Overcoming Handstand Fears and Motivation

Everyone loves “tips.”

So many of us focus on specific skills or maneuvers — “Chris, do you know any tips for learning hollow body? What is the one way I can learn balance? Do you have any tips for handstand presses???” — because those “tips” make us feel comfortable.

Yet if we’re honest with ourselves, the internet is FULL of tips — you just don’t use them!

  • Go search for “handstand tutorials” — yet why can’t you do one yet?
  • Search for tips on eating right — yet why do you have problems sticking to a new diet?

I could throw 50 “tips” or “tactics” at you (and thats what most health gurus will do) but if you don’t honestly acknowledge the other reasons you’re not taking action, all the tips in the world are pointless.

It’s easy to talk about the latest and greatest “tip” or tutorial video.  Its difficult to confront why we’re REALLY not doing what we claim is important.

I kicked off this challenge by asking you what has held you back from achieving your handstand in the past…but I was really targeting those underlying fears that get in the way of your progress.

Underlying fears

You know how people say, “What are your fears?”

When it came to handstands, I used to think people were only scared of falling over — scared of getting physically hurt.

It took me a while to look back and realize that I still have a lot of fears in my training — but these fears are not all physiological.  They act on us in silence, hindering us from progressing.

My fears

  • I was afraid of stagnating in my training
  • I was afraid of no longer being impressively strong.
  • I was afraid of spending time on the wrong things and regretting it

Your fears

Here are some common fears of training the handstand:

  • “I’m scared of falling on my face”
  • “I don’t have the strength to start”
  • “I don’t think I can accomplish something that spectacular”
  • “I just don’t think I could do it”
  • “I’m scared to be upside down”
  • “I never tried, because if you don’t try you can’t fail.”
  • “I’m too heavy and big to do a handstand”

Look at those fears carefully. Which of them do you feel?

Do you see how if I simply threw tips and exercises and workouts at you, they would make no difference?

Our fears are a “filter” that comes before ANY tips, workout plans, exercises or workout-of-the-day. That’s one of the reasons you see the same people posting hundreds of comments on forums and reddit…but they still run in circles from program to program.

It’s not just about the information. It’s about acknowledging the psychological reasons we haven’t ALREADY done it.

Fear of Falling Over

Of the thousands of readers I have helped, this is the one fear I hear most often.  Falling over is something to cause concern, but it shouldn’t stop you from training.

In the 28-Day Handstand Challenge I specifically have you work with your stomach to the wall to make it easier for you to gradually face your fears.  The key to getting over it is committing to practicing – and staying consistent.

As you get closer to the wall, the fear will build.  Never get so close to the wall that you feel unsafe or that you may topple over…but as you continue to practice, you will notice your fear melting away over time.

My method builds systematic desensitization right into the program so that fear goes away naturally.  If you ever feel fear, you shouldn’t feel like you are in danger of getting hurt.

Once you are able to get your hands within 8 inches from the wall you can start learning bailing techniques like the pirouette bail to get even closer to your handstand goal.

“I’m Overwhelmed”

One of my readers writes:

I may be late to start this challenge, but I am enthusiastic about bodyweight working out in general.  I have been reading handstand tutorials and tips for a while and I am a little overwhelmed on where and how to start.

My answer?


My 15-Second Handstand Progression is not a generic tutorial on how to get to your first handstand.

After all, you don’t want a generic tutorial – you can get those for free anywhere.  You want to do what is necessary to hit your goal as an adult learning the handstand.  You don’t want to be bombarded with fluff and progressions that focus on things that aren’t designed to accommodate adult learning.  That’s precisely what The 15-Second Handstand: A Beginner’s guide does.

Case studies: Overcoming Fears

The solution is to acknowledge your fears, and systematically face them in a safe environment.

