Why The Single Bar Handstand is a Different Game

I’ve been struggling to hold a decent single bar handstand although I’m great at handstanding on parallettes and flat surface. I’ve never worked on that skill consistently because I found it awkward, doubted my form and thought I was too tall for it. Recently, I was surprised to see some progress in my ability to hold a single bar handstand.

This is what it used to look like, I’m the guy with the grey cap; I’d struggle to lock out the elbows and my back would arch:

When handstanding on flat ground, your palms and fingers come in contact with the ground to create a large surface area that allows you to balance yourself out. When handstanding on parallettes, you can’t rely on all of that surface area but you can compensate by utilising some of your grip strength. When handstanding on a single bar, the game changes. You’ll need to apply all of your grip strength whilst maintaining near-perfect alignment.

In short, I realised how to position my hands around the bar in a more effective way that allowed me to grip stronger and (subsequently) balance better. I also noticed that it was better to stabilise by leaning forward with the shoulders instead of moving my hips. I find it easier to balance on a thicker, somewhat fat bar, but when handstanding on parallettes with neutral grip, I prefer thin bars with standard thickness or below.

If you are looking to improve your single bar handstand, I’d recommend using a wall to assist you in staying upside down for longer. Learning the press handstand could give you an advantage too. If you are a beginner attempting this skill, I’d suggest mastering the handstand on parallettes and flat first.

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