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adult gymnastics handstands and presses training 

these notes come from the mini clinic conducted at the 2020 winter adult gymnastics camp.

handstand stations

Can you lie flat on your stomach on the floor with flat armpits?

-Start your handstand practice by lying facedown with your arms squeezed by your ears, all your muscles tight, and your hands in handstand position.

-Keep your eyes looking between your hands.

-This will stretch out your muscles in the way they need to be for a good handstand shape. Memorize which muscles are working.

-Hold for 60 sec.

Can you hang from a bar relaxed and be straight? What if you point your toes and squeeze your muscles?

-Do 30 sec. of each type. Start w/ the relaxed hang to stretch out. Overgrip is fine, unless you want to improve undergrip bar work, in which case do both.

-When you do the tight one, really squeeze every muscle while still keeping a straight body. Most people will move their toes forward when they squeeze but resist that.

Facing wall handstands with pit block between legs and wall

-You will probably need a friend to put the block in place for you. 

-Keep a straight and tight body with eyes looking between your hands.

-This works your body tension and position without you having to worry about balance.

-Have the friend tell you whether or not you're straight.

Kick up into a sideways Beam handstands. Which side do you repeatedly fall on? 

-Strive to not always fall to the same side. That will mean your handstand is straighter.

-Challenge yourself on how many seconds you can hold.

Floor or beam handstand with 5 split opens and closes on each leg.

-Kick up into a handstand, then do a quick split and close. Try to do 5 in a row and then 5 in a row on the other leg.

-Keep tight legs, but don't worry if your split is 180. It's better to keep hips square for this drill. 

-This helps you find your center of gravity.

Walking forward, backward and sideway (both sides) across floor

-Keep arms as straight as possible by moving through the shoulder girdle rather than by bending your elbow.

-Small steps are better than big steps because you'll keep a better shape.

-Challenge yourself to make it all the way across the floor without coming down. You can also do 4 steps of each type and try to make all the types without coming down.

-This helps you become more comfortable on your hands.



Stalder rolls across floor or using 3 panel mats end to end.

-These are easier on the panel mats, harder on the floor.

-Perform a forward roll, straddle your legs, and hold them up in the air as high as you can. Roll again into the next roll by missing your head.

-Try to do as many in a row as you can without feet hitting.

-If your feet hit, it will still help, but that is the goal - to miss your feet.

-This works the bottom part of a press.

Press against a Wedge mat

-Start on your toes, or with toes curled under so you can't push off if you're more advanced.

-Press up while keeping your back against the wedge at all times (especially your lower back).

-Press back down the same way.

Pancake hold w/ butt against wedge 

-Set up on hands with butt against wedge mat  and feet down near the floor in a pancake.

-Walk your arms as close in as you can and still be able to hold for at least 10 sec. (30 is the goal).

-Use abs and hip flexors to close the shape and hold it. 

-This helps you work your compression (how small you can make your shape) to make the press easier.

Seated Stalder Leg Lifts

-Sit in a straddle with both hands next to one knee.

-Keeping legs locked and back rounded, lift the leg into the air as high as you can. Avoid leaning back while lifting.

-If this gets easy, try both legs at once with hands in the middle.

-This isolates the hip flexors, the weak link for many in the press.

Press Down and Press Up

-Start in a handstand. Press down as far as you can while still being able to press back up. Don't worry if it's only a small movement at first.

Press Down Slow

-Start in a handstand

-Press down taking 5 full seconds to get either your feet on the floor or all the way to a floating straddle. 

-Try to make the press down smooth.

Straddle walks forward and backward across floor

-Stand in small straddle, put weight onto arms, and lift feet off floor then pull feet forward in front of hands, then place feet down (they are now in front of hands). Then move arms forward and continue. 

-Backwards is the same in reverse. Use your core to pull the body into a compressed shape.

Medicine Ball Arm Raises in small straddle

-Sit with legs in a small straddle

-Keeping arms straight, lift them straight up so the ball ends up above your head.

-Keep your legs tight and toes pointed the whole time.

straddle cast

Ball Roll to Press

-Legs on a Stability ball, hands on a floor bar in a push-up position

-Rock your body forward until you are in a position to straddle your legs and close up to handstand.

-You may need a spot at first.

-This helps you get used to the timing of the straddle cast. Your body should first cast to horizontal (where your are with legs on the ball) and then straddle up in a good straddle cast handstand.

P-bar Swings to land in a straddle on the bar

-In a support on the parallel bars, swing legs forward and back to land in a straddle on the bars.

-Be sure to feel your core lifting your hips up so you have plenty of room to not miss your feet.

-Watch your feet as they land on the bar.

-This helps you get your hips up for a cast.

Cast to toes on the bar

-In front support on a low bar, cast and try to tap your feet on the bar in a straddle position.

-Once you can do that, try three in a row without a break in between (so when your hips land back on the bar, you're already casting into the next one).

-This helps teach you how to balance your body weight over your hands on a bar while moving.

Bounce to Straddle Up Handstand on the floor

-Start in a handstand. Drop feel down in a pike, bounce off the floor, and straddle legs quick before ending up back in a handstand. Legs stay locked.

-These are very quick. Try doing them in sets of 10-30 at once for endurance.

want more conditioning ideas?

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