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Katharina Huemer

the press handstand - the "make it or Break it" skill?

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Katharina Huemer

I was wondering:

is the straddle press to handstand/pike to handstand more a technique or a strength thing?

let's say there is a strong Person who can do a lot of pull ups, push ups, leg raises etc, has a good flexibility and can Support themselves in straddle and L-Sit for 1 minute but Never tried a press handstand - could they do it within some attempts?

or is it a skill that you need to train Over months to get the technique?

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Keilani Gutierrez

i don't think a lot of us use our Trapz in that Straight Arm Overhead Press kind of way but I have heard of people who with assistance can get a pike lift because they had the mobility.

 

I wouldn't leave it upto chance though, it's a pretty complex movement. it involves balance, strength, mobility, compression, propioception  and the right combination of the before mentioned.(including whatever else i left out due to inexperience!)

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Joshua Slocum

It is a skill that requires a great deal of both strength and technique. If you've followed good progressions, then by the time you're ready to start training the press you should be able to get it within a few tries. If all you do is train strength, you'll find it prohibitively difficult to coordinate all the movements that need to be done for a successful press handstand. And obviously, if you neglect strength, you simply won't have the muscular force to lift your hips above your shoulders. 

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Daniel Sarnowski

It is a skill that requires a great deal of both strength and technique. If you've followed good progressions, then by the time you're ready to start training the press you should be able to get it within a few tries.

 

 

 

What would you recommend as 'good progressions' for press handstand? I've been working on it forever, and it's a tough one for me. I do H1, which has improved my handstand a lot. I'm currently on PE11, and kind of stuck there. I can balance pretty well, but I don't time it. I generally do handstands about 90 minutes a day, give or take. I do lots of negatives and holding in tuck, pike, and straddle, and I do box presses. I incorporate various compression exercises; l-sits, seated leg raises, etc…

 

I can feel my press is getting closer every week, so I know i'm getting there, but wondering what other 'good progressions' might be. Thanks.

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Joshua Slocum

Which part of the press are you having trouble with?

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Daniel Burnham

A press handstand is a good measure of a gymnast in general.  It combines the balance, body awareness and strength all in one motion.  For a press handstand you first need to have a good handstand.  A good pancake stretch also makes it much easier.

 

I learned press handstand by doing presses with my back against the wall then progressing to negatives off the wall.  Finally I used holds at the bottom position where I took my feet off the ground and folded at the hips while keeping my upper body completely straight. From here you start to press into the full press off of a box and then without assistance.

 

A spotter helps tremendously if you have one available.  

 

I expect that the handstand series will probably cover most of this eventually though I have not seen it.  Best bet is to prepare yourself with H1.  The iM's especially will sort out any weakness you have in the traps that might be holding you back.  Seriously after I worked through H1 IM's my press handstands got much easier.  Just from H1 I went from having one maybe two in a row to about 5 as my max.

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Daniel Sarnowski

Which part of the press are you having trouble with?

 

 

well, mainly the initial lift off the ground, I just feel like I can't get enough weight onto my hands. And I'm really focusing on not leaning too much. But its getting better. I do things like lower in a straddle as far as I can, keeping shoulders open as possible, and holding there. That's helping a lot. I'll also lower as far as I can and raise my legs back up for maybe 5-10 reps. I do box presses from about 12 inches off the ground. But when I try from the floor it just feels too heavy. I have good overall flexibility, so that's not holding me back, although active flex could use some work. 

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Daniel Sarnowski

A press handstand is a good measure of a gymnast in general.  It combines the balance, body awareness and strength all in one motion.  For a press handstand you first need to have a good handstand.  A good pancake stretch also makes it much easier.

 

I learned press handstand by doing presses with my back against the wall then progressing to negatives off the wall.  Finally I used holds at the bottom position where I took my feet off the ground and folded at the hips while keeping my upper body completely straight. From here you start to press into the full press.

 

A spotter helps tremendously if you have one available.  

 

I expect that the handstand series will probably cover most of this eventually though I have not seen it.  Best bet is to prepare yourself with H1.  The IM's especially will sort out any weakness you have in the traps that might be holding you back.  Seriously after I worked through H1 IM's my press handstands got much easier.  Just from H1 I went from having one maybe two in a row to about 5 as my max.

No doubt H1 has helped my handstand tremendously. The coach I have now is a lot smaller than me and she's not too big on spotting me. Mostly just gives technique cues. And that's great. I might start working with someone who's more hands on as well. I'll stand in a pike with hands on floor and try lifting, like you said, but the feet just don't come off the ground. I used to do presses with my back against the wall but I thought it was training me to lean to much. Not so?

