Sculpt a Solid Upper Back Using Handstand Training
Coach Christopher Sommer often tells stories about his athletes’ upper backs or “traps” being so developed they look like another set of lats dropped into the middle of their back. Many of these athletes do little to no formal weight training, but rather they achieved their physique through Gymnastic Strength Training and exercises such as handstands.
The trapezius muscles, commonly referred to as the traps, are large muscles that spread across the entire back and are often revered by fitness enthusiasts, strength coaches, and bodybuilders alike. Ironically, the athletes who typically have the biggest traps build them strong and sizable by doing handstands.
What are the traps?
First, it is helpful to understand that the traps actually consist of three distinct areas that can fire separately from one another. Your upper traps help shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, and these are the muscles that are most commonly associated with traditional bodybuilding movements like shrugs and upright rows. The problem with focusing solely on your upper traps, however, is that it can lead to shoulder pain when not properly balanced with middle and lower trap development.
Incredible trap strength is built from handstand exercises found in the GB Handstand Series.
The middle and lower traps help move the shoulder blade in various directions, and they are often weak and underdeveloped on most people. If you have trouble holding your arms straight overhead without letting your lower back arch and ribs flare out, then there is a good chance that your middle and lower traps are weak. Fortunately, this also means that you will be able to make solid improvements to your handstand and other exercises by fixing this deficit.
How do handstands build your traps?
The GB Handstand Series is full of drills that are specifically designed to build your middle and lower traps. One such movement is called a Frog Press, and it will target your traps like none other.
Start in a plank position with your feet next to the wall, and walk your legs up onto the wall so that you are in a chest-to-wall handstand position. Keep your hands about 1-2 feet away from the wall, and be sure that your shoulders are stacked vertically on top of your wrists. From here, bend your knees and start sliding them out to the side into a straddle position. This bent-leg straddle is known as a Frog stretch when done on the floor, and in this drill, you will be moving in and out of it on the wall in a handstand.
The key trick to the Frog Press that will help your handstands build your traps is that you need to keep your shoulders directly over top of your wrists. If you let them move forward too much, then you will be training other muscles and letting your middle and lower traps stay underdeveloped. Go slowly at first, and focus on getting just one good rep.
If you notice that your hips are too tight to get into a good Frog position, then also be sure to check out GymnasticBodies Middle Split Series. This gem from the GB Courses has over 25 stretches that will help improve your hip mobility, especially in a wide straddle position.
Build your best body today, capable of doing all the things you love. GymnasticBodies handstand training will target your weakness, help build your traps, and improve your shoulder mobility.