Handstand Shoulder Angles Explained – Video Tutorial

The quest for a straight Handstand can be a mystery at first.

It’s important to remember that the mechanics of the handstand are very simple. There is really only 3 factors.

1. The shoulder angle.

2. The curvature or straightness of the spine.

3. The hip angle.

It’s also important to remember that if you go too far one way, the rest of the body will have to go the other way to maintain balance, this happens in all directions. For example if your shoulders and chest creep too far forward or extend too far back, the rest of the body (back, hips, legs) will be forced to change shape to compensate.

The main reason people have a banana back at first is not because their spine can’t straighten, it’s because the back  bend is a counterbalance for the shoulder position – in an attempt to send bodyweight in the other direct – as you will see in this video.

For UK Handstand Workshops & Special Events visit

For Bristol Handstand Classes visit

For more video tutorials visit

In this first example, the shoulders are too open, the chest is pushed too far through the arms, the bum is sticking out the other way to compensate, and the hips are piking in order to counter balance the bum.


This is corrected by letting the shoulders come forward more over the hands which removes the need for the arch, and puts the arms in straight alignment with the spine. Then the hips can follow suit and straighten into alignment. (this will involve squeezing the glutes so the tail bone goes under and the hip bones thrust forward)


The other scenario with shoulders too open is that the whole body is in one big arch. This is a cool move if done deliberately, but if you’re trying to master your straight Handstand – then – again – let your shoulders come forward over your hands, this will mean the legs no longer need to compensate and they will be free to come into straight alignment over the hands.


The other scenario – and the most common – is where the shoulders won’t open into straight alignment with the spine, this tips the torso back the other way, and then the back and legs have to arch over the head to compensate. This is trickier to correct because it’s a result of not enough flexibility as apposed to too much, and so stretching will be needed in order to increase the range of motion at the shoulders.


Anybody who does find themselves in this position can correct it by pushing the ground away from them as hard as they can. This will have the effect of opening the shoulders into a straighter alignment with the spine but stretching will be needed aswell.

Wrapping the shoulders around the armpits is also a way of bringing the chest into alignment and enguaging pecs to stabilise the shoulders.

Something else to bare in mind is position is sometimes dictated by limits in strength… but that is a subject for another article!

Check out my other blog posts for more tutorials.

For UK Handstand Workshops & Special Events visit

For Bristol Handstand Classes visit

For more video tutorials visit

How to Handstand against a wall – Video Tutorial

This video tutorial will take you on a journey from beginner to improver.

For UK Handstand Workshops & Special Events visit

For Bristol Handstand Classes visit

For more video tutorials visit

1. People who are building their handstand confidence from scratch should aim to just get one foot to touch the wall. There is no need to stay upside down, a jump and a touch is all you need to begin with. This is the first step in building confidence.

2. Once you can consistently get a foot or toe to touch the wall, the next step is to bring the 2nd leg up to the wall. The first leg can stay bent as a stabiliser. You are now in a handstand.


3. Once you feel comfortable upside down, you can straighten both legs and begin to build your shoulder endurance and body alignment. Aim to stay upside down for 30 seconds. Push as hard as you can so your shoulders are engaged and stable, squeeze you abs, glutes, and legs. Video yourself on your smartphone, aim to be as straight as possible.

4. Now that you have confidence, strength, alignment, & body-tension, the next step is to begin balancing. Bring one foot away from the wall at a time, keep swapping legs in a slow controlled manner. Legs are straight, toes are point. Use very slow controlled transitions.

5. Eventually you will find yourself balancing with neither feet touching the wall. Try to bring your feet together so that the big toes are touching.

Note: Balance is much easier when there’s a lot of body tension. Push the ground away from you as hard as you can, this engages the shoulders which creates a stable base. Relaxed shoulders are hard to balance. Enguage the legs in the same way. The body should be like a rigid plank and the balance should only be controlled by the fingers.

