Handstand Pushups and Bodyweight

Question

I’m a 300+lb powerlifter but getting older and looking to make a change. I really like what you’ve said about bodyweight stuff, and in particular the handstand pushup. Believe it or not, I’d kill to be able to do just one.

Where do I start?

Answer

The first step in bringing BW work into the fold (where none existed before) is actually a change in psychology.

I know that sounds all Zen, but it really is true. You need to attach importance and respect to BW work, in the same way you respect someone with a huge Bench, Squat or Deadlift.

For something like the chin up, it’s universal.

You can walk in any gym in the world and upon seeing a guy doing one arm chin-ups, or two arm chin-ups with 100lbs around his waist – it’ll get you noticed.

The handstand pushup is a close second IMO. Just seeing someone do this with their bodyweight is mighty impressive. Everyone understands how strong you have to be to pull them off – just like the chinup.

What To Do

First step would be to start losing fat. Notice I didn’t say weight, I said fat – big difference.

As you lose more and more fat, the handstand pushup (and in fact, all BW work) will get easier.

Next, you need to purchase inter-locking foam mats, the same kind you sometimes see to protect floors OR, for kids to play on. Three places I have found these are at WalMart, Target and Ocean State Job lot.

Alternatively you could use a stack of books, but the mats are a uniform ¼” – which becomes important as you move from week to week.

Stack all the mats up (you’ll probably need 8) and chalk your hands. Place your hands just outside the mats for with, and around 6-10” from the wall.

This is where the chalking your hands tip comes in. It will leave a faint outline of where your hands were placed last set, last workout etc. You would be absolutely shocked how much harder it is moving just one hand length in, so knowing where to place your hands is crucial.

Over time, you’ll naturally assume the correct hand width, but when you’re learning it helps to have that visual reference.

Then, practice kicking up into a handstand against the wall.

Work on just holding a handstand for a minimum of 30 seconds. You’ll feel a remarkable pump in your shoulders and triceps, simply from holding this position.

Once you can hold a handstand for 2 sets of 30 seconds, you may begin partial reps.

Allow the top of your head to gently kiss the mats, then push up to lockout. Once you can do 5 or more, its time to slide another mat out and build those reps up to 5.

Success now is simply a matter of perseverance.

Keep at it, because say, a 275lb man (or really, anything over 200lbs) who can do reps of handstand shoulder presses is MIGHTY impressive.

As an added bonus, your shoulders, elbows etc will feel great and you’ll get barn door shoulders in no time.

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Coach Rob Regish

Coach Rob Regish

Rob Regish is an internationally recognized name in the field of health and fitness. He's been a weekly contributor to Superhumanradio.net for almost a decade, answering listener questions from around the world.

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