Preparing for the Press

Apr 08, 2019

A press to handstand can look effortless by a pro. But as a student learning the skill - it feels impossible! It's as if someone cranks up gravity when you place your hands on the floor and start to push. You start to question whether you are ready to work on the skill at all.

The most common question that I get asked about my Press to Handstand Program is "Am I ready to learn the press?".

So what are the requirements that you should have to start your journey? There are three key things that will help make your press to handstand journey smooth:

  1. Balance
  2. Overhead flexibility
  3. Pancake flexibility

I'll discuss each of these in more details below and give you some suggestions on what to do to prime yourself for the press.

Is my handstand balance good enough?

The handstand can range from a fleeting hold to a solid banana to a circus performer. As my good friend Gayle says "a banana is still a handstand". If you can banana handstand then congratulations, you are in the top 5% in the world for handstands*. There is no magic length of time in a handstand that means that you are ready to press but consistently being able to find balance is a good starting point.

If you are struggling with balance, check out my article on 5 Reasons Why You Can't Balance in Your Handstand.

If you want a more comprehensive program on handstand balance, with feedback, then my Master the Handstand program is the perfect handstand program for you.

*completely made up statistic

Is my overhead flexibility good enough for the press?

If you have a banana handstand because you find this an easier position to balance in, then working on my Press program will both improve your handstand line and help you nail the press. If you banana because you do not have the mobility to get into a non-banana (straight) handstand then there are two options:

  1. Be really strong and planche press (or "pressanche") to handstand
  2. Work really hard on your overhead flexibility

My program includes all of the exercises that you will need to improve your overhead position. But attaining this position can take months, so when you start the course you should have the expectation that your early presses will likely only be achievable with planching.

In this situation I highly recommend spending some time focusing on your overhead mobility before seriously getting into the press. I am super excited about a new program that I have in the works that will help you achieve this. In the meantime you can check out one of my favourite overhead stretches here:

Is my pancake flexibility good enough for the press?

I have had students who have nailed the press simply by improving their pancake flexibility! While it is not an absolute requirement, a good pancake will make your press so much easier.

Imagine holding a giant plate of chocolate chip pancakes. If you hold the plate out straight in front of you it is much more challenging (and much harder to eat) than if your pull it close to your chest. The same is true for your press; the further your legs are from your body, the more you planche (lean) forward and the more strength you need to get up to handstand. Compression strength is the ability to squish all your body parts into one line.

Flexibility is important here, if you are unable to passively get into a position it will be impossible to do it actively.

If you want to improve your pancake flexibility sign up here to get a free follow-along pancake routine.

Are you ready to press?

If you meet all of these requirements, or accept that your press journey will take a bit longer while developing these, then you are ready to start your press to handstand adventure! My press program is unique in that it is:

  • Customized based on your initial assessments
  • Includes progress tracking throughout the program
  • Includes video feedback and coaching from me

If you want to find out more information, check it out here!