The Importance Of A Good Static Handstand For Walking
If you search for How To Handstand Walk, you’ll likely get a bunch of progressions coming up, which can be useful depending on your starting place. However, if you’re just starting out, you’ll soon find that these progressions may not be particularly helpful until you have some solid foundations.
After teaching handstands for many years in various CF boxes across Europe (dream job, I know ;) ) I noticed that one of the most prominent pieces that people were lacking, was the basics. They really needed to fill in these missing pieces, if they wanted to start repping out sets of handstands, push-ups and walks.
Something lacking in the handstand walk for many is the ability to CONTROL the momentum. Without understanding how this works and having some of the pieces needed for a standard handstand, you’ll likely be feeling you’re always chasing after the balance, right on the edge before you fall flat over the top. What you want is to be able to control the walk, not to have it controlling you!
Control in this movement is extremely important because it allows you to maintain your energy, speed and direction for optimal performance.
Now, this could be a tad controversial but as I’m sure you may have gathered by now, we are pro teaching the ‘acrobatic’ handstand technique aka the straight-line handstand. You don’t NEED a perfectly straight line to be able to hold yourself, balance or walk on your hands but let me tell you that it makes a HUGE difference if you do have excellent alignment. (i.e. Little 4ft 11 weak me can SMOOSH a Regional CF champion into the floor in a handstand walk and it is 100% down to technique because he is a f*cking machine in comparison to me!)
With the foundational elements of what it needed for handstands (specific strength, relevant flexibility, some alignment and technique) it’s a LOT easier to, not only learn the handstand walk but to master it and execute it well under pressure. Doing it without good alignment does, of course, work but the main problem with the ‘banana back’, is that it’s such an unstable shape. It ends up DRAINING your energy because you’re constantly having to make additional balance corrections as your body is flopping about. A straight line is a more solid structure that is ‘held’ and this will save you a lot of energy.
When talking to many of CF pro friends (high-level competitors and hobbyists alike) I noticed a huge difference in how they would approach this movement vs how I would approach it. The big strapping lads (and ladies) tended to take much wider steps than me which one would assume was optimal based on the fact that travelling speed is a much-needed factor. However, I was actually faster. Although I took smaller steps with my hands, I could almost run in comparison to the others. This is largely down to the difference in our alignment, the body shape we’re in when executing the movement. The straight(er) shape is more optimal for controlling your speed and the direction of your walk.
Energy preservation is definitely a plus whether you’re doing a competition or in a solo training session or you’re messing around with buddies. You’ll use less energy with a straighter shape and therefore your balance will be easier to maintain. #handstandphysics
There are definitely multiple techniques that work and I’m no CrossFit, calisthenics or bodyweight expert but I think it’s worth considering what’s you’re trying to achieve and what technique will help you the most.