A lot of folks have goals related to handstands, which is awesome. Next to the squat, the handstand is probably the most important force-multiplier in the gym.
Handstands against a wall are a great place to start, but eventually you’ll want to progress. But how the heck are you supposed to balance without a wall to help you?
Hand-balancing is not trivial and there is no “secret-sauce”, but one thing that helps a lot of people with balance is to use finger pressure to assist balance.
The vine above shows a very typical hand position. You can see that the knuckles are flexed, which allows you to generate more finger-tip pressure. It’s okay to have fully extended fingers, as long as you can produce enough finger pressure to prevent yourself from toppling. The main thing is to use your hands actively. They’re not just meat flippers at the end of your wrists!
A couple of tips are in order.
Most great hand-standers have their weight distributed on the front palm, where the fingers meet the hand.
If you shift your weight towards the heel of your palm, your hand can feel “stuck” to the ground, leaving you with few options to re-balance if you feel yourself falling.
This is directly analogous to how boxers stay light on the balls of their feet, and dread being caught flat-footed with their weight on their heels.
So if you shift your weight towards your fingers, your hands remain mobile, and you can use finger pressure to bring yourself back to balance.
The only problem with shifting your weight towards your fingers is the fear of toppling onto your back…but the longer you use the wall for balance, the longer it will take you to learn how to use your fingers for balance.
This is why a good human spotter is key for handstand progress! Here’s a challenge for you. The next time you want to handstand, rather than default to the wall, find a coach or fellow athlete at the gym and ask them to spot you. Face your fear!