Handstand Progression Plan

A Breakdown of Handstand Progressions and Gym Routine Integration 

The handstand is an awe-inspiring bodyweight skill that showcases strength, balance, and body control. While it may seem like an elusive feat, breaking down the handstand into five main progressions can help you develop the necessary strength and technique to conquer this impressive movement. In this blog post, we will explore these progressions and discuss how to incorporate them into your gym routine for optimal results. 


Progression 1: Walk Outs and Box Walk Outs: 

Before diving into the full handstand, it’s crucial to build shoulder strength, core stability, and body awareness. Walk outs and box walk outs are excellent exercises to strengthen the upper body and engage the core. Here’s how to perform them: 

1. Walk Outs: Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Bend forward and place your hands on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Begin to walk your hands forward, maintaining a strong plank position with your core engaged. Continue walking your hands out until you reach a full plank position, and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Aim for 8-10 repetitions.

2. Box Walk Outs: Set up a box or step platform that is about knee height. Start in a standing position facing the box, then bend forward and place your hands on the box. Walk your hands forward until your body is in a full plank position, and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Focus on maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels throughout the movement. Aim for 8-10 repetitions.

Progression 2: Pike Push-Ups: 

Building upper body strength and stability is crucial for holding a handstand. Pike push-ups target the shoulders, triceps, and core, making them an effective exercise for developing the necessary strength. Here’s how to perform them: 

1. Start in a downward dog position with your hands on the ground and your hips lifted high. Your body should resemble an inverted V shape.

2. Slowly lower your head towards the ground by bending your elbows, keeping them pointing backward.

3. Push through your hands and extend your arms to return to the starting position.

4. Aim for 8-10 repetitions, focusing on maintaining a straight line from your head to your hips throughout the movement.

 Pike push-ups are beneficial for handstand practice because they target the same muscles used to stabilize the body in an inverted position. They help strengthen the shoulders, triceps, and core, enabling better control and stability during handstand holds. 

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Progression 3: Scapula Shrugs: 

Scapula elevation is a crucial component of mastering the handstand. Scapula shrugs focus on strengthening the muscles responsible for scapula movement, helping you maintain proper shoulder positioning and stability. Here’s how to perform them: 

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides.

2. Begin by shrugging your shoulders upward towards your ears, focusing on the movement of your scapulae.

3. Lower your shoulders back down to the starting position.

4. Aim for 12-15 repetitions, focusing on maintaining control and proper form throughout the exercise.

Scapula shrugs help activate and strengthen the muscles that elevate the scapulae, which is essential for maintaining stability and control during handstand holds. By developing scapular strength, you enhance your ability to engage and stabilize your shoulders, contributing to better handstand performance. 


Progression 4: Wall-Assisted Handstand: 

The next step in your handstand journey is the wall-assisted handstand. This variation provides support and helps you develop the necessary balance and alignment. Follow these steps: 

1. Start facing a wall and place your hands on the ground, shoulder-width apart.

2. Kick one leg up towards the wall, while the other leg drives off the ground.

3. Gradually bring your second leg up to meet the first against the wall, forming a straight line with your body.

4. Aim to hold this position for 10-15 seconds initially, gradually working your way up to longer holds as your strength and balance improve.

Progression 5: Freestanding Handstand: 

Once you have mastered the wall-assisted handstand and gained confidence in your balance, it’s time to progress to the freestanding handstand. This requires exceptional core strength, body control, and confidence. Follow these steps: 

1. Find an open space with sufficient room for you to kick up into a handstand.

2. Place your hands on the ground, shoulder-width apart, and kick your legs up with control, aiming to achieve a straight line from your wrists to your toes.

3. Focus on engaging your core, keeping your body tight, and maintaining balance. Initially, you may only hold the handstand for a few seconds, but with practice, you can increase your duration.

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Implementing Progressions into Your Gym Routine: 

To effectively incorporate these handstand progressions into your gym routine, consider the following guidelines: 

1. Warm up thoroughly: Begin with light cardio and dynamic stretches to prepare your muscles and joints for the workout ahead.

2. Practice handstand progressions at the beginning of your workout: This ensures you have maximum energy and focus for these demanding exercises.

3. Start with lower sets and gradually increase: Begin with 2-3 sets of each progression and aim to increase the number of sets or repetitions over time.

4. Allow for adequate rest: Rest periods of 60-90 seconds between sets will help you maintain optimal strength and form.

5. Consistency is key: Aim to incorporate handstand progressions into your routine at least 2-3 times per week to see significant progress and improvements in your handstand ability.


Mastering the handstand is a rewarding and challenging journey that requires dedication, practice, and progressive training. By breaking down the movement into these five progressions and incorporating them into your gym routine consistently, you can develop the strength, balance, and body control necessary to achieve this impressive bodyweight skill. Explore the PhD range, from Protein Powders and bars to the PhD life range including Mind nootropics support, optimising physical and mental performance. Embrace the process, stay persistent, and enjoy the exhilaration of mastering the handstand!