How to do a Gymnastic Handstand

Gymnastic Handstand

In this lesson you will learn how to do a gymnastic handstand. The handstand is the most important gymnastics skill and essential for almost all sub-sequent techniques (not just for the floor exercise). Why is the handstand so important? The handstand gives you a feeling of balance and fully extended postures. At the same time it strengthens your entire body. Practice your handstand at the beginning of every single gymnastics workout. Find more gymnastics instructions at artistic gymnastics main.


  • Raise your arms and extend your body so that your finger tips are as high as possible. Knees and arms are fully extended. Look straight forward and don't bend your head back or down. Abdominals contracted slightly. Rounding the back slightly is better than hollowing. If you round your back a bit, it should not be notable. Arms, trunk and legs should form a perfect vertical line and the shoulders touch the ears. The same posture has to be achieved when you are upside down.
  • Lift your left leg, but don't move any other body part yet. Legs and arms remains fully extended. Also extend the ankle of your left leg.
    • When a foot leaves the floor, the ankle has to be extended immediately (this is a rule for almost all gymnastics skills).
    • The right leg, the upper body and the arms have to stay aligned all the time (when you go into the handstand and also when you go back down).
  • Lean forward - Step forward with the left leg. While you move towards the floor, the arms, the trunk and the right leg have to remain in a perfect straight line. Keep the distance from your right foot to your finger tips as far as possible. When the left leg touches the floor, you can bend your knee a little (but don't bend too much).
  • Put your hands on the floor and make sure your arms, your trunk and the right leg are still lined up. The distance from where you start to where you plant your hands should be an entire body length, including the extended arms. Beginners often plant their hands too close.
  • Swing your right leg, but don't lose the leg-trunk-arms alignment. Then close your legs. Make sure your legs, your arms and your ankles remain fully extended. Don't hollow your back - don't bend your knees or your elbows - keep your abdominals tight.
  • At the beginning you had to push your finger tips up as high as possible, so that the distance between hands and feet becomes as big as possible. Now it's the same thing, only that you are upside down. Fully extend your arms and your legs. Also extend your ankles as far as you can and push the tips of your toes up. Also push up your body with your shoulders and align yourself 90° to the floor. Contract your Abdominals slightly. Don't hollow your back. Again, your back can be slightly rounded, but not be notable. Don't bend your head back so that you can see the floor better (at least not when you are practicing the basic handstand). You can look down to the floor with the eyes, but you should not arch your head back. Keep your head and your spine straight. Your shoulders should stick to your ears.
  • To balance the handstand you should only use your hands (forearm strength). At this point your entire body (arms, upper body and legs) should be locked. Don't balance the handstand by bending your legs or your elbows (that would be bad form). If you feel you will fall back, release pressure from your finger tips. If you feel you will tip over, push your finger tips down harder.
  • Separate your legs again and move your left foot back towards the floor. The right leg, the trunk and the arms remain aligned.
  • At the end you should stand at the same spot where you started. Push up your finger tips up (see beginning position).


  • Note: The left leg is lifted at the end and goes down first. So basically for the left leg the handstand is shorter.
  • At the beginning just try to stand on your hands. No matter how. You will not be able to do a perfect straight handstand right away. Keeping the legs and the head straight is difficult at the beginning.
  • Balancing exercises:
    • Do a handstand and try to look up to your toes for a few seconds.
    • Try to balance your handstand with closed eyes for a moment.