Handstand Push-Ups

Not all exercises are fun. Not all exercises are easy. The Handstand Push-up features a little bit of fun and a whole lot of difficulty.

With its origins in yoga, this movement has become a stable of hardcore bodybuilders and eventually made its way to the Crossfit community. Crossfit embraced the Handstand Push-Up as a powerful way not only to shape the body and build muscle, but also to bring the fun and flashiness that Crossfit is so famous for highlighting in its workouts. It’s also widely used in gymnastics, where it is part of not only training but athletic performance as well.

The Upside Down

Even just the idea of inverted exercises is novel. Traditional fitness normally keeps the body either upright or parallel with the floor. By turning everything on its head, the Handstand Push-Up works the body in new ways that are challenging, but it also tweaks the fun a bit.

Inverted exercises offer benefits that are different than other exercises. The additional blood flow to the brain and upper body muscles stimulates both thinking and muscle growth. However, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Small lengths of time staying upside down are great for the body, but extended periods can be detrimental. After all, we’re not made this way!

While there are a lot of benefits to inverted exercises, they do carry a risk of injury. For this reason, if you’re new to Handstand Push-Ups, it’s a great idea to do it against a wall or to have a spotter nearby.

Just What It Sounds Like

The Handstand Push-Up is exactly what it sounds like it is – a Push-Up from the handstand position. Think of it as the exact opposite of a squat. 

  • Place the palms on the floor, six to twelve inches away from the wall and just a little wider than the shoulders. Palms are forward, turned out slightly.
  • Kick off the floor and push up to a handstand with the back against the wall. 
  • Keeping the body midline, hold the core in tight and extend that tightness up through the legs. 
  • Bend the arms with control, lowering the head until it touches the mat, then extend back up to the starting position. 

Doing this exercise properly is absolutely essential for safety. Beginners should start out slowly. 

Work Up to It

If you’re struggling with the correct form at the beginning, try the following to get going.

  • Donkey kick exercises 
  • Hold a handstand, either against the wall or free and away from the wall.
  • Wall walk up and down the wall repeatedly. 
  • Have a support person hold your legs while you perform the exercise. 

Working up to the full Handstand Push-Up is how most people get this exercise right. Almost no one does it perfectly from the outset! Taking it slow is perfectly ok, as this exercise uses muscles that are not usually used by the body. Not only that, but the inversion is a major challenge. Patience and diligence are the keys. 

This exercise improves strength, balance, coordination and control. It works the triceps and deltoids, as well as engaging the core. 

This is an exercise that’s worth working towards. Though it can take a long time to get there, the benefits are tremendous.

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