How to Box Tuck

Many roads lead to Rome but without a doubt some are faster and more direct. When Rome is the freestanding handstand then the box tuck is definitely this hotter and more efficient road. 

Not many other exercises are as superior as the box tuck. Learn alignment, feeling for control, upside down awareness and strength. No matter if you are trying to get your first freestanding handstand or if you are working on perfecting your tuck you are in the right place. 


How to
Box Tuck

Many roads lead to Rome but without a doubt some are faster and more direct. When Rome is the freestanding handstand then the box tuck is definitely this hotter and more efficient road. 

Not many other exercises are as superior as the box tuck. Learn alignment, feeling for control, upside down awareness and strength. No matter if you are trying to get your first freestanding handstand or if you are working on perfecting your tuck you are in the right place. 

Why train handstands
with a box

Obviously placing limbs on a box and calling it a revolution is a bit of a bold statement. Placing the knees on the box and following the described technique on the other hand might be! 

Advantage over the wall

The biggest plus that you get by practicing box tuck handstands in comparison to chest to wall handstands is that weight comes down into your shoulders significantly more vertically as your legs are laying on the box. No matter which chest to wall exercise you choose, pressure will always remain horizontal in your shoulders making chest to wall progressions more challenging on a physical level.

I know what you think. Physically harder is good but not always! When you are working to learn about form, alignment and trying to catch your first holds we need things to be as easy as possible. 

Feet vs knees

Placing the knees compared to the feet on the box offers an additional advantage. You get less weight on your hands allowing you again to focus on alignment and overall body awareness significantly more. 

Bending the knees keeps the center of gravity close to your hands making this the ideal progression to achieve the first static holds. 

The Box Tuck

Just like any progression in calisthenics and bodyweight training, how you do the drill is key. If you do not understand the mechanics and you do not where to place your weight you will not get the planned benefits from the exercise. 

What is the Box Tuck Exercise

The box tuck is a beginner friendly handstand exercise that is excellent for building alignment, control, awareness and strength. In later progressions the box tuck is also an excellent skill to train deep and controlled tuck handstands. 

How to do a Box Tuck

Grab a high box, a kitchen counter or a table with a laundry basket on top, place the edge of your knees on top of the surface and walk your hands in.  

In the starting position your shoulders need to be on top of the center of your hands with your glutes slightly sticking out and your hips in an anterior pelvic tilt. Make sure your elbows are locked, scapula is fully elevated and you are looking at your hands. Your knees should touch each other and be fully bent with your heels close to your glutes. 

In this starting position it is essential that the lower back is in a slight arch as future progressions are impossible if the hips fall into a posterior pelvic tilt. To make this slight arch possible it is essential that the knees are elevated high enough. If your box is too low this exercise will not bring any results.


From this clean tuck starting position creativity is as always the only limiting point for what to do next. To give you a starting point I’ve laid out the most efficient and useful progressions for you here. 

Single leg isolation

From the starting position bring 1 leg straight up toward the ceiling whilst keeping the other one fully bent. Focus on aligning the top foot, hips, shoulders and hips right on top of the center of the hands. When everything is well aligned, elevate your scapula pushing as high as possible. 

Leg Hover

Graduating from single leg isolation the logical progression is lifting the second leg up as well. Assuming you did step 1 well this second one should be a piece of cake. Make sure not to swing or jump off. If you are well aligned and your shoulders are fully elevated the second leg will peel off practically by itself. If you find yourself box heavy film yourself from the side and analyze your position. 

Leg isolation

Once the hovers hover it is now time to bring the second leg all the way up. Closing the legs on top will feel amazing. Do this step right and you are doing a freestanding handstand. 

Keep in mind that slow is good and you do not have to bring the leg all the way up right away. It is ok to only go halfway. Important is to keep the top foot-hip-shoulder-hand line active and to stay in control at all times. 

Tuck take off

For advanced athletes only. The goal here is from a straight handstand to lower both legs down to the box at the same time without falling towards the box or even to lift box legs off the box without leaning the shoulders. Both progressions require high levels of control and shoulder and back strength. 

Benefits or
the box tuck

The box tuck comes with a wide variety of advantages from increased upside down control, strength and the development of feeling for control

Master the Freestanding Handstand

Due to the fact that you can align your entire body with only a fraction of your body weight, finding where to place the shoulders in relation to the hands is more than possible. The box tuck hover is the progression with the least amount of movement needed between the freestanding handstand and the supported position. An additional bonus is the nature of the set up. You are close to the box. Closing the shoulders and arching the back is not possible as your ribs will touch the box. You are forced to do it right from the start. 

