Learn How to Handstand Push-Up – Even as a Beginner

4 easy steps to learn how to do a handstand push-up – even as a beginner.

Learn how to approach your handstand push-up training and the technique queues you need to master a handstand push-up.

Like you, as an adult, I decided I would learn how to achieve unreal gymnastics skills – even though I had no gymnastics experience. 

There wasn’t much online information about calisthenics when I started, so I just suffered through the same uncertainty and confusion you are feeling…

BUT I was dedicated and consistent, which led me to learn how to do a handstand (it took 13 months). 

After learning how to balance a handstand, I worked my way up to achieve strict handstand push-ups (HSPU) and scorpion handstand push-ups, all as a self-taught adult. 

Don’t get me wrong…this is no easy feat, but…

Together, I will teach you how to do a handstand push-up much faster than I did by utilizing my years of trial and error. 

Let’s go! 

Step 1: Ditch the “Beginner’s Mindset”

It doesn’t matter if you can’t hold a handstand yet. You can still have a handstand push-up as your long-term goal…but you have to start with a growth mindset.

When learning how to handstand push-up, you have two options:

Option A:  Building the Basics

Take a step back and work on building the basics, such as:

1. Holding a solid, still, consistent handstand.
Need help? Try my Beginner Handstands Workout.

straight handstand

2.  Increasing shoulder and wrist mobility. You need to work on having straight arms (not bent at the elbows) that can lift directly over your shoulders without flaring the ribs.

handstand shoulder mobility alignment comparison

3.  Dramatically improving your pushing strength.
Try my 100 Push-up’s a Day Challenge.

regular calisthenics tricep push up

Option B: Jump directly into the advanced skillget frustrated, make excuses that it’s too hard, it’s impossible…that you “try all the time.” 👎

And then you end up quitting – before you even truly began!

This is the most common route people choose and the one that I took for a few years before realizing I was not progressing or achieving anything…

Hopefully, you choose Option A.

Begin to work on the handstand push-up basics allowing you to slowly build up the strength and coordination needed to accomplish your handstand push-up goal. Having a goal in mind and working on the foundational skills will keep you dedicated to your physical fitness, even on your lazy days. 

You now know that you have to work on the foundational skills/strengths, but what comes next?

Step 2: Where are you going? 

Look into the future. What is your vision? What is your goal? 

There are a few different handstand push-up styles, such as a strict handstand push-up, scorpion HSPU, kipping HSPU, clapping HSPU, etc.

Pick just one HSPU variation to focus on -for now. Choosing just one will direct your exercise selection and provide a clear targeted goal for yourself. 

Play to your strong suits! 

Is your back really flexible? Try a scorpion handstand push-up.

scorpion handstand push up

Are you relatively rigid and have a strong core? Focus on a strict HSPU.

freestanding strict handstand push up

Are you naturally dynamic/powerful? Then, focus on a kipping handstand push-up or clapping handstand push-up.

From there, you can expand upon your goal and try other variations once you are confident in the first one.

But for now…

Keep it simple. Choose one style to focus on and write it down in your journal.

You’ve chosen your first HSPU variation to master, so now it’s time to learn the technique of a handstand up!

Step 3: How to Handstand Push-Up

Here are the basic steps on how to handstand push-up.

  1. Find your handstand
  2. Grip through the ground
  3. Push through the shoulders as much as you can (elevate the shoulders)
  4. Hold your core & glutes in one position 
  5. Squeeze across your chest
  6. Initiate the movement by bending at the elbows
  7. Lower, so your chest is directly between your hands
  8. Keep squeezing across the chest
  9. Elbows stay directly on top of wrists
  10. Exhale at the most challenging part (the bottom position)
  11. Keep your core & glutes in position
  12. Push-up
straight handstand
straight handstand
straight handstand
freestanding strict handstand push up

Strict Handstand Push Up Technique

#1: Frame your chest

Whether you are in a regular push-up, a HSPU push-up or a Scorpion HSPU, lower your body, so your chest stays directly in between your hands. To remember this tip think about “framing your chest” with your hands. 

scorpion handstand push up

#2: Elbows stacked on top of wrists

Keep your elbows directly on top of your wrists throughout the entire movement. Failure to do so will prevent you from completing the skills and cause massive frustration. Place yoga blocks behind your forearms to signal you to keep your wrists and elbows stacked (meaning on top of one another).

shoulder mobility for handstand push ups
bridge for scorpion handstand push up
wrist mobility for handstand push up

#3 Lock your body 

Find your starting position (a plank, backbend or hollow body), then lock your body into place. Proceed with the pushing movement by generating a bend through the elbows while keeping your body still.

freestanding strict handstand push up

Step 4: Take Action 

In today’s article, you’ve selected the handstand push-up variation you will work towards as your long-term goal. You know how to do a handstand push-up… BUT, NOW WHAT?

It’s time to build a handstand push-up workout routine based on your current level.

In part 2 of this series, I will walk you through how to train handstand push-ups. We will also cover handstand push-up progressions for calisthenics beginners to advanced athletes. 

freestanding strict handstand push up

 Training consistently and designing a targeted workout routine will allow you to reach your calisthenics goals efficiently and effectively. Learn how to make a handstand push-up easier or harder using these top 7 calisthenics tips.