Headstand or Handstand Pushups?

In Bodyweight Mastery by Logan ChristopherLeave a Comment

The other day I shared the story of when I first got into bodyweight training, how doing a handstand pushup was one of my first major goals.

Just one, to lower down from a handstand, touch the head to the ground and press back up.

It took me a couple of months of working at it to get it.

Well, after sharing this story Robert wrote it in with his commentary…

Those are what most people call “headstand pushups”, not “handstand pushups”.

Think about it this way, if you were military pressing and only lowering the bar to the top of your head, nobody would consider that a “military press”.

In the same way, when you do a “handstand pushup” with your hands on the ground, you are really only “lowering the weight” to your head, not your shoulders.

To do a true “handstand pushup”, you have do it on 12-inch parallettes so you can “lower the weight” to your shoulders (if you get my meaning).

Really, almost anyone should be able to do a “headstand pushup”. But lower yourself even an inch or two lower and it get infinitely harder. When you can lower your head to the ground doing these on 12 inch parallettes, then you’ve really accomplished something. I personally can’t do it.


Robert is not wrong about the details, but he is wrong about knowing the answers.

This is what SOME people call headstand pushups. The term handstand pushup for this has long been in use.

If you’re basing it on the bottom position of the movement, then full range handstand pushups should be called shoulder stand pushups. After all, why would you call it based on the bottom position in one movement, and the top position in the other? That doesn’t make much sense.

If you lowered a barbell to your head and pressed it back up people would actually still call it a military press, but a partial military press. It would still go by the same name.

That’s why I differentiate them by calling them handstand pushups and full range handstand pushups.

As I tell in my story I couldn’t even do the regular version when I started, but have now worked up to:

10 reps full range
A single full range while wearing a 40lb. weight vest
A freestanding full range handstand pushup

As for almost anyone “should” be able to do the basic handstand pushup, even this judgment is far off. While it would be nice to do so, I’m willing to bet only somewhere between 1 in 10 and 1 in 5 guys can do it. As for women (whom I assume you include in anyone) I doubt 1 in 25 can do this.

As for the full range, I do agree that is something to achieve. No one can do that without dedicated practice. Less than 1 in probably 250 people can pull that off, maybe even far less.

For anyone looking to learn much more The Ultimate Guide to Handstand Pushups is still one of the very best guides on this training despite being written over a decade ago. 

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