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Analyzing the Handstand Position By Zachary Long Jennifer Iskat

CrossFit demands that its athletes have the capacity to perform a wide range of movements and skills. Many exercises commonly used in CrossFit are also frequently used by athletes participating in other sports. However, the handstand—fundamental to gymnastics—is a rarely employed training tool in other sports but an essential part of CrossFit.

The handstand requires considerable amounts of both joint mobility and stability if it is to be performed with optimal technique. Of CrossFit’s 10 fitness domains, the handstand (and its progressions) requires six: strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, agility and accuracy (3,4). Some degree of stamina is also required for lengthy holds, and Event 4 in the recent CrossFit Games regionals added an element of speed as athletes walked 250 feet on their hands for time.


“Being upside down exposes the athlete to, what is for many, a brand new world.” —Greg Glassman (Anderson Vieira)

The basic handstand distinguishes itself from other skills because it provides an unconventional way of strengthening the shoulder complex. The typical athlete strengthens the shoulder and other joints of the body in the upright position. When standing and walking, the hip is the focus and must have sufficient strength to support body weight and provide stability.

The handstand, however, reverses the conventional approach. The shoulder becomes the main joint providing stability to the body. This inverted position helps develop “shoulders strong as hips,” increasing shoulder strength in ways other skills or weight-training exercises cannot (4). Because of the inverted position, increased demands are placed on the wrists, elbows and shoulders, as these three joints become the body’s weight-bearing joints. An analysis of the joints and muscles involved in a handstand can help identify limitations that must be addressed to perfect this skill and improve athleticism.

Handstand Analysis

To best analyze handstand positioning, we suggest a wall-facing handstand with hands shoulder width apart. This allows for the easiest visual analysis of joint positions. Positioning the hands at shoulder width challenges shoulder mobility more than a wider stance would. The hands should be flat on the ground and pointed away from the wall with the fingers splayed. This position challenges wrist extension and provides a slightly larger base of support with the fingers spread. The athlete should strive to keep the chest, front of the thigh and top of the foot against the wall.

Analysis of the handstand should begin at the wrist and then move upward. From the side, the coach or partner should examine wrist extension by looking to see if the forearm is perpendicular to the ground. At the elbow, the coach or partner shoulder look for full extension. Moving to the shoulder, the joint should be fully “opened up,” with the humerus nearly vertical. The lumbar spine should be in a neutral position without excessive arching, and the hips should be fully extended. The athlete should be able to complete several breath cycles without losing this positioning. If positioning is lost with breathing, the athlete is likely holding the breath as a means of creating false stabilization.



If an athlete’s form deviates from that described above, the coach or partner should provide verbal and/or tactile cueing to improve positioning. This feedback will allow the coach to see if the faulty positioning is due to an athlete’s limited knowledge of correct positioning or the athlete’s having a mobility or stability deficit preventing proper positioning, which would warrant further investigation.

Joint-Specific Testing

Due to the inverted position of the body, the wrist has a much more significant role in the handstand than it does in any other CrossFit movement.

Read the full article here

TUESDAY 10.8.19

A. Gymnastic Strength
10 EMOM:
Min 1) :30 Max Handstand Pushups
Min 2) :30 Max Abmat Situp
RX+ GHD Situp

B. “Stranger Danger”
8 rounds for max reps:
:20 Back Squat, Rest :10
:20 Strict Press, Rest :10
:20 Front Squat, Rest :10
:20 Push Press, Rest :10