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Thomas Lawlor Apr 26, 2020 2:15:00 PM 11 min read

Smashing the Handstand; Super Mario Style - Part 1


Over a two part series I will aim to challenge the community of FFS to learn how to handstand during lockdown.

Due to Covid-19 restricting people to the confinement of their own homes. People are beginning to go insane by running out of things to do. To keep yourself occupied, I’ve come up with a challenge for everyone. Why not learn a new skill that will help you:

  • Improve body control and body awareness,
  • Increase strength and body stabilizers,
  • Develop coordination,
  • Build upper body strength,
  • Improve shoulder mobility,

(Uzunov, 2008; Hedbávný et al. 2013), all from the safety of your home with minimum equipment.

That’s right you guessed it, the handstand. It’ll come in handy when you have bad DOMS in your legs after a lower body S&C at FFS and can’t walk up the stairs to go to bed, you can simply just walk on your hands and save your legs the pain.


Levelling up

Since the handstand is a skill rather than a strength exercise it requires time to develop. It is not something that will develop overnight but rather over weeks of consistent practice. Remembering that consistency is the key here to enhancing our overall static and dynamic kinesthesia (movement) (Low, 2011)


Because of this let’s make it a game. A game like Super Mario Bros, the old-school one that was played on the Nintendo NES. Whereby you had to complete each level to get to the next one and finally you had the boss, Bowser. Defeat him and you win the game. The same concept applies here. Over the course of two blogs, I will set a series of challenges (levels) for you, complete one at a time and achieve the requirements (win) before moving on to the next level.


Level 1 - Pike Push Up

Level 2 - Monkey Stand

Level 3 - Headstand


- Part 2 -

Level 4 - Forearm stand

Level 5 - Wall Handstand

Level 6 - One foot Wall Handstand

Boss Level - Free Handstand


The final level, the boss, will be the free handstand out on the grass on a sunny day.

So what are we waiting for, let’s get to it. But first we must run through the technique of each progression (level) leading up to the handstand.


There is vast amounts of information relating to the handstand and techniques to perfecting it. However, today my job is to condense the information down to bite sized chunks. So let’s begin. First as always lets start on level 1.


The Beginner Levels


Level 1 - Pike Push Up


Pike Push Up Start Position (1)

Pike Push Up End Position (1)

A variation of a push up, it aims to place the focus on shoulder strength and learning the hand position for the handstand itself.


  • Begin in a push up position
  • Push your hips up, maintaining a flat back
  • From here you should look like a triangle from a side on view
  • Come up onto your toes and lower your head to the ground maintaining the triangle position.
  • At the bottom position you should make a triangle with your hands and head. (insert hand and head position)
  • Drive your hands into the ground, keeping your back flat
  • That’s one rep.

Requirement: 10-15 of good quality reps


Level 2 - Monkey Stand


Monkey stand start position

Monkey stand end position (3)

This exercise aims to help your body come to grips with being upside down. Getting the feel for it while also helping to develop the balance and coordination.


  • Make a triangle with your head and hands (forearms should be 90 degree to the ground)
  • Make sure you can see your hands
  • Place your knees on your elbows

Requirement: 30s minimum before moving on. 60s is the aim.


Level 3 - Headstand

Headstand start position


Headstand End Position


A slight variation to the monkey stand whereby legs are straight. Although this exercise possess a risk of neck injury, safety precautions must be taken as follows:

  1. Use a towel for easy on your head
  2. Make sure you have plenty of room to fall if needed. If you feel as though you might fall, tuck your knees into your chest and land in the start position.
  3. Remember your head is there to help maintain balance but not to take all the pressure, we are trying to strengthen your shoulders and scapula (shoulder blades) for the upcoming demands of the headstand, so keep pressure in the hands.



  • Make a triangle with your head and hands (forearms should be 90 degree to the ground)
  • Make sure you can see your hands
  • Place your knees on your elbows
  • Bring your legs together
  • Reach your toes to the ceiling
  • Bum tight and ribs pulled down

Requirement: 30s minimum before moving on. 60s is the aim.


If you get stuck on any level, don't get disheartened; just keep practicing.

This type of skill work takes time to develop. If you want to get extra brownie points and 'power up' Super Mario Bro style on your handstand technique, then check out our Online Gym Zoom Classes this month; Our Relative Strength and Movement & Mobility class programmes are focusing on handstand technique. (Win:Win)


If you set yourself a goal of consistently practicing these drills, as well as joining in on our Zoom Classes, then I am confident that you will get to the final boss level.

Keep your eyes out for my second blog post where I will take you through the final levels to get your towards the ultimate boss level: the free handstand.


Find Out More


Get the FFS experience from the comfort and safety of your own home. Our online classes and online coaching are delivered through Zoom so your trainer can give you real-time feedback.

As with all FFS classes, these sessions will be progressively overloaded throughout the month. 

We offer a number of plans, from 2 Class trial packs to monthly plans. Find out more at https://www.ffs.ie/online-gym/classes/



Hedbávný, P., Bago, G. and Kalichová, M., (2013). Influence of strength abilities on quality of the handstand. Int. J. Sport Health Sci, 7(10), pp.602-608.

Low, S., (2011). Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength. CreateSpace

Uzunov, V., (2008). The handstand: A four stage training model. Gym Coach, 2, pp.52-59.



Thomas Lawlor

Thomas is an intern at FFS working in FFS Gyms, Ivy Exchange, Parnell Street. He is currently in his 3rd year of Sports and Exercise Science in the University of Limerick. He has a passion to help people become the strongest version of themselves through physical activity.