TikTok and challenges go hand in hand, and there’s currently a fitness trend making the rounds that seemingly everyone is trying. It’s called the wall handstand challenge, and it encourages people to do some pretty high-level inversions. While some people make it look easy, experts are wary of handstand newbies giving it a try.
TikTok’s handstand challenge
In one video, a TikTok user stands in front of a wall and places their left leg onto the wall, keeping their left straight knee while balancing on their standing right leg. They then bend their left knee and turn around to face away from the wall, all while keeping their left foot on the wall. From there, they bend down, lowering their hands to the floor directly underneath their shoulders. Next, they shift their weight into their hands and lift their standing right leg straight up and over their torso, balancing on their hands and engaging their core. They gently remove their left foot from its place on the wall and nail an inverted split before moving into a full handstand.
Videos tagged with the hashtag #wallhandstandchallenge have a collective one million views, and you’ve likely come across a few variations of the trend on your For You Page over the past week. Some of these posts include text warnings from TikTok layered on top of the footage. “Participating in this activity could result in you or others getting hurt,” reads the warning label.
It seems to be a fair warning, considering the skill level required to pull off the challenge and the fact that many TikTokers are trying it at home with furniture nearby, rather than in a dance studio or gym. “Just did this and landed into my dresser ?” wrote one person in the comments of a post.
It’s important to point out that many of the people doing this challenge successfully are self-identified dancers, gymnasts, and fitness pros (even Carrie Underwood’s trainer got in on the trend), and they definitely look comfortable doing these impressive inversions. While some people make the challenge look easy, it requires serious strength, stability, and mobility. That’s why NASM-certified personal trainer and CEO of Power 8, Ocho is wary of encouraging people to try this challenge.
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“People should keep in mind to be safe — think first, not just do,” he says. “Really listen to your body. If you know you’ve never done a handstand before, just make sure you take precautions,” adds Ocho. For instance, you might consider having a spotter and taking on the challenge in an open space where you are less likely to knock into things.
Personal trainer Albert Matheny, RD, CSCS, co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab, Promix Nutrition, and ARENA, is also apprehensive about this trend. “A handstand is a higher-level skill,” he says, adding, “You could fall and land on your neck.” He suggests doing plenty of prep work to build up your strength before giving it a try with a spotter who knows what they’re doing, noting that “it’s an awesome goal to shoot for.”
If you want to give it a try, there are a few things you can do to prepare, according to experts. Matheny recommends approaching this fitness trend “like you’re learning a new skill” and suggests people break down the strength needed to do a proper handstand into different elements. Learn to hold yourself up using your shoulders, wrists, and core by doing exercises, such as crow pose and push-ups, he suggests. “You really need to be able to control your core” to help you balance when you’re inverted, Matheny adds, suggesting doing planks to help build up core strength. Forearm planks can help you work on shoulder strength too, according to Ocho.
Fitness trainer and owner of Form Fitness Brooklyn Morit Summers recently shared her advice for working up to the viral wall handstand challenge on Instagram. She warms up with a few wrist stretches, downward dogs, lunges, chest openers, and standing splits in a video posted on the app. When she’s ready to get off the mat, she uses a stool to support her feet instead of the wall while putting her weight in her hands on the ground. Her warm-up seems to have paid off, as another clip shows Summers nailing a variation of the trend.
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Although it’s not the most accessible TikTok challenge to make the rounds, you can safely give the wall handstand trend a try once you’ve worked up the necessary core, shoulder, and wrist strength, according to trainers. And be sure to move furniture and other obstacles out of the way before you do so.
This story first appeared on www.shape.com
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