Handstand pushup can be intimidating. Fear of getting upside down, lessen shoulder strength, inability to control body weight, are few reasons which make it intimidating. Yes, they look cool. People who are able to attempt them successfully will also claim that they even feel better after doing it.
However, attempting it successfully requires pure athletic flow. Performing a smooth and solid handstand push-up requires ample strength, control, and balance. It is an elite category move and a challenging one too. This exercise has significant benefits for the upper body muscles, but will also leave you with balance and spatial awareness. You will learn to control your body weight in a vertical position, not just static but throughout the range of motion. Gaining such physical abilities will be useful for any fitness routine. Yes, they are tough to perform, but the benefits are worth going for it.
This insane exercise requires incredible shoulder strength and control over the body. You must be able to maintain the balance throughout the range of motion. The entire stress is loaded on the shoulder to execute the press up and down movements.
In this segment, we will discuss the strength required to attempt handstand push-ups, the technique involved in executing it, the benefits of handstand push-ups, and how to build the required strength if you don’t already have it.
How To Do A Handstand Pushup?
It requires years of practice and patience, a lot of sweat and determination to get the act perfect. But how will you get perfect, if you don’t try them out? So first things first. Make sure you have the following things before attempting freestanding handstand push-ups.
1. Incredible shoulder strength.
2. Powerful core and body balancing abilities.
3. High upper body strength and control.
If the answer is yes, you are more than ready to attempt the freestanding handstand push-ups. And here are the steps to perform it.
1. Kick your feet up, in a freestanding position. Create balance and stability.
2. Your hands should be shoulder width apart. Squeeze the glutes, thighs and abs muscles.
3. Now, lower yourself towards the ground and as far as possible.
4. Push yourself back in the original position and repeat.
However, what to do if you don’t have the necessary elements in yourself for attempting the freestanding push-ups?
Handstand Pushup Progression
Well, don’t worry. You can try to build them step by step, attempting different progressions based on the comfort level.
1. Pike Push-ups
If you are a beginner and want to build some shoulder strength, pike push-ups are exactly what you need. It will also give you the feel of upside-down position while building the shoulder and the back. Get your confidence high with the pike push-ups and gradually move forward to the freestanding push-ups.
2. Modified handstand push-ups
If you are comfortable doing the pike push-ups, the next progression towards the freestanding handstand push-ups is modified handstand push-ups. Push your feet against the wall and hands on the floor. Your body should be at the right angle or in a 90-degree position. This will help you strengthen your upper body and get used to the range of motion.
3. Handstand push-up using a wall
The next in line is the handstand push-up using the wall as a support system. This will surely give you the feel of the freestanding push-ups. Get yourself upside down, and place your feet on the wall as a support. This is quite similar to the freestanding pushup, discussed above. The difference is that you’re using the wall as a support.
Once you feel comfortable doing the handstand push-up against the wall, you’re ready to try the freestanding handstand pushup.
Muscles Used In Freestanding Handstand Pushup.
The handstand push-ups mainly work on the shoulder, chest, back and the arm muscles. These four muscles carry the maximum weight of the body and are responsible for maintaining a good form and balance. It also improves the deltoids, latissimus dorsi, and pectoral muscles. Your triceps also receives enormous force and thus enhancing its overall ability.
The freestanding handstand pushup cover major muscles of the upper body region, thus improve the overall balance and stability of the posture. It also increases the strength of your core muscles.
Precautions While Attempting Handstand Pushup
Safety first, Muscles later
The body can be at risk when you are in an upside down position. Being in the downward direction, blood also flows upside down and straight into the head. However, the human body lacks the ability to push it back up. Thus, it is recommended not to be in the upside down position for long periods of time.
Also, make use of a softer surface when attempting freestanding handstand push-ups. If your balance and the stability falls out, you might fall face flat, thus increasing the chances of getting serious injuries. To avoid such instances, attempt the exercise on softer surfaces, like using a floor mat.
Be Stable – It is important
The freestanding handstand push-ups aren’t just about shoulder strength and muscle contractions. The erector spinae and the abdominal muscles also play a crucial role in stabilizing the body – must definitely be engaged to avoid the collapse of the torso or the hips.
Your trapezius and the scapulae provide support to the spine and neck while performing the full range of motion in upside down position. The biceps and the triceps keep your elbow straight during the exercise, which provides stability and balance.
If you are able to attempt the freestanding headstand pushup rather comfortably, you can always increase the complexity of it.
Make use of props to get an increased range of motion and added difficulty. These basically are the advanced variations of the headstand push-ups, where the range of motion is increased by lowering yourself down between two props. These props can be a parallel set of bars, a set of block and basically anything that provides you rigid support to you lower the head down and pass through the hands.
How Many Is Enough?
This question is always tricky. You are never too sure when to stop pushing yourself. In the quest of attaining the goal quickly, people often push past their limits and end up damaging their muscles. However, the answer to the question is really simple. Exercise only so much that your body is able to take it. Don’t push. And certainly, don’t rush yourself into it.
If you don’t have the necessary strength required to attempt the freestanding headstand push-ups, start with the progression exercise discussed above. Keep working them and gradually move towards the final goal. Build yourself to success, rather than damaging your muscles in the quest to attain the unattainable.
If you’re a beginner, attempt the pike push-up and the modified handstand push-ups initially. Build some shoulder and core strength with it and then progress towards the handstand push-ups.
If you’re an intermediate, who have the required strength and balance, try the headstand push-ups along the walls. Try doing 2 – 3 sets of 7 – 8 repetitions. If you feel comfortable proceed towards the freestanding headstand push-ups.
If you’re advanced level athletes, increase the difficulty and range of motion by using the props. Attempt 2 – 3 sets of 8 – 12 repetitions in the normal headstand push-up. If the body is able to maintain the balance and stability, increase your range of motion.
Handstand push-ups vs. Regular push-ups
In regular push-ups, chest muscles are used, and thus they are the one mainly affected by the exercise. However, in handstand push-ups, the primary muscles used are shoulders and back. The handstand push-ups require more core strength as compared to the regular push-ups. The shoulders strength required in handstand push-ups is immense. Also, in handstand push-ups, your entire body weight is moved. Thus the stimulus on the muscle is considerably higher as compared to the regular push-ups. In comparison, headstand push-ups help you build more upper body strength in comparison to the regular push-ups.
It is no secret that the headstand push-ups are quite difficult and intense. This feat still remains unattainable for most people. But there is no reason why you cannot accomplish it. Yes, it can be intimidating, but unless you have a shoulder injury or serious physical issues that prohibit you from attempting handstand pushup, there is no reason why you can’t achieve the unachievable.
No matter how unbalanced your body is, how weaker your shoulders are – you can always work on them and build it stronger and stable. It is even okay if you don’t know the right technique towards it. Learn and grow. No one had broad shoulders and powerful upper body muscles overnight. Those who achieved it, they all took their time and did it at their own pace. The important thing to remember is that they tried. They did not give it up, thinking it is impossible and not for them. You won’t know if it is for you until you try.