Target the Upper Body With Handstand Pushups to Build Muscle Without Weights
How many handstand pushups can you do?
I have to admit it took me a while to build up the courage to attempt these. The last time I remember doing any kind of handstand was when I was grade school, probably around the age of eight. As an adult, I was sure they’d be way out of my ability. So, I decided to avoid them until someday when I was sure I’d be strong enough and wouldn’t fall flat on my face. Most beginners probably use the same excuse.
If, however, you’re looking to build muscle without weights then this one exercise will surely help to improve upper body strength.
(Photo: Amber Karnes)
Below we’ll discuss how to build your upper body abilities for tackling this advanced pushup. Although it takes skill to accomplish this move, novice practitioners of bodyweight training can start working toward this ability with wrist and shoulder strengthening routines. Soon, you’ll be mustering out two or three reps at a time, and then stride through a dozen as if they’ve always been second nature to you.
Five Tips to Grow into The Exercise
Getting to a point where you can conquer handstand pushups depends on where you are in your training. Assessing your starting strength is important. It’s not like you have to be able to bust out 100 reps of regular pushups, but you’ll have to have strong enough shoulder and wrist strength to be able to hold yourself up in the position.
One method that works well when you’re having difficulty accomplishing any specific bodyweight move is to grease the groove. This is a method that will challenge you to complete a single rep at different times during the day. If you were to complete a rep every hour, you can easily hit 10 within a day.
This technique is generally recommended for beginners. It’s easier on the muscles and joints to adapt to the range of motion needed by a specific exercise. This means less pain and more gain.
#1 – Get Comfortable With Being Upside Down
Being upside down is not the most agreeable position to hold oneself in. For me, I was nervous about not finishing through on the handstand pushups. I didn’t want to have a pancake face. But, when aiming to build muscle without weights, sometimes building your confidence is just as important. So, learning to be at ease with how your body responds to being upside down should be one of the first things you learn.
The video below demonstrates various ways to develop your sense of self while working into the HSPU position.
#2 – Warm Up the Body Before Trying These Out
Here’s a good video explaining how to prep the body for venturing into handstand territory. Focus on the types of adjustments you need to make while balancing in this inverted position, and why it’s important to build up flexibility in the wrists.
#3 – Use Proper Technique
Arm and shoulder placement should be considered. You want to get the elbows pointed straight ahead as possible, not out to the side. Be careful of hand placement behind the head because that can put unwanted stress on the rotator cuff. Positioning your hands more to the front will target the three deltoid heads for a good amount to muscle activation.
#4 – Increase Your Range Of Motion
Once you have been training with this exercise, you’ll want increase the range of motion your muscle and joints work through. One possible way to do this is to use a stack of books, or yoga blocks, to start. This will add an extra level of difficulty to the exercise.
In this video buckets are used to further along the development of the muscles.
A doorway pullup bar mount or pushup bars, as demonstrated in the video below, can assist you to increase the difficulty.
#5 – Take Your Training to the Max
With this exercise under your belt you can try to better your workouts and test your strength with more advanced maneuvers. Working out should be entertaining. Have fun with pushing the limits of how far you’re come in your training.
There are several different ways to continue to challenge your body after it’s become accustomed to the specifics of this movement.
Putting these few steps into play will refocus your attention onto your muscles, which is what you want when aiming to increase strength.
To truly build muscle without weights you must be willing to venture out of your comfort zone. Handstand pushups may be your exercise, like they were mine, that you’ll need to overcome. Or, you can pick from the scores that offer a great challenge. Testing out these more advanced exercises are an effective method to reassess where you are in your goals and potential, and how to drive past beyond your current limitations.