The Figa Handstand is one of the most beautiful and beloved Handstand positions there is. Strength-wise it may not be the most demanding position but it is definitely one of the hardest to understand when it comes to placement and developing a good feeling. In this post, we are going to give you an idea of how to train for your Figa handstand and point out the 7 most common mistakes that happen when pursuing this shape.
The Figa comes wearing many different names and even more variations. Some call it Figas, Four, Seven or inverted chair. People from acro sport refer to it as Goofos and in down-under, they call it Squiggly. My coach used to always just make a funny sign with his hand by sticking his thumb through his index and middle finger. I’m not sure why but for me Figa stuck the most and it’s what we will use today.
A regular Figa handstand is a straddle one arm handstand where the outside leg traveled all the way over to get close to the inside leg. The supporting arm and free shoulder do not change position, while the hips should be twisted and the lower back gets carefully pushed out over the supporting shoulder. The freehand is pointing to the sky between the legs. In other variations the legs might be closed, one or both legs might be bent or the torso might be rotated until both feet point to the front. Imagination and creativity really is the only limiting point to how many different Figa variations there are.
The Figa one arm handstand is a rather difficult position that should only be approached by the advanced hand balancer. Adequate shoulder strength and quite a bit of full-body awareness and coordination are required.
You don’t have to be super flexible to start training it but some range of motion in the back, pike and pancake stretch is will be needed. For more extreme positions, a high level of stability, strength, and flexibility will crucial.
What makes the Figa Handstand more difficult to learn compared to other positions such as the flag or straight one arm is that it is much harder (to almost impossible) to safe a bad position with pure force and muscle strength. There is no way around proper technique and placement.
Training the Figa Handstand
The best way to practice Figas is by placing the “free” hand on a chair or a box while the supporting hand should be placed on a hand-balancing block. You can also start practicing with your supporting hand on the floor but it is significantly more difficult.
Then you’ll jump up into your one arm handstand. Don’t try to be all tuff, big and strong and press up. If you’re here reading this chances are high you’re not able to do a one-arm press to Handstand. So let’s focus on what’s important:
You jump up, do a clean one arm straddle handstand, move into a Figa, take your hand off and make sure you don’t make any of the following mistakes:
One or probably actually the most common mistake that I see people, even professional hand balancers, do is pulling their free shoulder up to the sky with their free hand. It is absolutely crucial that the free shoulder stays close to the ear because if you do not keep your shoulder down you will fall over to the side over the pinky finger of your supporting hand.
Lots of people, especially when learning the Figa handstand and trying to figure out the right placement, like to get the rotation from the shoulder that they are standing on. Now the supporting shoulder should never ever change position, no matter if you do a flag, a straight one arm, a figa or even a twisted figa. Your supporting shoulder always stays strong, pushed out and in the same place. It is what ankers and solidifies you. The rotation to achieve a figa should come exclusively from the torso.
This one is probably the biggest beginner mistake. It happens before even starting your figa attempt: When jumping up you are not in a clean one arm position. The free hand on top of the box or chair is supposed to be used for balance purposes only. This hand must not be carrying any weight. If you put your body weight onto your free hand on the box your center of gravity moves to the middle between your hands and it becomes impossible to do a Figa.
It is super important to start and finish in a proper one-arm straddle handstand. I have already explained why it is important to start with good form but it is just as important to finish with a good one arm straddle as well. You have probably spent lots of time training the straddle one arm. When starting to work on figas, things tend to get confusing and you might run into difficulties in remembering your correct, simple one arm straddle form. You can check yourself if you are in the right position after returning from the figa by taking your free hand off the chair/box and confirming if you can balance at least for a couple of seconds.
This one is less of a mistake but more a way to make your training extra difficult. Make sure that your legs stay parallel to the floor when first practicing the figa handstand. If your feet go too high or too low you end up in different positions like the Katkov handstand (named after inventor and famous hand balancers Andrei Katkov who revolutionized hand-balancing in multiple ways). Both positions are potentially very beautiful but even more advanced than the regular figa.
As mentioned earlier it is crucial that your lower back gets pushed out over the pinky finger of your supporting hand. If you do not manage to do so you will fall towards the middle of your body over the thumb of your supporting hand.
One more thing to avoid as it will make your practice a million times more difficult is moving the outside leg unnecessarily far over the top or through the bottom. By doing so you will lose your hip position and overall balance. For somebody who is just starting to practice the Figa handstand, it will be impossible to achieve the right position and balance. Focus on keeping your legs parallel to the ground 😉
These are the main things to avoid when practicing the figa handstand. I know this might seem a lot but there is rarely anybody who makes all of these mistakes. The best way to train for this trick is simply to try, film yourself, check on yourself and try again. All this knowledge is a great way to improve your technique and positioning but most important for the figa handstand is developing a feeling and practicing regularly. Be safe, and happy handstanding!