Handstand Pushups

Those of you who have been following the threads know that many of us are embarking on Matt Furey’s Combat Conditioning as part of our fitness regime. One of these bodyweight exercises is handstand pushups. Even though I said I was gonna hold off for a while, I decided I’d throw them in my routine yesterday as per Mike’s suggestion. Well, I must have the shoulder and triceps strength of Britney Spears because I couldn’t even get one. Not only that, but I couldn’t even hold the handstand positition. Got the headstand down though. Anyway, I was hoping you had some suggestions on what to do. Thanks, and keep training!

Warrior, it’s a lot tougher than people think. Luckily, I always play around and hold handstands or walk on my hands for fun. Recently, I was able to do 8 handstand pushups with my feet against the wall. I actually try to barely touch my heels to the wall just to keep stable. I started out only being able to do four about three weeks ago. So you can improve quickly. I am also doing them about four days a week. If you can’t do any, you will just want to do the handstand pushup against the wall and just hold the position as long as possible. Matt recommends doing that if you can’t do any. Keep working hard, and you’ll notice improvements quickly!

Damn, Nate Dogg, you’ve got a good memory. Yeah, like I said in the previous post regarding these pushups…it is strength, but also a matter of the neuro. adaptation; you have to teach your body to get used to the movement. You’ll get it…just make sure you do these before your workout if you’re doing shoulders or tri’s or else forget about it.–Rosheem(aka Matt B).

WS, if you aren’t CRASHING down, I would recommend doing negatives down to a folded towel. Let your feet come down, kick up again, and do another. If you have NO control on the way down, though, please don’t do this, yet. Stick with Nate’s suggestion of just holding yourself up in a handstand. On a side note, stunting (tossing girls around over your head) for 3 years in college as a cheerleader REALLY helped me on this exercise!

Nate bro…how long did it take you to get one? I am trying them, and I can hold myself up, but thats about it. I know it took me about 3 months to learn how to do a kip-up along with a lot of landing on my ass…so this should be just as humorous!!

Nate, can you do these in an open area or do you always use something to help you keep your balance? I want to start doing these but I can’t even military press my own bodyweight so I know I’m not even strong enough to do these monsters(let alone worry about the balance issue). I am going to do something of a westside program to help with this. On shoulder day I’m going to do 60% of my military press max for 8 sets of 3 then try to do eccentrics in the handstand pushup. I hope this can get me to where I want. Good luck guys.

Just to add to all the good advice already given. If you are able get a buddy to spot you it can really help. In a way it’s kind of like upside down pull-ups if you can get a spotter to hold your feet and maybe even support you some as you focus on negatives you should start seeing some progress. Let us know how it works out for ya.

Jeremy i just started cheerleading thursday. I am sore as hell and its saturday. My abs are tore up from doing tucks. I got toss to hands on my second try. the coach said that was really good and it takes some people a month to do that. how was your experience cheering. im seriously thinking of doing it.

Warrior, Dustin gave great advice about using a spotter. Not only can they help with balance, but they can also help on the CONcentric if you can’t do that yet. ryan, I couldn’t do body weight military presses to save my life, but I can do 10 handstand pushups without a warmup (I’m not saying that’s smart, by the way).

Goldberg, man, cheerleading is one of the most fun things I've done in my life (rock climbing ranks WAY up there, as well). I don't even know where to start. I guess I'll start with saying that I was in the best shape of my entire LIFE when I was cheerleading. 2 hour workouts, 5 days a week, plus a game or two made me into a monster. Second, with the exception of gymnastics, I can't think of something that uses the ENTIRE body as much as stunting does. The coordination, strength, power, and balance necessary to excel will create an amazingly functional body. I give glory to God for my success, but let me give you some numbers. At 5'8" (with shoes), 173-5 lbs., I could dunk a volleyball (34" vertical). After 1 week of deadlift training (I had done squats for about 1 year), I maxed on deadlift at 425 (got this from tossing-to-hands - think of the motion and you'll understand). My bench press was 305 because of all the overhead pressing (my partner weighed 130-135, and we'd do overhead stunts 20-40 times each workout)). My bodyfat would range from 8-9%. Again, I truly and sincerely give glory to God - I don't want to appear cocky. Anyway, in ADDITION to all that, you have the confidence factor, learning the value of being on a team, learning to TRUST and BE trusted with someone's life (catching a girl coming down in a prone position from a 15' basket toss that you just threw), etc. I highly recommend it.

