Fitness Tips

The ‘Handstand Challenge’ Is Actually a Great Workout—Here’s How to Modify It

Kara Jillian Brown

Thumbnail for The ‘Handstand Challenge’ Is Actually a Great Workout—Here’s How to Modify It
Pin It
Photo: Getty Images / Khosrork

By now you’ve probably seen the handstand challenge. It blew up on social media last week when Tom Holland posted his attempt to put on a T-shirt while doing a handstand against the wall, challenging Jake Gyllenhaal to do the same. Gyllenhaal crushed it (naturally), and now everyone else wants to join in on the fun.

Olympian Lolo Jones upped the ante by putting on two shirts and then taking a sip of wine. For those of us who aren’t professional athletes or actors in superhero movies, the handstand challenge is actually pretty challenging. While entertaining to watch, putting on a T-shirt as you maintain your balance upside down isn’t all fun and games, says Mike Aidala, a strength and wellness coach in Denver.

“Handstands require a lot of specific muscle memory and coordination,” he says. “This challenge is so challenging because it requires a one-arm handstand at the wall while simultaneously using fine motor skills to put on a T-shirt, all while maintaining muscular tension,” he says. The handstand challenge is a good workout for your upper back, shoulders, triceps, and core, Aidala explains.

Aidala happens to be pro at this—he just one-upped the whole challenge by getting fully dressed while in a handstand. Though we can’t all be him, we can take baby steps towards mastering the handstand challenge.

How to modify the handstand challenge for beginners

To work your way up to the handstand challenge, Aidala says to begin with a plank. “You can try first holding a straight-arm plank, top of the push-up,” he says. If that’s too easy, put your feet on a chair and try to put on a T-shirt while maintaining tension in your core. (Remember to breathe!) “Once you’re comfortable, slowly move your feet up a wall to a height that feels safe for you to practice,” he says.

If all that planking has ignited an itch to attempt full handstands, a wall walk is the next step. “Walk your feet up the wall and hands towards the wall so you finish with your chest facing the wall,” he says. “Getting comfortable being upside down is the key, and this exercise helps build strength to hold a handstand in the middle of the room. Once you’re at the wall keep your arms straight. Look between your thumbs and focus on your breathing.”

Developing the proper technique and movement patterns will help you reach your goal as master of the handstand challenge faster and with less chance for injury. “As cliche as it sounds, lean into the journey and try to learn something from each attempt,” says Aidala.

Conquered the handstand challenge? Try doing an inverted burpee—here’s how. And these core exercises can help you nail a handstand press.

Loading More Posts...