The Forearm Stand: A PCC Hidden Step

by Grace Kavadlo on October 7, 2014

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Grace Menendez Forearm Stand

Are you frustrated with conquering the freestanding handstand?

We all want to progress quickly, but the jump from a wall handstand to a free-balancing one can be a huge hurdle! Enter the Forearm Stand – a relatively unknown movement in the PCC world – and a great “hidden step” on your way to the handstand!

When one of my clients recently told me her goal was to nail the forearm stand, I naturally turned to my PCC Instructor Manual, searching for a regression. At over 600 pages, the PCC manual is by far the most comprehensive guide to calisthenics I’ve ever seen, so I was surprised to find barely any mention of the forearm stand!  Luckily, I had plenty of experience with this move from my Yoga training.

Take A Stand

The forearm stand is a great intermediate step between a beginner’s headstand and a freestanding handstand. Known as Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock Pose) in Yoga, this move is great for strengthening your arms and shoulders while also stretching your neck, chest, abdomen and back.

Inversions are also beneficial for improving circulation throughout the body, as well as challenging the practitioner’s balance. Though a difficult move in its own right, the forearm stand is more accessible than a handstand because you have more points of contact to assist in balancing.

Here’s how to nail this move in just 3 easy steps!

#1 Dolphin Pose

This pose is similar to Downward Facing Dog from Yoga but it is practiced on the forearms rather than the hands. Start in a plank position with your forearms shoulder-width apart, then spread your fingers and align your shoulders over your elbows as you gaze between your hands. Slowly begin to walk your feet in towards your hands as you raise your hips towards the sky. If you are new to this pose, you may only be able to walk a few steps before stopping. Your body should resemble as close to an inverted V as possible. Actively press through your hands and forearms to lift your head further off the ground and hold this position for time.

Grace Menendez Dolphin Pose

#2 The Kick-Up

Begin in Dolphin pose and extend one leg up towards the sky. The closer you can walk your feet to your elbows, the more aligned your spine becomes. This alignment allows you to “float” into this pose rather than having to rely on a significant jump. The more mobility you have in your hips and hamstrings, the less difficult this becomes. Push off the base leg as you kick upward with the extended leg. If you are unable to hold the balance at first, I suggest practicing this variation against a wall or other sturdy object until you build the confidence to try it freestanding.

Grace Menendez Dolphin Kick Up

#3 Forearm Stand

Once you are able to kick up and hold for a few breaths, you’re golden! Keep increasing your hold times by simultaneously squeezing your inner thighs and ankles together and pointing your toes towards the sky to create stability throughout your body. The key to finding the “sweet spot” is to grip the ground with your fingers while “wrapping” your triceps around the arm bones and pressing through your elbows as you balance.

Al Kavadlo Danny Kavadlo Forearm Stand

Scorpion Pose and Beyond

Initially when I began practicing forearm stands, I found it easier to hold the pose by bending my knees and allowing my heels to drop as a counterbalance. This is also known as Scorpion Pose. I must warn you this is an intense back bend, however! If you are having difficulty balancing in a regular forearm stand and want to try the scorpion variation, be sure to fit in some preparatory bridge work to warm up your spine.

Al Kavadlo Scorpion Pose

Be patient with yourself and prepare to put in some work if you want to nail this move. You might experience a “crash-landing” when first attempting freestanding forearm stands but by learning to safely fall out, you’ll gain the confidence to keep trying again. If you have the flexibility you can transition into a bridge if you feel yourself tipping over. If not, try to turn your hips and fall to the side. Stay the course and eventually this move will be yours!

Watch the video for more:

***
Grace Menendez, PCC, HKC is a personal trainer and group exercise instructor located in New York City. For more information about Grace, check out her website, www.DieselGrace.com

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  • Marcus

    Sweet =) Thanks Grace. Soon as I finish typing this I’m off outside to try it. It’s been a while since an exercise captured my imagination like this one. Thanks again!

    • What’s poppin, Marcus! Thanks for reading it AND using it! I love it when I find movements that inspire me to run outside and practice them immediately! Can’t wait to hear how it went! Let me know! 😉

      • Marcus

        Hi Grace: first go – Bang! I over cooked it and ended up falling over, fortunately there was nothing for me to crash-land on =)
        Eventually I got it, but was impressed with how hard it was to keep my head off the floor.
        I love this, I looked at the exercise and thought: Yeah, piece of cake, I can do that. And then had the pleasure of discovering – through my own direct experience – it’s not as easy as it looks.

        Love it =)

  • Definitely gonna try this in my yoga class tonight! Inversions are a challenge for me mentally, I have such a fear of being upside down, so they’re something I really want to work on 🙂

    • Hey Nicole! How exciting that you’re teaching this move to your students! How did it go??? I’m dying to know! Yeah, a big part of practicing inversions is definitely conquering the mind! It can be extremely intimidating for some people to be upside-down! Do you ever practice headstands?

      • Hey! I actually don’t teach yoga, I take it 🙂 And I did one for the first time last night! I had the wall for help but I started to be able to stabilize and pull my feet away, it was awesome 😀
        I’ve been practicing headstands a lot recently, it’s a nice step helping me be upside down without being afraid of smashing my face if I fall haha

  • Logan Christopher

    Its a great move. I’ve been teaching it for years as its definitely a good one to help build up to the handstand.

    • Dooood Logan, you’re the ultimate hand-balancing man! Thanks for checking out my blog post! I’ve also been practicing getting into handstand using YOUR tips from your Legendary Strength channel on YouTube! Big Fan! Keep that ish up, brotha!

  • Paul D Paradis

    I have added those into my CC routine along with frogstands and a headbridge. Still working on getting away from the wall, however. Not quite freestanding yet.

