7 Reasons Why You Can’t Hold a Handstand

Are you struggling to balance a handstand? If so, here are 7 things most beginners do that hinder their progress – and how to fix them.

Welcome! My name is Summer. I started teaching myself how to handstand as an adult, and with that came many mistakes and a lot of frustration. But, with time and consistency, I’ve reached a handstand level I never imagined possible (I didn’t even know one-arm handstands were a thing before). Here a just a few classic mistakes that most handstand beginners make.

#1 Not Practicing Enough

The handstand is a skill that requires a ton of time and consistency to achieve. Throwing yourself into a handstand and then getting upset that you can’t hold it is like picking up a guitar, learning one cord, then expecting to be able to play a whole song. Aka, it’s highly unrealistic. If your current handstand regime just looks like attempting a handstand a few times per month, you won’t see much progress. It takes consistent practice.

The Solution
Create a handstand program outlining how many times per week you’ll dedicate to learning the skill and how many hours you’ll be training for. Then select a few mobility, strength, and balance exercises to focus on that pertain to the handstand (that are appropriate for your skill level). 

If you don’t know where to start with building a handstand workout program, you could;

A: Do My 30-Day Beginner Handstand Program
B: Create your own plan following my free handstand and calisthenics workouts.

#2 Ego Training

Ego training is a HUGE issue when learning anything new – especially handstands. You may want to try the most challenging skills right away (like doing a freestanding handstand), but ultimately, only doing skills that are too hard for you will lead to feelings of frustration and defeat and very little progress. 

Put your ego aside and strengthen your body using exercises you can execute with good form for multiple sets and reps. 

Don’t hope for balance. Create it.
Ego training in handstand beginners looks like throwing yourself into a handstand while crossing your fingers that you’ll get some hover time. This may result in some random holds when the stars align, but there are better ways to use your time. Instead, focus on wall-assisted handstands paired with free-standing kick-ups. These drills will teach you how to create balance through alignment instead of just wishing and hoping that the balance fairy will be on your side today.

Slow and Steady > Fast
I just finished a 30-Day Handstand Coaching Group with 120 participants, and one interesting observation I made was that the people who were 45+ were willing to move slowly, with control, while selecting the appropriate drills for their skill level. While some of the younger adults rushed the exercises or continuously tried the drills way above their skill level in a hurry to achieve the handstand – like if they did things faster, they’d get there faster, which isn’t a great method for learning how to handstand. Who do you think made the most progress? The ones who moved with intention and care. 

My Mistakes
Last year, I noticed I was ego-training one-arm handstands. I rushed. I jumped progressions, threw my hand up, hoping for the best and guess what – after a year of training in this way, I saw very little progress. I wasn’t focused on strengthening the basics and performing drills appropriate to my skill level, which showed in my lack of results. 

The Solution
Spend 80% of your training focusing on skills and exercises you can actually perform, including mobility and strength work that aid in achieving the movements, then 20% of the time exploring new movements and exercises.

#3 Too Many Rest Days

Handstands are interesting because they require a high frequency of training to maintain your sense of balance. Personally, if I take a few days off my hands, it takes me longer to get to my regular level.

Because of the nature of handstands, I’d recommend including them frequently throughout your week of training. Rest days aren’t your bestie when it comes to learning how to handstand.

The Solution
If you already work out, add 10-20 minutes of handstand training plus an additional handstand day where you perform mobility, strength and balance work that aids in learning how to handstand.

girl demonstrates incline tricep push ups at park

#4 Handstands After Strength Training

A rule of thumb when incorporating skill training is to do it at the start of a workout before strength training. My workouts are typically structured as follows: 

  1. General warm-up
  2. Specific warm-up
  3. Positional drills
  4. Skill training
  5. Strength training
  6. Cool Down

The Solution
Set a timer for 10-20 minutes to work on your handstands before your workout, after your warm-up. Or perform a mini handstand workout earlier in the day. You may need to shorten your strength training to prioritize reaching your handstand goal if you’re short on time. 

girl demonstrates incline tricep push ups at park

#5 Skipping the Fundamentals

The wall is your best friend when learning how to handstand, even when you start working on more advanced drills. Remember, attempts do not count as training. You need to get reps in doing exercises you can complete with good form – not just throwing yourself upside down and hoping for the best.

The Solution
1. Use a wall to aid you in your handstand training. Complement wall handstands with freestanding kick-ups to improve your static and dynamic handstand capabilities. Here’s how to use a wall when learning how to handstand >
2. Work on your overhead shoulder mobility
3. Work on your core connection and control
4. Improve your lower body mobility

Wall Handstand Drills

  • Back to Wall Bent Knee Handstand Drills
  • Chest to Wall Handstand
  • Chest to Wall Tucked Handstand
  • Chest to Wall Straddle Handstand
  • Chest to Wall Flags
  • Wall Supported One Arm Handstand 
wall support handstand variations

#6 Not Doing Prep Work

Are you committed to incorporating handstands long-term? Then do the prep work needed. Preparing your body for your handstand session will prevent injuries and yield more control and balance, meaning you’ll have a more enjoyable and successful handstand session.

The Solution
Create a warm-up routine, including positional drills, to do before your handstand training. Here’s the warm-up format I follow for my handstand training:

  • 5 minutes of a blood flow exercise (cardio)
  • A wrist warm-up
  • Shoulder and hip mobility work
  • Positional drills like hollow bodies, arch bodies and planks

If you don’t know where to start, sign-up for my 30-Day Handstand Challenge where you’ll learn many handstand exercises and drills to help you master balancing on your hands. Or try this free handstand workout.

banded shoulder drills for handstands

#7 Not Knowing the Ideal Handstand Alignment

Learning the proper alignment in a handstand will help you create balance with greater ease. Much to most beginners’ surprise, you should have a relaxed breath in your handstand – which is hard to do if you’re collapsing in your low back or bending your arms. If you feel like you’re dying in a handstand, stop, rewatch a tutorial on alignment, choose an easier drill and find your breath. 

The Solution
Watch the tutorial below and sing a song (out loud) while you hold your handstand to help with your breathing.

And the Biggest Mistake…is Not Having a Program

Okay, this one is completely true. I did learn how to handstand teaching myself but it took 13 months of trial and error just to achieve a 10 second handstand. Had I invested in a coach I would have seen progress much sooner. 

In my own beginner handstand program, I’ve had clients go from never trying a handstand in their lives to holding one for 20+ seconds.

So maybe the title should be, if you want to learn how to handstand as fast as possible, hire a coach.

If that interests you, check out my beginner handstand program >

girl demonstrates incline tricep push ups at park

Common Beginner Handstand Mistakes

If you’re a handstand beginner, avoid these common 7 mistakes to master balancing on your hands much faster then the average person.

1. Not practicing enough
2. Ego training
3. Too many rest days
4. Attempting handstands after strength training
5. Skipping the fundamentals
6. Not doing the prep work
7. Not knowing the ideal alignment
Bonus: Not following a handstand program

Home > How to do a Handstand > 7 Reasons Why You Can’t Balance a Handstand