9 Reasons Why You Should Start Doing Handstand Push-Up

by | Sep 5, 2022 | 1 comment

10 min read



If you’re like most people, you probably think that handstand push-ups are only for advanced athletes. You may be surprised to learn that this exercise is actually a great way for beginners to start getting stronger and more toned. In this blog post, we will discuss the top 9 reasons why you should start doing handstand push-ups today!🤸


We’re going to cover the following topics so you can get started with your handstand push-up journey:

  • 🎯 Basics of handstand push-ups
  • 🎯 Handstand push-up variations
  • 🎯 Muscles used for the exercise
  • 🎯 Technique & form
  • 🎯 & the 9 reasons why YOU NEED TO START TRAINING FOR THEM NOW!

Have you ever experienced going to a park, to a beach, or to a gym, or just simply watching online these ultimately strong athletes who can do inverted push-ups with their full body weight only supported by their upper body as if it’s nothing?

Most probably, you asked yourself,

“Why in the heck are they doing that to themselves?” or

“How can they do that? I can’t even do a regular push-up.”

They’re doing this not to impress others (although it does work!), but to challenge their bodies’ capabilities and harness complete body control!

If you want to read more on why you should also start doing handstand push-ups, read on!


⭐️The Handstand Pushup Journey⭐️

It’s not uncommon for people who first try to do handstand pushups to wonder what drives people to pursue such a complicated and very challenging physical goal.

For the regular fitness enthusiast who just wants to get fit and be healthy, it feels like overshoot and a close-to-impossible goal.

They may wonder how long it took the person in the video they watched online or if that will take them their entire life just to get there.

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

You don’t need to be a gymnast or an Olympic athlete to get the benefits of handstand pushups. All you need is a little space, some determination, smart workouts, and a willingness to try something new!

After you read this blog post, we hope that you’ll want to give the handstand pushup journey a shot so you can experience the amazing benefits this advanced pushup exercise can offer and elevate your fitness level beyond!


✨The Fundamentals of a Handstand Pushup

Where to start?

✅Fundamental basic strength and technique

Obviously, you won’t be starting with the handstand pushup (HSPU) right away. It demands a certain level of fitness and good body weight and body composition before you can begin with it.

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

🥇Normal floor push-ups 

First things first, you should have enough shoulder, chest, and tricep strength before trying handstand push-ups.

Normal Push Up

Regular, normal pushups are a great place to start for building that kind of strength and stability in the shoulders while putting also minimal weight on them.

You can also do elevated (or negative) push-ups where you have your feet on an elevated surface like a bench or chair with your hands touching the ground below it and then slowly lowering yourself down to increase the intensity.

Standard push-up progressions don’t only offer the basic pushing strength requirement but also ingrain the proper technique for the push-up mechanics.

These 📍pushup variations are somehow related to each other so implementing them into your workout one way or another provides massive benefits in overall fitness and our current specific goal.

If you’re struggling in this area, check out these articles:

📍Why you still can’t do a push-up: The Beginner’s guide!

📍DON’T SABOTAGE YOUR PROGRESS! : 10 Common push-up mistakes

🥇Handstand hold

Handstand Hold

One of the positions in the handstand pushup is, obviously, a handstand. Being able to hold the inverted position allows the handstand pushup to be performed with perfect form and also builds a solid foundation for handstand pushups.

You don’t have to learn the freestanding handstand to start your HSPU. HOWEVER, you should at least master a 30-second wall handstand to get comfortable in the position.

Master your handstands using this guide: 📍The Ultimate Guide to Handstands

🥇Start slow!

Once you are comfortable with the two movements, you can start training for your first handstand pushup variation.

Don’t be overconfident though. Controlling your full body weight in such an awkward body motion is not an easy feat. A wall might not even be enough to help you out.

Start with the easiest progression first!

🥇Always be safe in executing these movements.

The last thing you want is plummeting your head straight into the ground.

Choose the progression that suits your skill level. There are also tons of exercises you can use to build up your fitness level.


