Handstand Pushups For All

Earlier this week, I shared a prior entry on Facebook about heavyweight athletes and their ability to perform handstand pushups. If you don’t recall the original entry, refer to the link below.

Heavyweight Handstand Pushups

Within that article, I shared stories of Paul Anderson, Doug Hepburn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Each of these men performed handstand pushups regularly. And while such displays may stand out as unusual today, it was quite common for old-time strongmen to perform such feats. There are countless examples from previous generations. We can add to the list with the following:

Siegmund Klein


Charles Atlas


Bert Assirati


And John Grimek who is pictured below holding Glenn Sundby


And while many current trainers shy away from handstand work (often due to their own inability), it is always nice to see modern athletes perform handstand feats. One example can be seen below from a 220 pound individual. If you thought handstand pushups were only for lightweights, prepare to change your mind.


For those interested in learning how to advance with handstands, refer to the old York courses below.

York Handbalancing Course #1

York Handbalancing Course #2

As you will see, there are no secrets. It all boils down to hard work and consistency.


“Everybody pities the weak; jealousy you have to earn.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

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  1. John Grimek was also a master at handstanding pressups and handstanding balances. Vasili Alexev the 300lb plus superheavyweight gold medalist from the 1972-1976 Olympic games was said to pull muliple reps of strict full range pullups despite his tremendous bulk. Men the size of Paul Anderson and Doug Hepburn mastering the handstand pressup at such a large weight is truly remarkable, it is akin to 440 meter runnner entering in the Marathon and fininshing at the very top of the heat.

  2. Ross, Have you any examples of folks doing handstand after having a grade III shoulder AC separation? I’m wondering if it is ever possible to recover from such a disastrous injury especially later in life.

  3. P, I had a grade III AC separation that was repaired 15 years ago. (rockwell screw and magic glue )
    I do sets of 5 Headstand Pushups( hands on ground to top of head ) @ 228lbs and 6ft tall
    They are much harder to do if you put your belly towards the wall hands about 8 inches from the wall, but that ensures you develop proper form for free standing HeSPU.

    Full handstand pushups on paralletes are out of my reach currently.

  4. Well I separated my AC joint 3 years ago, two weeks later I had to start working in a new gym as an instructor. It was tough to rehab the injury but I slowly got stronger – after a few months of rehab I began to give handstand push-ups a go… I soon discovered they really helped to stabilise my shoulder, gave me enormous upper body strength and more importantly rebuilt my confidence in exercising after suffering the grade 3 A/C joint separation.

    Just make sure you are fully re-habed and then give them a try!

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