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Have you just stumbled upon this exercise and wondered to yourself ‘how many handstand pushups is good?’
Out of the many exercises available, handstand pushups seem to intimidate people the most. After all, you are standing on your head, which is not the most comfortable of positions. Many people mistakenly believe only gymnasts can complete this exercise. The truth is, you can do it with a little practice!
I’m here to let you in on a little secret. It doesn’t matter how out of shape you are or how much arm strength you are lacking, you CAN do a handstand pushup. Yes, YOU can! These pushups are not as difficult as they have led you to believe.
The only people who cannot and should not do handstand pushups are those who have shoulder injuries. These pushups put all the focus on your shoulders, so do not attempt them if you are injured in any way. Also, make sure to stop if they cause you pain.
So here are the most common questions we get about handstand push-ups.
Table of Contents
- Are Handstand Pushups Harder Than Pull Ups?
- Will Handstand Push-Ups Build Big Shoulders?
- How Many Handstand Pushups Is Good for a Beginner?
- What Is a Good Alternative to Handstand Push-Ups?
- Can You Do Handstand Pushups While Pregnant?
- Can You Do Handstand Pushups Every Day?
- Handstand Pushups: Elbows in or out?
- What Are the Benefits of Handstand Pushups?
- Incorporate Handstand Pushups in Your Routine
Are Handstand Pushups Harder Than Pull Ups?
Pull ups and handstand pushups are both highly effective exercises that should be included in every workout, but which is more difficult?
The answer to this question is not as cut and dried as you may think.
If you are doing a traditional pull up, you are going to need upper body strength to pull your chin above the bar. As a beginner, a couple of pull-ups quickly got my heart pumping. I have always found handstand pushups easier than pull ups because:
- Handstand pushups use more muscles than pull ups. Your entire back, chest, and arm muscles are involved with a pushup, versus mainly your arms and shoulders engaging with a pull up.
- A pull up is harder than a handstand pushup because you have no body support. A handstand pushup offers wall support, unless you plan on doing freestanding handstand pushups. That will have to be discussed in another article entirely.
- You also have to have a much stronger grip strength when carrying out a pull up. You do not need any grip strength when doing a handstand pushup.
Besides upper body strength, handstand pushups also help strengthen your core muscles.
Will Handstand Push-Ups Build Big Shoulders?
In the world of calisthenics, there are very few exercises that are going to give you those big shoulders you seek. Handstand pushups are definitely one of them.
Handstand pushups are much harder than traditional pushups. These exercises lead to hypertrophy, which is what you need for big shoulder muscle development.
The reason handstand pushups create such big shoulders is that almost your entire body weight rests on the shoulders. Of course, if you do them against a wall, the wall supports a small percentage of your body weight. The wall will not negate your shoulder muscle development.
When you first start doing handstand push-ups, you are going to find you may not do many of them. Do not feel bad if you can only do a half set or less. You may not go as deep as you would like either, but this will come with time.
Pro Tip: When incorporating handstand pushups in your routine, always do them first. If you wait until you are fatigued because of other exercises, your shoulders could become injured because of weakness.
How Many Handstand Pushups Is Good for a Beginner?
Many people want to know how many handstand pushups is good. The amount of handstand pushups you can do depends on where you are currently in your strength training.
Many would say that being able to get one strict handstand pushup is a good achievement for a beginner. If you can do two to three, then you’re strong and anything above three, and you’re doing very well.
But remember, we’re talking about strict here, and not kipping by kicking your legs or moving any other part of your body to use momentum.
What Is a Good Alternative to Handstand Push-Ups?
If you do not want to try handstand push-ups, there are alternatives.
I still say just about anyone can do a handstand pushup with focus, but not everyone feels confident carrying out this exercise, especially when they first start with CrossFit. Consider the following alternatives you can implement in your workout routine.
