Handstand Preparatory Routine
Through 2013 and 2014 I worked on handstands primarily by doing wall handstands. I progressed to the point where I could hold a brief handstand with one leg tucked, but when I started trying to do some single arm support work, I found that my shoulder girdle was not adequately prepared. I already knew that I had shoulder issues due to previous injuries. The mobility was improving in my left shoulder, but one day I tried some handstand wall walks and shoulder taps. I found that I literally could not support myself on my right hand, but my left was capable. When I tried to transfer my weight to my right, I felt as though my shoulder would collapse if I lifted my left hand.
Combining this training with Fascial Stretch Therapy has greatly improved my shoulder mobility and stability, but according to the progressions in Handstand 1 from GymnasticBodies.com I have some other elements to master before I will qualify for practicing wall handstands.
Antranik has put together a comprehensive handstand tutorial that includes a section on shoulder mobility and strength.
If you want a gymnastics quality handstand while avoiding shoulder girdle, waist and wrist injuries, I highly recommend that you follow the progressions typical for gymnasts. I think that many adults attempting to learn handstand need to develop shoulder girdle mobility and strength using preparatory elements before getting up on their hands (even against the wall) or else risk serious shoulder girdle injury.
3. Wrist flexor stretch in planche position 1 x 20 sec
4. Wrist flexor stretch with shoulders in internal rotation 1 x 20 sec
As you will see in the prone shoulder flexion static holds video, my greatest challenge lies in achieving full shoulder flexion without arching my lower back i.e. while maintaining a posterior pelvic tilt.
At time of this post, my routine contains these specific movements:
For example, I currently perform tuck L-sit pull ups as a step in progression to the 1-arm pull up. When I master those – signified by correctly performing 5-6 repetitions in approximately 60-70 seconds – I will go to the next step in the progressions I have laid out.
For upper body movements, leg curls, and bridges, I aim for about 60 seconds time under load, whether dynamic or static. For squats and rise-on-toes I aim for 90 to 120 seconds of time under load, depending on the continuity of tension.
In late 2014 I injured my right distal bicep tendon and broke or sprained my large right toe. In 2014 I also re-injured my left knee (which I first damaged more than 40 years ago). This set of injuries set me back a bit. My right arm lost a good bit of strength and size because I was unable to pull my weight in pull ups until just this past week. The large toe injury made push up and planche training difficult because I could not put weight on the toe in a plank position until about 2 weeks ago.
In the two videos below I demonstrate the two routines. Each video shows the whole training session, each of which takes about 15 to 20 minutes of actual exercise time. I excluded transitions involving changing equipment or station, which adds 5-10 minutes. When I add the handstand prep routine the whole training session takes 35-40 minutes on any training day.