Monday, 02 April 2012 06:53

Can "heavier" folks do handstands?

I've often spoken about the amazing benefit that one can get by doing handstand pushups (and handstands) on a regular basis. Talk about some serious, serious strength gains - especially in the upper arms, shoulders, back and chest - and talk about some SERIOUS cardio benefits when you combine this exercise with some others. The handstand pushup lends itself toa fearsome workout, even if I'm saying that myself after completing 3 sets of 10 slow, shoulder popping handstand pushups.   .   .

But, the very nature of this exercise seems to scare most people off. First, holding your body in an upside down position is in itself not "easy" for most people to think about doing (as opposed to doing - note the difference) - and those trainees that are slightly (or more so) on the heavier side will automatically shy away from them thinking that they are "too big" to do the exercise without injuring themselves.

Bad, bad mistake - remember that when performed with good form, and adequate strength, just about ANYONE can do handstand pushups safely. Executing the movement correctly might be harder to do if your on the heavier side, but you CAN do it - provided you use good form.

And don't just take my word for it - look at some of the "heavier" folks that have done it in the past. Take the English wrestler Bert Assirati - he weighed no less than 240 lbs, and he'd perform movements like the iron cross - and a ONE ARM handstand for reps without giving it a second thought. John Davis (I'm sure you all know who he is!) could do sets of 10 handstand pushups at a bodyweight of 200 lbs - and that ain't no joke either.

And the list likely doesn't stop there either.

Now, I know that these men perfected their skill through hours of practice, which the average trainee isn't willing to put in. I also know that these were some EXCEPTIONALLY strong men - but nowhere does it say that YOU cannot become exceptionally strong through regular training. And while these men may have been on the heavier side, note that it doesn't mean they were FAT - they were big and strong, but not necessarily FAT - there's a difference, and it's an important one.

And I know that some of you are going to Google the guys I just talked about, and come back with "well, he doesn't have a toned midsection", or "where is the 8 pack", or similar comments. And my response will always be the same "Guys, REAL strength has got absolutely nothing to do with a six pack". Why? Well, I've been over that a bunch of times (see the blog for more), but take your average guy with a six pack, and see how well he does on handstands as compared to a wrestler or real strength enthusiast (NOT bodybuilder).

Last, but not least, this isn't an excuse to get fat or heavy - all I'm saying is that being big and strong (a.k.a "heavy") does NOT mean you cannot reap the benefits of this amazing exercise. It takes practice - lots of it - will power to stick at it - but it CAN be done - and it can be done SAFELY at that.

And that's that for today - over and out!

Best regards,


PS: Fast and Furious Fitness shows you handstand variations that will build shoulders like boulders: -