Mastering the basic exercises will offer faster, more efficient, more enjoyable, and safer progress toward the handstand push-ups.

Calisthenics Fundamentals

Fundamentals cover physical pushing and pulling strength, mobility, and skill. This way, you get a more general sense of preparedness when moving towards a specific skill.

You’ll also get to develop your core and bodyline further which massively helps in technique development.

For more fundamental work, you can check out The Movement Athlete.


💥Types of handstand push-ups

☑️Wall Handstand Pushup

Wall Handstand Pushups TRAINING PLAN

☑️Handstand Pushup

Freestanding Handstand Pushup TRAINING PLAN

There are a few variations of handstand push-ups. Some are more difficult and some are easier.

Easier variations can be used to bridge the strength and skill gap for the strict full handstand push-ups.

Harder variations are perfect goals once you have mastered the strict and standard form.

☑️Pike push-ups

Pike push-up

This exercise is your gateway towards the handstand push-up. The pike push-up puts emphasis on your anterior shoulders and follows a similar movement pattern to the full HSPU.

Unlike in HSPU, pike push-ups let you work on the same motion while having the assistance of your legs. You don’t get the same intensity, but you get the same movement pattern.

You can easily increase the difficulty of pike push-ups by slowly elevating your feet until you get to the complete inverted handstand position.

With pike push-ups, you can gain build strength and muscle while mastering the proper cues of handstand push-ups.

☑️Range-modified handstand push-up

Altering the range of handstand push-ups can be used to either increase or decrease the intensity of the exercise.

Handstand pullups

Added block at the bottom to restrict the range of motion and make the exercise easier

A decreased range of motion allows the execution of HSPU while the complete overhead pressing strength is not yet there. To perform, simply keep your head further away from the floor. You can do this by placing an elevated surface close to the top of your head. When you lower down, let your head rest on top of the elevated surface. You can keep your head high at first then slowly lower the elevation as you grow stronger.

Deep Handstand Pushup

Advanced athlete Jonathan MacMahon showing a very deep handstand push-up.

The increased range of motion of HSPU extends to a position lower than the hands. You will need an elevated surface such as a set of parallettes, so you can go deeper into the handstand push-ups. This variation demands a high level of shoulder pressing strength.

☑️Kipping handstand push-up

Coach, Kristi Eramo O Cornnell teaches how to use momentum for handstands

This variation involves momentum to the equation. It lessens the strength requirement due to the kick and allows you to rest at the bottom position, but the technique is good for teaching how to control momentum and the press-up technique.

Many athletes use this for explosiveness or sport-specific techniques since you will not be controlling your full body weight because of the added momentum.

☑️Wall handstand push-up

Wall assistance is a great way to build up strength, especially when the balance component is the one holding you back from performing handstand push-ups.

You can add reps without the mental fatigue of balancing your body weight. Plus, the access to a wall is literally free!

Wall Handstand Pushup

You can either start the handstand push-ups with the chest facing the wall to recreate the feeling of the actual skill. It puts weight similar to the actual HSPU.

Wall Handstand Pushup

Or do it with your back facing the wall when the former is still too heavy and too scary for your current skill level. Mind you that proper technique should be used to maximize what you can get from the exercise.

That means:

  • Hands not too far from the wall to avoid the banana back
  • Hands a bit wider than shoulder width to maximize pushing strength.
  • Tucked elbows for more skill transfer and to avoid injuries.
  • Head near the wall.
  • Weight primarily placed on the delts
  • Hollow body

☑️Supported handstand push-up

Leg-supported handstand push-ups or also known as pike push-ups are the perfect introductory exercise to the HSPU. You can easily scale the exercise by adjusting the leg position and simulating the overhead movement pattern. The more vertical you can get, the close you are to getting to the handstand push-up.

☑️Freestanding handstand push-up

Freestanding handstand pushup

The freestanding variation is our main target for this article. This exercise builds up strength, muscles, control, and balance since the movement is free of any assistance.

If you want to learn this variation, it’s vital to first master 📍a perfect form of a freestanding handstand.