I'll revisit some of the H1 IM's and try and get some trap activation going. I think my traps are lazy. Thanks for the tips. I figure H2 will get into this, but I'm ready and willing now. I've been working at this for some years now and the pieces are all there but I can't seem to coordinate the movements. Or maybe I'm just weak. LOL. Thanks again.

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Daniel Burnham

The press against the wall help train the lifting of the hips.  You should focus on getting as close to the wall as you can, straightening out the shoulders, and then lifting.  There will be some planche but it is a good tool to get the feeling.

 

Are you working pike or straddle?

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Daniel Sarnowski

The press against the wall help train the lifting of the hips.  You should focus on getting as close to the wall as you can, straightening out the shoulders, and then lifting.  There will be some planche but it is a good tool to get the feeling.

 

Are you working pike or straddle?

OK. I can definitely say that over the last 6 months I've gotten a lot closer to the wall. But the closer I get, the harder it is. I'll keep working on it. When I do them, I press my head against the wall for leverage; is this a bad habit? It seems impossible otherwise.

I'm working on tuck, pike, and straddle. Holding and negatives. I work on cartwheel presses, mexican and 'contortion handstand' as well. When I do box presses, I mostly do straddle. When I'm working on balance and technique I just jump into the position I'm going for. It seems strange to me but I find pike easier. It takes more strength and I can't lower as far of course, but jumping into it, I feel I can "find" the movement more. I can access the muscles in my hips and thighs more in pike and it seems to give me more control. Straddle is easier to do but harder to control. The main focus of my handstand practice is H1 and negatives, negatives, negatives. I  can do most of the exercises in H1, but I'm kind of stuck at PE11 because of the endurance. An old coach told me I shouldn't expect a real press until I can hold a good handstand for 2 minutes. So I'm trying to be diligent about sticking with the H1 programming, even though I can do a lot of the exercises after PE11. My balance and technique is getting a lot better but my endurance is coming along quite slowly.

Thanks for the feedback, this is my first time asking for tips on the forum so I appreciate the help.

I'll try to have someone take some photos so y'all can see where I'm at.

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Daniel Burnham

Using the head is normal at first.  Try to reduce this and push more from the traps.  

 

I suggest focusing on one type of press at a time.  Straddle is the easiest to learn strength wise.  Pike is harder for strength but easier i terms of balance as you suggested.

 

Don't jump during the presses.  You loose the work you should be doing and won't build the strength.

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Cody Ward

I found stomach to wall OAHS with maximum scapular elevation to be beneficial in building strength.

If you have a solid hold like that and have good flexibility, you should be able to get it. I had to practice for a few days to get the technique down.

 

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Rafal Zmuda

Most benefitial for my standing straddle press HS were box presses, starting with very high box and progressing to lower boxes. It was so good that within a few weeks I managed to lift from the floor. Still technique was not acceptable because of slightly bent knees and too much leanining forward but it was a good starting point for improvement. Here's one of my first successful attempts http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNLorvqATI8. It looks much better now :)

 

ok, back to You :)

I'd bet on technique, maybe there is something that need to be corrected. Post a video of your press attempt.

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Coach Sommer

 

What would you recommend as 'good progressions' for press handstand? I've been working on it forever, and it's a tough one for me ...

 

H2.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Daniel Burnham

H2.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

After h1 I have to agree. I can't wait to start in h2 when I get back. There is no other guide that even comes close to h1.

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Coach Sommer

... After h1 I have to agree ...

 

Incorrect.  

 

You should not wait until after H1 is mastered to begin H2.  The Foundation series, H1 and H2 are all designed to work together.

 

Begin F1 and H1 together.  Then as soon as you have mastered F2, add H2 to the mix.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Daniel Burnham

Ah I didn't mean after h1 is mastered. I meant after seeing h1 I can imagine that h2 would be the definitive guide.

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Alan Tseng

Incorrect.  

 

You should not wait until after H1 is mastered to begin H2.  The Foundation series, H1 and H2 are all designed to work together.

 

Begin F1 and H1 together.  Then as soon as you have mastered F2, add H2 to the mix.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

 

As long as F2 is finished, you can start on H2, no matter where you are on H1?  Or are there certain elements you have to at least get past first in H1

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Andrew Long

I'm going to assume you can start h2 regardless of where you are at with h1 otherwise I'm sure they would have specified. We will know more within the week why it comes out.

