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PUSH as far from the Earth as possible

Oct 15, 2019

"Push harder" is one of those cues that your handstand coach will probably never stop saying to you/yelling at you. I always think, "I am pushing hard!". Then I push a few inches higher. It's like Mary Poppin's bag, there is always more.

I like to think about pushing myself as far from the ground as possible. As if my feet are trying to touch the ceiling, the sky or a severed head hanging from the ceiling (see video below). I find this intention helps to get me higher and to move in the right direction, into a better line.

This sounds simple, just push more! But it is definitely not easy. In this post I will share with you:

  • What pushing into line means
  • The main reasons that people struggle to push harder
  • My favourite drill for improving your push upside down
  • Where you can go for more help or information

Principles of Handbalancing

This post is part 3 of a series of 6 blog posts explaining my key principles of handbalancing. The 6 principles that I will cover are:

So back to pushing...

What pushing into line means

Stand on your feet and try to reach as high as possible. In order to do so you stand on your tip toes and as your shoulders reach up towards your ears, you'll notice that your ribs are down and your back is relatively straight. The more you can stack everything in a line the further you can reach.

Often my students comment that when they push harder in their handstand they either push themselves over or push to cause their feet to step back down. The reason for this is because they are only thinking of the push from their arms and shoulders. They are focusing on "elevating their shoulders". Instead think about reaching your feet as high as possible. Really try to touch that severed head!

Why you are not pushing as high as it feels like you are?

A common thing that I see with my students is that they feel that they are pushing hard but when they look at their handstand they are not even close to full elevation. These are often the same people who complain that their upper traps are really sore after handstand training.

It is very likely that you need to build up more upper trap strength to get the push that you need.

However, I always assess my student's movement to see if we can optimize how their shoulders move. When your shoulders are moving well pushing becomes a lot easier. In our program Handstand Building Blocks Kate and I use this floor angel assessment to ensure that the shoulders are moving optimally when reaching overhead.

If the movement is just initiated from your shoulders lifting up towards your ears then optimizing how your shoulder blades are moving will make a huge difference with your handstand.

My favourite drill for improving your push upside down

In our program (Handstand Building Blocks) we use the results of your assessment to determine which drills you will be assigned in your workouts. This serratus press exercise that we learned from Eric Cressey is one that will really help strengthen and improve your pushing mechanics for handstands.


  • Begin with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders
  • On your exhale press back through your hands up onto your fingers, while rounding your spine
  • Keep your head in a neutral, gently packed position
  • Push for 10 seconds, relax and immediately repeat 3-4 times

Where can you Learn More?

What I have discussed in this article is a quick introduction to pushing in a handstand. In my workshops and online programs I go into these principles and other aspects of alignment in much more detail. Check out my calendar for upcoming events or email me ( to schedule something in your area.

If you want ongoing coaching, programming, accountability and support my Master the Handstand coaching group covers everything that you need to get upside down and away from the wall. My groups start September, January and April. Check out the details here and sign up to save your spot for my next coaching group.

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