Bodyweight exercises are a special breed. They’re just so effective for building functional strength and and muscle mass. This exercise is no exception.
If you’re familiar with the handstand push-up, you know how stupid hard it is to do properly and with full range reps. THAT is what makes it such a great exercise. In my experience, NOTHING will build your shoulders faster than handstand push-ups.
But as I mentioned, they’re TOUGH to do. An alternative is called the Pike Handstand Push-Up, where you have your feet resting on a bench with your body in a pike position. You can get the full rundown on that exercise by clicking here (I wrote an article on that and another bodyweight shoulder exercise in my newsletter).
This is a GREAT varation that takes up some of your bodyweight, making the exercise more manageable but still just as effective.
The only hitch…you can only do half-reps because your head will contact the floor before you get a full range of motion.
THIS version of the exercise fixes that problem. It’s the exact same exercise only you’re setting your hands on a barbell (braced and loaded so the bar is off the ground) instead of on the floor.
This gives you full range of motion and is a great “cross-over” exercise to get you from pike push-ups on the floor to full on handstand push-ups.
First, load a barbell with a couple of 45 pound plates. Brace it up against something solid – I’m using the rack uprights here but even just rolling it up against a wall is fine.
Then set your bench a couple of feet back from it.
Set your hands on the bar in your shoulder-press width grip. I usually use my fourth fingers on the smooth rings.
Set your feet upon the bench, straighten your legs and your torso (pike position).
Now lower yourself down until your head hist the floor. Then push back up! I prefer and recommend bringing your body down over the bar to mimic a military press – not behind the neck.
This setup gives you substantially more range of motion on the exercise. It’s a tough one and very effective! GREAT for building shoulders and improving function strength in the shoulder girdle.
Nick Nilsson is known in the fitness industry as the “Mad Scientist of Muscle,” and for good reason! For more than 28 years, Nick has been creating unique, new exercises and training techniques and putting together some of the most innovative muscle-building and fat-loss programs available anywhere.