Burpees are tough, but seem more attainable for some. This exercise combines two exercises. You first perform a push-up, and then you leap in the air. Burpees burn massive calories and work your entire body.
Planks are also a suitable alternative to handstand pushups and can be accomplished in different ways. For a plank, you will lie on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders. Keep your hands flat on the floor. Slowly raise yourself until your body is in a straight line. Hold this position as long as you can.
The Inverted Row
With an inverted row, you are going to use a bar. You can do the inverted row while standing or lying down. Place your hands around the bar in the position where your fingers are opposite of you. Use the bar to pull yourself up when lying down. This exercise is integral in preparing for a handstand pushup or a pull-up.
Can You Do Handstand Pushups While Pregnant?
Aside from the question of ‘how many handstand pushups is good?’, whether you can actually do handstand pushups if you are pregnant is common.
If you are pregnant, I do not recommend you do a handstand pushup, though I’ve seen plenty of women do them successfully. You should avoid exercises that could cause a fall.
If you are determined to do a handstand pushup while pregnant, do not attempt them after the first trimester. To be completely safe, ask your OBGYN before participating in any inverted exercises. The following are some of the reasons you should not do handstand pushups while pregnant, especially in the third trimester.
- Your circulation system changes during pregnancy, and you can become lightheaded easily. During a handstand pushup, the blood will rush to your head and could cause you to lose consciousness.
- Because your body is upside down during a handstand pushup, there is a risk of falls. Although you could try to fall without hitting your belly, the risks are just too high.
- Handstand pushups put a lot of pressure on your abdominal wall and could cause pre-term contractions and labor.
Can You Do Handstand Pushups Every Day?
Handstand pushups are one of the best exercises you can do for your body. I highly recommend you do them daily. There are people who do a 100 a day, but this is not for everyone.
When you first start, you may only be able to do one or two, but you will soon begin doing more as you gain strength. I started out with a goal of ten a day and added one extra each day until I could do one-hundred.
No matter how many handstand pushups you do, try to do them daily. These pushups will get your heart pumping and give you increased muscle strength in your arms and shoulders.
Doing these exercises daily takes a concerted commitment, and I’m not saying they will be easy. I promise you, though, they will be worth it!
Handstand Pushups: Elbows in or out?
You can do handstand pushups with your elbows in or out, depending on which you find more comfortable. Keeping your elbows out is going to allow for better balance, making handstand pushups much easier.
If you keep your elbows in, you will probably find doing a handstand pushup becomes more challenging. When I keep my elbows in, I find I can do fewer reps than if I keep my elbows out.
If you want bigger shoulders and triceps, I highly recommend keeping your elbows in. Just remember to try both and see which one you can do effectively. Both ways are going to seem foreign to you at first until you grow accustomed to handstand pushups.
What Are the Benefits of Handstand Pushups?
We’ve all seen people do handstand pushups. Whether you do them freestanding or against a wall, there are tons of advantages. This exercise is one I incorporate into my routine every day, no matter what. The following are some of the benefits you can experience.
- Obviously, you are going to develop tremendous upper body strength. Almost your entire body weight will rest on your shoulders and arms. This is an exercise that can help you get those arms ripped fast.
- In addition to upper body strength, handstand pushups also help strengthen your core muscles. Engaging your core protects your spine and can help you prevent injuries to your back.
- It surprises many people to learn that handstand pushups also strengthen your glutes. During the handstand pushup exercise, you use your glutes to keep your body upright. In fact, it’s one area you are going to feel right away when you come down from a handstand pushup.
- These exercises also increase your body awareness and improve your balance.
Incorporate Handstand Pushups in Your Routine
If you’ve been shying away from handstand pushups because you think they look impossible, you are not alone. I once felt the same way. Once I got over my fears, I realized I could do them, and you can too!
Just remember to practice your form first. It takes a little effort, but you will get the hang of them quickly. With so many benefits, handstand pushups are going to be an exercise you want to master.