Handstands require a lot of strength. Kicking up to a handstand and coming right back down is different than holding the handstand position, but handstands definitely make you stronger. Correct handstand position requires many of your muscles to engage in an isometric muscle contraction, while keeping your body perfectly balanced.
A long list of muscles are strengthened while holding a handstand position. Your shoulders, back, arms and chest muscles bear most of your weight while you are upside down, but your entire body must be very tight while stretching your toes toward the ceiling. The main shoulder and chest muscles used in a handstand are your anterior and medial deltoid, and your pectoralis major and minor. The major muscles of your back involved areas follows: serratus anterior, erector spinae, trapezius, latissimus dorsi and quadratus lumborum. Active muscles of your arms are triceps brachii and coracobrachialis. Key muscles of your abdomen are transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis and obliquus externus. All four of your quadricep muscles, inner thigh, hamstrings, buttocks, calf, foot, forearm, hand and neck muscles must be squeezed very tight or you will fall over.
Holding a Balance
Holding the handstand balance for as long as you can and coming down in a controlled manner will make you stronger than kicking up and coming right back down. Holding the balance requires all your muscles to work together in perfect cooperation. Holding for as long as you can demands muscle endurance in an isometric contraction. Isometric muscle contraction means that your muscles are contracting without moving a joint. The reason holding your handstand makes you stronger than coming right back down is that all your muscles are not required to be tight when you come right back down. If, however, you are still developing your handstand skill, repetitive handstand attempts will make you stronger until you progress to holding the balance for a long time.
Kicking Up and Down
If you are currently at the stage of kicking up and coming right back down, make sure your back position is correct so that you can become strong enough to balance. Your back must not be arched. Correct your arched back by compressing your entire stomach and ribs inward toward your spine. Also, push on the floor, through your shoulder girdle, and up through your spine, like reaching your toes for the ceiling. These two actions will engage important core muscles and will make you stronger.
After you can balance for at least 10 seconds, you can become even stronger by practicing walking on your hands. You lift one hand up and push through the other arm's shoulder girdle as you walk on your hands, thereby making each arm, shoulder, chest and back muscle compensate and contract harder. Remain in control of your balance while you walk forward, backward and pirouette. A handstand pirouette is when you walk your hands in a very small circle, turning your body around. This advanced handstand makes you even stronger because your entire body must remain tight and in alignment while it is in circular motion.
- "Anatomy of Strength Training"; Pat Manocchia; 2010
- "YMCA Personal Training Manual"; YMCA of the USA; 2006