Handstand Progression Exercises – Wall Supported Handstands

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Handstand Progression Exercises – Wall Supported Handstands

Rhys Morgan

Wall supported handstands are commonly used for progressions, but I would only really encourage them for conditioning and fixing form. In this article I am going to show you a few great wall exercises that you can try out Today!

Wall Supported handstands are great, but really I would encourage you to spend more time free standing than supported.

That being said, using wall supported exercises for conditioning is always going to be beneficial.

I am currently doing wall supported one arm handstands, I'm sure you can guess what that’s for. But that is ALL I am using a wall for, the rest of my handstand time is spent doing them free standing.

The wall support is used as a tool to help condition yourself for certain skills like handstand push ups, or fixing form and position.

Handstanding Against The Wall - The Set Up

The first time you ever try to do a handstand, you should try it against a wall. You have guaranteed support then.

First measure your hand placement.

Place one hand into the wall and the other behind in a line. This will put you a hand distance away from the wall.

The reason for this is so you can be as close to the wall as possible, whilst still leaning into the wall to be supported.

Place your hands shoulder width apart and kick up, your heels will land up against the wall and you will be in the handstand position.

When you are here, you can learn to extend your shoulders and point your toes and straighten those arms. All of the weak points in your technique can be discovered before doing it free standing.

Then it is just a case of using a few exercises as necessary to help improve your technique over time.

Should I Face In Or Out?

First things first, you will start facing out. This is easier to get into than facing in to the wall.

But ideally you want to start facing in towards the wall as soon as possible.

This is because you are in a really bad position when facing out. You are always leaning too far over and that encourages you to flex your spine and not open your shoulders.

When you face into the wall you force yourself into a hollow body position, making locking the arms and extending the shoulders easier, and more like a real handstand.

Plus doing the wall walk to get up is an added strength bonus.

For each variation of handstand – apart from tuck – first try it facing out, then try it facing in. Although it puts you in a slightly worse position it will be easier to stay in place.

Another advantage of doing wall supports facing into the wall is it being easier to come away from the wall. You can stay tight with your body up against the wall, then step out half a hand and try to come away from the way for a moment at a time.

How To Get Into A Wall Handstand – Facing The Wall

To get into a wall support facing the wall, you need to do a wall walk.

This is simply walking backwards up the wall with your feet, with your hands on the floor.

When done as an exercise, a wall walk would be done from the press up position. You start with your feet touching the wall, on the floor.

You then begin your walk up the wall, backwards. When you get into the handstand position, you just walk straight back down into the push up position.

Now we have the basics covered, lets have a look at some specific wall support conditioning exercises.

Progression Exercises

Incline Handstand

The incline handstand is designed to teach you to maintain tension whilst actively pushing into the floor with your hands, and stretching into the air with your feet.

Walk backwards up the wall like a wall walk, but stop when you get to about 45degrees.

In this position focus on straightening your body out, opening your shoulders to make a nice straight line with your body.

Push into the ground with your hands and push into the wall with your feet to keep your body tight and hold for time, making sure you are breathing!

Wall Supported Handstand Hold

Wall supported holds are a great way to help get comfortable upside down and to condition your body to support yourself inverted.

Place your hands on the floor, approximately a hand distance away from the wall. 

This will help to keep you close enough to train, but will keep you far enough from the wall so you are always leaning into the wall slightly, so you don't need to focus on stabilizing yourself all the time in the handstand.

Wall Supported Handstand Facing In

Facing into the wall is the harder of the two wall supports.

Facing in will take more strength to get into the full handstand in a vertical shape, however it does allow you to sit somewhere in the middle like an incline position as mentioned above.

When doing a toes to wall handstand or ‘facing the wall’ you will need to start off by doing some form of wall walk to get up into position.

I recommend keeping your bum high when you do this so you can focus on opening your shoulders up and keeping your weight on your hands, you don't want to end up sagging at your hips and putting all the pressure on your lower back.

Single Leg Heel Pull

A Heel pull refers to pulling your heel off the wall. This is an exercise that will help to bridge the gap between wall support and freestanding handstands.

Get up into your normal wall support, facing out from the wall, so your heels are resting against it.

Bring one foot off the wall and bring it to vertical above your hands.

Once you feel stable, bring the other heel off the wall so your feet come together in a freestanding handstand.

Single Leg Toe Pull

Just like a single leg heel pull, this is another great progression exercise to get your handstand freestanding.

Start in your wall support, then pull one foot off the wall and hold above you in a vertical position.

When you are feeling stable slowly pull your other foot off the wall and bring your feet together.

Try to maintain this freestanding handstand as long as possible, before touching back to the wall or cartwheeling out of the handstand.

Heel Pull

Heel pulls are similar to the single leg variation above, except you do both feet together.

Start in a wall support facing out from the wall.

Using your hands to stabilize yourself, pull both heels off the wall together and bring your legs to vertical to get into your freestanding handstand.

Toe Pull

Toe Pulls are similar to heel pull, but you are facing the other way around.

Walk up into a wall support, facing into the wall.