Drastically improve your Tuck

Advanced handstand athletes can use box tuck leg isolations as an incredible way to further improve upon their tuck. Lowering onto the box is challenging. When lowering to the tuck trying to touch the box with the knees the box feels and honestly is far away. Simply letting the legs sink down won’t be enough to touch the box. You will be forced to truly use your hip flexors to pull down towards the box making this an excellent advanced progression. 

Train with reduced pressure to Develop Strength

One major limiting point when training chest to wall handstands is a lack of strength. One option would be to leave handstands be for a while until more strength is developed but this is of course not as fun. Instead we can use the box tuck as a compromise option. Significantly harder than holding a push up but not as physically challenging as the wall handstand. The box tuck creates the perfect bridge allowing you to work on alignment and awareness whilst heavily investing in strength. 

Improve coordination and accuracy

Bringing the leg right up is not easy and with reduced pressure on the shoulders the box tuck single leg isolation is the ideal progression to practice upside down body awareness. 

Film your session from the side. After each set stop the video, get a clear image of what you think you just did in your head and compare this mental image with the actual video. You will learn a lot about your handstands and alignment will improve rapidly. 

Get over fear – build confidence

Another major limiting point when learning to handstand is fear. and I get it! Spending time upside down using muscles and body parts you didn’t even know existed can be overwhelming and scary! But let’s be honest. Anything that is new is scary! Spending time on your hands is down. The more time you spend upside down the less scared you will be. The box tuck is relatively easy compared to other progressions and since your legs are laying on the box there is only very little room for falling over. Use this drill to get used to the idea of being upside down!

Why no one uses
this progression

The list of benefits is literally endless yet the progression is basically unknown. There are 2 reasons for this. 

Lack of creativity/knowledge

Most people didn’t think of this variation or simply forget about it. I’m sure you were surprised by the long list of benefits. This is a simple progression that is often overlooked. 

Seemingly Difficult set up

The real reason why most athletes who know of this progression like to skip past it is because the set up is more work than regular wall handstand progressions. You have to find a box that is either a bit too high or better exactly at the height that you need. If you are training at a gym this is easy. Smith machines, squat racks, platforms and boxes will work. At home this might require a bit more creativity. Most will train on a kitchen counter or table with a laundry basket or yoga blocks on top to hit the right height. 

The second thing you will want to be mindful of is the material off the box. When first learning to box tuck falling back to the box will happen frequently. Make sure to soften the surface and patten any sharp edges and corners to avoid unnecessary bruising. 


Some say ignorance is key but I believe knowing about the possible errors that can be made in this drill will help you self evaluate better and improve twice as fast.


Most beginners when attempting to take the second leg off the box will use momentum and jump off the box into a handstand freeze. I get it. You’re excited to do a freestanding handstand but this is not the way to go about it! If you are not able to lift the second leg off without leaning the shoulders your alignment is not right. With a bit of momentum you might be able to get off the box but you’ll end up in a banana handstand. If you are not able to take the leg off film yourself from the side and self analyze. Use this as a clear sign that you have to improve further!

Hands too far

One of the most common mistakes is training with the hands too far away from the box or with the quads instead of the knees on the edge of the box. Placing the hands right underneath the shoulders can be intimidating at first but is essential to get alignment right. Bringing the hands into the right position feels too close for most at first. 

Dropping back down

When first starting to lift the knee off the box you will feel your back engaging in ways you didn’t even know existed. Your back connects your hips with your shoulders. In order to support the extra weight of the leg your lower back has to fire up to stabilize the hips. Otherwise they fall into a posterior pelvic tilt and you will fall back to the box. Commit to keeping the weight in the fingertips. 

Closed shoulders / arched back

The banana handstand. The nemesis of all beginner level handstand athletes. Whilst this exercise might be ideal for getting rid of the banana of course it is still more than possible to sink into the shoulders and arch the back. Focus on pushing the knees into the box to lift some weight off the shoulders whilst actively pushing tall through your scapula. Stay mindful of elevation in every single set and over time even the biggest banana will turn into a perfectly straight handstand. 

The box tuck truly is one of the greatest progressions there is to learn and further improve freestanding handstands. With the right set up the box tuck should take a consistent part in your workout routine.

3 Limiting Points - Handstand Endurance
Control - Do not balance
Why you should stick to the wall
The 3 Reasons why you can't handstand without the wall
Tuck Up VS. Swing Up
External Rotation in Handstands
Hips & Lower Back Engagement in the Press/Tuck/L
How Balance & Control Works in the Handstands
Straddle Handstand - Middle Split VS. Pancake
Overview of Handstand Entries
How to Box Tuck
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