Have you ever experienced going to a park, to a beach, or to a gym, or just simply watching online these ultimately strong or scrawny dudes who can do a handstand push up as if it’s nothing? Most probably, you asked yourself,

  • “Why in the heck they are doing that to themselves?” or
  • “How can they do that? I can’t even do a regular push-up.”

But you are still impressed as to how strong they look like, then keep on reading.

You want to know why they are doing that complex movement when you can’t even find motivation in you to do your first push-up. You want to know why they look so cool and strong doing that and how you can also look so cool and strong. You want to know how long they trained before they were able to do their first handstand push-up and if it will take you an entire lifetime to learn that so better just give up now.

It’s normal to be intrigued. But mind you, handstand push-ups will change the way how you think about the world of fitness.

But mind you, handstand push-ups will change the way how you think about the world of fitness.

Let me show you the real deal about handstand push-ups and why this movement is a must-learn among all the other calisthenics movement. 

Handstand Push-Up? But which one?

I’ve been mentioning handstand push-up for several times already.

But let me discuss briefly what is a handstand push-up as there is a bit confusion on how to actually perform it.

I get asked all the time:

  • Do you have to do a handstand first then let go and do a push up?
  • Do you have to do a push-up first then move to a handstand position? Or do you have to do both at the same time?
  • Do you need a wall to support you or do you have to do it freestanding?

The truth is that there are few types of handstand push-ups such as wall handstand push-ups, freestanding handstand push-ups and   kipping handstand push-ups. However, we will stick with the basics for this article. I want you to understand the fundamentals of a handstand push-up before dwelling into different variations.

The fundamentals of a handstand push up

Basically, a handstand push-up is just like a normal push-up but instead of doing the push-up parallel to the ground, you have to do the push-up inverted. Yep. You read it right. INVERTED.

Come on, it doesn’t sound so bad right? I know that a handstand already sounds so cool but you can be COOLER by performing handstand push-ups.

Muscle Groups Involved in a Handstand Push-Up.

Before we get into the whole fiasco of why we should start doing a handstand push-up, let us first look into the muscle groups involved in this compound movement.

Push-ups mainly activate the arms and the chest while handstand warms up the shoulders, backs, arms and chest. Having these two upper body movements into one complex movement, you will not only activate your upper body muscles.

You will have to activate your entire body to perform a handstand push up.

These are the major muscle groups being used when performing a handstand push up:

  • Shoulders. Your shoulders carry most of your weight in a handstand position. What more if you do a push-up while in a handstand position. Your shoulders will surely feel the burn for the movement but I assure you that your shoulders will be as strong as a bull.
  • Pectoralis Major. Simply, your pecs or your chest muscles are also activated in doing a handstand push-up just like when you are performing a normal standard push-up.
  • Triceps Brachii. When you dip for a push-up while in a handstand position, your triceps give your elbows the power to lift yourself back up in a handstand position again.
  • Lateral Deltoids. This muscle group can be found above your biceps. To be able to maintain your balance and do that press for the push-up, your deltoids are ready to serve you.
  • Trapezius. Look at your back in the mirror. If you can visualize a V-shaped muscle from the base of your back deltoid down to your middle back, that would be your Trapezius. This back muscle stabilizes your shoulders to carry your weight.
  • Serratus Anterior. Responsible for your stabilization in performing the handstand push-up itself, this muscle group can be found at the side of your ribs extending to your back.

activated muscle groups in a handstand push-up
For the record, the mentioned muscle groups are not the only ones involved in performing a handstand push-up. YOUR WHOLE BODY is required to perform the deed.

Ready? Set… Go!

Obviously, you won’t be starting with the handstand push-up right away.

Since this is a compound movement, you have to familiarize yourself first with the let alone movements of push-ups and handstands.

Make sure to watch this very short video on how you can perform a standard push-up.

After that, let’s familiarize yourself with a handstand position. Handstand itself is already a challenging movement. If you are not used to doing this, it is better that we prioritize SAFETY before progressing to a handstand push-up.

If you can’t do a handstand, that is totally fine. You can check out our fundamental course on Calisthenics Academy. Take the assessment so we can provide you a fully personalised training program professionally and efficiently to help you get where you need to be and to see how you stack up on the road to the handstand and other fundamental calisthenics moves.

Once you are comfortable with the two movements, you can start training for your first handstand push-up. Don’t be overconfident though. Always be safe in executing these movements.

The PROPER FORM of a Handstand Push Up

Despite knowing how to do a handstand, we strongly encourage you to master the proper form first before advancing to the handstand push-ups. This is the perfect freestanding handstand:

perfect freestanding handstand

Your GOAL is to be able to do this position in a COMFORTABLE manner. You have to make sure that you build up on our strength to be able to support yourself in the handstand position and to sustain that position long enough for a handstand push-up.

Be mindful in keeping your body alignment straight. Your hips must be fully extended as well as your elbows and wrists. Your spine must be in a neutral position and NOT LIKE THIS:
bad handstand

 

The ultimate step for you to reach before performing a handstand push-up is to be able to sustain the handstand position in PROPER FORM.
good handstand

REMEMBER!!!

