Strength & endurance for handstands
Updated: Sep 26, 2019
In previous blog posts, strength/endurance, mobility, balance, and body awareness/engagement were introduced as the four physical capabilities that play the biggest role in Handstands.
While it’s impossible to isolate each of them completely during our practice, in order to understand them and to train them efficiently they will be broken down and explained individually.
Strength & endurance
There is a fundamental principle of strength training that plays a huge role in regards to handstands: The principle of specificity.
This principle refers to the capacity of the body to develop and express strength and other physical attributes in a non-general way. Meaning that strength develops in the specific way of the movement that you train it with, being conditioned by for example the direction of the movement or the range of motion used in it. This principle will become more relevant the more complex the movement or skill in which you want to express the strength is. That is if it includes lots of body parts, or a balancing component, precision, speed, etc.
What does this mean in regards to handstands?
First, that training strength in the common way that people understand strength (aka lifting weights) might have a very little impact on your strength levels for such a complex and very specific skill.
Second, that we should take a look at the specific body positions used during handstands, so we can replicate those positions or movements in a manageable and measurable way so we can perform "reps" of them. The more similar, the more carryover they will have to the skill.
Also, we need to remember that strength and endurance are not only about the development of the specific muscles that should be engaged, but it also includes building up important joints such as wrists, elbows, and shoulders, that are not naturally ready to withstand such levels of stress (they may, in fact, be the weakest link of the chain!).
Let me know down in the comments what are your thoughts on this topic!