☑️90-degree handstand pushup

One of the hardest push-up variations by Daniel Vadnal of FitnessFAQs 

Once you have mastered the freestanding handstand push-up, you can move towards this variation which requires an extreme level of pressing strength and control.

Compared to the regular HSPU, the 90-degree angle HSPU moves you from a handstand position to a bent-arm planche with your body parallel to the floor.

Athletes able to perform this variation have complete mastery of the HSPU, deep HSPU, and bent arm planche position.

Although it seems more impossible compared to the handstand push-up, it is very possible to learn and master if you work smart towards this goal.


Muscle💪 Groups Involved in a Handstand Push-Up

Handstand Pushup Requirements and Muscle Used

Before we get into the whole fiasco of why we should start this excellent display of upper body strength, let us first look into the muscle groups involved in this compound movement.


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 of the movement, but I assure you that your shoulders will be as strong as a bull. As you go down, your anterior deltoids or the front of the shoulders are emphasised.

✊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. However, it’s not as demanding compared to the other working muscles, such as the shoulders.

✊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 pushup; your deltoids are ready to serve you.


Look at your back in the mirror. If you can visualise a V-shaped muscle from the base of your back deltoid down to your middle back, that would be your Trapezius. This back muscle stabilises your shoulders to carry your weight.

✊Serratus Anterior

Responsible for your stabilisation in performing the handstand pushup itself, this muscle group can be found at the side of your ribs extending to your back. This is a commonly unrecognised and undertrained muscle that needs equal loving, like the efforts we put on our shoulder press.

✊Another stabiliser muscles

To even hold the inverted position and push your entire body weight using your upper body, the entire body needs to work like clockwork. The core and glutes play a major role in doing so.

For emphasis, the mentioned muscle groups are not the only ones involved in performing a HSPU. YOUR WHOLE BODY is required to perform the deed.


🔥PROPER FORM of a Handstand Push Up

Despite “knowing how to do a handstand”, we strongly encourage you to master the proper technique first before advancing to the handstand push-ups.

This is the perfect freestanding handstand:

Freestanding Handstand

Here’s a round down on the handstand form:

  • ✔️Feet pointed and together
  • ✔️Knees and elbows extended at full extension
  • ✔️Hips fully extended and stacked onto your body
  • ✔️Core engaged (good cue: Posterior pelvic tilt)
  • ✔️Lumbar spine in a neutral position
  • ✔️Shoulders full elevated and open
  • ✔️From wrist, shoulders, hips, to your feet: everything stacked into one line
  • ✔️Hands slightly wider than shoulder

Your GOAL is to be able to do this hold in a COMFORTABLE manner which allows you to efficiently and consistently hold a handstand without too much effort so you can focus on the shoulder press.

You have to make sure that you build upon your strength to be able to support yourself in the handstand position and to sustain that position long enough for a handstand push-up (ideally around 30 seconds).

Be mindful of 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 PROPERLY.

good handstand

READ MORE: Best Tips for Achieving A Handstand🧐


The 45-degree angle during the bent-arm handstand (lower hold) before you do the press-up is VERY IMPORTANT for a SUCCESSFUL HANDSTAND PUSH-UP. This angle will help you to stabilise while pushing yourself towards the ground and keeps your movement shoulder-dominant.

Freestanding handstand pushup

For the handstand pushups, keep in mind these details which are very similar to the push-up mechanics:

  • Elbows tucked
  • Lowest point has elbows at a 90-degree
  • Lean forward when lowering down
  • Maintain straight bodyline
  • Use shoulders primarily for the pushing
  • Forearms perpendicular to the ground



After the lengthy discussion on what and how you perform handstand push-ups, here are 9 MAJOR REASONS WHY YOU WANT TO BE DOING HANDSTAND PUSHUPS to become a better athlete without relying on barbell press-ups.

1. Very effective in building strength in your shoulders and upper body.💪

Since a handstand push-up is a compound movement of a handstand and a push-up that both target the upper body, performing this can obviously strengthen your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

According to B.K.S. Iyengar, the venerable founder of Iyengar yoga, sustaining a handstand itself requires you to have stronger upper body muscles. What more if you are performing handstand push-ups.

