CrossFit Handstand Push-Up Alternatives to Try Out

If you perform CrossFit regularly, you have probably seen people doing handstand push-ups. It is already challenging enough to do a handstand, but when the push-up motion is combined with this exercise, it can be particularly challenging.

Even though it is great to do a handstand push-up, this is not something you can perform on day one. It is important to learn how to scale up to a handstand push-up as well as some of the alternatives you can perform to this exercise.

A few of the top alternatives to a handstand push-up include:

  • The Plank
  • The Inverted Row
  • The Burpee

Now, let’s take a closer look at how to do a handstand push-up, why this exercise is so beneficial, and how you can scale up to it.

How To Do A Handstand Push-up

Woman doing hand push up

If you would like to perform a handstand push-up, there are several steps to follow. These include:

  • Place Your Hands: The first step is to place your hands appropriately. You should try to put your hands approximately 6 to 12 inches away from the wall behind you. You should also place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Make sure that your palms are facing forward. They should be turned out approximately 10 degrees.
  • Kick Up: The next step is to kick up into a handstand. It is common for people not to kick hard enough on the first attempt. Try to envision kicking your heels all the way around. Your heels should touch the wall. If you have a difficult time kicking up into a handstand, you may also want to try a donkey kick. This could make it easier for you to get to the appropriate position.
  • Tighten the Core: After you have checked yourself all the way up, keep a strong, rigid core. A lot of people have a difficult time holding themselves in the air before they even try a single push-up. If you want to avoid collapsing before you attempt to push-up, make sure you keep your core tight.
  • Lower the Head: Now, it is time to do a push-up. Gradually lower your head until you touch the top of the floor. During this motion, try to keep your elbows at an approximately 45-degree angle. Make sure you control yourself as you drop your head toward the ground. If you release too quickly, you could bang your head on the floor, which will not feel good.
  • Return to the Original Position: With your head touching the floor, press upward with the same tightness to return to the original position. Continue to press up until your elbows reach full extension. You have performed a single repetition.

It can be incredibly challenging to perform this exercise appropriately. If you cannot perform it in its entirety on the first attempt, that is okay! It takes a while to scale up to this type of exercise.

What Makes A Handstand Push-up So Great?

Man doing hand push up at the top of the mountain

Clearly, this is a challenging exercise. So, why do people perform it so often? There are several reasons why a handstand push-up is a phenomenal exercise.

Some of the top reasons why a handstand push-up is better than regular push-ups include:

Tests Your Balance

One of the biggest differences between a regular push-up and a handstand push-up is that a handstand push-up will test your balance. Even though both exercises work your upper body, a handstand push-up is also going to test your balance.

It should come as no surprise that it is much harder to balance on your hands than it is on your hands and feet. If you would like to improve your balance, you should try performing a handstand push-up.

Better For The Upper Body

A handstand push-up is also much better for your upper body. Of course, both exercises are going to work your arms and shoulders; however, when you are forced to put all of your body weight on top of your hands, you will work your upper body even more. Therefore, if you want to push your upper body to the limit, you should try performing a handstand push-up.

Trains Your Core

Furthermore, a handstand push-up is going to train your core much harder than a regular push-up. It is true that you need to tighten your core slightly to perform regular push-ups; however, you will have to tighten your core even more to perform a handstand push-up.

If you do not keep your core tight, you will lose your balance, making it difficult for you to perform this exercise.

Alleviate Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common reasons why people seek the help of a medical professional. If you would like to alleviate your back pain, a handstand push-up could be beneficial. When you hang upside down, you take gravitational pressure off your spinal column, discs, and nerve roots.

You can increase the amount of space between your vertebrae, decompressing your spine. This could be a great way for you to treat back pain.

Pushes You To Overcome Your Limits

Finally, performing a handstand push-up can also push you to overcome your limits. You may not realize just how hard you can push yourself until you try something you have never done before.

It can take a lot of effort to overcome this type of mental block. When you realize you have the capability to perform a handstand push-up, you will realize there is no limit to what you are capable of.

These are just a few of the many reasons why it is such a phenomenal exercise. If you would like to perform a handstand push-up, there are several steps involved in the scaling process.

How To Scale Up To A Handstand Push-up

Performing a handstand push-up can be challenging. There are several steps you might want to follow if you want to scale up to this exercise. The steps include:

The Handstand Hold

Before you can perform a handstand push-up, you need to get comfortable with the handstand position. This is challenging enough for a lot of people.

The exercise is relatively simple. Put your body against the wall, kick yourself up into a handstand position, and hold yourself there.

Check out a YouTube video of this exercise here.

The Dumbell Z Press

You also need to build upper-body strength to do a handstand push-up. Therefore, consider performing a dumbbell Z press. This exercise starts in a seated position. Extend your legs directly in front of you.

Then, take a pair of dumbbells and put them directly over your shoulders. After this, push the dumbbells up directly toward the sky. During this exercise, try to keep your spine in a neutral position. This mimics the type of activity you need to do in a handstand push-up.

Check out a YouTube video of this exercise here.

The Pike Push-up

You may also want to try performing a pike push-up. In this exercise, start by assuming a push-up position on the floor. Try to keep your arms straight. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart.

Then, lift your hips until your body forms an upside-down V. After this, lower your upper body until your head touches the floor. Then, push yourself back into the original position. This is a way to get your body comfortable with being upside down.

After you have successfully performed these exercises, you may want to try performing a complete handstand push-up.

Check out a YouTube video of this exercise here.

The Top Alternatives To A Handstand Push-up

If you would like to perform some alternatives to a traditional handstand push-up, there are a few options available. These exercises should work the same muscles.

The Plank

There aren’t a lot of exercises that will give you the same full-body experience as a handstand push-up, but the plank might be one of them. There are a few ways to perform this exercise.

First, you may want to perform the basic plank by putting yourself into a push-up position and holding yourself there. You can also make the exercise harder if you support yourself on your elbows instead of your hands.

Check out a YouTube video of this exercise here.

The Inverted Row

Another exceptional workout is the inverted row. This is a full-body workout that can improve your upper body strength and grip strength. In addition, you’ll work your hamstrings and glutes. All you need is a barbell and a mat.

Check out a YouTube video of this exercise here.

The Burpee

If you want to add some aerobic capacity to the workout, you may want to try a burpee. During a burpee, you will drop to a push-up position, complete the push-up, and return to a standing position by jumping as high as you can.

Check out a YouTube video of this exercise here.

Work Your Way Up To A Handstand Push-up

If you are looking for an exceptional full-body workout, then you may want to give a few of these exercises a try. Even though it is great to perform a handstand push-up, you may need to work your way up to that point by performing a handstand hold or a pike push-up.

Then, consider trying a few alternatives to handstand push-ups such as the inverted row, the burpee, and the plank. There are plenty of ways to get a great workout.

Tim Rollins, Editor

About boxletes was created by a team of CrossFit athletes and fitness enthusiasts who love to share information about the best CrossFit boxes, workout gear and equipment, and fitness and nutrition tips.

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