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Limiting Points - Wall Handstand

The Wall Handstand or more specifically the Chest to Wall Handstand marks one of the first big milestones on every beginners path. Walking up the wall with the feet and getting the hands closer to the wall to approach the straight line is definitely challenging and maybe even intimidating at first but with a bit of practice and the right focus everybody will make it there.

While this drill is the highlight of your training session at the beginning of your journey it will quickly turn into a warm up exercise or even just another yet highly efficient conditioning drill for your core, arms and scapula elevation strength. Key is to make sure only the feet touch the wall, that your elbows stay locked and your shoulders cover your ears at all times. Go slow and actually use the wall with your feet. If they come off in an attempt to do a freestanding handstand your form is off. 

Pretty much anybody starting out with wall walks is struggling with 1 of 2 problems. Read below if you want to  find out what is holding you back!

Lack of Strength

If you are trying to work your way towards the chest to wall handstand but you are constantly worried that you might collapse and fall straight on your face then we need to hold here for a moment and work on our strength. By reinforcing the arms, shoulders and core we will be able to assure proper form, secure ourselves against overuse injuries and gain the confidence needed to proceed with more advanced drills. 

The beauty is. Strength training has been well researched and concepts are proven to work for pretty much anybody. Start by doing 2 sessions per week focusing on exercises such as planks, push up progressions, scapula push ups and even some pulling work to stay well balanced. Excluding warm up and post workout stretches these training sessions should not take you more than 20min. Combined with adequate rest and proper diet you should see progress within the first 4 weeks.

When you are more confident, come back to the wall drills. As soon as you have pushed over this first hurdle you can allow your body and especially shoulders to get stronger while becoming better at handstands. Your technique will improve while muscular resistance grows getting you ready for more advanced progressions and eventually the freestanding handstand.

Lack of Scapular Mobility

If the reason that you can not make it up the wall is due to tight shoulders and limited mobility your approach naturally needs to be quite a bit different than the explained strategy above. The goal now needs to be to open the shoulders to become more efficient in our handstand line.

The first thing to understand here is that we are not exactly looking to just simply open the shoulders into extension. Despite what the internet has been teaching the masses about the picture perfect handstand line we want to stretch the shoulder long long to be able to elevate the scapula.

For this we need to do 2 things. We need to stretch the lats and open up the shoulders and we need to build specific strength & coordination to said elevation.

Most of us know the traditional shoulder stretches. While they are great and necessary to an extent it will take ages to see progress.
In the meantime it is important to focus on active drills. Work on your coordination and scapula elevation strength. From my experience with hundreds of clients those small specific muscles take between 10-14 weeks to develop and help your handstand journey drastically.

If shoulder mobility is holding you back I would recommend to continue to work on your handstands as usual but add 10min of scapula focused work at the beginning of every workout. 20% of your time should go towards passive stretches while 80% should be devoted to active opening and awareness drills.

What is holding you back?


Learning to handstand is not always easy. It is about finding your personal limiting points and working on them until they become your strength. You reading until here is great because the earlier on in your journey that you understand your limiting points the more efficiently and specific you can create your training routine to make sure nothing will hold you back in the long run.

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