Oh yeah…dear LORD there are a LOT of babes!

Whopper, I was able to do four when I first started. I think I was able to do that because of the fact that I mess around every once and a while and do handstands or walk on my hands. So I had enough strength from doing that. Ryan, I haven’t been able to do them unsupported at this time. I always use a wall, and try to barely keep my heels or toes against the wall for support. When I can do 15 like this, I will begin trying to do them without support. In fact, MILO has been running articles on hand balancing recently. And it has shown some other exercises to do to prepare for this stuff. Jeremy, sounds like you made out quite well with cheerleading! Cool deal bro!

Nate, it was a blast, man! What’s great is it’s like riding a bike. All I have to do now (6 years later) is find someone willing to stunt. Spend 5 minutes with her to learn her timing and style, and then start stunting!

dude it sounds like it would definitely be worth my time. Everything you said made sense. I cant wait to do it again.

Nate, where can I find back issues of milo? My shoulders never grow and are always weak so I want to try something different. Thanks.

Thanks for all the advice. I’m going to start trying stationary handstand holds, when I can hold the position for a while, I’ll switch to negatives. I’m also going to give the spotter thing a try. Assisted handstand pushups, sounds like fun!

Ryan, go to the website “ironmind” and you will see a listing for all their products. MILO is their strength journal. You can order all the back issues. You can’t read them online, but they do list the articles in each issue. If you want stronger shoulders, John McCallum wrote an article in the June 2000 MILO about the behind the neck press.

He recommends doing it standing with heavier weights on a 5x5 set/rep scheme. The first two sets are progressively heavier warmups. The last three sets are your working weight with as much as you can do for five reps. When you can do all three sets for five reps, it’s time to increase the weight. After this he recomends doing the one-arm dumbell press for a few sets of 8-12 reps in addition to lateral raises. He also stresses the importance of keeping your body as upright as possible and not using any back bend. This will give you awesome delts and strength. You can also do presses to the front. I’ve done them in the past when I competed in Olympic lifting. They will make you quite strong. As for doing handstand pushups, if you can’t do a single rep, start getting into the position and holding yourself as long as possible.

Thanks Nate. I’m going to add stationary holds at first then negatives and work up to doing them exclusively.

I GOT 2! wahoooo! I didn’t honestly believe I could get any. I did them by using “push-up handles”(those little stands that let you pre-stretch on a push-up) due to a mildly sprained wrist. I don’t know if the handles helped, but they were DAMN comfortable.

Wassup, Fellas, you combat-conditioning sumbitches! Just playin’. These are really some great, challenging exercises, thanks for bringing them to my attention–I’ve been messing around with the squats, back bridges and handstand pushups.

Now, I don’t know if I’m just a plain ol’ weak sausage or what, but I’m having some difficulty with the pushups. I can do a headstand, no problem, but I can’t for the life of me get into the handstand position (arms extended, head off the floor). Am I doing something wrong, or is just my level of strength (or lack thereof)? Thanks, guys.

Infinity, that’s a great idea. I have some of those pushup bars. Something like that would allow you to get more range of motion, which means they will be harder and you’ll get stronger! I’ll have to try doing them that way tonight. Timbo, my man! Looks like you might need to start doing a handstand against the wall and just try holding the position as long as possible. When you can hold for three minutes, then it’s time to start actually doing some reps! You can do it!!!

I found handstand pushups very challenging in the beginning. LIke some of the others, I could not evern get into a handstand let alone hold the position. However, I just got determined and spent several hours working on handstands and getting comfortable in the postion. Finally, I was able to do one and man was it hard. However, as Nate Dogg stated you progress rapidly. I was up to 8 by the end of the next week and 15 after two weeks, then 25 after a month. At that point I increased the range of motion bu using two stools that took me about 6 inches off the floor. Once again, it was hard as hell and I could only do one. I recently worked up to 8 and then decided to increase the range of motion once again by using two chairs. That was hard, however I was able to do a few the first run out and last night I did 5. Great stretch. However, be careful on this one as it can damage your shoulders. Looking back, I realized that I had the strength to do handstand pushups as I am pretty good at shoulder presses, weighted dips etc. IT was just a matter of getting used to the position and being comfortable in it. Also, make sure that your arms are extended when you get into a handstand. Once there, take a deep breath and hold it all the way through the first rep. THis makes a HUGE difference and keeps your body tight. Also, just have your toes tap the wall rather then your feet firmly against the wall.