How to Do a Back Walkover for Beginners

portrait of young gymnasts competing in the stadium

A classic gymnastics move, the back walkover is a catalyst for compound tumbling skills like the back handspring. The beginning gymnast must first master a standing backbend and a kick-over before progressing to the more complex walkover. Flexibility in the back, a strong core and sturdy shoulders are also required. Practice the back walkover in the presence of a certified gymnastics coach. Ask the coach to spot you by supporting your back or lifting the working leg, as you gain strength and ability in the maneuver.

Warm up with five to 10 minutes of moderate cardio activity, such as jogging, cycling or jumping rope. Follow the cardio with 10 minutes of body weight exercises, like pushups, rows and bridges, to activate your shoulders, back, core and hips.

Stand tall with your shoulders, hips and ankles in one line. Extend your arms over your head, with your upper arms in line with your ears. Contract your abs, slightly lift your chest and slide your shoulders down your back.

Lift one leg straight out in front of you with the toes pointed. Keep the base, or lower, leg as straight as possible.

Stretch your body up as you arch your back to initiate a backbend. Push the hips slightly forward as your hands reach for the floor behind the standing leg. Allow the lifted leg to extend toward the ceiling. Focus your gaze on your hands, which will help to keep your head in a neutral position.

Pass through an inverted split by pressing your hands into the ground and lifting the standing, or base, leg to be parallel with the floor in front of your body. Simultaneously, the first leg lowers to be parallel to the floor behind your body; the legs form one straight line from heel to heel. Your torso should be centered over your shoulders as you maintain the engagement in your abs.

Lower the foot of the first leg to the floor directly under your hip. Continue to press into your hands as you swing the second leg over and bring it to the floor behind your body. Lift your head, arms and torso toward the ceiling as you stand up in a lunge position.


Strengthen your shoulders with resistance training. Lack of shoulder strength and flexibility is a common problem for beginning gymnasts, according to Darrell Barnes, certified athletic trainer at Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis, as reported by USA Gymnastics. Include lateral raises, side raises and rows in your resistance-training program at least twice a week. Complete three sets of eight to 12 reps per exercise.


Consult with a physician before beginning a gymnastics practice. Inform your doctor if you have any back or shoulder injuries.