How to Do Handstand Push-Ups: Proper Form, variations, and common mistakes.
Handstand push-ups are an exercise you probably will not see in a commercial gym. They are an advanced exercise that requires a specific setup. But they offer a unique collection of benefits that you probably can not get from any other exercise on its own.
The key to performing push-ups is proper form. That’s the first thing you need to learn before moving on to more challenging variations or even attempting a full handstand.
To do handstand pushups, you first need to know how to turn around. And if you make it to that point, you’ll need to be able to delicately control your body while it’s upside down. To even consider doing the handstand, you should be able to:
Be able to hold a handstand supported against a wall for at least one minute
have no shoulder or back injuries or limitations
Have adequate mobility of the spine, wrists, and shoulders
Know what it means to tense your core – and be able to do it.
That said, anyone can learn how to do handstand pushups. All you need is some time and some determination. There is no quick way to handstand pushups, but the commitment is worth it.
This step-by-step guide covers strict handstand push-ups. It’s crucial to master the strict version before attempting the tilting handstand pushups, which are explosive and can easily injure if done incorrectly. Everyone should consider the tilting handstand as a progression from the strict handstand pushups.
Before attempting a handstand pushup, place a pillow (such as an ab mat or yoga mat) against the wall to protect your head and neck.
That’s why we have explicitly focused on the strict handstand push-up here.
Benefits of the Handstand Pushup
The strict handstand pushup may seem like an upper-body-only exercise, but it’s not. “The handstand pushup strengthens virtually every muscle in the upper body, including the muscles in the shoulders, traps, triceps, and pecs. So, yeah, pretty much everywhere.
Get into a handstand and a stable position to begin the push-up.
Stand facing the wall. Bend down and place your hands on the floor with your fingers spread close to the wall. Kick yourself up into a handstand. Kick hard enough to come up in one swing, but not so hard that your heels bounce off the wall. Tighten your abdominal muscles and tighten your glutes. Your body should form a solid, straight line.
Bend your elbows to lower yourself onto the mat under your head. Be careful not to bang your head on the floor. Even if you have a pillow, this will hurt.
Push your body back up as soon as your head touches the floor by extending your arms. Think of the pressure on the floor as if you were pressing a dumbbell over your head. Keep your core tense and engaged to prevent your spine from hyperextending.
Fully extend your arms at the end of the exercise (lock your elbows) and sit back down for one more repetition. Do not rush the next repetition. Be sure to retract your core first.
Muscle groups involved in a handstand push-up
- Shoulders – The shoulder strength required for a handstand pushup is excellent, and some may not have that strength yet. Your shoulders support most of your weight in the handstand position.
- Chest – Pectoralis Major Quite simply, your chest muscles are activated during a handstand pushup just as they are during a regular pushup.
- Pectoralis Major
- Triceps Brachii – When you do a push-up in handstand, your triceps give your elbows the strength to rise back up into a handstand.
- Lateral deltoid
- Serratus Anterior
- Another stabilizing muscle
Advantages of the handstand pushup
Handstand pushups offer several benefits combined into a single exercise – and they are few and far between.
Compared to regular push-ups, 90-degree handstand push-ups put you in arm flexion with your body parallel to the floor.
You need to make sure you build up your strength to brace yourself in a handstand and hold that position long enough to do a handstand pushup (ideally about 30 seconds).
Your spine needs to be in a neutral position and NOT LIKE THIS: The ultimate step you need to achieve before performing a handstand pushup is the ability to hold the handstand position at PROPER FORM.
Upper body strength
The obvious and most crucial benefit of handstand push-ups is strengthening your upper body. This exercise strengthens your shoulders, chest, arms, and back muscles simultaneously.
Good upper body strength also affects everyday activities and tasks. In addition, strengthening your shoulder muscles protects the integrity of your joints and helps prevent injuries such as rotator cuff tears.
Another stabilizing muscle To hold the inverted position and push your entire body weight with your upper body, your whole body must function like clockwork.
Strong core muscles, like solid shoulders, can protect you from injury. Strong and stable core muscles keep your spine in the correct position during movement and prevent back pain.
Balance, stability, and body awareness
Perhaps the most significant benefit of doing handstand push-ups is that it teaches you to really control your body. Most people do not even realize how little control they have over their bodies. Take this test: close your eyes, stand on one foot, and bend over to touch your toes three times. If you wobble, teeter, or fall, you still need to work on your proprioception.
Proprioception refers to how you perceive your body as it moves through space. Balance, coordination, stability, and strength are essential factors in proportion. Handstand can help you develop and improve proportion because it is inverted.
In CrossFit and Calisthenics, the best athletes have finely tuned gymnastic skills. Practicing handstand push-ups, modified or not, can help you develop the skills you need to become a great CrossFit or Calisthenics athlete.
Fitness should be fun – no one sticks to a routine they do not like. Handstand push-ups add fun and variety to your workout routine. They are unique, challenging, and satisfying. Once you have done your first handstand or five in a row, you’ll feel proud, excited, and invigorated.
