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I find it so weird that often when we learn to handstand, no one spends significant time talking about what to do with and feel in your hands. It leads most beginners to focus their efforts and intentions elsewhere, when the biggest cues are coming from the hands since they’re the base of support when you’re upside down.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The pressure in your hands needs to shift forward from the heel and outside of the hand to the middle of the hand. That means there will be weight in your fingertips and possibly the base of your knuckles as well. It’s further forward than most people think when they start handstanding.
  • The muscles of the forearm should be working hard. You know how when you stand on one foot, the foot wobbles around and the muscles around your shin and calf have to adjust to create that balance? The hands have to do the same when you’re upside down

This article covers what you need to know about your hands in various handstand movements.

Exercise Quick Navigation

    Handstand holds and walks

    What should you feel?

    • A shift in pressure from the heel of the hand into the knuckles and fingertips as you kick up into the handstand
    • A maintenance of pressure in the middle of the hand as you hold
    • The fingertips digging into the floor whenever your body threatens to tip over the top and overbalance
    • The distal knuckles popping up off the floor if you are gripping the floor hard enough
    • The shoulders shifting forward whenever your body threatens to fall back down and underbalance

    Common Mistakes

    • Leaving the weight too far back in the heels of the hands
    • Flat, lifeless hands with no intention of the fingertips into the floor
    • No action when encountered with a slight over or underbalance

    Handstand Wall Pull Aways – Plate to Wrist

    How to do this drill

    Place 2x 20kg bumper plates right up against a wall.

    Cartwheel or walk into a wall-facing handstand such that the base of your wrist is almost touching, and your wrist is touching, the plates.

    Shift your body weight slowly off the wall, forward into the hands. At some stage, your wrists will gently peel off the bumper plates. At pretty much exactly this moment if you’ve set it up correctly, your feet will also leave the wall.

    Grip the ground like your life depends on it to prevent an overbalance.

    Enjoy the handstand you are now in.

    Kick up to overbalance

    What is it?

    A bailing drill that can also double as a drill to teach you to really dig your hands into the floor when your weight shifts over the top.


    Deliberately kick up with more force than is required for a handstand so that you start to overbalance. Delay the fall for as long as you can by digging your hands into the ground. When it can’t be rescued, twist to bail safely and catch yourself.

    Play around with the intensity of the kick up and see if you can actually find the right amount of force to stop a kick up in its tracks.

    Wrist Push Up


    To build strength in your fingers and forearms to be better at handstands.


    Kneeling on all fours, shift your body weight forward so that your shoulders are over your knuckles. Keeping the shoulders there, lift the thumb off the floor, then lift the heel of the hand off the ground by pressing the knuckles down into the floor. Don’t let yourself shift back while you do this – you should feel the undersides of your forearms contracting as you do so.

    General Wrist Warm Up

    What is it?

    A wrist warm up to help get your wrists used to the amount of pressure that’s going to go through them once you start pressurising your hands correctly in a handstand.

    What to do with it

    Follow along with the video, and do this warmup or the pieces of it you think are relevant to you before you handstand.

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