How to Press to Handstand

Free Tutorials, Handstands

This move is known by different names (press, lift, lever) but the name which makes most sense to me is “deadlift”, because we are lifting our bodyweight from a dead start with no momentum or jumping.

“Press”, on the other hand, implies that the arms and elbows are bent and the bodyweight is being pressed, and so I don’t find it appropriate for this move where the arms remain straight. (See my other tutorial which deals with pressing from crow to handstand)

If you wanted to be more specific, you could further specify if you are deadlifting from standing, or from the floor, or with the legs in straddle or pike.

For the purpose of this video, we are working with Straddle Deadlift from Standing.

MAIN COMPONENTS

1. Good forward fold flexibility (and side splits so the legs can lift sideways, which further reduces the need to lean forwards into the shoulders)

2. Shoulder (Front Delt) strength to resist the bodyweight as you lean forward.

3. Handstand balance once your feet leave the floor.

PRINCIPLES

1. The better your forward fold, the less shoulder strength you will need (because you won’t need to lean as far forward and so there will be less work for your shoulders in resisting your bodyweight) .

2. The more shoulder strength you’ve got, the less forward fold you will need (because your shoulders will have the power to resist your bodyweight as you lean/planche further forward, due to not having enough forward fold)

3. If you’ve got enough of both, there will be a sweet spot where your centre of gravity goes over you hands, your shoulders can resist your bodyweight, and you will lift.

4. The more strength and flexibility you’ve got, the easier this will be.

TIPS

1. Practising lifting your legs in a headstand so you become familiar with the movement.

2. Do some shoulder strength conditioning where you pulse forwards and backwards either in a regular plank or wall plank.

3. Significant hip, hamstring, splits stretching will make the deadlift much easier.

4. Raise your feet up higher on to blocks, chairs, or inflatable ball.

5. Put a crash mat in front of you to keep you safe. The wall is not ideal because your head will need to go forward initially and the wall will obstruct this movement.

6. Get a friend to spot you by putting their knees into your shoulders to block you from going too far forward, they can also help lift your hips.

7. Super bendy people will usually find the deadlift easier or at least they will learn it quicker. There are some people who have a great forward fold but their shoulders are not strong enough to support their bodyweight as they lean slightly forwards and so they will need to work more on the shoulder strength.

8. Leg length as compared to arm and torso length will also be a factor. People with long legs may find it easier to get their bum up and centre of gravity over their hands (thus requiring less shoulder strength to support leaning forward)

On the other hand people with short legs may have to lean further forward to get the centre of gravity over the hands and thus require more shoulder strength to support that.

9. Bodyweight is also a factor. A light person may find it easier but not necessarily.

Summary

Headstand first
Practising lifting your legs in a headstand so you become familiar with the movement.

Shoulder Strength Conditioning
Do some conditioning where you pulse forwards and backwards either in a regular plank or wall plank.

Stretch your forward fold Significant hip, hamstring, splits stretching will make the deadlift much easier.

Get your bum higher
Raise your feet up higher on to blocks, chairs, or inflatable ball.

Use a crash mat
Put a crash mat in front of you to keep you safe. The wall is not ideal because your head will need to go forward initially and the wall will obstruct this movement.

Knees in your shoulders
Get a friend to spot you by putting their knees into your shoulders to block you from going too far forward, they can also help lift your hips.

If you’re flexible, work on shoulder strength
Super bendy people will usually find the deadlift easier or at least they will learn it quicker. There are some people who have a great forward fold but their shoulders are not strong enough to support their bodyweight as they lean slightly forwards and so they will need to work more on the shoulder strength.

Genetic factors
Leg length as compared to arm and torso length will also be a factor. People with long legs may find it easier to get their bum up and centre of gravity over their hands (thus requiring less shoulder strength to support leaning forward)

On the other hand people with short legs may have to lean further forward to get the centre of gravity over the hands and thus require more shoulder strength to support that.

Bodyweight
Bodyweight is also a factor. A light person may find it easier but not necessarily.

This move is known by different names (press, lift, lever) but the name which makes most sense to me is “deadlift”, because we are lifting our bodyweight from a dead start with no momentum or jumping.

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