Balancing Out Rock Climbing With Handstand Work

Many moons ago when I did gymnastics I was pretty good at handstands. That hasn’t been the case for a very long time.  My overhead pressing ability is simply pathetic compared to my overhead pulling ability. So I’ve been trying to work on it.I was doing regular pressing work in my garage gym. But the problem was my schedule has been crazy busy. I just haven’t had time to get in good workouts regularly. So enter the handstand!

Why Handstands

Figure doing a handstand
Photo credit Flicker – Link Below

The great thing about handstands is that you can do them just about anywhere. To make things even better, I have a couple of great wall locations I can use to prop myself up with.

Now obviously just holding handstands isn’t exactly the same as overhead pressing work. The problem though isn’t that my overhead muscles are weak. If they were I would be a much less capable rock climber. The problem is that since I don’t use the muscles much, my neurology has kind of stopped caring about them.

What the handstands have allowed me to do is reactivate all those muscles in my upper shoulder girdle. It’s sort of a compromise movement. I would rather be getting a good full-spectrum movement along the lines of a deadlift to a push-press, but something is much better than nothing.

What Else Am I Doing?

I’ve also added a couple minor things I can do throughout the day to help loosen everything up. I try to stretch my lats at every opportunity. It’s my own fault they’re so tight. I usually finish climbing and immediately jump in my truck to go to work. I know I shouldn’t do that, but you make your choices and you pay the man.

The regular lat stretching is really helping open my chest and shoulders up again. Believe it or not, your lats actually help to rotate your shoulders in and close your chest rather than open it.

The other thing I’m doing is taking a few minutes several times a day to rotate my neck in as many different directions as I can. I spend so much time staring straight ahead while driving that I don’t deviate from this position nearly as much as my neck needs.

Sometimes I even double up while I’m stretching my lats. Moving my neck around while my shoulders are in a different position dramatically changes the way my neck responds.

All of this has already made a great improvement in most of my major problem areas. Now the trick, as is always the problem with me, is sticking with it!

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