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How to Do Hands-Only Push-Ups

Michael is an online fitness writer who's an expert in strength training exercises.

Tucked push ups with feet in the air.

Tucked push ups with feet in the air.

Push-Ups With Feet in the Air

Push-ups can become too easy and too boring. You need to challenge yourself if you want to build muscle, lose fat, improve your confidence, and feel a sense of accomplishment when you exercise. Doing push-ups with your feet in the air can provide you with more muscle and a more interesting workout. It also looks very impressive. Lots of people do push-ups, but not very many people do them with their feet in the air.

I wanted to do planche push-ups and handstand push-ups to prove to myself that I could do them and to see how strong I could get doing difficult push-ups. Doing push-ups with my legs in the air was impossible until I practiced doing easier exercises and progressed from one exercise to another. The impossible became possible.

Small Steps

Most people can't go straight from regular push ups to push ups with their feet in the air. They need to take small steps. Start with exercises you can do and progress from one exercise to another. I could do 100 regular push ups in one day but I could not do one push up with my feet off the ground. Before putting your feet in the air strengthen your body with planks, side planks and difficult push up variations.

You can also progress to doing push ups with your feet against a wall or door. One of the steps you can take is to slowly lower yourself down without pushing yourself back up. You can quickly increase your strength with negative training. After lowering yourself down stop and get back up into the starting position. You are still pushing up while you are lowering yourself to the floor. Negative reps are a good option when you want to exercise with more weight than you can lift up. Partial reps are a good option when you can't lift yourself up all the way.

Wall plank.

Wall plank.

Static Holds and Push-Ups

Exercising usually involves doing repetitive movements. You pull something towards you or push something away from you. Either you move or it does. A static hold also known as an isometric exercise is an exercise where you try not to move. Instead of using your muscles to move weight you use them to stay in place. To do a plank you get into the raised push up position and try to hold it for 60 seconds or more.

Maintaining a static hold for an extended period of time can be extremely difficult but maintaining it for a little while is a lot easier than lowering yourself down and lifting yourself back up again. Practicing static holds can improve your ability to do difficult push up variations. If doing the push up variation is too difficult then start with a static hold. Work at increasing the amount of time you can hold the position. When you can hold it for 60 seconds or more then you are ready to do push ups. Doing push ups with your feet in the air can be extremely difficult. Practice the static hold first for better results.

Doing a frog stand.

Doing a frog stand.

Frog Stand

Squat down and place the palms of you hands on the floor near your feet facing diagonally outward. Your elbows should be between your knees and bent slightly. Rest your knees on them. Lean forward lowering your head and raising your feet off the floor. You will probably want to practice on an exercise mat. Bending your elbows and placing your knee against them makes this exercise easier than the tuck planche.

Practice holding the pose for 60 seconds before moving on to more difficult ones.

Tuck Planche

Squat down and place your hands by your toes while keeping your elbow straight. Slowly lean forward to lift your legs up and shift the weight onto your hands. Raise your hips as high as your shoulders. Your knees should be between your elbows close to your chest and your feet should be slightly higher than your elbows. Do not brace your legs against your arms. After you can hold a tuck planche for 60 seconds you can move on to the advanced tuck planche. While in the tuck planche stance slowly straighten your back moving your knees farther away from your arms.

Practice holding the advanced tuck planche for 60 seconds before moving on.

Wall and Tucked Push-Ups

The easiest push ups to do with your feet high in the air are wall push ups. You walk your feet up the wall to do a wall assisted handstand. Then you alternate between lowering yourself down and lifting yourself back up. Even though you are just leaning against the wall or door with your toes it is much easier than doing push ups with your feet not touching anything.

Tucked push ups are simple and they don't require a lot of balance. Kneel down placing your knees, feet and hands on the floor to get into position. Then look at the floor and push yourself up so only your hands are on the floor. It is simple but difficult because you are lifting most of your bodyweight. Focus on lifting yourself up. Leaning so your feet are high and your head is low works the shoulders more.

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Partial handstands.

Partial handstands.

Partial Handstands

Before practicing handstands practice headstands. From the frog stand or tuck planche stance lower your head to the floor while raising your legs up. Your back and legs should be straight. Keeping your legs apart makes it easier to balance. Move them closer together as your balance improves. When you can safely hold a headstand and an advanced tuck planche for 60 seconds you are ready to try partial handstands.

Bending your arms makes it much easier. So does bending your legs. Practice holding a partial handstand to improve your strength and your balance. You will need to be at an angle to keep your head off the floor when your arms are bent. While doing a partial handstand you can lower your head to the ground and then try to push yourself up.

Pseudo planche push ups.

Pseudo planche push ups.

Pseudo Planche Push-Ups

Pseudo planche push ups are very similar to regular push ups but they are a lot more difficult. To get into position you get into a regular push up stance. Then taking very small steps you slowly walk forward. It is important to take small steps and slowly walk forward so you don't hurt yourself.

Another option is to lay down and move your arms back towards your hips. Then push up to get into the raised push ups position. Your feet stay on the ground for this push up variation. Try to get your hands close to your hips. Alternate between lowering your torso close to the floor and pushing yourself back up again.

Freestanding Handstand

Kneel down to get into the frog stand, tuck planche or tucked push up starting position. Slowly lean forward moving your head down and your legs up into the air. Starting with your elbows bent makes it easier to to balance but then you need to push yourself up from a headstand to a handstand. Moving slowly gives you more control. If you move fast your momentum could cause you to fall on your back. Your arms should be almost fully extended like they would be if you were doing regular push ups.


Starting in the advanced tuck planche stance straighten your legs moving them behind you. As you move your legs back separate them and lean forward more to maintain your balance. That is how you do a straddle planche. Spreading your legs makes the exercise easier. Keeping them closer together makes it more difficult. While doing straddle planches you can work at increasing the duration or work at keeping your legs closer together. To do a full planche keep your legs beside each other.

Handstand and Planche Push-Ups

While doing a tuck planche, advanced tuck planche, straddle planche, full planche, partial handstand or a full handstand you can start doing a set of push ups. Pushing yourself up is lot harder than holding yourself up. Practice holding the stance, practice slowly lowering yourself down then practice lifting yourself part way off the floor before you try doing full push ups. Planche and handstand push ups are difficult. You have a better chance of success if you build up to doing them.

I am still training. More pictures will be added soon.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Michael H


bob the builder on July 14, 2017:

Thank you for this o am working on it but it's difficult because I am only 10

muhammad abdullah javed on November 20, 2014:

Thanks Michael for an interesting share. Doing push ups with feet in the air is quite difficult, your beautiful narration made it easy. Waiting for more pictures.

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