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.
#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.
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
- Kick to handstand (even if you can’t hold it for very long)
- Push through your shoulders. Resist bending at the elbows
- Breathe (exhale on exertion)
- 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.
#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
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
#3 Focus on your Weaknesses
Design your training to focus on the areas you are lacking, rather than those you are good at.
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.
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 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
|A||5 minute cardio of your choice|
|B||Downward dog jumps|
|C||Wrist warm up 3-5 mins|
|F||Elbow Supported Dynamic Straddle Kicks||12-24||1|
|G||Hollow Body Hip Circles||6-8||1-3|
|H||Kneeling Shoulder Elevation||8-12||1-2|
|I||Dynamic Pancake||10- 20||1|
|J||Handstand Kick Ups||10 per leg||1|
|K||Handstand Holds||Accumulate 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
|1||Box Assisted HS Press Forward Lean Shifts||8-12||1-3|
|2||Limited Rom HS Press Negatives||8-12||1-3|
|3||Limited Rom HS Press Lifts||8-12||1-3|
|4||HS Press Negatives||4-8||1-3|
|5||Modified Planche Lean Shifts||2 reps shy of failure||1|
|6||Pancake Drills||10-15 mins|
|7||Make 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 🙂