Why to do handstand pushups
- Very effective for building strength in shoulders and upper body
- Improve your balance, concentration, and brain function
- Increase your glute and core strength
- Get comfortable with the uncomfortable
- Open yourself up to more advanced calisthenics skills
- Significantly reduce back pain
- Definitely a stress reliever
- Build boulder shoulders and arms
- You can do it anywhere, anytime
Other variations of the handstand push-up
You can perform this exercise in various ways to suit your level and goals.
Try modified push-ups to develop upper body strength (chest, shoulders, and triceps). Doing push-ups on your knees or against a wall can help you build a power base before moving on to more challenging exercises.
Once you have mastered the modified pushups, you can move on to the standard pushups, which challenge your core and upper body even more. Regular pushups are a phenomenal alternative to handstand pushups, as they develop compressive strength and teach you to keep your spine neutral.
Pike pushups mimic the movement pattern of handstand pushups without as much risk of injury. They help strengthen your upper body and core. Pike push-ups with your feet on the floor or in an elevated position can also help support your shoulders and massive arms. Pike push-ups “The pike position requires more shoulder flexion, tricep strength, and core strength than the regular push-up,” Wickham says. “
Box Pike Push-Up
Box pike pushups are a little more challenging than regular pike pushups and regular pushups because your lower body is lifted, creating more tension during the pushup.
For box pike pushups, set up a sturdy box against a wall. The higher the box, the more complex the exercise. You can use your toes or your knees as a base. If you use your toes, place them in the middle of the box and ensure your shoes have a good grip. Using your knees, you can place a pillow on the box.
This is the same movement as the pike push-up, but your feet are elevated. “The higher your feet are, the more your shoulders and upper body are engaged,”
- Get into a downward-facing dog pose. You can keep your feet apartment or place them on your toes.
- Lower your head to the floor until it taps gently.
- Push yourself back up.
As a complex and technical exercise, handstand push-ups offer a lot of room for error. This is especially true for handstand pushups with tilts, but all of the common mistakes listed below apply to strict handstand pushups as well.
Arching the back
Your spine should remain in its natural position throughout the movement. If your back arches or your ribs seem to puff up, this is a sign that your lower back is hyperextended, which can be dangerous and painful.
Kicking the wall
Some people have trouble minimizing horizontal movement during handstand push-ups. If you keep bouncing off the wall because your heels hit the wall during the climb, it could be due to excessive back and forth motion. You can keep the movement pattern strictly vertical by tensing your core and tightening your glutes.
Pushing yourself away from the wall
If you fall over at the end of each repetition, you could overstretch your back. It’s not uncommon for people to push themselves away from the wall when they get tired – similar to pushing through the back when doing an overhead barbell press. Again, the solution to this common mistake is to tighten your core.
This is perhaps the most common mistake of all. It usually occurs when people attempt handstand push-ups before they are ready. However, it can also happen to experienced athletes when their muscles fatigue. A controlled descent prevents you from hitting your head on the ground, which hurts at best and can lead to a concussion or neck injury at worst.
Arms that are too wide or narrow
Proper positioning of the hands is key to successful handstand push-ups. If you place your hands too wide or too narrow, you’ll do more work for yourself because the movement will be inefficient. Experiment with hand positions to find what works for you.
Safety and precautions
Handstand push-ups are technically challenging and delicate. A single mistake can result in serious injury. That’s why it’s crucial to move correctly through the progressions and modify the movement until you can perform handstand pushups with grace and confidence. Play it safe by taking the following precautions.
Prepare your shoulders
Warm-up with arm circles, band pull exercises, PVC executions, and light shoulder presses. Get the blood flowing and loosen up your joints to ensure you have a full range of motion during training. Not only will you feel fit and ready, but research shows that warming up before exercise can prevent injury and improve athletic performance.
Do not rush
Take it slow. Handstand push-ups are not an exercise you can rush (although you should overthink each exercise). This movement requires keen body awareness and fine motor control. It demands as much from your brain as it does from your body.
There’s no shame in cutting back on a movement, incredibly advanced (or very advanced) movements like handstand push-ups. In fact, modifications are admirable because they show that you are willing to learn and improve.
Modified Handstand Push-Up Modifying the range of motion in the handstand push-up can increase or decrease the intensity of the exercise.
An additional block at the bottom restricts the range of motion and makes the exercise easier. A reduced range of motion allows the handstand push-up to be performed while the strength for the overhead press is not yet fully present.
Be sure to use proper techniques to get the most out of the exercise.
Do handstand pushups build muscle?
Handstand pushups are one of the most effective exercises for your shoulder muscles. Therefore, they are ideal for building strength and power.
Are handstand pushups good for you?
The obvious and most crucial benefit of handstand pushups is strengthening your upper body. This exercise strengthens your shoulders, chest, arms, and back muscles.
Are handstand pushups better than pushups?
As regular pushups do, handstand pushups focus on your shoulders rather than your chest, abs, and arms. There are more than 25 types of pushups you can try that are more fun than the boring standard pushups.
Can handstand pushups train the chest?
What muscles do handstand pushups work out? Handstand pushups benefit your entire upper body. Your arms, lower and upper back muscles, shoulders, and chest get a fantastic boost.