Badass with the Handstand Push-Up


A Part of Fierce Play’s Grounded Gymnastics Series

Also called an inverted push-up, the handstand push-up is an exercise where the athlete kicks up into a handstand position against a wall, and then proceeds to lower and raise him/her self in push-up motion. There are two variations of the handstand push-up, one that is considered a strict movement and a version where kipping is allowed. The strict handstand push-up requires that the body stays in a stable position throughout the push-up motion – as the head is lowered to the floor and back up again until arms are locked fully out at top. When kipping is used to complete the handstand push-up, it provides momentum to help the athlete push upward and reach full lock-out of the arms at the top. Regardless if kipping is used or not, athletes will feel the shoulders, arms, and core muscles activated as they complete the handstand push-up.

Watch the video clip below for a full explanation of technique, tips and tricks for performing the movement with efficiency, as well as precautions for staying safe.


  1. Start at the Top: To complete the handstand push-up, you must start in a fully vertical handstand position. Once in a handstand, lower yourself down, bending at the elbows, until your head touches the floor. Raise back upward until arms are again straight. Reps where the athlete begins with the head on the floor are considered a “no rep” or incomplete rep.
  2. Extend Fully: Hands should be placed just outside the shoulders and arms should be fully extended or locked out at the top of the movement to consider the rep completed.
  3. Don’t Sit on the Wall: While it may seem comfortable and easier for completing the movement, don’t push yourself into a sitting position on the wall with butt touching the wall. This actually overextends the back and will cause unnecessary strain on the back muscles.
  4. Straight Ahead & Punch Forward: To keep the core (stomach and back) muscles in the proper straight position while ensuring you are fully engaging the push position with your shoulders, think about looking forward in the opposite direction and actually punching your head forward as you push upward. This will keep the head, shoulders, and back aligned nicely and prevent overextension and stress on the back and shoulder muscles. It also ensures you can achieve full lock-out of the arms much faster and use the shoulder muscles to maximum efficiency while completing the movement.
  5. Kip for Momentum: If you’re an athlete who struggles to complete the handstand push-up, you can use a kipping motion with your legs to create momentum and extend full lock-out in the arms in a faster and more efficient way. To complete the kip, once fully extended in the handstand position, drop your legs and tuck in your knees to your stomach as you lower your head down onto the floor. Then quickly shoot your legs back upward into a straight position as you push upward to full lock-out in the arms. This explosive movement will help you achieve the handstand push-up with greater ease.
  6. Grab some Plates: If you struggle to complete the full range of motion in the handstand push-up, you can place a 25 pound plate under each hand and put an AbMat® beneath where you head will touch the ground. The placement of the plates and AbMat® actually allow you to complete the movement with a slight zero-deficit for your arms.

QUESTIONS: Ready to get started, or curious to learn more about how Fierce Play can help you meet your health and wellness goals? Contact us for more information. Also feel free to check out more of our videos series to learn how to perform the basics with solid form and efficiency. 


Fierce Play’s Grounded Gymnastics Series focuses on proper technique, as well as tips & tricks, to master some of the foundational movements that will be integrated into many of the workouts you will perform. Start your next workout with the confidence and skills to do the movement safely and effectively.


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Mark Mancuso started his fitness journey while enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Like most individuals, at first, he only focused on bodybuilding type workouts. Mark learned quickly that focusing just on the aesthetics of the body would get you only so far. In 2013, Mark found out about Crossfit and fell in love with everything that it stood for.

In June of 2015, Mark was Honorably Discharged from the Marine Corps and returned from his duty station in Okinawa, Japan to his home in Maple Grove, MN. Not having any formal coaching in Crossfit he was on a mission to find a Crossfit Box to call home. Fierce Play welcomed him with open arms, and he hasn’t looked back. Mark obtained his Level One Crossfit certification in November 2015 and plans to add additional certifications in the future. He also intends to compete in a variety of Crossfit competitions as opportunities arise.


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Jeff Birthler has a contagious passion for fitness. He graduated and obtained a personal training certificate from the National Personal Training Institute in 2010. On his way, he discovered and fell in love with CrossFit. Jeff hasn’t stopped learning, and still seeks a well-rounded education within the health domain, going beyond physical facets. He has trained clients at several corporate gyms, including Fitness 19 and LA Fitness, as he established a plan for his own gym.

Fierce Play was established in 2012 in a 500 sq. ft. garage. After a few moves and upgrades, it now has a permanent, 4800 sq. ft. location in Maple Grove. Jeff calls it “home”.


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