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Mats Trane

well, mainly the initial lift off the ground, I just feel like I can't get enough weight onto my hands. And I'm really focusing on not leaning too much. But its getting better. I do things like lower in a straddle as far as I can, keeping shoulders open as possible, and holding there. That's helping a lot. I'll also lower as far as I can and raise my legs back up for maybe 5-10 reps. I do box presses from about 12 inches off the ground. But when I try from the floor it just feels too heavy. I have good overall flexibility, so that's not holding me back, although active flex could use some work.

Can you show us a video?

Make a video of yourself taken from the side.

As you begin, where is your head? Is it sticking out in front of your shoulders?

Try to keep your head in between your arms/shoulders. As Handbalancer says you should feel activation in your traps right away.

As you start to lift your but activly keep/pull your legs close to your body.

I'm sure it's all going to be covered in H2 which is to be released soon.

You can also search Handbalancer posts here on the forum, he has done some great posts about it

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Mikael Kristiansen

Like Mats said, a video is needed for any real feedback. The main thing to critique is how you do it and how your handstand is. Like I have mentioned before, a press handstand becomes an extension of how your handstand looks. If the handstand is arched and lacks shoulder flexion you will lean forwards and arch up. This is what you want to avoid if you are looking to develop handstand skills beyond 2 arm hs. Slight lean will always happen at the bottom, but the back is supposed to stay round and the spine rolling up vertebrae by vertebrae. 

 

I would recommend you to work negatives with focus on form and trying to come to a full stop at the lowest point you are capable of holding and combining this with box presses. Film yourself often and review the technique. I have seen many who can do a bad form press do significantly better negatives both because it requires less strength and because starting at the top makes it more intuitive to go the correct way down.

 

This is from a video i made to explain to a friend of mine. This isnt optimal form as it was in the middle of the night with no warm up, so it lacks a bit of compression and stability. However you can see how Im rounded at the bottom and that even though i lean there is no break in the shoulder line. Shoulders are in front of the hands as required to stay in balance, but the torso is perpendicular to the floor. As i go to 90 with my legs there is a clear line from palm to hip. Same is visible in the tuck. There is no straddle there, but the concept is exactly the same. Straddle press is easier and for most its best to learn that first.

 

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Katharina Huemer

Like Mats said, a video is needed for any real feedback. The main thing to critique is how you do it and how your handstand is. Like I have mentioned before, a press handstand becomes an extension of how your handstand looks. If the handstand is arched and lacks shoulder flexion you will lean forwards and arch up. This is what you want to avoid if you are looking to develop handstand skills beyond 2 arm hs. Slight lean will always happen at the bottom, but the back is supposed to stay round and the spine rolling up vertebrae by vertebrae. 

 

I would recommend you to work negatives with focus on form and trying to come to a full stop at the lowest point you are capable of holding and combining this with box presses. Film yourself often and review the technique. I have seen many who can do a bad form press do significantly better negatives both because it requires less strength and because starting at the top makes it more intuitive to go the correct way down.

 

This is from a video i made to explain to a friend of mine. This isnt optimal form as it was in the middle of the night with no warm up, so it lacks a bit of compression and stability. However you can see how Im rounded at the bottom and that even though i lean there is no break in the shoulder line. Shoulders are in front of the hands as required to stay in balance, but the torso is perpendicular to the floor. As i go to 90 with my legs there is a clear line from palm to hip. Same is visible in the tuck. There is no straddle there, but the concept is exactly the same. Straddle press is easier and for most its best to learn that first.

 

OMG, you are soooo good!!!

The video is really great.! With help I can do it quite easily. If someone lifts my hips a little and keeps me in balance, it's fine and I can even press up from straddle support. But if I try it alone, I can manage to lift my feet some inches off the ground but then I am stuck and fall over or back. I guess this is a lack in strength, isn't it? I just can lift myself a few inches and hold it for like 2-3 secs, I can't lift them higher, I just fall over :/

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Mikael Kristiansen

Im working as a balancer so this doesnt pose the slightest bit of effort for me at this point.

 

 

You cant measure your press from how you do it with a spotter. WIthout spot it is a whole different story. Someone lifting you will get you through what is hard. It CAN be a good thing if you have a good spotter(for press hs this is hard to find because most lift people from the hips resulting in bad form) but it must be combined with other exercises and a good handstand. 

 

As I said before, first check your form. If you handstand isnt good enough, your press will directly suffer from this form wise. Then work negatives from handstand where you make an effort to stay on top of your shoulders for as long as possible, pushing out from your trapezius.

 

 

To answer the question of the thread; very few will be able to press handstand on their first try and even fewer with aligned form. Most of those who are able on their first try will do it with bent arms as this is the easiest and most intuitive compensation and it lowers the centre of mass.

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