “T.”  To do that, with your arms straight over your head next to your ears, lift your back leg up at the same time as you move your torso and arms down. You want to keep your body straight. You want to stop when your back leg is straight out behind you perpendicular to the leg you are standing on, while your torso is also perpendicular to the leg you are standing on. You should be in the shape of a “T” with your body. Once you have hit the “T,” slowly move your body back to the lunge, keeping your arms and torso in a straight line with your back leg.

Spiderman-Against-the-WallSpiderman-against-the-wall is a way of doing a handstand against the wall, while using the wall for both support and to help keep you in a straight-body position. To do this, stand near a wall that has nothing (no furniture or other objects) near you that you can hit. You can also do this with a wedge placed against the wall, or with a handstand homework mat. Stand with your back to the wall. Put your hands on the ground and one of your feet on the wall. Walk your feet up the wall and move your hands closer to the wall until your belly is flat against the wall. Hold for a couple seconds and then crawl back down the wall and back to your feet.

Open Shoulder Push-Up Holds, Walks and Hops: This drill is great to help you learn the proper handstand body position. You can see this shape at 35 seconds in this video from 3:13-4:07. Get in your push up position with your hands a little bit in front of you to create the open shoulder push-up shape. Then try to hold for 20 seconds, working your way all the way up to a minute. Then you can try to walk 5 steps side to side, and then 5 steps forwards and backwards (4:09-4:25 in the video). When you can do that well you can try to hop (4:26-4:40).

Handstand Shaping Drill with Rope: You can see this drill in this video. Grab a t-shirt that you can hold like the rope in the video. Stand in a straight body position with your arms straight above your head. Push your arms back, using your shoulders, so that they are behind your ears, or at least next to them. Hold this for 20 seconds. Press your ribs in, and then let them go back out. Do this 3x. Squeeze your legs while standing on your toes in relevé. Hold this for 10 seconds. Now lay flat on the floor on your stomach. Extend your fingers as far as you can while pushing your armpits into the floor. Then move your fingers back. Do this 3x.

Handstand Drills You Should Be Able to Do at the Gym

All of these exercises you can see in the video above. These are drills you should be able to do at the gym in order to master your handstand.

Handstand on a Parallette against the Wall: This exercise is similar to spiderman-against-the-wall except for it’s a little harder because you do it on a parallette. The parallette makes it a little bit harder to balance, but that helps you figure out the muscles you need to use to balance correctly. You can do this against a wall with a mat.

Half Handstand and Find Vertical With One Leg: For this handstand drill you need a block. Do a handstand on the floor next to the block, and put one leg on the block to keep your balance. The other leg should be in the air trying to find the vertical handstand position. Repeat on the other leg.

Handstand Flatback onto a Mat: Here is another handstand drill that helps the gymnast find vertical. For this drill you need an 8-inch mat. Stand next to the end of the mat and do a handstand with your hands on the mat. Make sure you are squeezing your body tight with your head tucked in between your arms. Then you will want to tilt past vertical and fall onto your back in a tight-body position. The purpose of this drill is to practice the tight-body position and let the gymnast feel vertical, and how much of a tilt causes her to fall backwards.

tools for learning a handstand

Tools for Learning a Handstand

Here are some tools you can use to learn a handstand.

8-Inch Mat: An 8-inch mat is needed for the handstand flatback drill. You can also stand on the 8-inch mat and practice handstands.

Handstand Homework MatThe handstand homework mat helps gymnasts practice handstands at home safely. It is padded so when you do a handstand against the wall it won’t hurt.

Parallette: A parallette is useful to help a gymnast perfect her handstand. It’s much harder to do a handstand on a parallette instead of on the ground. It’s also helpful for when a gymnast is learning giants or cast handstands, to practice her perfect handstand on it.




How to Do a Handstand Step by Step

So now that you have gotten stronger with the conditioning exercises and you’ve done handstand drills, it’s time to do a handstand! Here are the steps:

  1. Start in a lunge. Your arms should be straight above your head and your dominant leg should be in front slightly bent. Your front knee should not be over your ankle.

To do a handstand, start in a lunge.

  1. Kick up to handstand. You want to feel vertical and try to hold the straight body position by squeezing your bottom, your abs and trying to push through your shoulders. You want to try to pull your toes towards the ceiling.

The next step in a cartwheel is to kick up to handstand.

  1. Lower one leg at a time to land in a lunge. You should land in the same lunge that you started from.

To finish your handstand, split your legs and come back down into a lunge.

The exercises and drills above should be able to help you learn how to do a handstand. If you do the strength exercises and get the muscles you need for a handstand, and then practice the handstand drills, we no doubt you will learn how to do a handstand soon. Once you’ve mastered a handstand, you can can move on to other gymnastics skills.


Learn how to do a handstand and get a free handstand workout guide

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts Found
44 comments… add one
  • Patsy Thrush December 26, 2016, 3:55 pm

    This was very helpful and gave me a start base for home

    • gymnasticshq July 5, 2019, 6:14 pm

      We’re glad this was helpful 🙂

      • johie February 8, 2020, 7:13 pm

        it was a realy good but it didnt have male gymnast in it

  • Jaylyn Ada Mischke February 28, 2017, 7:14 am

    These tips helped me a lot espeshely the video. Now I can do a 10second handstand, that’s long to me but I don’t know adopt you!!!!!

