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Why do I handstand?

"Why do you do handstands?"

I get asked this a lot, and to be honest, it’s a fair question.

Why do I, as a 100kg powerlifter feel it's appropriate to get upside down on a regular basis?

I suppose it comes from stubbornness if I’m being honest. Since I was never particularly athletic as a youngster, I found myself enjoying life a lot more once I found the gym and starting making some progress on my strength.

This enjoyment was short lived, however, when I was first exposed to basic gymnastic skills. I found that the strength I had developed counted for pretty much nothing in this arena. Although I had built a decent foundation of overhead pressing strength (over bodyweight strict press at 95kg) I couldn't hold a handstand for a single second. This really highlighted the limits of pure barbell and dumbbell work in relation to a broader range of movement skills.

While I wouldn't say that improving my gymnastics skills has improved my bench pressing, I do believe that it sets a stronger foundation of shoulder health from which a bigger bench can be built.

Gymnastics provides a high level of resistance in many different planes of motion, allowing strength to be developed in positions and angles that would be difficult or impossible to achieve with a bar/dumbbells/kettle bells.

It’s also another set of skills that will challenge you in different ways to standard resistance training, again breaking up the monotony of training.

The part of gymnastics that I like the most is the Yes/No aspect of skill acquisition: either you can muscle-up, or you can't. Either you can free stand, or you can't. When people achieve these skills it can often be much more rewarding than adding another 5kg to your squat or deadlift, especially if increasing those lifts is not your main priority in training.

All gymnastic skills have infinite regressions, which means you don't have to be particularly athletic to get started,

Sites like gymnastic bodies and GMB fitness have lots of info to get you started no matter what your skill level.

While these tools will help, one of the biggest challenges in acquiring a new gymnastic skill is changing the belief in your head that you can’t do it. Once you start proving yourself wrong, it can lead to a big perspective change on what is possible for you.

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