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How To Perform Handstand Push Ups

By Lee Hayward

What if I told you that there is a simple exercise that you could do that would pack on solid muscle mass to your shoulders. Dramatically increase your pressing power and functional strength. And this simple exercise would only take 15 minutes per week. It doesn’t cost a cent, doesn’t require any exercise equipment, and can be done practically anywhere... would you be interested?

Well there is such an exercise and it is the handstand push up. This is one of the best exercises that you can do for building functional strength and muscle mass throughout the entire upper body. You can consider the handstand push up to be the equivilant to the barbell military press or shoulder press.

Handstand Push Ups

However, one major advantage that bodyweight exercises (such as handstand push ups) have over traditional weight training exercises is that they move your entire body in a real 3 dimensional environment. Exercises where you move your entire body through space are much more demanding and provide a greater level of nero-muscular activation then exercises where you just move your limbs. That is why squats are harder then leg presses, pull ups harder then pull downs, and handstand push ups are harder then shoulder presses, etc.

Handstand push ups work all 3 heads of the deltoids, the upper chest, the upper back, and the triceps heavily. Secondary stress is also placed on the core muscles of the mid-section and the forearms from balancing and supporting your body.

With a regular push up you are only lifting about 60% of your bodyweight, but with a handstand push up you are lifting 100% of your bodyweight. Due to the difficulty of the exercise, beginners should start off just practicing getting their body in the handstand position with their feet supported against a wall. And gradually work up to holding this position for 30 seconds or more.

Blood pressure to the head can be a problem at first, but the body will get used to it overtime. A great thing that you can use to help get yourself used to being upside down is an inversion table. There are a lot of health benefits to using an inversion table and they are getting more common. You can usually get them at any major department store in the exercise equipment section.

Inversion Table
You can use an inversion table to help your body become adjusted to being upside down.

Once you are comfortable holding the handstand push up position for at least 30 seconds. Start doing partial range of motion reps, just slightly bending your elbows and locking them out. Work up to doing a couple sets of 25+ short partial pumping reps.

Once the partial reps are easy to perform, you can gradually start going deeper into your handstand push ups, eventually touching your head to the floor at the bottom of each rep. Work up to doing sets of 10+ full range of motion reps, touching your head to the floor each time.

Below you can check out a quick 2 minute video clip demonstarting how to get into position and perform handstand push ups. Make sure to turn up your speakers so you can hear me explain the exercises.

Sample Handstand Push Up Workout Progression

Note: you have to be in pretty good shape just to be able to get into the handstand push up position. If you are not strong enough to get into position, then simply work on performing regular push ups on the floor and build up your strength gradually overtime.

Prior to each workout warm up your shoulder by doing arm circles, some regular push ups on the floor, and rotator cuff rotations. You can check out my rotator cuff workout article for some examples.

Week 1:
Every second day practice getting into the handstand position and just holding yourself up at arms length. Perform 2-3 sets and work up to doing 30 second holds.

Week 2:
Every second day perform short, partial range of motion handstand push ups. Perform 2 sets and work up to doing 25+ reps per set.

Afterwards finish off with a 30-60 second static handstand push up hold at the top.

Week 3:
Every second day perform 2-3 sets of 25 reps. The first 20 reps should be short partial range of motion pumping reps, and then for the last 5 reps try to go deeper.

Afterwards finish off with a 30-60 second static handstand push up hold at the top.

Week 4:
Every second day perform 1 set of 25+ short partial range of motion reps. This is kind of used as a “warm up” set. And then perform 2 sets of as many full range of motion hand stand push ups as you can do, touching your head to the floor each time.

Afterwards finish off with a 30-60 second static handstand push up hold at the top.

This is a basic beginners guide to handstand push ups. There are several different variations that you can incorporate into your workouts as you become more advanced. Such as doing them facing away from the wall, doing them free standing, doing them with your hands elevated on blocks to increase the range of motion, etc...

If you would like more tips on how to improve your upper body strength and muscle mass, then you should check out the newly revised 2008 edition of the “Blast Your Bench” program.

The “Blast Your Bench” program will help you build solid strength and rock hard muscle mass faster than you ever thought possible... In fact by following this proven training system you could literally make better gains in the next few weeks, then most guys make in an entire year.

Blast Your Bench - How To Add 51 lbs. To Your Bench Press In 3 Weeks

"Gained 100 lbs. On His Max Bench Press!"
Shawn Wilson At the age of 32 I decided to get back into weight lifting and started searching websites for benching programs and squat programs as my max bench of 205 was pretty shabby. I came across the Blast your Bench and Blast your Squat routine and was skeptical at first.
Well after months of working out with no real gains I decided to go ahead and purchase the Blast your Bench program. After 3 weeks I was amazed to see that I gained 30lbs in my max Bench! I then moved straight to the Blast your squat routine and went from a 305 Max squat to a 385 Max squat in 3 weeks also! I was amazed at how well these two programs worked!

Since using your program and the other articles on your website for my lifting I've gained 17lbs of lean muscle mass and lost 6lbs of fat. I'm 5'9" and was 180lbs but now I'm 192lbs, which has been solid muscle gains!

Needless to say, thanks Lee for the Program. The bonus is my wife has commented on how much larger my chest and arms look as well as my legs!

Updated: April 15, 2008
"After finishing up my second time through the Blast Your Bench program I decided to re-test my one rep max. I warmed up and then started doing singles with 265 which felt light... moved up to 275, 285, and then said what the heck God, lets go for 305. I put that one up too with somewhat ease. I could have added more weight but wanted to stop to simply play it safe and just be overly ecstatic... here I was somehow putting up 305 when my previous max bench press back in November 2007 was 205."

Shawn Wilson
Winnsboro, TX

Click Here To Download Your Copy Of The "Blast Your Bench" Program...