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Skill-Based Warm-up | The Handstand

Traditionally "warming up" in the fitness setting has consisted of little more than spending fifteen or twenty minutes on a bike, treadmill, or elliptical. While better than nothing, this approach to warming up is largely a waste of time in that it will not improve flexibility, does not involve the whole body or major functional movements, misses an ideal opportunity for reinforcing and practicing some critical exercises, and poorly prepares an athlete for the training to come.

For years, we have implemented a warm-up into our group class training that is built on the principle that the warm-up does more than simply "warm you up".

We believe that a warm-up should serve to increase body temperature and heart rate, provide some mobility and stretching, provide practice for basic movements, and finally, prepare the athlete for the training ahead of them. The warm-ups that we perform at Trebel satisfy our needs whereas the traditional warm-up only leaves us with an elevated body temperature and heart rate.

Most of our training sessions last an hour, and an hour goes by quickly when we have to do some community building, get everyone warmed up, practice a few skills, some strength training, get in a high intensity finisher, and a thorough cooldown.

With that in mind we encourage all of our coaches and athletes to minimize the amount of time in class spent on warm-up activities that do not develop functional movements and skills.  

Training in the small group setting has several challenges, not the least of which is the difference in experience, skills, and capacities among athletes. Skill-based warm-ups can help bridge that gap while setting standards for technique and range of motion and developing coordination. Relatively new athletes can brush up on the movements and sequences, and experienced athletes can refine and practice their skills.



Deliberate Practice |
The Handstand

Take 10 minutes to practice the Handstand.
Aim to accumulate 3 full minutes upside down.

It is our belief that every client of ours should practice some version of the Handstand.  

Practicing and training the Handstand helps to strengthen the shoulder girdle and helps to develop the proprioception in an unfamiliar and unsettling situation (being upside down).

The Handstand is a necessary first step for more advanced movements like the Handstand Push-up, and eventually the Freestanding Handstand, or potentially some Handstand Walking.

Before we begin to practice the Handstand, we first start with yoga's down dog pose.  From there we increase the load by elevating the to bring the torso to vertical.  

Once we establish control with a vertical torso, then we are ready to practice kicking up to a Handstand.


The quick and obvious analysis as to hand balancing’s benefits would include improved balance and increased shoulder strength, and though accurate, ending the analysis here doesn’t speak to the singularly unique advantages to this training. There are countless successful protocols for increasing shoulder strength and balance, but training the handstand and presses to the handstand improves proprioception and core strength in ways that other protocols cannot.

Let’s examine this claim more closely. Being upside down exposes the athlete to, what is for many, a brand new world. Psychologically, physically, and physiologically, inversion is a completely uncomfortable position. We spend roughly two thirds of our life upright and one third in repose. When upside down most of us lose our breath, orientation, and composure. What this leads for anyone upended in an accident is an unfamiliar and scary place to be.

The difference between tripping and landing on your feet versus knocking your teeth out is profound. 


Progressions for practicing the Handstand:

With a 10 minute clock, accumulate 3 minutes upside down.  

The 3 minutes of accumulation is to be performed as 6 or more
30 seconds successful efforts.

Move on to the next progression once you have attempted and 
successfully completed the previous level of progression on 
3 separate days and/or you accumulated >5 minutes at the previous progression.

1. Down Dog Hold
2. Pike Hold from Box or Wall
3. Handstand 
4. Handstand on parallettes
5. Handstand w/ leg scissors
6. Handstand w/ alternating straight leg hip flexion
7. Handstand w/ shoulder taps
8. Nose-to-Wall Handstand
9. Freestanding Handstand
10. Freestanding Handstand on parallettes

Perform 5 reps of the shoulder mobility movement of your choice after every successful effort.
Some good choices are:
Standing Overgrip Dislocates
Standing Undergrip Dislocates
Bent Shoulder Extension Pull


Practicing the Handstand has proven for us to be an excellent investment of your time and effort.

Get after it!



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It's All About Progression
Posture 101