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Shoulders like the proverbial boulders!

Updated on July 26, 2013

Handstand pushups

Build powerful shoulders, a barrel chest and strong back muscles with this ONE exercise!
Build powerful shoulders, a barrel chest and strong back muscles with this ONE exercise! | Source

Powerful shoulders and a barrel chest

Ever wondered how to build broad, powerful shoulders that smack of RAW STRENGTH and POWER?

Ever wanted shoulders “like boulders” that would make shopping for shirts a real adventure?

The first thing most folks hear about upper body strength is either “he has a huge chest”, or “he has strong, powerful shoulders” – completely neglecting the most vital part of the upper body of course, that being the back. But I’ll cover that in a different hub post soon. . .

Back to shoulders though – I bet anyone whose looking to get stronger has wanted broader and more powerful shoulders at some point or the other. The truth is though, that a lot of people simply don’t know how to build powerful shoulders the right way. They either wreck their shoulders by trying all sorts of lateral raises with heavy weights – a completely unnatural movement by the way that WRECKS your shoulders – or they’ll try to “sculpt” the shoulders via bodybuilding – another huge no-no.

But what if you could build solid, granite like shoulders that look like they belong on a silverback gorilla – WITHOUT LIFTING A SINGLE WEIGHT?

Now, for those that don’t know, I’m pretty “small boned” to start with – but I have trouble shopping for shirts regardless due to my current shoulder specialization program. I was never the guy with bull-like natural strength – but people that shake my hand now claim I visit the gym regularly due to my bone crushing grip.

Back when I was a kid, I desperately wanted to pack some muscle on to my frame. I used to be a REAL skinny kid, getting picked upon by the school bullies regularly. Of course, the bullying didn’t really work – they backed off REAL quickly once I fought back, but my size was a prime reason I used to get picked on regularly.

Fast forward a few years, and I got into exercise into a big way – I was banging out hundreds of pushups daily, was running stairs, climbing hills (more on that in another post!) and doing pull-ups on a daily basis as well. And all this built me up pretty well. I had a strong, muscular chest, my waistline was trim due to my daily hill climbs, and I felt great. In short, all was GREAT.

But there was ONE thing missing in my routine – something that literally caused my shoulder size, strength and power to EXPLODE through the roof once I incorporated it into my routine, and that one thing was – doing HANDSTAND PUSHUPS on a regular basis.

Ever since I started doing these, my shoulders have gotten broader – and keep getting broader at the “ripe old age” of 32. My chest has gotten stronger without doing a single movement to target it, I’ve built more muscle around my lats – and my forearms get a terrific workout every time I do these. Folks constantly ask me if I go to the gym, and my answer is always NO – which is greeted by looks of pure disbelief.

Handstand pushups (pushups done from a handstand position) are literally one of the best exercises for upper body strength, bar none. You need nothing to do them except a wall – and in some cases you don’t even need that! No more worrying about the bench press, the weights in the gym, or even those irritating “man boobs” – this one exercise will take care of it ALL!

Here are just some of the benefits YOU can get from following a solid handstand pushup program: -

- Shoulder power that you never knew you could possess and strong, meaty traps that pulse with life, vigor and POWER!

- New slabs of FUNCTIONAL muscle all over your back, giving you natural strength, energy and vitality that won’t let you QUIT!

- A barrel chest – without even targeting your chest muscles directly!

- You’ll exude confidence everywhere you go due to your newfound strength and look – the kind of confidence that you just can’t get by pumping iron for hours in the gym!

- Strong, wiry forearms that are every bit as strong as they look!

- Reduced fat and increased definition and muscular SIZE all over your upper body!

Now, bear in mind that just like with any other exercise, handstand pushups need to be done in correct form, else you risk losing all the benefits of this wonderful exercise. Also, you need to make sure you work into them slowly – and build over time – handstand pushups are an advanced movement, and are NOT for everyone. I myself developed a nasty bone spur on my left wrist a few years ago when I jumped into these a bit too enthusiastically, and soon backed off. YOW!

That being said, here’s a short and sweet handstand pushup workout you can do that should get you to scream Uncle pretty fast: -

- Warm up (not part of the 10 minutes)

- Jump rope for 100 reps – however many sets it takes you to get there

- Jumping jacks – 100 reps – however many sets it takes you to get there

- Handstand pushups (as many as you can do in one set; 5 is a good number to shoot for)

- Repeat 5 times, and finish off with timed handstand holds

If you’re just starting out, this little and seemingly simple routine will smoke your entire upper body (arms, shoulders and upper back) in NO time at all - try it out, and let me know!

Anyway, those’s about it for this piece – but always remember, while handstand pushups are one of the best moves you can incorporate into your daily routine, a BALANCED workout routine is what works best for the entire body. That means you pay equal attention to your lower body and core as well – as well as balance out the upper body pushing movements with some pulling movements as well. Never make the mistake of “specializing” in one body part alone – rather, work to develop the entire body as a unit.

Best of luck!



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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Ah, always good to have conflicting points of view . . . ;)

      Benny, spot on -- Google's always there (for those that choose to look rather than complain, of course). . .good luck getting to the "full ROM" position! Shoot me an email when you can knock off five or more "freestanding" HSPU - - that's a skill I somehow haven't been able to master as yet. . .

      With regard to the other post, there isn't much but negativity in there - - that, and I scent the slightest hint of jealousy as well . . . anyway, just to clarify things - - high reps or low reps have nothing in particular to do with the "strength training efficacy - - or not" of any particular movement. I've written tons on this topic, so I'll let it go here... as for the other two comments (warm-ups and progressions) - - all I have to say to a) is TRY them first before commenting and b) if you are really interested in learning the progression, well, there is a manual I've done up just for that purpose!

      Push on!

      Rahul Mookerjee

    • profile image

      Benny T 

      5 years ago

      Ah, shoot,

      I thought this was great. No, there's no progression route, but Google hand stand push up progression there are plenty to choose from.

      What I thougt this post did well, was to big up great exercise, if it turns just one person on to kicking up against a wall and working up to no the ground hspu's for reps then that's a great thing.

      Fantastic exercise. I love them. Am currently working on elevating my hands with the eventual aim of performing them full rom, hands to shoulder.

      Sweet stuff!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is one of the most moronic progressions that I've read. Jumping rope, jumping jacks? And then just "do" as many handstand push ups as you can? Has the author considered that maybe the target audience is a group of people that can't do a single one (or even a stable handstand) and that they need a proper progression to train the movement. Seeing as this is a strength oriented movement training this in a circuit like fashion is even more detriment to the goal of using handstand push ups to develop maximal strength.

      I hope prospective readers search elsewhere and find a more informative article that tailored towards mastering this movement.

    • fastandfurious profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New Delhi

      "I have always had broad shoulders for a woman (and glad to have them, because I always wanted to be strong) " - That's the spirit!! Nothing at all wrong with broad shoulders on a lady - strength and health is what it's all about!

      Handstand pushups CAN be done at any age, but yes, best to "work into" them, especially if you haven't done them for a while. . .

    • DreamerMeg profile image


      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Don't think I will be trying these - bit old for that now - but I used to love doing handstands when I was young and possibly could have done handstand pushups then. I have always had broad shoulders for a woman (and glad to have them, because I always wanted to be strong) and maybe it was the effect of doing handstands that helped my shoulders be strong.


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