    • Hey Paul! I’m so glad you’re working forearm stand into your practice! It’s a great move! How are your dips and push-ups? I got exceptionally great at forearm stand after adding more upper body “pushes” into the mix! Good luck!

      • Paul D Paradis

        I’m actually pretty strictly about Convict Conditioning right now. I decided I was going to pick one thing and just stick with it, with minor variations. So, I’m not really doing any dips at the moment. I was influenced by the stuff that Logan Christopher is pushing in his handstand training, so I basically augmented the trifecta holds with head-bridging, headstands from HSPU step 1, frogstands from HSPU step 2, and forearm stands from Logan Christopher’s handstand course, and added them to my warmup. So, my warm-up is joint circles and then the seven static poses for twenty seconds each, and off to the main workout. So, aside from those couple of tweaks with the static poses, I am being very single-minded about CC. It’s simply that I want to just stick with the Convict program (combining vol. 1&2) so I don’t get distracted by a million other things.

  • A killer set of progressions from an awesome PCC!

    Grace, you may be pioneering new ground here…I can’t say I’ve EVER seen a chain for the tiger hold…great work!!

    • Thank you kindly, Coach! A calisthenics pioneer? Now that’s what I like to hear! 😀
      I feel like you’ve laid the groundwork for some evolutionary material, sir! I’m just expanding off what I learned from YOU!
      Your progressions have given me a vision and a mission to explore the depths of my potential and if I could stick a clean handstand for a solid 30 seconds…that would be ROCKIN!
      But til then I’m just exploring alternate inversions so I get a feel for being on the flip side! 😉

      • God bless you! Hopefully there is a book or DVD coming from you, I think a lot of folks would LOVE your approach!!

        • Coach, that is EVERYTHING! Thanks for believing in me! I have a few ideas in the works for a bodyweight book geared toward women!
          We NEED more female PCCs and I’d love to inspire any woman to do this certification cos it’s the BEST!

  • Karen Lee

    Nice, Grace. Great progressions and well written! I think even I could follow this 😉 I keep hearing yogis speak of this alleged “float” up into a freestanding stand. It fascinates me as I have yet to get there, it seems so wild, but someday… someday!

    • Thank you Karen! I appreciate you taking the time to check it out!
      You said exactly what I wanted to hear when I originally wrote the article, that it was simple to read and follow!
      When it’s time to train and I want to practice a new move, I usually refer back to the video for reference before I head out, and def prefer the instructions to be easy, to-the-point, and memorable so you dun have to drag your laptop to the park every time hahaha 😉
      Ahh, yes “the float” is something I’m forever working on, just like the handstand! We just gotta keep on practicing! You rock!

  • martymonster

    For the life of me I cannot kick up into a wall supported handstand, but its articles like this that help keep me motivated. Thanks Grace.

    • Hey Marty! Thank you for reading it and TRYING the move! That’s more than most folks would do! Great work!
      What’s great about this progression is that if you can’t do the Master Step yet, just keep working the first 2 steps: Long Dolphin pose holds, and then work on extending one leg at a time for holds. This will help your body understand the movement better instead of just kicking right up into it. Inversions can be tricky because they involve a deep mind-body connection. Take your time, and when you’re ready, try again! Let me know it goes!

  • Great stuff Grace, once again this is an exercise I’m currently working on. It’s a nice step between a headstand, which I can now hold for time, and a handstand.

    • Right on Dave! I’m glad you’re digging this move! Congrats on conquering the headstand! That is a tough move for a lot of folks! How did it go with your forearm stand? Were you able to “catch some air?” 😀

      • Thanks Grace 🙂 Yeah I can hold it for around 10 seconds if I get my kick-up right. I’m working on getting the strength to do a controlled slow kick-up, as this helped my headstand massively.

        • deb

          The way to Pincha without kicking up is to work on your splits (Hanumanasana). This way you’ll be able to get your toes closer to your elbows, raise one leg completely over your head, and, using core and shoulder strength, lift the toes still on the ground. I suggest, in the beginning of practicing this movement, to keep your legs open in a scissors. This creates a similar balance effect as a tightrope walker would have with a long bar. Once you are able to balance with your legs open, slowly move them towards each other, remembering that each move will challenge your balance.

          • Interesting, thanks for the info Deb

  • Paul D Paradis

    I have a question for anyone that wants to chime in. I can kick up into a forearm stand no problem, but I’m having serious trouble balancing away from the wall. Any suggestions? Is there a general ‘optimal’ distance for the arms? Is it about bracing the upper body? Any advice would be appreciated.

    • What’s pop’n Paul? Check out the video above, it details the distancing between the arms for the movement!
      This is one of these exercises that definitely looks a lot easier than it is! Perhaps just keep working the first 2 steps and practicing against the wall til you’re ready to try without a wall assist. Or maybe get a spotter?
      I practiced against the wall for awhile before I tried it freestanding. The better I got at dips, push-ups, bridges and pull-ups, the easier it became to practice this move!
      This is an intense shoulder strengthener and involves a lot of back flexibility, too!
      Be patient and keep practicing!

      • Paul D Paradis

        I see how to measure for arm placement. Your form is awesome. I actually figured out a bunch of stuff by watching the video and listening to what you were saying. Thanks a ton.

  • Mihai

    How are looking these inversions and how to concentrate to fall on a side of your body ,isn’t more dangerous than fall over(i mean i don’t have enough flexibility to do bridge)?

  • I recently saw a YouTube video that showed body weight exercises instead of weight lifting techniques for the shoulders, unfortunately I can’t find it now. Will you post one for us, please.

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