How To Do & 6 Progressions Handstand Push Up

how to do handstand push ups
Handstands are fun.

Handstand push ups are tough. They require confidence kicking up to the wall, stability and technique to get into the proper position, and hella strength to be able to do reps of them.  Today I will walk you through:

  • How to kick up to the wall and do 
  • Master the form
  • Handstand push up progression (Shoulder strength, kipping and strict)
  • Mobility exercises so you can get into the proper position

How To Do A Handstand Push up

  1. You will start this exercise in the handstand position with feet up against a wall facing away from the wall. 
  2. Lower your head down to the bottom of the handstand push up position in the “tripod” position: 
  3. Initiate the negative by bending your elbows and slowly lowering your head down towards the mat your body and head should move down flush against the wall until you reach the bottom 

How To Kick Up To Handstand Position

If the handstand push up is a goal of yours and you are still working on getting confidence to kick up to the wall check out these drills here:

  1. Handstand Kick Up Drill 1 – start to gain confidence kicking up
  2. Handstand Kick up Drill 2 – start kicking up to the wall
  3. Handstand Kick Up Drill 3 – start to feel the balance of being off the wall

If you like to have structure, drills, and exercises to improve your skills we do this for all of our programs. You can check out everything we have to offer here

Handstand Push Up Progressions

This is where the magic happens. You have to play the long game here, know your goals, and gradually increase the difficulty over time.The handstand push up is a vertical pressing exercise and we want to master the basics of that first.

Level 1 – L Sit Press – when you are trying to build strength and work towards a handstand push up these need to be heavy to get the same training stimulus. Press fast, and control the weight down to really emphasize the tempo. \

Level 2 –  Pike Push Up – this is a much more difficult exercise. We are starting to work on the “tripod” pushing strength that will be necessary once we get upside down.

Level 3 – Box Pike Push Up With Deficit – same movement as level two but now put your feet on a box and maybe even your hands on some dumbbells to increase the range of motion required. 

Level 4 – Negative Handstand Push Up – in order to get stronger you have to master the eccentric phase of the lift. Tempo work matters. Control down work on perfect positioning. The problem most people have when trying to improve their handstand push up or pull up strength is:

  • They aren’t establishing enough time under tension
  • Not getting enough variety in different positions
  • Not following an effective program that will progress them and just keep trying to do the same things over and over and expect to have change. 

In order to get stronger it’s going to take potentially a few months of just hammering home negatives. Don’t skip this level and try to bounce to the next one quickly. 

Additional Ideas For Negative Handstand Push Ups 

  1. Increase the tempo
  2. Increase the reps
  3. Add a deficit
  4. Add a weighted vest
  5. Control down and kip up

Level 5 – Banded Handstand Push Up – you built up the strength and control lowering down now we can begin to work on your strict pressing strength with the help of the band. These will be fun and give you confidence that your handstand push up is coming. 

Level 6 –  Kipping Handstand Push Up – we only want you to perform these if you have already mastered the control of the negative handstand push up. We don’t want you crashing down on your neck and spine here. 

How to do a handstand push up takes strength, dedication, persistence, and patience. Work hard through these different levels and your handstand push up will come. 

Mobility Exercises To Improve Your Overhead Position

The better mobility you have the better position you can establish. Every workout program should have tailored mobility and stretches that will help improve your positioning for the workout of the day.

Spend 60 seconds to 2 minutes performing these mobility exercises the next time you do handstand work or even pressing work and you will feel so much better. 

  1. T Spine Opener With KB or Barbell – free up your thoracic spine mobility and this will unlock the doors for you.
  1. Pec Smash – tight pecs will make it hard to go overhead. 
  2.  PVC Lat Stretch – this is a hidden secret
  3. Med Trap Smash  – this one hurts but it will free you up

Don’t avoid mobility. Something is better than nothing. Start small, maybe just one exercise before you start, or five minutes, but it has to be done if you want to improve.

Sample Handstand Push Up Workouts

These are sample segments pulled from our programs. Enjoy 🙂

Workout 1:

For Time:

  1. Run x 800 meters
  2. 30 x Handstand Push Up (Choose the appropriate level from above)

Workout 2:

15 Minute AMRAP

  1. 5 x Handstand Push Up (Choose the appropriate level from above)
  1. 10 x  Strict Pull Up – if you struggle with pull ups check out this blog here
  1. 20 x Jumping Lunge

Handstand Push Up Progression Workouts

Skill Work Add On 1

Every 2 Minutes x 6 sets

  • Perform as many reps as possible in one set
  • Rest the remaining time until the clock hits 2:00 then repeat.

Skill Work Add On 2

Complete reps of:

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Rest x 2 Minutes

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 

Rest x 60 seconds

4, 3, 2, 1,

  • Rest as little as possible between your descending pyramid reps


Now you know the levels and different progressions to crush handstand push ups. Spend time working on mobility, do some skill add ons, and get plugged into a good training program.  

Comment below with which progression you found to be the most helpful and let us know what your goal is!

how to do handstand push up
Your coaches Kevin & Katie

Related Post:

  1. Master The L Sit – strengthen your core and everything else will improve
  2. 3 Things I Wish I Knew About Fitness 5 Years Ago

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