You probably think that standard push-ups are for everyone, whilst handstand push-ups are only for gymnasts and bodybuilders. While it is true that a handstand push-up will require you to exert a lot more muscles in your body, with practice, you can definitely do it.

Handstand push-ups are pretty extreme but their effectiveness is incredible. Unless you have a misplaced shoulder, a back injury, or severely weak wrists, there's nothing that should stop you from trying out this exercise. The key here is to be careful and start slow. It takes some people years to master it, but you get a lot of perks out of the process with each training session.

What muscles do handstand push-ups work?

handstand push ups

Handstand push-ups benefit your whole upper body. Your arms, your lower and upper back muscles, your shoulders, and your chest get a fantastic boost.

The biggest strain this workout puts on are triceps. During a standard push-up, your arms hold around 60-70 % of your body. With handstand push-ups, though, you get nearly 100 % of your body weight down on your arms. That probably is the most effective way to strengthen them without any equipment.

These parts of the body are much more often neglected in training than the legs. They are also much less often used in everyday activities. So it's a tremendous way to give your upper body some love.

How to get started?

Even though they might look out of your league, you should not hesitate. If you do this step-by-step, cautiously, and mindfully, nothing will stand between you and success. Besides, it's definitely worth a try, because when you get better at this skill, you will feel cooler than ever and look badass to anyone who sees you training.

A great way to start building up your strength is doing pike push-ups. Assume downward-facing dog position while keeping your core tight and engaged. Start by bending your elbows and lowering your upper body till you are inches away from the ground.

Keep your elbows to your sides. Then push yourself up, assume the original position, and repeat. 10-15 reps per training session will do just fine. After a while, you can try doing the same thing, only this time start with a one-legged dog position.

After you get comfortable with these exercises, you can proceed with a modified handstand push-up. Place your feet onto something slightly above the ground. If you're not working out at the gym, a coffee table will do. Do the same kind of pivoted push-ups and strengthen your core and upper body.

After a while, you can step onto a chest of drawers. This way climb your way up with a support of a wall. Use it until you get into a straight upside-down position and are able to do headstand push-ups with a relative ease. Yes, it will take some time, and maybe a very long time. But until then, enjoy this amazing exercise while feeling safe and protected by the wall behind your back.

Many athletes do it like this indefinitely, and it's a perfectly good way to do it. Freestanding headstand push-up might not be an option for you and doesn't need to be your goal. So be kind to yourself and don't forget to be proud of your inevitable progress.

Written by Audra Bajori
Audra is a writer, an ethical vegan, a compulsive self-experimenter and health-hacker, who plans on living for at least 100 years. She's also a cinephile,...
View all articles