Building Animalistic Strength With Handstand Pushups

Today's Guest Writer is my good friend and the Renaissance Man of Physical Culture himself, I give you  Logan Christopher, enjoy everyone....


Handstand pushups are one of my favorite all time exercises. They happen to also be one of the very best exercises you can do. They can be used to build truly unbelievable levels of strength, and they’re not bad in the muscle building department either.

Here’s the problem. Most people can’t even do them. I know I certainly couldn’t when I started training. The handstand pushup was one of my first major goals when I got serious about bodyweight training. I could hold a handstand against the wall but if I tried lowering to my head I came right down.

In this article I’ll be showing you the most simple way you can progress from not being able to do handstand pushups at all, all the way to the full range style.

Let me also say this. There’s a certain very popular book, and rightly so, that has a progression towards a one arm handstand pushup. This is great, except that the move has never been achieved in the form promoted in the book. While moving to one arm works for many things, I think you’re much better off going to the full range of motion in the handstand pushup.

Hold a Handstand

For this progression we are only going to be doing one thing, and that is altering the range of motion. In the handstand position you should be quite strong. I’d say that you should work up to at least 30 seconds holding a handstand against a wall before you even try to work on handstand pushups. Some people may be able to do this right away, and others will have to devote some time to it.

Because your arms are locked out in the handstand you’re relying more on bone structure to keep you in the handstand, rather then strength. But as soon as you bend the arms you throw that weight onto the muscles of the arms and shoulders.

Quarter Handstand Pushup

Now what we have a good handstand position we’re going to start the first partial handstand pushup. Take a stack of books under your head. A pile of phonebooks work great. But any object which you can raise or lower the height will work.

You want to position this stack right under your head. When you kick up into the handstand you’ll lower a couple inches until your head touches the books then you press back up. If you’re going too far that you can’t press back up add another book.

Half and Three Quarters Handstand Pushup


If this is easy and you can crank out reps then you can lower down further. Try handstand pushups with half the range of motion to the floor. When that’s easy go for three quarters the range of motion. You’re almost there.

Regular Handstand Pushups



The regular handstand pushup is when your head will come to the floor. The truth is this is still a partial range of movement. Some people even call this a headstand pushup because you do come to a headstand position. Still with each range of motion increase these pushups become harder and harder.

When you’ve hit the ground and can press back up you’re at a major milestone and can say with confidence you can do handstand pushups but there is further to go.

Handstand Pushups on Handles

For the next step I typically use some form of pushup handles. The reason is that these extend the range of motion to the next step. They’re also more stable then trying to now use the phonebooks to raise your hands as they could slip out. A pair of heavy kettlebells work or any pushup handles. If the increase in distance is too much, again add phonebooks under the head to lessen it.

Be forewarned. The sticking point in pressing for almost everyone is right around this level. That means this move is going to be dramatically harder then the regular handstand pushups. Of course when you master this movement you’ll be that much stronger.

Full Range Handstand Pushup



Now it’s time to move onto the last step where you actually press up your entire bodyweight along a full range of motion. For this I usually use two chairs placing my hands flat against them. If you had a parallettes these would work just as well.

Again you can take this position and also place the books under your head to make steps in between. But you may find the bottom of the press isn’t as hard as the sticking point we just worked through.

If you follow through on working these different ranges of motion in the handstand pushup as the main method of progression you will eventually achieve them all. The vast majority of people alive cannot do a regular handstand pushup let along one that is full range. Of course, there are further steps you can go from there but this is more then enough to get you started.

Logan Christopher is the owner of Legendary Strength and Lost Art Of Hand Balancing - If you want much more information on this exercise be sure to check out The Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups.
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