Whether you’re naturally comfortable getting upside down, or it doesn’t particularly light you up to get inverted, Handstand Push-Ups can feel rather elusive. It makes sense to press overhead when you’re right side up, but does it ever feel like as soon as your feet get over your head you lose all sense of body awareness? I get it- I’ve been there! It actually is totally normal to lose your bearings when you get inverted, because your internal balance system is also turned upside down. It’s not as hard as you might think to work up to that Handstand (against the wall or free-standing eventually!)- it just takes patience and practice- much like many things in life worth having!
If you’re just beginning this inversion journey, there are a few things you might want to consider before going from right side up, to upside down.
First is shoulder strength. Are your shoulders (and wrists) strong enough to support your bodyweight in your hands? This is a huge prerequisite. If you’re strong enough to support yourself, that’s the first part of that battle! Without the prerequisite shoulder strength, there are some things that need to be addressed prior.
01. BUILD SHOULDER STRENGTH
DB Strict Press:
You can try seated on the floor or on a box, but you want to first work on this strict press prior to getting upside down- this will help ensure you are comfortable and prepared to support yourself!
DB Overhead Hold:
Holding the DBs overhead allows you to feel where the weight sits on your shoulders (close to how it will feel to support your bodyweight).
Neither of these have to be super heavy to start, but your goal can be to work up in weight as you develop comfort getting upside down in the next portion!
Second is comfortability inverted. Is your body prepared to get upside down? It can be a pretty big jolt on the body to go directly inverted, especially for the first time ever! The good news is that your body remembers the position the more you practice, so while the first few times it may feel scary, it gets better, easier, and less stressful over time (sound familiar? :P).
02. Adapt To Getting Upside Down:
With your hands and feet on the floor, send the hips up and back so that your body ends in a pike position. Practice holding here and trying to get as much weight in your hands as possible.
Box Handstand Hold:
With your hands on the floor, and your knees on a box, practice getting as much weight in your hands as possible. Once you're comfortable with your knees on the box, go ahead and raise up to your toes on the box, hands on the floor.
Getting upside down is only half the battle. You also need strength (again!) in the form of midline stabilization (that means keeping your belly tight!). Similar to a Barbell Strict Press or Push Press, there is significant demand on your midline (aka your core- the whole center section of your body) to remain stable and secure throughout the movement. Without that tension, you will not be able to as effectively complete the movement.
03. Develop Midline Strength and Stability in the HSPU:
Handstand Holds against the wall:
Can you feel the weight shift to different parts of your hands as you engage your core and let it loose?
Nose to Wall Hold:
From a Wall Walk, walk the feet up the wall until just your toes are touching the wall with your nose almost touching. Once again, can you feel the weight shift to different parts of your hands as you go from stacking your hips over your shoulders, to letting them stay either in front or behind them?
Handstand Push-Up Negatives:
Kicking up to the wall, HSPU Negatives are one of the best ways to work on control of both your core and your shoulders. These are not for the faint of heart and are not to be taken lightly! The slower you can lower your body to the mat, and the more often you practice this control, the stronger your shoulders will get and you’ll reap the rewards. The key is SLOW and CONTROLLED- no crashing down to the mat!
Wherever you’re at in your Handstand Push-Up Journey, there is always space to practice and improve. Make sure to tag me @arielle_bloom and @nc.fit so we can see your progress as you work on developing this super fun and challenging skill!
Nutrition Coach, L3 Coach, & self-prescribed Holistic Health Nut. Here to help you fuel, move, and work in synergy with the body you’re in.