The hand stand is a very dynamic bodyweight exercise which allows you to develop not only excellent strength in your upper body but also tremendous balance and body control. One of the great things about bodyweight training and calisthenics is that it promotes perfect mobility and control in all your athletic movements as well as developing phenomenal functional strength. The hand stand push-up progression captures this spirit and philosophy of bodyweight training perfectly well. Due to the precarious positions given in this progression, we must encourage that you exercise optimum care when attempting.
Step 1 – Wall Headstands
Carefully place the top of your head on the floor along with both of your hands at the foot of a wall and put your feet up in the air until they are resting on the wall. Use your feet on the wall to stabilise this position and gain balance as the exercise prepares you for the act of balancing in the rest of the progression. This exercise requires being held for 2 minutes. You may have to keep attempting to work your way up to the 2 minutes but this will only help you for the rest of the progression
Step 2 – Crow Stand
Balance on your hands and rest your knees on your elbows. This exercise gives the sensation of balancing on your hands unsupported without giving you the difficulty of supporting your body in an upright position. This is good preparation for the difficult exercises ahead. Work with this exercise until you can comfortably hold for 1 minute.
Step 3 – Wall Handstands
This exercise gives the sensation of balancing on your hands while your legs are upright in the air. Place your hands on the floor at the foot of a wall and put your feet up in the air until they are resting on the wall. Use your feet on the wall to stabilise this position. Work with this exercise until you are able to comfortably hold for 2 minutes.
Step 4 – Half Handstand Push-ups
By now you should be able to balance on your hands unsupported but if not, make sure you practice this as the precarious position makes in dangerous to attempt if you cannot. Move into a handstand position and let your elbows drop only slightly before pushing back up. Your head should not touch the floor and you should remember only to bend your arms slightly as this exercise is a soft introduction to the sensation of pushing up while balancing on your hands.
Step 5 – Handstand Push-ups
Adopt the same position and the same exercise as before, but allow your elbows to bend slightly more and your head should be closer to the ground. Please note that your head should at no point touch the ground in these exercises.
Step 6 – Close Handstand Push-Ups
Adopt the same position as the last exercise, but turn your hands inwards and bring them together so that your fingertips are almost touching. Allow your elbows to bend until your head is near to but still not touching the floor. This exercise gives the sensation of pushing up from a narrow base as you work towards a one-arm handstand.
Step 7 – Uneven Handstand Push-ups
Use an exercise ball for this exercise and put one hand on it while balancing in the handstand position. You may have to practice balancing in this position before you attempt to perform a push-up. With your hand that is on the floor, allow your elbow to drop and push back up with the same arm. Use your other arm on the exercise ball to help maintain balance and help you push up if you need to.
Step 8 – Half One-Arm Handstand Push-ups
By now you should be attempting to balance on one hand unsupported. Make sure you practice this before attempting to push up. Now in this position begin to let your elbow drop very slightly before pushing back up, similar to the exercise in step 4.
Step 9 – Lever Handstand Push-ups
This is a very difficult exercise to explain in this progression, and is quite unsafe without proper instruction. Let us turn to Francesco Vaccaro for some help:
Step 10 – One-Arm Handstand Push-ups
This is by far the most difficult exercise of the progression and it would be very impressive if you reached this stage. Balance on one hand and allow your elbow to drop until your head is brushing the floor before pushing back up. A very difficult progression this is and it would be amazing if you could manage to complete it.
With this insane strength gained, see some of our other progressions for a new challenge.