Handstand pushups, also known as vertical pushups or commandos, are a great way to strengthen your upper body and core. They can also be very difficult and aren't something to just dive into! After you're comfortable with standard pushups and you increase your core and shoulder strength, you should start by doing your handstand pushups from a wall. Once you're comfortable, you can go right into a freestanding handstand pushup.
EditSteps

EditKicking into a Handstand from a Wall

  1. Place your hands from the wall. Get on your hands and knees so that you're facing the wall with your hands in front of you. Keep your palms either facing forward or turned out 5 to 10 degrees at most. Be sure to keep your hands a bit wider than shoulder width.[1]

    • Always work on a matted surface whenever possible.

  2. Kick up into a handstand against the wall. Start by rocking forward and backward to generate momentum. Afterward—as you rock forward—kick one of your legs straight behind you, followed by your other leg. Press down on the ground to lift yourself up and rest your toes or the soles of your feet against the wall. Keep your back slightly arched. If you're having trouble holding yourself up, bring your legs back to the ground and keep practicing your kick ups before proceeding to the next step.[2]

    • If it feels more comfortable, bend your first leg slightly after kicking it up.
    • Make sure your head lines up between your arms instead of leaning it back against the wall so you keep your spine straight.

  3. Walk your feet up the wall if you aren't comfortable kicking up. If you've done all of the preparation for handstand pushups but find it scary to kick up against the wall, you can walk your feet up instead. Get on your hands and knees with your back to the wall and make sure your feet are from the wall. Now, place one foot against the wall, followed by the other, and walk your way up the wall.

    • If you're walking your feet up the wall because you can't physically kick up against the wall, you should do preparation before continuing, as a pushup will likely be difficult.

EditMastering the Basic Form

  1. Maintain tension in your core. After you're in a handstand position, it's important to establish and maintain tension in your core. Tighten your lower back and abs while continuing to breathe steadily. Focus on ensuring that your midline—the middle line through your body—is straight and stable so that you don't fall.[3]

    • Never hold your breath while maintaining tension in your core.

  2. Lower the top of your head to the ground. Maintain the tightness in your back and abs and slowly lower yourself gradually. Start by only going a short distance and work towards eventually touching your head to the floor. Always try to keep your elbows bent as you lower yourself.[4]

    • Make sure your fingers are spread apart and pointing straight ahead. When pointing your fingers, use your middle or index finger as a guide.

  3. Press upward from the floor after your head touches it. Once you’ve lowered yourself to a point you’re comfortable with, press upward while maintaining the same tightness in your core. Keep your middle straight and continue raising yourself up until your elbows are fully extended.[5]

    • Keep your neck in a neutral position looking ahead.

  4. Do 5 sets of 5 reps. Continue pressing yourself upward from the floor and lowering yourself to the ground. Each time your head touches the ground, 1 rep is complete. Do 5 consecutive reps to complete 1 set, and take a 5-minute break in between each set.[6]

    • Don't push yourself too hard! If you're having trouble, decrease the number of sets or reps.
    • Use a smaller range of motion at first. Slowly work your way to lowering your head all the way to the ground.

EditDoing a Freestanding Handstand

  1. Place a folded panel mat in front of you. Lay out the mat in front of you where you plan on doing the handstand. That way, you'll have some padding if you fall over or lose your balance.[7]

    • Purchase folded panel mats from fitness and athletics stores.

  2. Kick 1 leg up into your handstand at a time. Extend your arms out on each side of your head. Step with 1 foot forward into a lunge position and bend forward at the hips. Place your hands down on the padded mat so they’re shoulder-width apart. Kick 1 of your legs up above you and then lift your second leg off the ground.[8]

    • Keep your front knee above your ankle as opposed to your toes.
    • Push upward using the heel of your front foot.

  3. Grab a plyo box and kick up to the ceiling if you want a greater challenge. Plyo boxes are used mostly in Crossfit and add extra support. Check that your biceps are parallel to your ears and extend one foot with your toes pointed to the floor. Start rocking backward and forward to create momentum. After gaining momentum for 2 to 3 seconds, kick yourself up with your feet, making sure that your back foot leaves the ground before your bent foot.[9]

    • You may have to kick harder rather than softer—it's easier to decrease your speed to balance compared to increasing your speed to compensate for too little balance.
    • If you over kick, turn sideways and cartwheel yourself to your feet.
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EditWarnings

  • Be careful! Don't do anything you aren't comfortable with.
  • Falling onto your neck could leave you seriously injured, paralyzed, or cause death.
  • Never try a freestanding handstand pushup without mastering it from a wall first.

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