The straddle up is a perfect movement for balancing strength and technique – I absolutely love working on it. At the moment my focus is making mine more consistent.
Here are some drills and exercises to help learn the movement, it's important not to jump up – this is a lift:
1: box split stretch – working the flexibility for box splits makes the movement easier, the legs will be more readily able to lift wider.
2: japana roll through – this is essentially the ideal motion for the press, just performed horizontally. Start sat in straddle, stretch up and lean forward trying to get the stomach to the ground whilst keeping the back straight. Keep the midline engaged and move the feet round and behind, trying to keep the body as close to the floor as you're able – as you can see, I don't pass through box splits which is the ideal.
3: against a wall – a great drill to practice (I used to do this for hours against the sofa in my sitting room). Put the hands on the ground in front of the wall (leaving a bit of space between the two) and practice rolling the back up the wall, one vertebrae at a time until the bottom is off the floor and the legs can follow.
4: off a raised platform – starting with the feet raised helps lift the bottom into a better position to allow the legs to lift, you can start higher (as long as your hands can touch flat on the floor) and work down.
5: negative reps – starting in a handstand, straddle the legs and raise as slowly as possible to the floor, this works the same muscles allowing you to build the strength. An excellent drill for the straddle lever to handstand too, the next step.
Technique points for the straddle press:
1) Spread the fingers out and push through the entire hand to keep balance
2) don't start with the legs too wide – the closer they are the higher your bottom is (the higher the bottom the closer you are to the handstand position)
3) don't let the shoulders go too far over the hands, but a little over is helpful – instead the slight over rotation should come from the hips.
If you want more tips for your handstands, check out my blog post here.