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Conquering the handstand pushup: Part 2


As previously covered, wrist and shoulder mobility are absolutely crucial for handstand pushups. But let’s be real: even with good mobility, you’re not going to be jumping straight into a handstand pushup on day one. Instead, you need to perfect other exercises to ensure that you have the strength and control necessary to perform the movement safely. Here are Training Expert John Kennedy’s 3 exercises to get you well on the way to the perfect handstand pushup.

#1: The slow motion Jackknife

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Jackknives lay the groundwork for your handstand stability. You need to have a strong core in order to maintain a solid handstand. Jackknives train the “hollow body position”, which is a common move that gymnasts use to perfect their handstand technique.

For the “hollow body position” you need to lay on your back with arms and legs extended. Press your lower back flat against the ground while lifting your arms and legs whilst activating your core. Ensure to keep your lower back flush against the ground at all times.

Start practicing this by doing a slow motion version of the jackknife. Begin by extending your arms and legs and bringing your lower back flush against the ground. Once this “hollow body position” is established, bring your hands and feet together in one slow and controlled movement. Exhale on the way up and push your ribs down. Come back slowly while maintaining the “hollow body position”.

Go for 5-10 reps for 3 sets. If you struggle with this, just hold the “hollow body position” for 5-10 seconds for 3 sets. Once you can do this, the handstand will become much easier. Make sure to keep working on your core strength and “hollow body position” throughout your handstand progressions.

#2: Step up your Pike-Game

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The closest exercise to a handstand pushup is the pike. If you’re already very strong at regular pushups, then pikes are a great way to progress to your first HSPU.

Try to keep your elbows in close to protect your shoulders and get some help from your lats. Aim to create tension with your hands by gripping the ground and spreading the floor.

Go for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. If you struggle, just decrease the range of motion for now and try to increase it with time. If pikes are easy for you, elevate your feet slightly to make it more challenging.

Exercise #3: The Wall Handstand Hold

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Hold the handstand position with your back and legs against a wall. Establish the “hollow body position” and hold. Aim for a 5-10 second hold for 3 rounds. Progress by increasing the time under tension in the Wall Handstand Hold. This is also a good opportunity to practice the entry into your handstand, which is called the “kick-up”.

Once you can maintain the Wall-Handstand-Hold with perfect form for 30 seconds and for 3 rounds, you should start with the handstand pushup. Begin by bending your elbows and work in a small, but safe range of motion for you. Work on increasing the range of motion over time until you get your first full handstand pushup.

Let's recap:

Taking the time to practice the technique and gain the necessary strength to conquer your first handstand pushup will have benefits in the long term as you’re able to execute this advanced move with exemplary form. Work diligently on these 3 exerciseS and you’ll be executing the perfect handstand pushup in no time.