The handstand challenge: having a partner to practice with helps you learn
Handstand practice can be a lonely business - I mean, the wall's extremely supportive, but there's only so much interaction with it. Working out with a partner is a great way to get support as well as motivation to keep up the much-needed regular practice to pull off the move.
So for week three of the five-week handstand challenge at Pure Fitness, my gymnastic movement coach Amy Ridge had her counterpart, Thomas Rawlinson, join the session to demonstrate some partner practice moves.
Like Ridge, Rawlinson hails from Britain and has been involved in the sport for more than two decades. He started gymnastics at age seven and by 11 he was in the British national team. A three-time British champion, Rawlinson has also coached two national champions. Prior to joining Pure, he spent more than two years performing in the Macau circus show The House of Dancing Water.
Watch: Rawlinson and Ridge show you how an extra pair of eyes can help
Now, you probably won't get a practice partner of the same pedigree, but it doesn't matter. Just having someone there standing ready to catch you or even just steady your legs could boost your confidence and practice quality.
The extra pair of eyes will also come in handy in giving you feedback on your body position - it should be a perfect straight line from chest to pointed toes, with core and buttock muscles engaged, a hollow chest and no bend in the back. Do three sets of the circuit shown here. Take turns doing each exercise and use the time when you're in the supporting role for recovery.
Straight body raise to shoulder stand
Lie flat with arms stretched out so you form a "T". Keep your body tight, as you would in the handstand position. Grasping your legs just above your ankles, your partner will slowly lift you legs up until you reach the shoulder stand position. Your body should be straight from ground up like a lever (think beer bottle opener). Do 10 to 12 reps then switch over.
Get into front support position, which is like a plank but with your body in a straight line, core and glutes tensed and chest hollow. Your partner will grab your legs by the knees and elevate them so that you're about parallel to the ground. Press down, then push up into a hop. Ensure you keep body tension through it all. Do 10 reps then switch over.
Front support raise to handstand
Get into front support position. Grasping your legs just above the ankles, your partner will lift your legs until you're doing a handstand. Ensure you keep your body in the same shape throughout, except for opening the shoulders when raising to a handstand. Do six to eight reps, holding for three seconds at each position, then switch over.
Get into dish position with shoulders and legs raised, and back flat on the ground. Your partner will press your arms and legs down as you try to resist it. Do 10 reps for 10 seconds each time, then switch over.