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The handstand push-up (press-up) - also called the vertical push-up (press-up) or the inversed push-up (press-up) - is a type of push-up exercise where the body is positioned in a handstand. For a true handstand, the exercise is performed free-standing, held in the air. To prepare the strength until one has built adequate balance, the feet are often placed against a wall, held by a partner, or secured in some other way from falling. Handstand pushups require significant strength, and also balance and control if performed free-standing.
Handstand pushups increase the load on the triceps brachii muscles significantly over regular pushups, with the arms having to hold almost 100% of the body's weight rather than an average of 60% during normal pushups. Load is also shifted from the Pectoralis major muscle to the Anterior deltoids and Lateral deltoids due to the shoulders exerting in adduction while externally rotated, rather than transverse flexion. The upper fibres of the trapezius are also involved in elevating the shoulders.
In free-standing handstand pushups, the core muscles and hand muscles are both used to keep the body balanced, from falling over back, forward, or to either side, and to maintain posture. This makes it a much stronger exercise for the wrist flexors, core and legs compared to regular pushups.
Due to the difficulty of the exercise, it is common to begin training with simpler, related movements. Methods of preparing without equipment (bodyweight exercise) include holding a static handstand position, performing the movement with a reduced range of motion, or performing only the eccentric portion of the movement. Preparing with weight-lifting (overhead press) is also common for strengthening the muscles involved, for those who lack adequate balance or who cannot support their bodyweight on their hands. When one can press their bodyweight, they have developed sufficient strength to do a handstand push up and then need to learn how to balance and exert themselves while inverted.
The range of motion of a handstand pushup can be increased by placing the hands on objects elevated from the floor, such as chairs. This allows the head to be lowered below the level of the palms, greatly increasing the difficulty of the movement. Difficulty can also be increased by adding further resistance, either in the form of weights attached to the torso; such as a weighted vest, attached to the legs, or resistance bands.