Welcome to this tutorial. The move your about learn is one of the most efficient moves out there when it comes to adapting your handstands to the environment, heights will no longer be a problem once you’ve mastered this move. At least not when it comes to be moving down heights…
The Lower-Down Tutorial
A 5 step advanced guide.
First of I’ll start with some terms I’ll use throughout this guide. They are also explained on their first appearance.
As shown in the movie above, the lowerdown is a technique used to pass obstacles where height is an issue.
Short for Handstand Push-Ups
Preparations: Handstand Negative Pushups
One of the most important part of the lower-down is actually a negative HSPU. However the big difference is that you’re going past your usual range of motion in a HSPU, so be sure that you are familiar with the handstand pushup, or at least the negative part as it will be extremely helpful in therms of strength and balance.
I also recommend that you find a place that suitable for the lowerdown. The height should be approx the length of your arm, and to the start of your chest (when hands are extended past head). This is because it’s easier for you to keep on walking when succeeding; if it’s to high you’ll have to drop down giving huge amount of pressure for your arms and shoulders; too low and you’ll have to push up from a deep positioning, which is quite hard after an technique like this.
Step 1: Find your start position
This is the first step is always the most challenging one. This is where most of the reasonable minds says stop, and a mental border is up prohibiting you. First I would like to mention the handstand position you’ll be in while lowering down. You can always choose between spread legs, straight legs or bent legs. They all have their pros and cons and by now you should master both straight legs and spread legs in your handstand hold. It’s a bit tougher to do this technique with straight legs so try with spread legs for the first times, however I know that this is highly a personal preference so be sure to experiment on your own.
Other problems might occur when you find the spot and the position, one example is the approach to the edge. For some people this might one of the bigger challenges, for others it’s not, either way I’ll write short about the two most common ones used. When that’s said I recommend that you master both, different settings requires different techniques.
There is a lot of ways to approach, but here’s the two most common once’s used:
Walk on Hands:
This one is for the people who finds it safer too approach the edge while walking on hands. Many people feel safer when their already on hands, and that it’s easier to find your balance when approaching it .
Transition on the edge
For those of you that don’t walk on hands, this is a good method. Start with a preferred transition near the edge, and try to stay still in the preferred position, do some minor changes with your hands and get ready to lower yourself down.. Or are you ready?
Step 2: Grip It
Before you can lower yourself you need to be sure that your grip is firm, I mean, since you are going head first. There is a lot of ways to grip the edge and it doesn’t have to be the same on both hands. However be sure that you use a grip which suits you the best, a grip that makes you comfortable. Sooner or later you’ll learn more ways to grip, most because of the obstacles: many of them requires different approaches and different grips. I’ll brief you on the three most common grips and their bad and good sides.
This is actually not a grip, since your not using your fingers to grip anything. However, by pressing them down (the technique used when doing a handstand hold) you created something similar to a grip, and the lower-down can be executed.
I do not recommend this for a number of reasons but the most valued one is the fact that you’ll have to bend your wrist unnecessary
The reason It’s called stair grip is because of the nature of the grip, it usually comes by natural when people are attempting to walk down stairs on hands. This is a grip where you are gripping with your fingers (mostly the first two joints of your finger). The grips feels more stable, and probably is due the use of muscles in your forearm are highly increased. It’s also more natural somehow when lowering down that the stair grip.
This one is better than the Flat grip, although it too bends unnecessary much at your wrists.
Probably the least used of the three most common ones. People tend to use this as a save when balance fails and they start falling forward. Instead of only using a part of the fingers like stair grip, this grip leaves only the palm at the surface and all the fingers extended down the edge. This actually reduces a lot of stress in your wrists when you are at your bottom point of the lower-down, but it’s said that it’s harder to control.
This is the one I recommend using, the balance issue is something that you’ll easy overcome and might in fact strengthen your handstand in overall.
Experiment with the grips, find the one that suits you best and what you are most comfortable with. You don’t have to be in a handstand to test a grip, simply stand n
ear the edge, lean forward (as you would do in a transition) and test the different grips.
Step 3: Don’t pummel down
This might be the scary part, because this is the part where you are going to lower yourself closer to the ground. If you are used to HSPU’s this is not different until your past the stop point of a regular HSPU, because in this technique you’re going to lower yourself so far down that your chest lies on the edge rather than your head touches the ground.
Now lower yourself down with the speed that suits you. Which speed is individual, personally I find a fast approach straight down more suitable because of the energy I save. When that’s said, I probably should mention that my first successful attempts of the Lower-Down was done with extremely slow speed and focus entirely on control. Also, the people I’ve tutored this technique to seems to take it slow in the benefit of more control.