The overhead shoulder pressing strength is roughly equal to doing shoulder press using weights with an added balance component.

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

Being in an inverted position means that blood will rush to your brain. An 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 reduces 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 on maintaining 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 gravity.

Simply put, you are putting more work into 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 more 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.

Read more on how to push yourself every time: 📍7 Methods of Progressing in Calisthenics

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.  Open to more advanced calisthenics skills 🤸

📍Many advanced exercises share the same mechanics and muscle requirements similar to the HSPU. When you master this movement, it means that you already have excellent upper body strength and full-body control.

You can then transition to more advanced variations or to other skills such as the planche which also require a high level of shoulder pressing strength.

Download here for the: 📍Ultimate Planche Guide

6. Significant back pain reduction🤕

Being upside-down 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 relieves back pain.

Although, this is not advisable for someone who has high blood pressure and glaucoma since blood will be rushing to your brain. Before implementing exercises in your workout, seek professional help first.

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 flush out the toxin build-up from the muscles that cause tension and stress.

Perform a handstand push-up, and it will enable your body to rehydrate the discs, reduce nerve pressure, realign the spine and relax the tense muscles, which definitely reduces stress.

8. Build boulder shoulders and arms💯

While barbell and weight training can be an excellent choice for developing hypertrophy, bodyweight training has an answer for overhead pressing development.

The handstand pushup can be integrated into your workouts so you can build bigger muscles, especially with your shoulders and arms. You can always focus on the wall-assisted variation so you can train more reps without having to think about balancing.

Pike push-ups with feet on the floor or elevated can also help further build those boulder shoulders and massive arms.

Since the balance component is out of the equation, it will be easier to perform the exercise and rep out for 📍maximum bodybuilding potential using only bodyweight.

9. You can do it anywhere, anytime🎯

What we love about bodyweight training and this exercise is that you can train it for free without any other equipment.

All you need is a sturdy wall then you are ready for your training.


📌Frequently Asked Questions:

🔎When should I do the Handstand push-up in my workout?

Since this exercise is high-intensity, you would want to perform this first or at least your first pushing exercise in your workout. There is a high demand in terms of strength and skill so you need to be fresh every attempt. Keep them as your priority in your training structure.

🔎Can I replace handstand push-ups with an overhead barbell press?

The standing barbell overhead press has a really good strength transfer to handstand push-ups because of the similar upper-body muscle activation and movement pattern. However, if you want to learn the handstand push-up, you can’t solely rely on the barbell overhead press.

The weighted press can be used to supplement strength development towards the handstand push-ups, but specific work on HSPU is required for mastery. Body control isn’t a factor in the barbell press.

🔎Is handstand push-ups really necessary?

If your goal is to build strength and muscle, then YES! Handstand push-ups are vital for shoulder development, especially if you’re learning towards learning calisthenics skills.

If you’re not into building a high level of pushing mechanics, then at least work on your pike push-ups which are technically a handstand push-up variation.

Don’t skip this exercise if you want strong and healthy shoulders!

🔎How can I build muscle with handstand push-ups?

When 📍building muscle, the freestanding handstand push-up can be disadvantageous. The balance component can somehow limit your potential to put enough training volume for shoulder development, especially when fatigue sets in.

For muscle-building purposes, you can opt for the pike push-up or wall-assisted handstand push-up to eliminate the balance factor so you can make more reps.


📌To wrap up

If you can’t do a handstand or even push-ups, that is totally fine. You can check out our fundamental course on The Movement Athlete Academy.

Take the free assessment so we can provide you with 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.

1 Comment

  1. James Lee Welsh

    Well Sir I am 60 years old and I exercise regularly I do the handstand pushup with my feet against the wall and I can tell you I live in a community of men who’s only exercise is their job and you can tell by looking at their waist line, I work at a sawmill where I stack lumber and blocking for 8 hours a day and still make time after work to exercise.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Blogs