Why do we include handstands in our training. CrossFit was started by an ex gymnast Greg Glassman who knew the benefits that gymnastics have on our health and the handstand exhibits this in many ways.
Building Core Strength
One of the biggest benefits that you can get from doing handstands on the daily is the building of your core strength. Of course, handstands train your arms and shoulders to be stronger, but that isn’t all. Being upside down and standing on your hands forces you to engage your midline and hold that hollow position we work on in a lot in class.
It takes all of the strength that you can muster in your abdominal muscles as well as in your back to stay upright and balanced while doing a handstand. Since you need to stay stable while doing a handstand, because it does require a lot of balance, it forces you to use the various muscles in your core to achieve that balance.
Strengthening Your Upper Body
Not only does a handstand force you to engage your core, but of course it also forces you to use your upper body to stay upright, especially your arms and shoulders. Just think about it, doing a handstand means that you are literally standing on your hands, thus you are supporting all of your weight with your upper body and your arms.
Just a few minutes of standing on your hands will go a very long way in strengthening your hands, arms, shoulders, and virtually every other muscle in your upper body. Holding up your own body weight takes a whole lot of muscle strength and doing handstands on a regular basis will definitely help improve your upper body power.
You may not be able to hold yourself up for very long in the beginning, but after a few weeks, you should notice some strength improvements no doubt. To increase the intensity of the exercise and to build even more muscle you can even try doing handstand pushups. Sure, they are challenging, but a few handstand pushups will definitely make your arms and shoulders a whole lot stronger.
Increased Grip Strength
The next thing that handstands can do for you is to increase your grip strength. When you stand on your feet your heels act as a stabilizer and they help you grip the ground plus stay upright too. Yet your hands don’t have heels, thus making it harder to balance. Therefore in order to achieve optimal balance when doing a handstand, you need to use your fingers in order to stay upright.
When doing a handstand you need to use your fingers to dig into the ground, to stay balanced, and to keep your body from toppling over. A handstand forces you to constantly adjust your position and that requires your finger’s extensors and flexors to work overtime to keep you from falling over.
Increased Musculoskeletal Health
A huge benefit that you can reap from doing handstands is that they increase the musculoskeletal health in your upper body. In simplest terms, your musculoskeletal health is the health of your bones. To increase the health of your bones you need to do weight bearing exercises, and of course doing handstands is considered a weight bearing exercise because you are holding up your entire weight with your arms.
Spatial Perception & Balance
Another big benefit that you can get from doing handstands is that they increase your ability to balance. This has to do with something in your body called proprioceptors. Proprioceptors are the things in our body which control the way we balance and how our muscles naturally react to a change in position in order to stay upright.
They Are Fun
WE all need more fun in our training and achieving a successful handstand is great fun and can lead to further progressions such as press ups and walking!.
I can’t do one?
Don’t despair if you can’t do one yet. We can scale down to a plank and then to a pike position, up to using a box and then wall walk Eventually you’ll be able to master the handstand, when you do it’s another achievement that CrossFit has allowed you to conquer!