Cross Training Exercise: Handstand Push-Ups and Muscle Groups Involved

If you are a beginner in handstand push-ups, one of the things you will have to overcome is the fear of turning upside down. Afterwards, you will have to develop incredible control and strength on your upper body to successfully press up and down. It is crucial for you to know the muscles involved during a handstand push-up as this will help you in the course of the CrossFit exercise.

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The Shoulders

During a handstand push-up CrossFit exercise, you are literally standing on your hands with your legs straight up in the air. This means your shoulders will be bearing the brunt of your weight. This is more noticeable as you bend your elbows and press back up. The front of the shoulder cap and other parts of the anterior deltoids are the most used in this position. These are the muscles that connect your chest to your arms and are extremely useful with swinging, pushing, and lifting actions.

To work these muscles out so that they can strengthen and bear your body weight, go for overhead presses such as barbell press or dumbbell shoulder press. For effectiveness, including the presses in 2 or 3 upper body workouts each week. Continue adding the weights to allow you to maintain good form.

Pectoralis Major

This is the biggest chest muscle. It is shaped much like a fan and spans the entire chest wall. The handstand push-up works the clavicular or the upper region of the pectoralis major muscle.

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Triceps Brachii

This is a 3-headed muscle found on the back portion of your upper arm. It is responsible for elbow extension. The triceps brachii engages when you press back up all the way to straight arms down from a push-up.

Lateral Deltoid

The anterior deltoids are made up of two components: the posterior and the lateral deltoid. When you are doing a handstand push-up, the top portion or lateral deltoid engages to balance out your bodyweight as well as facilitate the press.


This is one of the main back muscles. It is responsible for stabilizing the scapula which is also known as the shoulder blades as well as keeping your neck in extension. Including the handstand push-up in your CrossFit training schedule ensures that you utilize the upper and middle section of the trapezius.

Serratus Anterior

This may also be known as the boxer’s muscle. It covers the uppermost ribs, wrapping around from your chest to your back. The main role of the serratus anterior is to stabilize the shoulder blades when doing the handstand push-up.

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The Importance of Stability in Handstand Push-Up

Contrary to what some people may think or imagine, a handstand push-up is more than just muscle contraction. During the move, several muscles come together to stabilize your body. Some of these muscles include the core and all those muscles of the erector spinae and abdomen that run alongside your spine.

The engagement of these muscles prevents your body from collapsing at the torso or hips. Your biceps especially the shortest head and the long head of your triceps keep your elbow straight while you are at the top of your handstand. Always remember to start modestly and your CrossFit exercise should be supported by the appropriate CrossFit diet.


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