Train your chest, shoulders and triceps whilst improving balance and challenging the core with the impressive display of strength that is the Handstand Press-up.
- Primary Muscle: Shoulders
- Secondary Muscle(s): Triceps, Chest
- Difficulty: Advanced
- Also known as: HSPU
How to do handstand push-ups
The handstand press-up is an impressive exercise to witness and an excellent demonstration of balance and strength, especially when you're at the stage where you can perform it unassisted.
The exercise primarily targets the chest, shoulders and triceps but the core and back muscles are challenged by stabilising the body.
To perform the handstand press-up:
- Position yourself a few inches away from the wall and kick into a handstand, using the wall for support where necessary.
- Slowly lower yourself under control to the ground.
- When your head touches the ground, press yourself back up to the starting position and repeat.
Beginning the handstand push-up
The handstand push-up can be a tricky exercise for the beginner and you'll probably need to perform it against a wall for stability. First, master the static handstand and develop the balance and coordination skills necessary to hold the handstand for a reasonable length of time, at which point you should be ready to develop the necessary shoulder strength for the actual handstand press-up.
To build strength to perform the press movement try lowering yourself slowly towards the ground and working in negatives. Drop your feet back to the floor, kick back into the handstand and repeat.
It can also be effective to stop yourself at various points throughout the descent, holding the position and when reaching the bottom attempting to press yourself up short distances. With practice you will be strong enough to lower yourself fully to the ground and press back up to the starting position.
Band assisted handstands
Many people have had great success training for the handstand using resistance bands, as pictured below.
This method ensures that you don't rely on the wall too much for support and helps to develop the necessary balance and agility for a free-handstand hold.
Advanced handstand push ups
Over time, as your stabilising muscles become stronger and your balance improves, you may be able to perform the exercise without the need to use any assistance. This is known as the free-standing handstand push-up and should be the ultimate aim of the exercise, that few people accomplish.
Weighted handstand push-ups
If you are particularly good at handstand press-ups and want to introduce added intensity you can try the exercise whilst wearing a weighted vest for an additional challenge.
Handstand push-up variations
Also see the following related exercises to the handstand push-up:
Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise