With all your chest and back exercises you perform you have it all! You have a mass arsenal of exercises for your back, chest, and arms.... but what about the shoulders? In order to keep your shoulders healthy and proportional to the rest of your upper-body, it is important to perform exercises that strengthen the shoulders directly. An exercise that comes to mind when wanting to strengthen and build massive shoulders from home is the handstand push-up. Much like our How To Accomplish Your First Pull-Up article. this article will be outlining the steps you can take in order to accomplish your first handstand push-up.
1. Basic Pressing
When you think of handstand push-ups what do you first think of? Push-ups! Regular push-ups are the foundation for all your advanced pressing movements. Push-ups allow you to strengthen your pressing muscles (shoulders, arm, and chest muscles) and improve your core stability. If you are currently performing weight training, you should still perform this first step when striving for your first handstand push-up. By improving your push-ups (even achieving your first push-up) you bring yourself one step closer to accomplishing a handstand push-up.
2. Shoulder Strength
After developing the most basic form of pressing, it is time to emphasize your shoulder strength in order to improve the strength in your shoulders further. By performing pike push-ups you put yourself in a pressing angle which emphasizes the shoulders more and the pectorals (chest) less. By emphasizing your shoulders and a more upright position, you press more of your body-weight (increases difficulty/resistance) and develops your ability to press in a more upright position (in which the handstand is fully upright).
3. Shoulder Range Of Motion
In order to keep your shoulders healthy during the process of progressing from exercise to exercise you should incorporate exercises that take the shoulders through a longer range of motion. By performing dive-bomber push-ups, you take your shoulders through a longer range of motion without adding excessive difficulty (can perform multiple repetitions). Jumping straight from a short range of motion exercise with less resistance to an exercise with a longer range of motion and more resistance is never ideal. Performing a range of motion focused exercised before advancing to more difficult exercises aids in your strength through a longer range of motion needed for later exercises.
4. Progressing Strength
After progressing your strength in a longer range of motion, it is time for a harder variation of the pike push-up. By performing elevated pike push-ups, you add more resistance to your shoulder muscles (higher percentage of body-weight is pressed) and progresses you even further towards a more upright position.
5. Handstand Work
Without a doubt, handstand practice is vital before performing any sort of handstand push-up. How would you learn how to swim without ever being in water? Not only should you practice handstands alone, but practice handstands with scapula work in order to learn how to engage your entire group of shoulder muscles (for stability and strength). By performing handstand shrugs you get to kill two birds with one stone (handstand stability work and muscular development work).
6. The Handstand Push-Up
After getting through all steps listed above, it is time to try the handstand push-up. Although seemingly impossible, it is possible to just perform the steps listed above and accomplish a handstand push-up. There are no secret techniques, equipment/supplement scams, or magic shortcuts that are required in order to accomplish this feat of strength. By performing the exercises listed above and 6 months of ZERO handstand work, I was able to again perform a handstand push-up after an entire upper-body workout. Even before taking handstand push-ups out of my routine for a period of time, all the exercises listed above were staples in my weekly work out routine. Whether it be to impress your friends, build massive shoulders, or give yourself a challenge, pursuing and accomplishing your first handstand push-up can take your shoulder training to the NEXT LEVEL.
Putting It All Together
How To Progress