The 45 degree angle during the handstand position before you do the press is VERY IMPORTANT for a SUCCESSFUL HANDSTAND PUSH-UP. This angle will help you to stabilize while pushing yourself towards the ground.

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To help you even further, this handstand push up progression can lead you to the right track..

It’s perfectly fine to start with a push-up, then to a handstand, before attempting to do a handstand push-up. In this way, you will be stronger and more capable after learning and mastering the fundamentals.

Check this out to see how COOL a handstand push-up looks like.

 

Why bother doing handstand push-ups?

After the lengthy discussion on what and how do you perform handstand push-ups, here are 9 MAJOR REASONS why doing a HANDSTAND PUSH-UP daily can help you to be STRONGER AND BETTER:

1.Very effective to build strength in your shoulders and upper body.

       Since a handstand push-up is a compound movement of a handstand and a push-up which both target the upper body, performing this can obviously strengthen your shoulders and upper body. According to B.K.S. Iyengar, the venerable founder of Iyengar yoga, sustaining a handstand itself requires you to have stronger upper body muscles. Whatmore if you are performing handstand push-ups.

2. Improve your balance, focus, and brain function.

Being in an inverted position means that blood will rush to your brain. Abundant oxygen supply will be delivered to the brain which will be used to function and to focus effectively. Aside from that, the inverted position also elevates your mood and reduce the risk for depression as discussed by the “Yoga Journal.”

Hanging upside down will totally give you a different perspective on how you see the world. LITERALLY. Hence, performing handstand push-ups motivate you to focus more to maintain your balance.

3. Increase your glute and core power.

Handstand push-ups are more challenging than normal push-ups and crunches mainly because you are performing the movement against the gravity.

Simply put, you are putting more work for your glutes and core when you have to pull yourself up after pressing for a handstand push-up. You have to engage your core and glutes completely to maintain your balance and power.

This additional work makes this movement beneficial than the other movements.

4. Being comfortable with the uncomfortable.

We all know that challenges excite us. Doing the same things over and over again will make us resistant to the effect that these things can give us. If you are so used to doing push-ups or handstands and they don’t challenge you anymore, the benefit of building stronger muscles doesn’t really show.

Trying to do something uncomfortable like handstand push-ups will continuously keep your interest and challenge you to do better at it. Let’s just say that it’s similar to dating. You don’t want to always do the same thing every single time and still feel the excitement and engagement from your partner.

As long as you are motivated to do better at something you are not, the results of that hard work will surely pay off.

5. Doing a handstand push-ups makes stronger!

Let’s stop pretending that doing a handstand alone doesn’t impress you at all. We all know it is pretty challenging to balance yourself in an inverted position.

What more if you can do a handstand push-up? Trust me, after you manage to do your first rep, a wave of pride will immediately rush through you and you’ll feel stronger more than ever.

6. Significant back pain reduction

Being inverted releases the gravitational pressure off your nerve roots and discs in your space. As discussed by Dr. Lakowski of Mayo Clinic, you will have more space between your vertebrae hence decompressing your spine relieving back pain. Although, this is not advisable for someone who has high blood pressure and glaucoma since blood will be rushing to your brain.

7. Definitely a stress-reliever.

According to published medical studies of Teeter, stress is typically related to increasing tension in your muscles that can cause pain and inflammation. Being inverted in a handstand push-up helps the body to circulate the blood to reach the sore muscles. Aside from that, this blood circulation helps the lymphatic system to flush out the toxin build-up from the muscles that cause tension and stress.

Performing a handstand push-up enables your body to rehydrate the discs, reduce nerve pressure, realign the spine and relax the tense muscles which definitely reduce stress.

8. You can grow taller!

In one of the podcast episodes of Jeff Sanders<, he interviewed Dr. Lockhart who claimed to grow 1.5 inches for being inverted.

If you perform handstand push-ups daily, your back is frequently decompressed, relieving pressure from your back and increasing the space in your vertebral discs. Hence, this particular movement can help you to lengthen your spine and grow taller. How amazing is that?! You still have hope to achieve that dream height!

9. Stronger body, better posture.

Helping your spine to take a break for standing as always, doing handstand push-ups can reset your spine by decompressing and realign it to aid you in having a better posture. No only you are training for a stronger body, but you are also giving your spine a favour by having a better posture.

To sum things up…

You should not have a second thought of starting your training for handstand push-ups. Aside from looking cooler and becoming stronger, handstand push-ups can also help you physically and physiologically. This compound movement does magic to your spine, balance, brain function, flexibility and strength. Handstand push-ups are one of the most effective and reliable calisthenic movements that will strengthen and improve your body in no time.

Before I end, I want you to DECIDE NOW that you will start your training to your first handstand push-up. Take note of your starting prowess and then comment on this article weekly regarding your improvements. In that way, you won’t forget to look back into the fundamentals and the benefits as you progress your skills in performing handstand push-ups

 

Professional trainer, ex cross-fitter and a long time calisthenic practitioner. I started with Convict Conditioning and achieved levels of strength which enabled me to take part in street workouts championships. Check Out our Resources and Start Building Real Strength just using your Bodyweight!
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