A handstand push-up is exactly what it sounds like, and as with the push-up and pull-up, you'll need to learn it, bit-by-bit. In her video, Nia Shanks, coach and owner of Lift Like a Girl, shows you the exercises to help you work up to one. The handstand push-up is like a bodyweight overhead press. It works out your shoulders, traps and triceps. Plus, the balancing part places a high demand on your core and lower body to keep from tipping over, and even your fingertips to maintain a steady base. You'll need to start small, which includes first getting really strong at regular push-ups. Then:
- Pike push-up: Shanks demonstrates two methods: The first and easier way is to keep your feet on the floor and form an upside-down V with your body. Slowly lower yourself and use your shoulders to press. Once you can comfortably get to a couple sets of 10 reps, you can try elevating your feet on a sturdy surface, like a chair or table. The higher your feet are elevated, the harder it gets.
- Wall-assisted handstands: This helps you get comfortable with being inverted. Shanks does handstands against a wall and recommends that you work toward being able to hold this position for 60-75 seconds for a few sets.
- Negative handstand push-ups: This is the descending part of the handstand push-up, and the idea is to slowly lower yourself to a count of three, reset and do it again. Aim to comfortably do about five reps of these for several sets before finally attempting a full handstand push-up.
The big caveat here is that handstand push-ups are very unforgiving if you don't have the proper strength and shoulder health to do them. I recommend that you practise this when you're fresh (not at the tail-end of an exhausting workout), have a wall to lean against and/or have a buddy to help hold your legs.
Shanks, who's already built a solid strength base, said that it took her six to eight weeks, doing each progression multiple times a week, to eventually get to a full handstand push-up. Focus on your own progress at your own pace!
How to Perform Handstand Push-Ups for the First Time [Nia Shanks]