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Handstand ist ein gutes Ganzkörpertraining

Headstand and handstand training

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Learning to do a headstand or handstand has many positive effects on the body. Although athletes or yogis make standing on your head with your legs up in the air look easy, the first attempts are usually difficult. With the right technique and constant practice, you can win the battle against gravity. It just takes a bit of courage and effort at first, which is perfectly normal.

In this article, you will learn about the benefits of the handstand and headstand training for your body, how to master both exercises and why the handstand is the perfect antagonist training for climbers.

Handstand am Fels beim Klettern
The handstand is a great balancing exercise for climbing. It also helps your circulation.

The effects of the inverted pose on the body

Although it’s one of the basic yoga poses, the headstand requires a lot of skill and effort. Yogis also refer to this pose as sirsasana, which translates to king of asanas. But what are the actual effects of the inversion on the body?

Increased blood flow

Standing on your head takes the pressure off your veins. This allows the blood to flow more easily to the heart, which results in an immediate boost of energy. When you’re in the upside down position, your heart has to work harder to pump blood. So, it’s perfectly normal to feel your heart beating more intensely when you’re in a headstand. 

The inverted pose strengthens the heart. This allows the oxygen and nutrients to be better distributed throughout the body. 

Improved digestion

Being on your head has an effect on your organs. Don’t worry though, your organs won’t be damaged. Actually, it will do quite the opposite: the inverted pose promotes blood flow and stimulates the stomach and intestinal tract. It will also improve digestion. 

Do you regularly feel bloated? Handstand or headstand training can help you get rid of this. 

Strengthening the body

The headstand puts the body in an unusual position. Normally, all the weight of the body is on the legs and feet. They carry the body through life. In headstand, this is reversed. This strengthens the upper body. The same applies to the handstand. But that’s not all: in order to be able to hold a headstand, you need a strong core. 

Headstand and handstand training strengthens the abdominal and core muscles. The difference between this and a handstand is that your weight is not on your forearms, but on your hands. This does not mean that there is less load on the centre of the body or on the arms. On the contrary, both the headstand and the handstand work the whole body. 

Increased concentration

Handstand mit Aussicht auf die Berge
Standing on your head can not only improve your concentration, but also your mood.

When doing a headstand, the blood flows to the head. Due to the concentration of the blood flow towards the head, the brain is better supplied with blood. This increases your ability to think. 

At first it may feel strange to be upside down. A positive side effect of this is that you will become calmer and more relaxed because you are in an unfamiliar situation. This increases mindfulness and concentration. 

Increased mood

Remember when you were a kid and you used to stand on your head all the time? Practicing the headstand and handstand can nurture your inner child. The unfamiliar pose and the challenge can trigger a euphoric effect, which in turn releases oodles of happy hormones. 

How to do a handstand?

Holding a handstand can be challenging. Your body needs quite a bit of strength to counteract gravity. Therefore, practicing the handstand alone won’t be enough. 

There are a variety of exercises you can do to get your body in shape and then have the strength to do a handstand. In addition to targeted exercises, you can also strengthen your body with other sports such as yoga or climbing.

Climbing in particular puts the body under constant stress and strain. In addition to working the entire body, it will also work the deep muscles you need to be able to do a handstand.

The boat or plank are classic exercises. Both exercises focus on controlling body tension and core strength. 

It’s also important to have a clear head. Before practising, try to push away all your worries and problems from everyday life and focus solely on the moment and your body. 

Although it might be tempting, use as little momentum as possible to bring your legs up. The handstand puts a lot of strain on the wrists and shoulders. It’s therefore important not to expose them to extra force. The best way to prepare your wrists and shoulders for a handstand is to do some simple mobilisation training. To do this, you can slowly circle and stretch your wrists and shoulders. 

Safety first

Handstand an der Wand
If you don’t have a training partner, practice doing a handstand on the wall in the beginning. This is not only easier, but also safer.

Safety comes first when practicing a headstand or handstand. When you’re just starting out, find a training partner or use the wall. It will take time to practice your balance. The best way to practise handstands with a wall is with your stomach facing the wall. You can either slowly walk up the wall with your feet or gradually move your hands towards the wall. 

You will also need to learn how to fall correctly. If you do fall over, it’s important that you know how to roll your head to avoid hurting your neck. 

By the way, no one is born a master. Ambition, perseverance and patience pay off. 

Why should climbers practice the handstand?

