April 30th, 2012
by Mike T Nelson · Filed Under: Strength
One thing I have been working on over the past several months is more body weight training and this includes hand stand push ups. When I started, even putting my head down caused me to be dizzy and feel horrible. Now I can do elevated partial hand stand push ups and getting closer to a full handstand and then a full hand stand push up.
Today I have a guest article from Danavir Sarria on this very topic. Take it away……
How To Do Your First Handstand Pushup by Danavir Sarria
There aren’t many things that will make you look any more athletic than standing on your hands and repping out a couple of pushups with the grace of a gymnast.
The problem with handstands pushups are that their hard, extremely hard. For a lot of people it will take months to get your first handstand pushup down. Personally, it took me about 3-4 months to get my first full rep with my feet against the wall. I was so excited that I attempted a second rep.
I made it to about a quarter way down before I had to bail. This was a couple of months ago and eventually I got to 5 full reps before stopping all handstand training once I couldn’t use my same old space to do it.
Now I’m here to tell you how I did it.
It’s all about progressing to a harder version to build strength, stability, getting used to the movement as it takes time getting used to the blood rushing to your head and above all staying safe as one thing you will have to get over is the fear of staying in such a position for an extended period of time, so here we go.
Pike Pushups – Work Up To 3 X 12
Start with the Pike Pushup. This position will introduce you to the vertical push movement while having your head in a good position to handle the blood rushing through. Keep progressing from workout to workout until you’re able to complete 3 set of 12
Elevated Pike Pushups – Work Up To 3 X 12
Once you can complete the Pike Pushups, elevate your legs to put more weight on your arms and again help you handle the blood rushing. Work up to 3 sets of 12 as before.
Walk Up Wall Handstand Hold – Work Up To 2 X 1 Minute
\Now it’s time to get on the wall. As every time I have to get someone to just do a regular handstand against a wall, they always get scared so I always tell them to start by walking up against the wall to get into position and practice doing that first. Do the same and hold that position for 2 sets of 1 minute each.
Wall Handstand Hold – Work Up To 2 X 2 Minutes
This time around, you want to do a regular handstand. It takes courage for some people to do this so take your time but eventually you will have to get over it and just do it. Hold it for 2 sets of 2 minutes. It’s going to suck but it will help you get ready for the next one. (Mike’s note, some people find a good transfer from holds and some do better with moving into the position and out and then on to the next step at even ¼ instead of ½)
Wall ½ Handstand Pushups – Work Up To 2-3 X 5
Now let’s add some handstand pushups going halfway down. You’re going to be glad you did all those handstand holds because it’s going to be tough. Work up to 2 or even 3 sets of 5 reps.
Wall Handstand Pushups – Work Up To 1 X 1
After everything, you will be more than ready to get your first full rep in. It won’t be easy and it’s going to feel like a LONG way down after doing partials for so long but you will get it in. Just try it out once. If you can do it, keep working on it and if you can’t, work again on some partials and try it again later when you feel ready.
Couple of Programming Points
Handstands and other forms of bodyweight training is gymnastics. It is as much about strength as it is about skill. Just like with other sports, you need to practice hard and practice often. If you want to get better at basketball, do you play once a week or do you try to go out as much as possible and work on your shot? Even if you’re not good, you’ll eventually get something out of it due to sheer perseverance.
Perform When You’re Fresh
Always perform your most important and hardest exercises at the beginning of your workout. After your warmup, go straight to whatever variation you’re working on at the time. If you leave it at the end of your workout, then you’ll never be strong enough to progress.
Never Max Out
There is no need to max out unless you’re testing for something specific and on my recommendations; it doesn’t happen until you test if you can do a full handstand pushup. With handstand training and just about anything else, always opt for sub-maximal loads or loads where you can do 2-3 perfect reps or higher.
Now How To Bail
Practice getting into and OUT of each position safely. This will allow you to relax more in the position and decreases the risk of injury.
Conclusion: How To Do A Handstand Push Up
It’s going to take a long time before you do your first full and explosive handstand pushup, but with perseverance and a smart program you’ll get there. Once you get it down you’re going to be the biggest bad ass on your block.
Bio: Trainer of the warriors, Danavir is a writer, trainer, consultant and martial artist who loves everything performance or regular fitness training. He writes over at www.DanavirSarria.com. Head over if you want no B.S training information and bring out “the warrior from within”.