March 01, 2006
The press to handstand is an incredible tool for developing strength in the shoulders and upper back. It is also an impressive feat in its own right. While a press to handstand is not terribly difficult to execute once learned, it can take a while to develop the required strength, flexibility, and understanding of the technique. Once learned, it can be modified continually to progressive increase the demands of the skill.
Some flexibility is essential to execute a press handstand with correct technique. The ability to do a decent "pancake" (a forward bend with straight back from a seated straddle or pike on the floor, so that your chest contacts the floor or your legs) will help maximize efficiency of the movement. (See issue 41 of the CrossFit Journal for tips on improving flexibility.)
Most of the following handstand drills can be performed either on the floor or on parallettes. In general, working the drills on parallettes will make the movements easier. The parallettes create a more stable base for the handstand as well as providing more clearance for presses from the L or straddle L. If you use parallettes, start with your feet on a mat or other raised surface so your feet are level with your hands to start. Once you begin to develop some proficiency with the move, you can lower or remove the mats.