How to Use Bands to Properly Assist Your Handstand Push-up

I walk around at 6 foot 3 inches and about 240lbs. Let’s just say gymnastics is not exactly a gift for me. However, I have found throughout the years that the better at bodyweight exercises I become, the stronger I am with kettlebell and barbell lifts.

I am also a trainer by trade. I work with seemingly normal people who want to get stronger, lose body fat, gain athleticism, feel young again, and look good naked. StrongFirst is a natural fit for me even though I run a CrossFit facility. I have learned one thing since I certified under Pavel in 2004—he is always right. So, I listen and I get stronger, my students get stronger, and everyone stays safe.

So this story is an example of how Pavel was right, yet again.

Pavel’s Words About the Band and the Handstand Push-up

I attended an SFG Level II Certification in 2009 or thereabout, where Pavel was teaching the tactical pull-up. He taught us not to use the bands for an assist because they don’t help when we do need them and do help when we don’t need them and of course we should be weighting our pull-ups not making them easier. Use a partner assist if you must, he said. He had also mentioned the band could be used for handstand push-ups, if you could figure out a way.

Now being a former Marine, I have done my share of pull-ups, but handstand push-ups are just ridiculous. I might be able to do them if I were a pixie, but a real man, of real size, doesn’t stand a chance, right? So I returned to my little gym in Salt Lake City and decided I would try a handstand push-up. And success! I could do exactly one. So I started doing them more often. I could sometimes get two singles in a whole day before crumbling to the ground. If only I could lessen the load a bit, I thought.

How to Use the Band to Assist Your Handstand Push-up

At some point, I remembered Pavel’s words and I figured out the band trick. One goes on the bar, and another is worn like a bro strap or a backpack, and voila, the right kind of assistance. Help when I need it, and less when I don’t need as much. The big guy was able to practice handstand push-ups, I got stronger, many of my students got stronger—and the world was a better place.

How to use bands to assist handstand push-upsHow to use bands to assist handstand push-upsHow to use bands to assist the handstand push-up

James Sjostrom
James Sjostrom first certified under Pavel in 2004 and currently holds an SFG Level II. James owns and operates CrossFitNRG in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is still getting stronger!

6 thoughts on “How to Use Bands to Properly Assist Your Handstand Push-up

  • Awesome idea! I use a similar one for my one-arm push ups. Even though I am a few miles way to be able to do hand- stands presses without any assistance I will give this a shot tomorrow. I do have a question; can I apply the shock method while using the bands while doing hand- stand presses? I tried to do it last week from a wall with zero success because I still lack stability.

    Thanks in advance for your response.

  • Dave Whitley showed me how to use a band to help with one-arm pushups: half-hitch around the pullup bar, dive through it, and down you go. My brilliant addition to the system was to move the band to a lower pullup bar. When that became too much assist, I hitched it to a gymnastic ring that’s on an adjustable tie-down style strap. Now, as my one armers get stronger, I lengthen the ring’s strap to reduce assistance. Same, but different.

  • This is great, James! As I am 6’5″, and 295#. I have been working on my handstands (not the HSPU as much), but this gives me a good avenue to work on that as well. Thank you for sharing.

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