Handstand push ups are one of my favorite bodyweight exercises.
Got a guest post for you today from my friend Logan Christopher on 8 great reasons WHY they are so awesome – and why you should be doing them!
8 Reasons to do Handstand Pushups
by Logan Christopher, author, the Ultimate Guide to Handstand Push Ups
Handstand pushup benefits are many. Some might even call it one of the greatest exercises ever invented. On that note here are eight reasons you should do them …
1 – Handstand pushups strengthen 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 …
2 – Strengthens many stabilizer muscles
In order to keep your body overhead you need more than 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 …
3 – Requires coordination and balance
The handstand pushup requires more coordination and balance than 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.
4 – 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:
5 – 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.
6 – 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 add in circulation, even clearing mental cobwebs as oxygen supply increases to the brain.
7 – Wrist strength and flexibility
The typical handstand position requires the hands to be bent back 90 degrees. This serves to build both strength and flexibility throughout the wrist. Fingertip strength increases because of how you’ll grip the ground during the pushup too.
Of course, many people lack the wrist flexibility to safely do this exercise without pain. This covers great ways to sidestep this issue as well as build up your flexibility:
8 – Handstand pushups are 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. 😉
Great stuff Logan!
Thanks for sharing with FVT readers.
If you want all these benefits and more, make sure to check out the Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups here. There’s a special discount on this page only:
I’m off to go practice my handstand push ups!
– Forest Vance
Certified Progressive Calisthenics Instructor
Master of Science, Human Movement