When you are feeling stable, pull both feet off the wall together and bring your legs to vertical to get into your freestanding handstand facing into the wall.

Be careful when doing this as you will likely pull too far when you are first trying this exercise, so be prepared to cartwheel out of the handstand so you don't fall on your back.

Pike Handstand Toe Pull

Pike handstands are when you have your legs horizontal instead of vertical. This is a tough strength based handstand variation without wall support, but quite simple when you have something to rest against.

First set up your hands a ‘legs distance’ away from the wall. Do this by measuring your legs off the wall, sat with your feet agains the wall and mark where your hips are.

Now with hands in position walk up the wall to an incline, then come down, sticking your bum out over your head to form a 90 degree angle at your hips.

Bring one foot up off the wall to vertical above your head and hands.

Now slowly bring your other foot up off the wall and bring your feet together to finish in a freestanding handstand.

Pike Handstand Switches

This is more of a dynamic leg switch than the above exercise.

Set up as before in the pike handstand position.

Now lift one leg to vertical and when you are settled slowly switch legs, so the other leg goes to vertical and the first leg returns to the wall to support.

Switch slowly for reps aiming to make nice, smooth controlled switches.

Wall Support (Miss The Wall)

The final step in these progressions is really to avoid the wall entirely.

This time you are going to set up as if you were going to face out from the wall, so you can practice kicking up from standing, but instead of being close to the wall you are going to come an extra hands distance away from the wall.

This incremental increase in distance from the wall will help you learn to stop at vertical instead of over or undershooting your kick to handstand.

This is really the most difficult part of the handstand, learning to kick up to freestanding.

Approaching it this way will allow you to practice with the wall being there as a safety net. You want to be a little further away than a typical wall support though, so you have room to overshoot slightly but still catch the handstand.

As you get better at this you can slowly increase the distance a little, coming even further away from the wall.

Once you get here you cant really need the wall anymore and so you really need to make that leap to freestanding handstands.

Dynamic Handstand Conditioning Exercises

Handstand Shrug

Shrugs are great for building shoulder stability, and when used properly will also build Range Of Motion in your shoulders.

Get into the wall support to start you off. Extend as far up the wall as possible so you are stretching high off the ground.

Keeping your arms STRAIGHT, lower your body from the shoulders as far as you can go – this may only be a tiny bit at first.

When you get to the bottom, just extend back off the ground as high as possible.

Repeat for reps.

Shoulder Taps

Shoulder taps are going to take your handstand to the next level.

It simulates walking on your hands because you will be lifting one t a time. But it will create more movement in your body than you need for walking so you will build coordination and control quickly too.

Get in the wall support, tight up against the wall.

Lift one hand up off the floor and touch your opposite shoulder, then return to the floor.

Repeat with the opposite hand, that’s one rep.

I want to see 10.

The last one I am going to take you through is more for core strength than handstand training.

But it is a progression for handstand presses and 90 degree handstands so I am going to take you through it.

Wall Walks

Wall walks are a great conditioning exercise for your shoulders and will help you fix your line too because you will be facing into the wall.

Start in a push up position with your feet against the wall.

Walk up the wall slowly with your feet, at the same time walk into the wall with your hands to keep your body in roughly a straight line.

When you get to vertical you will be in a handstand, only go in as far as you are comfortable, and slowly get closer over time as you get stronger and more confident.

Once you can get to vertical you want to be able to touch the wall with your nose, before walking back down into your starting position.

Wall Supported Handstand Push Ups

Wall supported handstand push ups are a complicated exercise because you need to make sure your technique is right to avoid any nasty injuries.

Start in your wall support, facing out away from the wall.

You want to have your hands slightly wider than your shoulders and a little distance from the wall, about the length of your hand.

As you start to lower yourself to the ground, bring your body into the wall so that when your head gets to the floor it is right in the corner with your whole back flat against the wall.

Push back up to straight arm with your body coming back off the wall and your shoulders going to full extension.

Wall Supported Press

This exercise is a killer, I wouldn’t recommend trying this until you are pretty strong.

Start Facing Out for this exercise, not in, because you need the space for your hips to move.

What you want to do is bring your feet down from the handstand, as low as possible.

For the first few reps don’t go passed 90 degrees, just so you can get a feel for the movement – similar to single bar dips.

Your back should be flat up against the wall, and your hands should be slightly further out.

This will probably happen naturally but it is important to mention because it simulates the correct position for a Handstand Press – where your head and shoulders will counterbalance your legs.

Supported Handstand Presses will build super strength in your lower back and core.

It will prepare you for the real life handstand press too which is a great strength exercise you can develop after you’ve got your handstand down.

Get Off The Wall

Remember that the handstand is just the first step for strength training and not the end goal. You want to learn to handstand quickly, so you can start to develop your handstand with advanced exercises and variations.

Now you have all of these handstand drills get out and start training! The sooner you start working on this the faster you are going to improve.

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Rhys Morgan

Hey, I'm Rhys and I'm the Coach at MoreThanLifting I am a Personal Trainer, Gymnast & Calisthenics Coach from London. I help people get into great shape with bodyweight strength and skill training.

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