Climbing uses a specific muscle group. This means that it trains specific muscles over and over again. In principle, it’s good to train a specific muscle group intensely, but it’s also important to train other muscle groups. Otherwise an imbalance may occur. When muscle groups in the body are imbalanced, the risk for injury increases. 

Balance training can help prevent imbalances

People who are active climbers usually have enough body tension and body awareness to quickly learn to do the handstand. Handstand or headstand training functions as antagonist training. This type of training involves working different and opposite muscle groups. 

Training specific muscle groups

Handstands and headstands train the entire body. Holistic body tension is a prerequisite for success in both inversions. In both poses, the weight of the body is predominantly on the arm and shoulder muscles. But which muscles are actually used and trained in each pose?

Which muscles does the handstand work on?

In the handstand, the entire body weight rests on the hands and arms. However, there are a number of different muscles involved in performing a handstand. The inverted pose can only be achieved with sufficient body tension.

The handstand trains the muscles in the arms and shoulders. Biceps and triceps are used to keep you steady. These two muscles ensure that the elbows remain stable. 

The triceps make it possible to extend the arms. In everyday life, the triceps are used very little. So, you need to be prepared to have sore muscles in these muscle groups. As for the biceps, they prevent the arms from overextending.

In addition to the particularly stressed arm and shoulder muscles, abdominal and leg muscles are also needed for stabilisation. To maintain balance, you need to keep your whole body tense. 

Which muscles does the headstand train?

Just like handstand training, headstand training uses different muscle groups. Again, the focus is on the arm and shoulder muscles. The arms support the entire body, so a sheet of paper could be pushed between the head and the floor at any time. So, theoretically, the headstand is more of an elbow stand. 

The headstand mainly trains the delta muscles. These are muscles in the shoulder area. The latissimus, which is the largest muscle of the back, is also used. If you press your hands down on the floor while supporting yourself with your forearms and elbows, you will also work your triceps

How to learn to do a headstand?

Kopfstand an der Wand

Just like handstand training, headstand training has many benefits for the body. It too requires not only courage in the beginning, but above all patience and perseverance. Did you know that as soon as your heart and pelvis are higher than your head, you are in a headstand? There are many different variations of the headstand.

By the way, one misconception about headstand training is that the weight of the body is on the head. The crown of the head should actually be in minimal contact with the ground. The weight is on the arms and shoulders, just like in a handstand. 

Inverted poses provide excellent antagonist training for climbers. But what do you have to do to get into the pose? For starters, it’s a good idea to learn to do a headstand with a trainer or partner. Plus, it’s also important that your cervical spine is intact and that you don’t have any neck or shoulder problems

To start, you need to warm up your body. It’s essential to warm up your neck and shoulders to prevent injuries. Using a yoga cushion can provide additional support. 

As with handstands, less is more when it comes to headstands. It’s tempting to kick up your legs, but every movement should instead be controlled and done deliberately. This is not only better for your joints, but it also trains the muscles more intensely. If you are using handstand training as an antagonist workout, you should avoid any swinging movements to ensure that the muscle groups are sufficiently engaged.

Exercises such as the plank or the dolphin pose can help prepare the individual muscles for the headstand. They are also a great training exercise to prevent imbalances between muscle groups. 

Is headstand training dangerous?

Every sport has risks. The same applies to the headstand. It’s important not to rush things and to be patient. As a complete beginner, you should have a partner at your side who ideally has some experience. They can make sure that the movements are done correctly and that there is no rush. This is the only way to avoid injuries. 

The biggest risk when it comes to headstands is abrupt neck movements. These can cause damage to the arteries in the neck, which could have serious consequences. So, practicing rolling and falling out of the pose is just as important as headstand training.

A teacher can provide assistance with incorrect posture and correct you accordingly. Often your body’s sensation is different from its actual movement. The support also prevents excessive stress on the cervical spine.

Patience and a slow approach will pay off in the end. You need to focus on your body and your own well-being. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, stop immediately.

With these rules in place, there is almost no chance of failure.

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Alpinetrek-Expert Daniela

Although I grew up in Germany, I have always had a great longing for the seas of this world. As a child on summer holiday, it was always hard to say goodbye to the sea. On a trip through California, I discovered not only my love of the sea, but also my love of the waves. That’s why I’ve been packing my board bag more often than my suitcase for the past 8 years. For me, there is no better feeling than standing with both feet on my surfboard and surfing the perfect wave.

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