Fear: I still have a lot of fear of falling over.
Method: Work out at home, where you are comfortable to repeatedly face your fear.
Result: “I achieved more progress in the past week than I have in the past year.” – Dan

Fear: I can’t stay committed to learning the handstand.
Method: Make a small change, 5-minutes of handstands every morning, instead of a long routine
Results: “I really got addicted to throwing up handstands!”- Greg

Fear: I have been stuck and can’t make progress.  I do lots of YouTube searches.
Method: Focus on a directed program to the most important actionable changes
Results: “Actually, Chris’ book has really gotten me moving by giving me the simplest picture.” – Jim

For me, the scariest fear of all is the idea of not doing something in the first place and wasting years wishing that I had done it.

Nobody’s asking you to throw up a freestanding handstand right now — in fact, with The 15-Second Handstand: A Beginner’s Guide, I encourage you to start small against the wall and make small, actionable changes…

…But if you do nothing — if you let your fears control you — then you don’t accomplish your goal. You don’t get to move on to your first handstand. Or handstand pushups. Or handstand presses or handstand walking….

Share your fears

Fear is holding you back.

We all shield ourselves from confronting out fears by speaking in code. We say things like “I have no time,” “I’m too weak,”  or “I couldn’t do that in a million years.”

The handstand doesn’t require a big time commitment, and you don’t need to be all that strong.  You know this deep down.

Why do you want to learn the handstand?  And what is holding you back?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Keep this in mind:

  • You don’t need to handle your fears before you get started, but you do need to ACKNOWLEDGE at least ONE
  • If you believe you just need more tips and tricks, this challenge and my book are not for you
  • That’s because I add a deep level of physiology and psychology into my methods — both to understanding fear, and understanding the psychology of motivation
  • The 15-Second Handstand is designed/optimized to force you to take action

Be honest and admit that there are tons of tutorials and tips on how to get the handstand…so why haven’t you done it?

8 Responses to “Overcoming Handstand Fears and Motivation”

  1. Michael K Jacobsen June 12, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Awesome this is what body weight stuff is all about challenging rewarding to everyone and anyone no matter what age shape or gender providing you have the mindset to stick to the game plan thanks chris for all this get information and muscle stimulation

    • Chris Salvato June 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

      Thanks Michael! I love the fact that small changes have such a big effect. That’s what bodyweight workouts are all about!!

  2. ozzie cruz October 31, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    hello I started the 28 day handstand challenge a week ago. I am now able to hold a hand stand against the wall for over a minute. However, I feel discomfort on my wrist. I was wondering if you knew of any tips that could me strengthen my wrist. thank you for your inspiration.

    • Chris Salvato November 3, 2013 at 5:50 am #

      Hi Ozzie! Wrist discomfort is common, but I can only provide advice based on my experience. I am not a physio or a doctor, so they may be a better person to ask. In short, you can examine some stretches and mobility exercises. There is a good video outlining some basic mobility exercises here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWtvCGCYbYc

  3. Jenny Martin December 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    I love this so much….I’m on day 5….I’m getting closer to the wall – ~ 20inches and I can hold for 45-50sec. But I start getting shaky…should I quit before I get shaky?
    I’m also working on the bail and I realize I won’t get closer to the wall until I get comfortable with the bail. I’m most afraid of trying to balance on one hand/arm –
    But what I love the most is that all this shoulder and lat body weight work is really helping my KB press and chin ups.
    Thank you!

    • Chris Salvato December 16, 2013 at 8:10 am #

      Hi Jenny!

      Definitely quit before you start getting shaky. Cut the effort about 5 seconds before you would get shaky, and try to add those seconds back on 1-2 sessinos in the future.

      Glad to see it’s helping the KB press and chinups. The bail is definitely the keystone to learning freestanding handstands. 🙂



  1. Life after the 28-Day Handstand Challenge | Chris Salvato - August 5, 2013

    […] my previous post about fear, we know that I could throw 100 tutorials at Joe and he wouldn’t make […]

  2. The Handstand Safety Net: Pirouette Bailing | Chris Salvato - August 5, 2013

    […] In our last post, we talked about fear. […]