Global Bodyweight Training - Mike Fitch
The 90-degree Pike Push-Up is another great step in progressing toward the Unsupported Handstand Push-Up

The 90 degree Pike Push Up plays a major role in our journey towards the Handstand Push-Up. Not only is this exercise great for building shoulder stability and strength, but it puts us in a position that closely mimicks a complete “Vertical Pressing” pattern.

As I describe below, Vertical Press exercises are central moves in bodyweight training, and the Global Bodyweight Training system. I recommend taking on this one after you’ve mastered the Floor Pike Push-Up we cover in this post. You can also check out The Negative Wall-Supported Handstand Push-Up. (See the videos at bottom of this post).

Vertical Pressing Patterns

I write a lot about how to perform various exercise patterns in bodyweight training, by transforming patterns that require weights into versions where you are using only your own bodyweight to achieve the same desired results.

Global Bodyweight Training - Mike Fitch
Mike Fitch demonstrates one of bodyweight training's killer staple moves: the Unsupported Handstand Push-Up (photo by Matt Roy)
In order to perform Vertical Pressing patterns (like a shoulder press) in bodyweight training, we have to get inverted and press the body away from the ground. The complete Handstand Push-Up is a perfect example of this pattern. Working your way up to a Handstand Push-Up may take some time, and performing regressed versions like the Floor Pike Push-Up and the 90 Degree Pike Push-Up are invaluable tools to help you get there.

(As a side note, technically in Gymnastics a Handstand Push-Up is where the head passes below hand level, like when on parallel bars or blocks, while a Headstand Push-Up is where the head comes down to the same surface that the hands are on. At this point we will refer to both as Handstand Push-Ups.)

90-degree Pike Push-Up Variations

When performing the 90 degree Pike Push-Up, there are two hand positions that you can choose from:

Global Bodyweight Training - Mike Fitch
One Pike Push-Up variation is with the elbows out

1. Elbows-Out Position:

The “elbows-out” position is similar to a military press. It requires a little bit of a wider hand position, and as you lower down into the decent, the elbows will flare completely out to the sides. This is a great variation and holds its very own challenges and benefits.

Global Bodyweight Training - Mike Fitch
Practicing this Pike Push-Up in the elbows-in position is better practice for working up to the full Handstand Push-Up

2. Elbows-In Position:

The “elbows-in” position may be much harder for some. Here the hands are closer together and slightly in front of the head. As you lower yourself in this position, the elbows will bend more towards your feet, rather than out to the sides. This can be a very difficult variation due to so much of the force being directed through the relatively small front or anterior deltoid of the shoulder. This is the variation that I believe should be practiced the most, since it has such a high carryover to the actual handstand push up as well as other more advanced hand balancing movements.

Check out the video below to see how to perform this exercise with perfect form, and to get you on your way to performing the full Handstand Push-Up!

For some additional videos and instructions on exercises helping you progress up to the full Unsupported Handstand Push-Up, make sure to check out these other posts (the videos are below):

Join the Conversation


  1. Hi I really like the website and what you are doing i have moved to bodyweight and suspension training in the last year and am enjoying training far more than the many years I spent weight training in gyms I have also started following the primal blueprint and was wondering what your thoughts were on supplements do you use any if so what?

    1. You did great with the handstand negatives Dave! Your static handstands are in sight my friend.

  2. Thanks for that. I had been doing the inverted press from a while now and had been wondering what the next step was. However placing my feet at waist height was a too big a progression for me. (I’m 57). Just placing my feet on the first step of the stair case upped the ante to be a challenge. However I now know the way to go and when that becomes easy I’ll just climb another step until I reach waist height. One day I’ll join you doing handstand push ups, but it will not be tomorrow. Thank you for the training tips. I really appreciate them and am benefiting from incorporating them into my training. Best wishes from the UK.

  3. Global Bodyweight Training is exactly what I am looking for. I’ve moved away from traditional weight training and this website offers many challenges and goals which seem possible when the skills are clearly broken down in the videos. Great work guys, you’ll be making me much fitter in such a cooler way!

    1. That’s great to hear Simon. It’s changed my life in a big way. I’m happy to share with others!

Leave a comment