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 â€œVertical Pressingâ€ 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.
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:
1. Elbows-Out Position:
The â€œelbows-outâ€ 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.
2. Elbows-In Position:
The â€œelbows-inâ€ 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):