Sammy Dinneen, Professional Handbalancer and Acrobat – My Lockdown Workout

Sammy Dinneen, Professional Handbalancer and Acrobat - My Lockdown Workout

Sammy Dinneen is a many of many talents; he’s a professional handbalancer, acrobat, circus artists and teacher and we’re thrilled to have him feature in today’s My Lockdown Workout! Get ready for a handstand or two.

Sammy Dinneen, Professional Handbalancer

How did you get into fitness?

From a young age, I always wanted to entertain and to be active and this pushed me towards breakdancing. Breakdancing brought out my more acrobatic and creative sides and I went on to attend dance school in Edinburgh. I was in Edinburgh during August for the Fringe and watched a few circus shows. I loved seeing productions that combined acrobatics with contemporary dance and an urban edge and this ignited my passion for circus.  Staying fit and healthy is so important to me and circus allowed me to forge a career where fitness was crucial. 

I trained at The National Centre for Circus Arts for three years, specialising in handstands – I now teach there too, helping to train the next generation of circus artists. After my degree, I travelled to the Ukraine where I trained with some of the top handbalancers in the world to perfect my art. My career has now taken me all over the world and I adore my job and the associated training.

As well as performing, I’m also a teacher – I coach individuals and groups, helping people worldwide to master handstands. Through these lessons, I explore the full body’s ability to be as mobile as possible. Handstands give you better awareness and understanding of your body, making you stronger all over with particular emphasis on the upper body, core, sides and shoulders, while working on your balance and proprioception.

I can be booked for shows, teaching and more via

What is one of your favourite lockdown workouts?

My favourite lockdown workout focuses on my handstand push up, working on the strength in the front of the shoulders.

I start warming up my shoulders by doing push ups. First, I lean as far forwards as I can, keeping my arms straight and the rest of my body in a straight line. From there, I do a push up keeping the forward lean as I go down and up. This puts a lot more emphasis on the front of the shoulders and chest. I do 5×5 of these.

Push ups

Then it’s time for my headstand push ups. I put myself into a headstand and slightly lean my weight into my hands before pushing up to a handstand and then lowering back down to my headstand. I do these 3×10 times.

Headstand push ups.

Now for the real game – the full handstand push up. To do these to a proper depth, I have to train on something higher. I kick up to my handstand, slightly lean forwards and then lower my body until my sternum touches the box. Then I push back up. I do for 3×6.

handstand push up

For a finisher I do a dynamic headstand to handstand push ups. I go into a headstand, pike my legs down to 90 degrees, then swing my legs back up. As they go up, I push myself into a handstand, then lower back down to repeat. These I will do for 3×20.

What’s your nutrition like when doing a lockdown workout?

Diet is really important to me as if I eat badly it affects my overall fitness and physique. My diet is based on 80% Paleo which means I don’t eat any processed food, wheat, grains or refined sugars. I eat lots of meat, fruit and vegetables. 

I sometimes do intermittent fasting which means I fast for 18 hours and then have a six hour window where I can eat. So sometimes I won’t have a pre- or post-workout snack. When I first did this I was actually really worried I wouldn’t be able to get through it but I was surprised to find it was easier and I felt better from it.

Now I just listen to my body and eat if I want to and what I feel I need rather than eating because I think I should. I don’t have a structured food routine where I have to eat during or after. The most important thing I’ve learnt is to eat when you want to eat, not when you think you should.  Remember that pasta, rice and bread don’t actually fill you up.

Do you have any tips for those new to working out?

Stick with it and make sure you really commit to what you’re doing. 

Although you should always have big long-term dreams, I’d suggest only making a couple of short-term goals at a time; if you have 10 goals and you are working on them simultaneously then it will take much longer than if you just work on two or three. Make sure you work on getting the basics very strong – then when you work on the harder skills you will achieve them much more quickly.  

With handstands, it’s really important to stay dedicated. You need passion, commitment and persistence in this discipline. It’s not easy but it’s amazing and I love being able to master skills that at first seem impossible. 

You can follow Sammy and his lockdown workouts on Instagram at @mcsammyd.

Sam Walker
the authorSam Walker
Sam is a regular gym goer who loves a strong spin or step class. Her main fitness goal is to tone up and be a healthier / fitter version of herself.

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