3 Tips to Get Your Handstand Press Faster

Can’t figure out the handstand press? Use these 3 tips to simplify your training routine to get your handstand press within weeks. No gymnastics experience is required.

I’m Summerfunfitness. I taught myself how to do a handstand, how to handstand press, and even how to do handstand push-ups with no gymnastics training.

I’m here to help you learn how to get started in calisthenics so you can be fit and mobile for life – regardless of your ability to access a gym.

How to Train for the Handstand Press

Here are the top three things you need to focus on to get your handstand press.

summerfunfitness human flag on bars

#1 Perform Negatives

When you kick into a handstand, focus on building control in the lowering portion instead of just mindlessly falling out of it.

Performing a negative press every time you attempt a handstand will:

  • dramatically increase your time spent upside down
  • improves body control and awareness
  • strengthens your shoulders and hip flexors without needing to add on any additional exercises

Elevated Straddle Handstand Press Negative
Start working on your straddle press before moving to a pike press.

negative straddle handstand press

Whether doing handstand presses, muscle-ups or handstand push-ups, negatives are the key to building insane calisthenics strength.

How to do a Negative Handstand Press

  1. Kick to handstand (even if you can’t hold it for very long)
  2.  Push through your shoulders. Resist bending at the elbows
  3. Breathe (exhale on exertion)
  4. Hold the bottom position for a moment or two

Negative Pike Handstand Press
Perform on the ground or elevated on handstand blocks or p-bars. Doing so allows you to strengthen your body in a greater range of motion. 

negative pike press

#2 Incorporate Press Drills Every Training Session

Include conditioning drills specific to the handstand press on your regular training days while performing a handstand workout at least once per week. 

How do you build strength for a handstand press?
Here are the 4 areas you need to focus on to get your press to handstand

1. Shoulder Mobility
Shoulder Mobility Drills >

handstand shoulder tap for handstand walking

2. Straight Arm Pushing Strength
Calisthenics Push Workout >

handstand shoulder tap for handstand walking

3. Hip Mobility & Flexibility
Middle Split Workout >

active hip mobility in straddle hs press

4. Handstands
Practice handstands at the start of your workout for 5-10 minutes (after warming up) every session. Then add in at least one full handstand workout per week.
Beginner Handstand Workout >

handstand shoulder tap for handstand walking

Handstand Press Drills

These drills can be added to your daily training routine to improve your handstand press.

L-Sit Holds, or Straddle Holds
30-60 second holds, 3-4 sets
You can also perform lifts for 8-12 reps.

scap push ups

Leg Lifts
12-15 reps, 3 sets
This should be a slow and controlled movement from the hip. You shouldn’t be swinging your upper body to make the exercise work. If needed, sit on a block to reduce the intensity.

hollow body rocks

Pancake Drills
The pancake is a stretch and mobility drill I do DAILY. It could also be referred to as a seated straddle stretch, but that’s not as fun. 

You can relax into the position while watching tv or treat it as an active drill to build strength for your handstand press. I prefer active exercises over passive stretches as I enjoy the control that comes with building strength at your end range.

The goal is to have a flat lower back (think belly button to the floor). As a beginner, you may need to elevate your butt to make the position more attainable. I had to do this when I started!

hollow body rocks

 How to turn the pancake stretch into an exercise

  • Perform lifts
  • Perform negatives (lower your tummy onto a pillow or block, then using a hand assist to come up)
  • Perform holds pushing into a band (see image below)
  • Perform holds at your lowest position while straightening your lower back

If you struggle with activating your glutes, use a light band to queue the muscles to engage. If that is too much, try bending your knees.

Use Code SUMMER for 10% off my favourite bands >

hollow body rocks

Upper Body Pancake Lifts
6-8 reps, 2 sets
Only go as deep as you can keep your back straight. If you’re a beginner, consider elevating your butt and only moving about an inch.

