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I'm looking to become fit in my upper body without having to go to the gyms. Right now I'm working on my pushups. I can do 30 normal pushups in one go, if pumping as fast as I can. I'm 6ft and 160lbs. I've switched to wide pushups and now do a combo of wide+feet elevated pushup. I can maybe get 15 in one go with this setup.

I try to work on my pushups 3 times a week, each time I do 5 sets each in the teens range. My goal is to get my strength trained enough so that I can do one hand pushups, which I can't seem to do yet. I hope that by adding additional difficulty to my current pushups I can develop the strength to do one hand pushups.

After I become strong enough at one hand pushups I plan to start training with those instead since I essentially double the load on my arm and chest used. Eventually, after getting good at one hand pushups, I can hopefully handle working with handstand pushups. I know that core strength is required as well, but I can start off handstanding next to a wall, so my core wouldn't be overwhelmed.

Does all this sound like a good plan for reaching handstand level strength?

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There are good tutorials on BeastSkills, this is the one for "beginner handstand pushups". – VPeric Jul 19 '12 at 13:15
Here is a quite detailed progression from 0 push-ups to handstand push-ups: – Dave Liepmann Oct 22 '13 at 20:19
On a side note, one way to ease into one-handed pushups is to let your offhand extend out in front of you as you lower yourself. It gives you a small amount of extra support while still largely working the one arm. – Sean Duggan Jun 3 at 18:11

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Handstand work

I don't see a particular reason to wait before starting handstand work. Get upside down now, and work on your handstand progression in parallel with your one-arm pushup goal.

My handstand work involves handstand holds, "running" (alternating hands), and handstand pushups as deep as I can go (which is not far). I do barbell overhead presses for raw pressing strength across the full range of motion. At the moment all my handstand work is using a wall, but getting good at freestanding work is another progression to think about.

I bet that doing handstand holds and short-range-of-motion handstand pushups will help you work up to a full handstand pushup better than regular pushups.

Gymless workouts in general

I recommend searching around for bodyweight-only strength programs to inform your training choices. I hear good things about Convict Conditioning as well as Ross Enamait's work.

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I haven't tried doing a handstand pushup because I didn't think i was strong enough. I'm also not quite sure what muscles the handstand works, so even if I'm good at pushups I might not have all the right muscles for handstands. I'll take a look at those workout systems you recommended,thanks! – mugetsu Dec 5 '11 at 22:41
I'll reword my answer to be more clear: even if you can't do a handstand pushup now, you're probably capable of doing a handstand hold, and I bet doing that is better than doing pushups. – Dave Liepmann Dec 5 '11 at 22:44
A handstand pushup is a different muscle pattern than regular pushups anyway - there's only so much carryover. As @DaveLiepmann suggests, start against the wall. If you can only do one, then fine, that's how you start. – Greg Dec 6 '11 at 0:02
@Greg But I would assume that the benefits of shoulder widening still applies for handstands? – mugetsu Dec 6 '11 at 0:29
Sure there's some overlap, but the body responds best to very specific stresses. The best way to get good at handstands is to do handstands. – Greg Dec 6 '11 at 1:03

Negatives work; going from a handstand to the ground as slowly as possible, ideally on parallettes or two dumbbells or two dumbbells on two benches.

You may also find you can push from the ground with a kip (bending the legs then kicking them into extension to assist the push).

When trying to get back up try to avoid resting your head on the ground; it seems to be much harder to re-initiate the push if you have completely stopped pushing and are resting on your head. Push up just before you head touches the floor.

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