16 March 2015

Handstands Part Two: Crossover Skillz

Last week I wrote about the general benefits of practicing inversions. 
To summarize: They are good, and you should do them. 

How Do Handstands Overlap with Crossfit Skillz? 

Whoa, back up. What is a crossfit skill?

Good question. For our purposes I will define it as an athletic movement that appears frequently in crossfit workouts and requires a combination of strength and flexibility to perform efficiently. A quick trip through The Google returns many different results related to 'crossfit skills' - a partial list:
  • Wall balls
  • Squats
  • Pull ups
  • Toes to bar
  • Muscle ups
  • Double unders
  • Rope climb
  • L Sit
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Thruster
  • Snatch
  • Walking without falling over (very underrated skill)
  • Clean
  • Clean and jerk
  • Bicep curls
Just typing that list made me pumped.

Okay Then - How do Handstands Help Me Do Those Things?

All the exercises list above are easier with a strong core. Executing the complex movements (read: clean and jerk, muscle ups, snatch) requires good kinesthetic awareness AND a strong core. If only there were some way to improve my balance, core strength and kinesthetic awareness all at the same time...(see where this is going?)

A handstand builds core strength, core stability and upper body strength. It also teaches you to get comfortable in uncomfortable positions. If you work on your handstands regularly your unweighted crossfit movements (toes to bar, L sit, pull ups, etc) will see improvement first. Weighted movements will take a bit longer to show improvement but you will experience a cascade of benefits across all the exercises. Core work is good like that. 

Ditch the Training Wheels: Get Off the Wall

The wall is a training tool and the wall is a crutch. A 'handstand against the wall' is not a handstand any more than leaning against a wall is the same as standing upright unsupported. These are very much not the same things! Cast aside the crutch and learn to balance like the awesome person that you are. It's a big step but I think you are ready.

Why Work On Handstands If I Can Already Walk On My Hands?

Walking on your hands is rad! You are strong and athletic and have good kinesthetic awareness and I wish I could do that! But: Do I have good balance when I am standing upright and wobbling around like a drunk person? No. No I do not. If you have to move around then your balance needs work. Good news is you are most of the way there. A handstand hold will be easy for you to learn.


The better your balance is then the better you are at controlling heavy weights and your body in awkward positions (such as over your head, or during a butterfly pull up, or getting up off the ground). Want to get improve your overall fitness? Get upside down on your hands!

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