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Handstand Pushup Variations

handstand pushup variations

Handstand pushup demonstrated by Logan Christopher of Lost Art of Hand Balancing

 

The handstand pushup is an advanced hand balancing skill that demonstrates shoulder strength, scapular mobility, and a proper challenge to those who are willing. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’ve already achieved the handstand pushup, and are looking for something a bit more thrilling…some handstand pushup variations.

(Note: these handstand pushup variations aren’t only for the advanced trainees. In fact, variation 2 and 3 helped me to achieve my first HSPU, so don’t be afraid to try something new!)

 


Variation 1 : Lateral Handstand Pushup

Well first, what would be the benefit of exploring different handstand pushup variations? Without the variations, there is still sufficient opportunity to progressively improve the intensity of the HSPU and get stronger with each turn. With the variations, however, comes the opportunity to increase all-angle strength in your training.

For instance, while the basic HSPU does a lot to strengthen your shoulders, traps, and scapular elevation, this lateral HSPU variation trains scapular protraction, retraction, and upward rotation. In addition, as your mobility increases, you can slow down and exaggerate the lateral movement to emphasize your one arm handstand balancing skill.

 


Variation 2: (Elevated) Backbend Pushup

Furthermore, your posterior deltoid has a critical role in your handstand stability, as it is the primary shoulder hyperextensor. One of my favorite handstand pushup variations to train for developing that strength is the back bend pushup.

The back bend alone is a powerful stability exercise that, with isometric tension, can provide incredible strength. The integrated strength, posterior deltoid strength, and scapular mobility that you can build from the back bend pushup will do wonders to strengthen your HSPU. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, elevated your feet by putting them onto a wall.

As I said, this exercise was a huge part of the reason I was able to develop the strength and range of motion for the HSPU.

 


Variation 3: Handstand Walking

Walking and Jumping On Your HandsWalking and Jumping On Your Hands on Amazon

Often times as kids, we have an easier time walking in a handstand than we do holding a stable handstand. However, having the strength to walk in a handstand position without compromising the integrity of your form can develop your technique, strength, and mobility fairly quickly.

This is one of my favorite handstand pushup variations to couple with the lateral HSPU, because it does the same work to progressively improve balancing strength on one arm, but has a much sharper focus on the shoulders and triceps because…well, you’re walking.

When you’re searching to advance not just in strength but also in skill, especially with hand balancing, be sure to add some fun and variation to your training, and you’ll be sure to see some results. Be sure to let us know in the comments how these variations help you, or if you’ve tried them before. Finally, if these do improve your training skill, be sure to share!

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Handstand Pushup Benefits

Handstand pushup benefits are many. Some might even call it one of the greatest exercises ever invented.

  1. Strengthens the triceps, shoulders and chest
  2. Strengthens many stabilizer muscles
  3. Requires coordination and balance
  4. Can be an effective muscle builder
  5. Provides the benefits of inversion
  6. Its an impressive skill few people can do
  7. Can be handled very progressively

HSPU Benefits

Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups
Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups on Amazon

Handstand pushups strengthens the triceps, shoulders and chest

The triceps are the muscles on the backs of the upper arms. They are used in extending the arm at the elbow. The shoulders or deltoid muscles are used in raising the arm overhead. The chest or pectoral muscles primarily bring the arms forward. Depending on how much arch is used in your handstand pushups, you can use these muscles more or less.

With different variations of these exercises you’ll emphasize or downplay these muscles to different degrees. But these aren’t the only muscles in use…

Strengthens many stabilizer muscles

In order to keep your body overhead you need more then just the prime movers to be firing. For example, the lats, the big muscles on the back, will be used to stabilize your body in air. In fact, a number of people have reported their pullup numbers going up just from doing handstand pushups.

Part of the reason for this is covered in the next point…

Requires coordination and balance

The handstand pushup requires more coordination and balance then handling a similar weight in the military press for instance. While this isn’t to say that a barbell doesn’t take any coordination or balance, any handstand position simply takes more. Just remember the first time you kicked up into a handstand against a wall. Chances are you weren’t quite sure where your body was in space. And this is doing a handstand against the wall, not even in the open.

So while the balance isn’t a huge part of this move, it is in there. There are many people that can push a barbell equal to their weight overhead but don’t have the coordination necessary to do handstand pushups.

Can be an effective muscle builder

Handstand pushups are a good exercise to build muscle. When done for higher reps, you can certainly add size to your shoulders and arms especially. They may not equal a barbell in gaining mass for one simple reason. As you’re adding muscle you’re gaining weight, and that is going to make this exercise harder, as opposed to any weight lifting exercise.

Full Range Handstand Pushup

Handstands provides the benefits of inversion

Inversions are known to provide a number of benefits by themselves. This can be something simple like a headstand but handstand pushups certainly count. These benefits include reversing the flow of gravity, which can relax the muscles (not likely in this exercise) but also to add in circulation.

You can read more about the benefits of inversion here.

Its an impressive skill few people can do

This may be the most important benefit of handstand pushups. When you can do these effortlessly you are in a class above most people. This skill can be made much harder in a number of ways too, which will make it even more impressive, like doing full range handstand pushups, one arm handstand pushups, or doing them freestanding.

If you’re looking to impress your friends, family or a member of the opposite sex 🙂 it’s worth a shot to improve your handstand pushups.

Can be handled very progressively

Unfortunately many people believe that the handstand pushup is just one exercise with not much variation in it. This is far from the truth. Did you know that just changing the position of your arms can dramatically change the difficulty of this exercise? The same is true with your head position too.

There are also other methods like doing partials that can make this exercise suitable for just about every level. For a whole lot more on progressing with handstand pushups click here.

Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups

We’ve covered seven different handstand pushup benefits here and there are even more. But you won’t get any of them if you don’t DO the exercise. If you’re not doing handstand pushups already start adding them to your routine. If you are, I’d love to get your comments about them below.

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