Handstand pushups (press-up) – also called vertical push-up or inverted push up. This is a type of exercise in which the body is in a handstand position. To really perform a proper handstand pushup, it must be done with the body upside down , free-standing. Until a person has enough balance, the feet are usually placed against a wall, held by a partner, or otherwise protected from falling.
Handstand pushups are more than just a show off, this exercise has the cross fit to thank for its popularity. Handstand pushups require great strength, as well as balance and control when being performed.
Benefits of Handstand Push-Up
Handstand pushup targets the triceps more due to the increased load on the triceps brachii muscles more than normal pushups. The load is also shifted from the Pectoralis major muscle to the Anterior deltoids and Lateral deltoids. The upper extremities of the trapezius are also involved in shoulder lifting.
As you can see, this exercise works almost all of the upper body muscles – the arms, shoulders, chest and also the traps. It is a killer move exercise when trying to target the upper body muscles all at once.
If there is one benefit that you should not sleep on, is the additional boosted core strength the handstand pushups also target. Being performed free- standing with your body upside down requires a lot of stabilization from the mid-line which your core has to be activated, strengthening the core helps reduce the risk of injury.
And because movement is a multi-joint movement (compound exercise) — meaning that unlike a leg extension or bicep curl, it uses more joints and therefore muscles — it can strengthen you everywhere, which can lead to muscle gain, weight loss, increased calorie burn, increased self-esteem, and muscle strength, to name a few.
Another benefit? One especially is the freedom to train anywhere, as you only need a wall to do them. That means you can do it yourself at home or in a hotel room (on the go) if you can’t get to the gym.
You can do it basically anywhere. The only thing needed is a wall. And maybe a pad, or a yoga mat for comfort.
How to Do a Handstand Push-Up
- Set up an exercise mat or yoga mat on the floor. Looking at the wall, place your hands six to 12 inches from the wall, about shoulder width apart, and kick up.
- Brace your core, squeeze the glutes, and point toes to activate the quads and hamstring muscles, so that your body is in a straight line from head to toe. Hold the mat with your hands, then bend your elbows at an angle of 45 degrees, slowly lowering yourself until your head is down.
- Push back to the beginning by pressing the palms of the hands down, straightening your arms, and reaching for the body pushing up to the ceiling.
Handstand Push-Up Form Tips
- Brace your core all the time to keep your ribs from flaring which is a sign that your lower back is hyper extended.
- Point to your toes, squeeze your glutes, and hold the ground with your hands to feel better stability.
- Try to keep your elbows 45 degrees as you go down and back to the beginning.
- Do not “sit” at the bottom of the push-up handstand. Not only is it hard to lift yourself from a dead stop, but it is also not good for your neck as well.
How to start doing the handstand push ups
Due to the how difficult this exercise is, it is common to begin training with simple, intermediate movements. Preparation for this exercise without no equipment involves, performing it at a reduced range of motion, holding a static handstand position and performing only the eccentric part of the movement.
Preparing with lifting weights (military press) is also common in strengthening the affected muscles, for those who do not have enough balance or are unable to support their bodyweight on their hands. When you are able to press on your body weight – it shows that you have developed enough strength to do a handstand pushup, you can then proceed to do learn stamina and balance.
If you follow the exercise routine below, you will build the strength and skills you will need to be able to manage a handstand pushup even if you have never done a handstand push up in your life.
How to progress to doing the handstand pushup
Before you can graduate to the handstand push ups, you should first get to know the basic push-ups which also work many muscles such as the handstand push-ups, but with a much smaller range of motion,
- Start in a plank position with hands slightly wider than shoulder width, palms pressed down and feet together.
- Lower yourself to the floor by bending the elbows back to a 45-degree angles, where the chest touches the floor, presses the palms down, straightens the arms, and keeps the body in a straight line.
- Then return back to the starting position.
- This completes one rep
Pike push ups
After increasing the strength and condition of the upper body with a basic pushup the next variation would be pike pushup. This starts at the plank pushup position and involves walking the feet as close as possible to the hands. The movement begins with leaning forward and loading the deltoids and triceps. As with all pushup exercises care should be taken to tuck the elbows as if attempting to have them track along the torso during the movement. A good hand placement of shoulder width but as a starting point 1- or 2-inches wide shoulder width will make it easier. After leaning, bend your arms and aim to make a triangle with three main points and the palms of your two hands.
To complete the pike push up:
- Start with a plank position, keep your hands firmly on the floor at all times.
- Keep the shoulders relaxed and brace your core. Your elbows close to your side and should be held in place.
- Lift your hips up and back, your body forming an inverted v shape
- Lower your body low as possible so that your forehead almost touches the floor. Make sure to maintain control the whole time.
- Then, return back up to starting position.
- This completes one rep
Elevated pike pushup
If you feel comfortable doing pike push ups, it’s time to move on to the another phase known as the elevated pike push up. This is more harder than the pike pushup and involves lifting the legs.
How to do the elevated pike pushup:
- Elevate your feet with your hands on the floor to bend at a 90 degree angle.
- Lower your body down as low as possible, keeping a 90 degree angle.
- Push back and repeat.
Handstand pushup against the wall
Once you fully master the elevated pike pushup, it’s time to try the handstand push up against the wall.
How to do the handstand pushup against the wall:
- Facing a wall in a standing position, kick your feet up to be in a handstand position against the wall.
- Squeeze your abs, thigh muscles and glutes.
- Lower yourself down as low as possible.
- Push back and repeat.
Note: If you are worried about falling on your head, put a yoga block or pillow under your head. Also, if you find it difficult/frightening to kick your feet against the wall, just look towards the wall and step your feet up.
Unless you have a shoulder injury or something else that prevents you from standing upside down, there is absolutely no reason why you cannot do handstand pushups.
Because here’s the thing: you don’t need to have superhuman strength to do the handstand push-ups. And like anything else, you can break them down into progressions that will eventually lead to a full performance.
With dedication, patience and hard work, you too can succeed in getting a strong handstand pushup.