Last month was the first month we revamped the challenge of the week structure. We ran the 30/30 squat challenge and saw great results with a number of athletes. The main goal of last month’s challenge was to get people spending more time in the bottom of a squat. Even though we are moving on to a new challenge this month we do not want to forget about the squat.
We will be continuing to program more squatting in our warm-ups/preps and encourage you to go to that position on a daily basis. If you do not practice it, eventually you will lose your ability to go there. It is easier to maintain than it is to regain.
The focus for this month is going to be handstands. We are doing this for two reasons. The first is we feel that (like the squat) you need to go to this position on a regular basis if you want to develop it. The second is that with the holiday’s coming up many of you will be away and travelling, but you can always find a wall to practice handstands on.
The challenge – spend 15 minutes/week (accumulated time) in a Handstand.
- This should be spread out over the course of the week. Ideally 3-4 minutes/day for 4-5 days/week.
- The time is accumulated, only track the time you are in a handstand.
- In order to give your wrists a break we recommend taking off days throughout the week. If you have wrist issues or get pain in the handstand position talk to a member of the coaching staff before taking on this challenge.
- If you are new to Handstands and struggle to hold the position for short periods of time you may either decrease the goal time or choose an easier variation (see below).
- This challenge only works if you are practicing in the right positions. We want you to remain hollow, with your body stacked (everything in line). There are pictures of different handstand options below, regardless of your level you should be able to find a scale which you can perform. More advanced athletes may treat this as a chance to practice Freestanding Handstands, Handstand Walking, or other variations.
It is possible to balance yourself in a variety of positions (especially when you are using the support of a wall or box). We want to practice a specific position for handstands in order to build a base from which more advanced variations can be developed. Regardless of which variations you are performing we have a specific pelvic and shoulder position we are looking for. These positions are important because they provide a foundation to progress from. For your pelvis we want to see a posterior pelvic tilt. For the shoulder we want to have your shoulders elevate and elbows locked. See below.
Pelvic Position: we want to see you holding a posterior pelvic tilt. In this positions your hips will be directly under your spine, your abs will be squeezing up and your butt should be on.
In the anterior position the back is arched and the pelvis is tilted forwards.
In the posterior pelvic tilt the torso is in a straight line and everything is braced.
Active Shoulders & Locked Elbows: for your shoulder position we want you to be elevated (pushing away from the ground) with locked elbows. This is important because it is a much stronger support position.
In the first photo there is a depressed shoulder (shoulders moving away from the ears) and bent elbow. When you start to fatigue in a handstand this is the position you will start to move towards. If at any point you fatigue to the point you can no longer maintain your position, rest. Spending long periods of time in this position will be significantly more challenging than with a locked elbow.
In the second photo there is an elevated shoulder (shoulders pushed towards the ground, or body pushing away from the ground) and locked elbows. Spending time in this position is significantly easier and will develop the body position we want for more advanced handstands.
Freestanding Handstand (see above)
Wall Facing Handstand: this variation is a good option if you are looking to develop your body position or do not feel comfortable kicking up into a handstand. While you are in a Wall Facing Handstand think about maintaining a posterior pelvic tilt, driving your head through towards the wall, and pushing away from the ground as hard as possible. This is one of the best drills for developing your body position in the handstand. If going right to the wall is too challenging you may stop with your hands any distance from the wall, however your body position should not change.
Box Handstand: if you do not yet have the strength or body control for a wall facing handstand this is the next option. The positions are the same but you will be supporting less of your bodyweight. This can be performed with your feet on the box (harder) or knees on the box (easier). The cues for this movement are similar to the wall facing handstand. Think about driving your head towards the box, pushing away from the ground, and keeping your hips stacked over top of your hands. If your hips get too far behind, you are no longer mimicking the body position for the handstand.
Plank: while planking focus on being as engaged as possible. Push away from the ground (protract and depressed through the shoulder) with locked elbows, posterior pelvic tilt, and legs straight. How you do the plank is the most important thing. Your body should remain straight the entire time, you should be thinking about pushing your chest away from the ground and your shoulders away from your ears (protracted and depressed). This position will provide a degree of carryover to the handstand because you are practicing a similar body position, and it will begin to develop support strength through your shoulder.
Incline Plank: if the plank is too challenging this is the final scaling option. Choose a surface which will allow you to support yourself on an incline. The points of performance are the same as the plank.