    • gymnasticshq July 5, 2019, 6:14 pm

      We’re glad the video helped 🙂

  • Megan March 17, 2017, 12:08 pm

    I can’t find my center of gravity in my handstand my handstand goals are handstand against the wall for 2 minutes and a 30 second handstand without the wall

    • Janie May 30, 2017, 1:39 pm

      good luck you got this!

    • gymnasticshq July 5, 2019, 6:15 pm

      The stronger you get, the easier it will be to find your center of gravity. Keep practicing those handstands against the wall to get stronger.

    • CGI Coach September 26, 2019, 2:01 pm

      Make sure you are squeezing your core and also shifting your weight from the tips of your fingers and the bottom of your hands. I hope this helps if you still need it. 🙂

  • Hailey Morgan August 9, 2017, 2:22 pm

    I tried worked!

    • gymnasticshq July 5, 2019, 6:16 pm

      We’re glad it worked!

  • victoria November 4, 2017, 2:54 pm

    I persevered through it , there were hard moments buy yah i got it.

    • gymnasticshq July 5, 2019, 6:20 pm

      That’s great!!

  • Ariana January 4, 2018, 1:19 am

    This is one of the base skills that helped me learn an ariel

    • gymnasticshq July 5, 2019, 6:16 pm

      Yes, you’re right. A handstand is a very important base skill.

  • mirha July 4, 2018, 10:57 am

    this is amazing i can do a handstand of 5 seconds im learning more

  • mirha July 4, 2018, 10:58 am

    this is amazing i can do a handstand of 5 seconds im learning more tho

    • gymnasticshq July 5, 2019, 6:17 pm

      5 seconds is a great start! Keep up the good work!

  • Reagan August 28, 2018, 6:02 pm

    This is really hard but, i did a hanstan on the wall! 😀

    • gymnasticshq July 5, 2019, 6:17 pm

      Yay, that’s great to hear! Awesome job!

  • Agustine September 23, 2018, 1:59 am

    This good I get improvement day by day in handstand

    • gymnasticshq July 5, 2019, 6:17 pm

      That’s great that you are improving. Keep practicing those drills!

  • Daniela Abreu October 12, 2019, 12:04 pm


  • Anonymous November 20, 2019, 6:24 pm

    I’m a swimmer and I have a lot of muscle that isn’t very flexible. I can’t seem to get up into the handstand format against the wall even. How should I fix this?

  • Maddison November 23, 2019, 6:06 am

    Im having a problem kicking up into a handstand does anyone know what I’m doing wrong

  • johie February 8, 2020, 7:11 pm

    it was a realy good but it didnt have male gymnast in it

  • Bethany April 19, 2020, 5:08 pm

    It won’t let me open the pdf, because it’s says it’s not a safe connection. :/

  • Prince May 1, 2020, 7:59 am

    I am to scheared i will fill over

  • katy May 2, 2020, 7:38 am

    wow i can nearly do it!

  • Naiela Riaz May 25, 2020, 10:20 am

    Hi. Do Biceps dips help to get handstand as a helpful exercise or not???
    Also what can I do if i don’t have a handstand?
    Also this is off topic.
    But i am beginner.
    And i try to get my splits but for some odd reason one of my leg is bent and wont go straight. Any advice?
    Also when i try to straight it i wont let me.

  • giftportal June 17, 2020, 12:41 am

    Great blog.Keep posting.

  • Tallissa July 10, 2020, 11:40 am

    I need to get over my fear of kicking up. I kick up a little then I get scared and come back down. If you can kindly give me some tips to help me achieve the handstand. Thank you.

  • Joan August 31, 2020, 4:34 am

    I can’t really hold a handstand for that long

  • Gina October 12, 2020, 3:18 pm

    i can hold a handstand against a wall but whenever i try it away from the wall i collapse.what am i doing wrong

    • Diedra Dees December 12, 2020, 8:32 pm

      just work on you arms an balance.

  • Diedra December 12, 2020, 8:33 pm

    just work on your arm an balance

  • Cutefoxy March 24, 2021, 7:03 am

    i trained by my wardrobe and in 2 days of hard work i made a Handstand on my own 20 seconds!!!!

    • Faye Smith April 1, 2021, 2:46 pm

      WOW!!! I cannot even do that!!! Good job!

  • Cutefoxy March 24, 2021, 7:05 am

    🙂 THX

  • Faye Smith March 31, 2021, 2:56 pm

    I’ve been using this info for months, and I still can’t do a handstand for more than 3 seconds. Any advice?

  • Melindak84 April 4, 2021, 7:41 pm

    Hello I don’t know what room to do this in

  • ferhat June 15, 2021, 3:05 pm


  • emofrog October 8, 2021, 12:45 pm

    I cant do a handstand now! Thank you for this!
    – sincerely emo frog 🙂


Leave a Comment