6. Now that you’ve practised one way, it’s time to turn round and practise facing the wall. This ensures you don’t get into bad habits of letting your back bend. Walk your feet up the wall and carefully walk your hands to the wall so that your nose touches the wall. Getting your hip bones and nose to the wall helps teach your body straight alignment. Aim for 30 seconds of endurance. This will build strong stable shoulders over time.

7. The next thing to do is practise alternating legs. You’ll need your hands a bit further away from the wall. Make sure you feel confident to twist out safely, or use a crash mat, or work with a friend who can spot you.

8. Once your legs are swapping in a smooth controlled manner, your final challenge is to bring both feet together. This may take weeks, months, or years. The improvements in Shoulder strength and stability do not happen instantly. Be realistic, this is a very difficult skill and gymnasts, acrobats, and yogis, spend years slowly improving their hand-balance.

9. Stretch your shoulders open. Kick up to the wall, let your feet touch the wall first before transitioning your bum to the wall. The closer your hands are to the wall the easier this is. Over time you can increase the stretch by having your hands further away.

10. Finally, face the other direction and walk your feet up. This is an inverted downward dog or pike, this will stretch your forward fold whilst also building your Handstand strength. Pulse backwards and forwards, this stretches and also strengthens the shoulders and will contribute to a more stable and controlled handstand.

For UK Handstand Workshops & Special Events visit

For Bristol Handstand Classes visit

For more video tutorials visit

How to Press to Handstand – Video Tutorial

This move is known by different names (press, lift, lever) but the name which makes most sense to me is “deadlift”, because we are lifting our bodyweight from a dead start with no momentum or jumping. 

For UK Handstand Workshops & Special Events visit

For Bristol Handstand Classes visit

For more video tutorials visit

“Press”, on the other hand, implies that the arms and elbows are bent and the bodyweight is being pressed, and so I don’t find it appropriate for this move where the arms remain straight.

If you wanted to be more specific, you could further specify if you are deadlifting from standing, or from the floor, or with the legs in straddle or pike. 

For the purpose of this video, we are working with Straddle Deadlift from Standing. 


1. Good forward fold flexibility (and side splits so the legs can lift sideways, which further reduces the need to lean forwards into the shoulders) 

2. Shoulder (Front Delt) strength to resist the bodyweight as you lean forward.

3. Handstand balance once your feet leave the floor. 


1. The better your forward fold, the less shoulder strength you will need (because you won’t need to lean as far forward and so there will be less work for your shoulders in resisting your bodyweight) .

2. The more shoulder strength you’ve got, the less forward fold you will need (because your shoulders will have the power to resist your bodyweight as you lean/planche further forward, due to not having enough forward fold)

3. If you’ve got enough of both, there will be a sweet spot where your centre of gravity goes over you hands, your shoulders can resist your bodyweight, and you will lift. 

4. The more strength and flexibility you’ve got, the easier this will be. 


1. Practising lifting your legs in a headstand so you become familiar with the movement. 

2. Do some shoulder strength conditioning where you pulse forwards and backwards either in a regular plank or wall plank. 

3. Significant hip, hamstring, splits stretching will make the deadlift much easier.

4. Raise your feet up higher on to blocks, chairs, or inflatable ball.

5. Put a crash mat in front of you to keep you safe. 

6. Get a friend to spot you by putting their knees into your shoulders to block you from going too far forward, they can also help lift your hips.

7. Super bendy people will usually find the deadlift easier or at least they will learn it quicker. There are some people who have a great forward fold but their shoulders are not strong enough to support their bodyweight as they lean slightly forwards and so they will need to work more on the shoulder strength. 

8. Leg length as compared to arm and torso length will also be a factor. People with long legs may find it easier to get their bum up and centre of gravity over their hands (thus requiring less shoulder strength to support leaning forward) 

On the other hand people with short legs may have to lean further forward to get the centre of gravity over the hands and thus require more shoulder strength to support that. 

9. Bodyweight is also a factor. A light person may find it easier but not necessarily. 

For UK Handstand Workshops & Special Events visit

For Bristol Handstand Classes visit

For more video tutorials visit