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How to Do a Straddle Press Handstand

Straddle press handstands, also called lever ups, are a challenging gymnastics maneuver that requires strength, muscular endurance, balance and flexibility. Straddle press handstands are often performed on the balance beam and during floor exercises. They are also used as part of gymnastics-specific conditioning programs. You may attempt the straddle press handstand several times before you finally achieve it, so don't be discouraged.

  1. Check your ability and see if you are ready to do a straddle press handstand. You should be able to easily perform a headstand, handstand, straddle press headstand and straddle press handstand against the wall before attempting a straddle press handstand.

  2. Warm up thoroughly. This should include at least five minutes of cardiovascular activity like jump roping, running, bicycling or walking. You should also warm up your shoulders with light, dynamic movements such as snow angels and load-bearing activities such as planks and handstands. Stretch your straddle split and forward bend.

  3. Place your legs wide apart and bend forward so your palms are flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Your back and knees should be straight and your toes pointing straight forward. Place your hands and feet as close together as possible.

  4. Shift your weight forward, into your hands, and begin to pull your hips forward so they are aligned over your hands. Keep your legs as close to your upper body as possible. You should feel like someone is pulling upward at the crease of your hips. Eventually, your toes should begin to come off the floor so that you are hovering in a straddle position. Keep your arms straight during the entire handstand.

  5. Lift your legs slowly to the sides and up into a handstand position. Any wavering of your midsection may throw off your straddle press, so use your core muscles to keep your midsection still. Both legs should move at equal speeds.

  6. Complete the straddle press handstand by stepping out of the handstand or slowly lowering yourself back to your starting position.


    Straddle press handstands are best learned under the supervision of a professional, such as a USA Gymnastics certified coach.

    Use a spotter if you have never performed a straddle press handstand before.


    Failure to correctly perform a straddle press handstand may result in serious injury.

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About the Author

Lauren Saglimbene has been writing since 2004. She is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, certified personal trainer and certified yoga instructor. Saglimbene holds a Master of Science in strength and conditioning from Springfield College and a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from the University of Hartford.

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