T Nation

Handstand Pushups

Mike Mahler, Warrior Spirit, Nate Dogg, anyone else. What is the preferred method of doing handstand pushups: facing the wall with hands as close to the wall as possible or facing away (the way furey shows in his video with feet at a 90 degree angle)? Does it matter? Thanks,

Face AWAY from the wall. That way you can see what you’re going to fall on when you lose your balance… and maybe avoid it.

I’ve done both. But I prefer when I’m facing away. That makes it easier to “kick up” so that you can rest your feet against the wall and then do pushups.

I have done both and prefer facing away. You can get closer to the wall. Also, Have your legs straight up the wall and get closer than Matt does on his video to increase the difficulty. Great exercise that I will be doing a lot over the next three weeks as I will be in Uganda and will probably not have access to any weights.

Uganda??? What’s up with that? I guess it ain’t no KB workshop.

Without the wall is best

Quick question. How much weight should I be able to lift overhead before starting to practice handstands and ultimately handstand pushups? I would guess that you would need to be able to press your body weight before you could do handstand pushups. But how about handstands against the wall, maybe progressing to walking handstands. I’m asking because I’m a little weak upper body (but gaining quickly in strength), and I need a goal weight. Thoughts, anyone?

I weigh in the 145-150lb range (at 5’4"), and I usually do standing overhead presses with 95lbs for sets of five. I’ve never really tried doing more than 125lbs overhead (unless doing jerks), and I can easily do handstand pushups for 6-12 reps depending on if I’m doing them routinely or not. But I’ve noticed that once I try to use pushup bars or something to give me more elevation, I can only do 1-2 reps in the handstand pushup. So in that case, I probably need to be pressing bodyweight or more overhead.

To answer your quote, I’ll just throw this out there: BW=175lbs, Max Strict Military=195lbs, Max Handstand Pushups=20. That’s just my case, but I don’t believe you have to be capable of a strict military with bodyweight before beginning with this exercise. As Nate said, you’d have to be stronger if you used pushup handles.

Thanks, guys. Upper-body strength has been a personal goal of mine, and handstands/pushups would just be a seriously cool exercise. Like anything, at a certain point you just have to jump in an do it because no matter how badly it goes in the beginning, it will only get better.

Great numbers on the strict military press, Ike! I have a ways to go to get to BW.

Thanks, I’ve been semi-formally prioritizing military for the last year now. 1/6 and Wave loading have helped immensely. To a degree it’s come at the expense of my bench, but… the tricep strength carries over to both, and I prefer overhead pressing anyway. :slight_smile:

I agree, though, about jumping in with these handstand pushups. I found they increased my overhead pressing strength immensely! As in, 20lb increase in a month. Very cool.

Before I started practicing handstand pushups, I used to practice holding handstands or walking on my hands. That will also help you get used to being in that position and build some of the static strength required to do handstand pushups. Besides, it’s a nice party trick when you can walk on your hands or do a handstand pushup from a tripod position. And it makes you seem more athletic like the old-time strongmen that routinely did acrobatics as part of their routine. If I could go back in time, I would have stuck to gymnastics, as my body would probably be best suited to that. And it would be cool to be able to do all sorts of gymnastic movements with ease at any time. And who knows, maybe I could have been one of those guys you see in Circue du Solei performing all those cool moves!

not meaning to hijack but how good are those cirque de solei guys i saw alegria about a year ago - awesome

That was a serious question, what is the story with your trip to Uganda?

I’m not certain, but I think Mike’s parents live in Uganda and he’s visiting them.


I have been a gymnast for years, so I hope my info will help. Post me if you want to know more. It is primarily about ‘body conditioning’. Teaching the body in a series of progressions how to do a new skill. This is how we usually progress to a basic handstand assuming you are starting from scratch. If not I can help you on the next stage.

  1. Try a headstand with a wall behind you and of course place some thing soft under your head. Then hold it, hold it. Repeat until you can’t do any more. This will strengthen your stomach and back at it’s basic level. You will also get used to being upside down.

2)Attempt the headstand again, this time without the wall. If you have mats in the gym
great, use them. I would also want someone to spot your feet. You would stay in this position as long as possible. When you are confident enough to try it on your own, do so. You will further stengthen your back and abs as you are now balancing un-assited.

  1. Next your ready to condition your shoulders. You will need boxes of various heights or watever you can get your hands on. We usually start from the floor in a push up position. Just hold it with your weight on your shoulders, hands griping the floor with your fingers. Then get a higher box and do the same thing. You will feel more and more stress on your shoulders, the higher the boxes get. Hold it until failure and repeat. Keep your abs tight and your legs together. Keep going higher until you are practically in the handstand position. You will feel how it stresses different parts of the shoulder.

Now you have conditioned your body and trained it to be in a strong ‘static’ positions. Kicking up against a wall into the handstand position and holding it, then repeat until failure should be rather easy. You will find just doing this will exhaust your shoulders/traps. Don’t let your body sag, stay tight in the midsection. Later try doing the same thing without the wall and without moving around to much, pick a center on the ground and concentrate on staying there, time yourself. Try to beat your best time and good luck. Usually from here the progression of walking on your hands is relatively easy. Handstand pushups are somewhat harder. My trainer used to make all of us race each other on the hundredmeter track doing handstand walks, back flicks and a variety of skills. Exhausting but ulimately fab training.

Anna, what a fabulous, comprehensive and incredibly helpful post! I’m copying this thread and adding it to my workout book. The depth and diversity of those here on T-mag never ceases to amaze me.

I agree, TT. That post kicks ass Anna. I’m definately going to employ that progression toward getting some unsupported handstand pushups. Thank you!

You are very, very welcome chaps!