Seven Push-Up Progressions To Master On Your Way To The Handstand Push-Up

Man performs push-up in gym, a woman kneels beside him
(Image credit: The Good Brigade / Getty Images)

If you’ve even dabbled in CrossFit, you’ve probably come across the handstand push-up—a supreme test of upper-body strength, as well as control, balance and stability. You may think it’s out of reach, but not if you start at the beginning and take it step by step.

CrossFit coach Kayne Goldfinch has posted an Instagram Reel of seven steps which will lead you to the precipice of doing a handstand push-up (and our expert guide explaining how to do a handstand push-up can do the rest).

These progressions are suitable for beginners and are worth working on even if you never plan on kicking up to a wall. Mastering each progression will help you to build the kind of upper-body strength you need to do handstand push-ups.

"These progressions allow people to see where they are at, then gives them a road map to improve,” Goldfinch told Coach

The push-up and pike push-up progressions in the routine are as follows:

  1. Strict push-up to three weight plates
  2. Strict push-up to two plates
  3. Strict push-up to one plate
  4. Strict push-up
  5. Elevated pike push-up to plate
  6. Elevated pike push-up to abs mat
  7. Elevated pike push-up to floor

Goldfinch says that you should be able to do 10 reps of each exercise before you move onto the next progression. “This helps create good technique and movement patterns,” he says. “It will also make it easier to progress to that next level by having built a foundation of strength.”

Prioritize the quality of your reps, ensuring your chest or head touches the plate, mat or floor, as appropriate, every time. “Keep your stomach muscles squeezed to keep your core tight,” says Goldfinch.

Practice these progressions at least once a week at the end of strength sessions. Aim for three sets of the progression you’re working at, trying to do as many reps as possible. Once you can comfortably hit 10 reps, move on to the next progression.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.