Again, it’s up to you. Just remember to point your elbows backwards as much as you can. Much like you would do in a HSPU.
When you can rest your chest on the edge you can easily – I can’t believe I just said that, It´s really not that easy - switch your hands down and touch the ground one by one. But there is another obstacle too, a huge one: your balance.
It’s probably this point (chest on the edge, hands at your side) that you with this technique most certain will fail time after time, much because of the balance. Your in a position that requires static strength in our three major core areas of the body. starting from top; core back (upper back), core (abdominal and lower back) and hip. So let’s take a look at them:
- Core Upper Back:
The prime mover of our handstands. You need to lock your upper back once your chest hits the edge. Although you might rest there – your chest will, like it or not, take a lot of the weight off – only affects your arms and partly your shoulders, but you cannot rest your upper back. So tighten every muscle you have back there and be sure to give proper support to your arms.
- Abdominal Core:
This is primary where your balance lies – always remember that if one of your core fails, the others ones will probably follow – with your abdominal core, and it might be the hardest one to hold static. You won’t be straight with your back and don’t worry about keeping yourself straight, the position your going to be in requires a certain bend in able to rest your chest at the edge. But being in a bent position does not give you an excuse for not using your abdominal , so harden your muscles as if you were to be punched in the guts, and keep it that way. Never let go.
Whats so important with the hip? Well the fact is this: you need to tilt your hip slightly forward, bringing your feet with you to maintain the balance. You’ll probably look something similar to a banana. I’m not joking. You will probably feel a little tense around the lower back area. Don’t worry about that at all as long as your abdomen core is hardened. Your hip in collaboration with your abdomen, will also play a crucial part in maintaining balance when your shifting hands and when lifting yourself of the edge. So the hip is just as important as the other cores.
The whole static part, the part where your with your chest planted at the edge with your arms on both sides, is the biggest challenge here, it’s highly unusual position to be in, even for regular handstanders. So this needs a bit of practice, just be sure to lock your upper back, keep your core tense and bend your feet slightly forward to maintain the balance. When you master this part, the rest should be easy. If not, look below.
Step 4: Switch it
Let’s presume your in the same position as in step 3, now all you have to do is put one hand at the time, down on the level below you. No nod your feet slightly forward so you don’t loose the balance, use your time but remember that the longer you stay with your hands on different levels, the bigger chance of balance failure.
And I almost forgot to mention this; when you lower your arm down you’ll slightly notice a change in the balance composition who will, if your not a natural talent, flip you sideways – preferably the opposite way of which hand you are using . To prevent this you need to lean a tiny bit to the opposite side of what hand you’d place down. For this use your hip and abdomen core. Notice that some people do this automatically so if it’s not a problem this is nothing to think over.
The beautiful thing about this step in this tutorial is the fact that you need to struggle with the past one yet again, which for many, is the very essence of hell on hands.
Step 5: Up and go
This is your last obstacle, it may not be as hard as the lower-down and static part but don’t underestimate it. You still need to get your chest of that edge and up in a full handstand. This is especially hard if you don’t use your hip and core, try to think that you are tilting yourself forward with your feet.
You may experience that your balance fall backwards once your hands touches the ground and you end up back on the ledge rather than on hands below, this happens because probably didn’t tilt your legs enough, or that you abdominal core failed. In either case get back and try; but remember to tilt slightly forward, the point is to get your point of balance ahead of you and therefor tilting your body away from the edge and up in a full handstand.
The positive is this, when you come to this part of the tutorial, both your lower-down and static part will be so drilled that you’ll find this to be the last annoying obstacle that prevents you of utter glory. But then again, you’ve manged the lower-down, your practically done so if you can’t manage to get up and going. Let it rest and test it next time.
Upon experimenting with the lower-downs there’s a few things I’d like to tip you on:
- With lower heights, where your arms are bent, you will need to do a pushup to get into a full handstand again. Not only do you need to press up, but you also need to get away from the edge. So it’s not an ordinary HSPU, therefor I suggest that you train regularly on these to master lower and lower heights with the lower-down technique.
- When the height is higher than the reach of your arms, you’ll have to prepare for an impact. I would not recommend that you try this unless you have done handstand jumps from before, both from height and from ground. This is because the high pressure your joints have to deal with which may be a start of a injure, so be sure you’ve done proper preparations.
I’ve been able to tutor a few people whom cannot do single fully HSPU – the one at shown at below the main video is one of them and he learned the Lower-Down a few minutes after that video was taken – to do a full Lower-Down without too much trouble. Although all of these where men and with good overall core balance, I do think that as long as your able to do the preparations, you should do just fine when tutoring yourself this technique. Good Luck!