This is a very intense move that requires strong, active legs. Take your time with it. You can even perform negatives by placing a pillow under your tummy. Your belly button should reach the ground first – not your chest.

hollow body rocks

 Straddle Toes to Bar 
Grip the bar, then set your shoulders down and back, then lift your legs.  Try not to dramatically change your shoulder position (stay upright, don’t lean back) while performing the leg lift. Elbows stay locked. Resist the urge to cheat by bending through the elbows. Lower slowly, with control.

hollow body rocks
hollow body rocks

#3 Focus on your Weaknesses

Design your training to focus on the areas you are lacking, rather than those you are good at.

Naturally bendy? 
Spend more time strengthening your hip flexors – not stretching. You need to be able to control your flexibility when learning how to handstand press.

handstand shoulder tap for handstand walking

Not bendy at all? If you have a limited range of motion (like me when I started), practice strengthening drills and flexibility drills equally.

Shoulder Mobility Drill for Handstand Press
Set a block up at your end range. Straighten your arms (lock your elbows and elevate your shoulders). Push down into the block for 15-30 seconds. Attempt to lift off of the block for 10-25 seconds. Then perform 12 lifts. Repeat for 2-3 sets. 

As your shoulder mobility increases, increase the height of the block.

Follow Along Shoulder Mobility Drill>

handstand shoulder tap for handstand walking

Do your arms bend when doing negative handstands?
If you can’t help but bend your arms when learning how to handstand press, you have one of two options.

1. Play to your strong suits and work towards a bent arm handstand press, then eventually a handstand push-up.

2. Focus on building your straight arm strength. Straight arm strength helps with planches, front levers, back levers, handstand presses and more.

handstand shoulder tap for handstand walking
handstand shoulder tap for handstand walking

Thenx Handstand Press Tutorial

Thenx athlete Zay Tiggs demonstrates 4 drills to build the strength needed to get your handstand press.

Handstand Press Workout Routine

One of my favourite skills is the handstand press. It takes a lot of practice to learn, but I promise you, the day your feet effortlessly lift off of the ground, you’ll be so proud of all the hard work you put in.

By setting the handstand press as your goal, you’ll give purpose to your flexibility, strength and handstand training, allowing you to achieve many more calisthenics skills.

Here’s a handstand press workout routine that helps with pike press to handstand, straddle press to handstand, zombie press to handstand and more.

Handstand Press Warm-Up Drills

A5 minute cardio of your choice
BDownward dog jumps
CWrist warm up 3-5 mins
DScap Push-ups10-122
FElbow Supported Dynamic Straddle Kicks12-241
GHollow Body Hip Circles 6-81-3
HKneeling Shoulder Elevation8-121-2
IDynamic Pancake10- 201
JHandstand Kick Ups10 per leg1
KHandstand HoldsAccumulate 60 sec of controlled hold time
*Can be done up against a wall. Here’s the right way to use a wall for handstands.

Handstand Press Drills

1Box Assisted HS Press Forward Lean Shifts8-121-3
2Limited Rom HS Press Negatives8-121-3
3Limited Rom HS Press Lifts8-121-3
4HS Press Negatives4-81-3
5Modified Planche Lean Shifts2 reps shy of failure1
6Pancake Drills10-15 mins
7Make sure to stretch your upper back, wrists, neck and arms to prevent soreness


How Long Does it Take to Handstand Press?

Learning to handstand press takes time and dedication to building straight arm strength, balancing a handstand, and developing hip flexor strength and flexibility.

It took me 13 months to hold a 10-second handstand, starting as an absolute beginner with no gymnastics training. I quickly achieved my handstand press a few weeks.

I hope today’s article has shown you some drills you can add to your daily training to help you get better at handstand presses. If you’d like to see a handstand press tutorial or an entire workout routine let me know in my YouTube comment section 🙂 

airwalk handstand press

Home > How to do a Handstand > How to Get Press to Handstand