How To Do Handstand Push-Ups (HSPU) With 4 Simple Progressions

There’s always one movement, or in my case several movements, that are extremely challenging and that require more time, effort, and consistent work to nail down and become proficient at. The handstand push-up is one of the best foundational strength movements, that will build more functional strength and core stability which can translate into other movements, such as hand-stand walks and overhead or press movements. We’re going to talk about the fundamentals and how to master the handstand push-up or more commonly known as HSPUs.

What Is The Handstand Push-Up (HSPU)

Handstand Push-Up (HSPU) is an advanced functional strength movement, which stimulates and emphasizes your shoulders and midline/core stability. HSPU is done by kicking yourself up against a wall into an inverted position, and performing a push movement, by lowering yourself and head in close proximity to the floor, then pushing back up using your shoulder strength and core stability. The movement is performed using your own bodyweight and is often found in functional training, gymnastics, or bodyweight training modalities. 

Benefits Of Handstand Push-Ups (HSPU)

Upper Body Strength

The handstand push-up can greatly benefit your upper body strength in your shoulders, triceps, and core. As a pressing movement, HSPU has many of the same strength benefits, as an overhead press, or military press, in which your shoulders are the primary focus in pushing or pressing the load.

Core Stability

Another benefit of the HSPU is core stability and strength. The HSPU focuses on the core to stabilize your body when in the inverted position, placing more emphasis on bracing your midline and therefore developing better stability and strength. The HSPU is a form of calisthenics, therefore it requires proper balance and stability. A stronger core is required for bigger, heavier barbell movements, as well as protecting your body from injury and maintaining proper posture.

How To Handstand Push-Up

Before we can get into how to do a handstand push-up, you must know that this movement requires a great deal of shoulder strength. Therefore, learning proper progressions to build foundational strength and stability will be important before mastering a strict handstand push-up.

  • Facing a wall place your hands 6-12 inches away from the wall, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Make sure your palms are facing forward and slightly turned out 10-15 degrees.
  • Kick up into a handstand, with your heels against the wall.
  • Once you’re inverted, steady yourself maintain control, and brace your core.
  • While maintaining this position draw in your naval and take a deep breath in, tightening your core, and lower yourself until the top of your head touches the ground, keeping your elbows at a 45 degree angle.
  • With your core tight, let your breath out and push your hands against the floor keeping good posture and pushing yourself back up to starting position.

Handstand Progressions To Strengthen And Develop Strict HSPU

The HSPU is an advanced movement. It requires a great deal of shoulder strength and core stability. If you can practice some basic progression movements when you’re first starting out, you will be able to develop and build the foundational strength you need to perform a strict HSPU.

1. HSPU Negatives

Negatives can be simply thought of as performing one rep of the movement, in a slow controlled pace. All you need to do is kick yourself up into the starting inverted position. Lower yourself at a slow controlled tempo, until your head touches the ground, then kick off the wall and start again. This will help you get comfortable in the inverted position as well as build more strength in your shoulders.

2. Handstand Holds

Handstand holds are exactly what they sound like. Kick yourself up into the inverted starting position and simply hold yourself in that position for 30 seconds to one minute at a time. DO this for 5-10 reps. This will also help you establish a good kick up, hand position, and strength in your core and shoulders.

3. Wall Walks 

Wall walks are a commonly practiced and programmed movement in CrossFit. Lying flat on the floor with both hands at your side, push up into push-up position, and start by placing one foot on the wall, and “walking” up the wall, whole also walking your hands closer to to the wall, as you go higher. When you reach the top of the movement and you’re inverted into handstand push-up position, walks your hands back out in front of you, and feet down the wall, until your chest hits the ground, back in starting position.

4. Z Press

Z press is a common exercise used in high-intensity functional training, that focuses on your shoulders, traps, and core to build more strength for overhead movements and mobility. The Z press starts with the weight in a front rack position, elbow pointing forward and feet together. Strictly press the weight vertically with a neutral wrist to a fully locked out position overhead.The shoulder should be actively shrugged into the ear with the wrist stacked directly above. Slowly lower the weight back to the front rack position and repeat.You can incorporate these into your warm-up routine on days that push presses are programmed.

Handstand Push-Up: Takeaway

The HSPU is a beneficial and effective foundational strength training movement. It can help you develop more upper body strength and core stability, which can translate to everyday activities, and improved movement, playing with your kids, grabbing the groceries, and further enhancing athletic performance. 


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