A handstand isn’t just a cool party trick, as an aerialist it is so so much more than that. Handstand training has benefits for everyone but aerialists in particular can really benefit from training them. General benefits that are touted everywhere are things like increasing core strength and balance, whilst these are always good things to develop, the specific benefits for aerialists go beyond this.
To buy the online handstand conditioning videos buy online series here.
Not convinced yet? Here is a quick round up of the aerial specific benefits of handstand training.
One of the main things I have got out of my handstand training is a better awareness of where my body is in the air, most notably upside down. Since this is where we spend most of our time as aerialists I’d say this is a pretty strong plus! Balancing in a handstand is really about being able to ‘stack’ the different parts of your body on top of each other to create a shape you can hold without impossible levels of strength. One of the main skills I have acquired is the ability to move and shift the different parts of my body in order to find this optimum position - it is small subtle changes that make a big difference, and once you’ve got the correct position, the strength required to hold it is not as great. This translates super well to aerial since quite often knowledge of where your body is in the air can help make a skill that looks impossible, achievable.
A second benefit, linked to the first one, but also important for other reasons is that a handstand requires quite precise alignment in order to stay balanced. Lots of skills in aerial require quite precise movements and your body to be positioned a certain way. Knowledge and awareness of what it feels like to have your body properly aligned can help give you a sense of when you have hit that sweet spot in a pose. It’s impossible to hold a 10 or more second handstand without having a really strong ‘line’, so if you’re holding a handstand this long, you can guarantee that it will look good. There are also many different and creative shapes you can hold your handstand in, and whilst each one of these will have you body aligned slightly differently, it’s a safe bet you’ll have to be quite accurate in the way you position your body in order to hold it - these mean it’ll also look good! Definitely a big plus point for any aerialist.
This next one is, personally, my main reason for incorporating handstand work into every training session before I get onto any aerial apparatus. The majority of our time in aerial is spent pulling our own body weight, which is great for building upper body strength but in reality it only builds it one way. Handstands involve using your body weight in the opposite way - through pushing. My favourite aerial apparatus is straps, and in straps I spend lots of time pulling myself with straight arms into inverted positions. Handstands work the opposite strength and in training these I work on ‘pushing’ my body weight with straight arms. This is a great way to ensure that you don’t develop too much of an imbalance in your muscles or overuse in certain areas. I think this would make handstands a great way of helping you work towards that straight arm invert too, if that’s what you’re aiming for! In this sense it’s also good for injury prevention as again it works opposing and complimentary muscle groups to the majority of aerial.
Whilst there are loads of other benefits to handstand and I could talk about them forever, I’ll leave you with a final one! They make a great addition to your acrobatic repertoire! Everyone loves a handstand and I’ve lost count of the number of times someone at Flying Fantastic has told me they can’t hold a handstand and all their (non aerial) friends expect them to be able to do one. My main advice to anyone who wants to have a solid handstand is consistency. The more handstands you do the more familiar you become with the balance points or how much you need to kick or jump into it. Once you’ve mastered this they’re a super convenient thing to train - all you need is a small amount of space (trust me, this doesn’t have to be much! My flat is pretty small!). Handstands look great and there is so much room for progression once you’ve got a free standing handstand, you can work on pressing into them or be creative with shapes or start working on the elusive ‘one armed’ handstand. It really does open up a whole other discipline within the circus world.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you to try incorporating handstands into your training - if you want to see for yourself then here is a link to some handstand conditioning on demand which you can purchase for £20 or come to one of the handstand workshops we’re running at Flying Fantastic! The series contains two videos to follow from home.
Buy online series here.