Personally, I have always had mixed feelings about the Puppy Press.
The athlete inside me says don’t waste your time training something that won’t transfer much to other moves or can turn into something much bigger.
The artist inside of me dreams of the beauty of movements and the possibilities of incorporating puppy presses in handstand choreographies at all levels.
If you want to learn more about the puppy press, how to train for it and what the most useful progressions are then read on!
In the Puppy Press the athlete aims to press up into the handstand over the side from 1 leg instead of from 2 legs like in a regular press to handstand.
Being able to hold a handstand is a prerequisite to even start serious training for the puppy press as you will have to start to balance as soon as your foot leaves the floor. In comparison it is encouraged to start to train for the straddle press to handstand a long time before you are even able to hold a handstand as you need to work on specific strength, coordination and flexibility as early as possible.
Another prerequisite is flexibility. You need pretty mobile hamstrings, hips and lats to get the leg across and over. If your leg is not all the way on top and with that the weight in the fingertips of both hands it won’t be possible to lift the leg off the floor.
In order to do a clean and successful puppy press star by standing next to your hands. If you are standing on the right side of your hands the right foot should be close to and point towards the right hand. Now slowly lift the leg on top and over almost like you wanted to cartwheel. Push your right hand into the floor and raise on your tiptoes. Pull the left foot down to move the weight from the right foot into the left hand. Key here is to pull the left leg not down in front of your body/the side of your chest but over towards the left side or even the back slightly.
As a progression use one or multiple yoga blocks under your foot. You can build up a small tower to elevate your hips and with that make the entrance easier. The higher your standing foot is the less you have to side bend to get the weight on top of the second hand.
There are a couple things to work on in order to perfect the puppy press.
Number 1 of course you need to work on your general handstand balance. Not so much in the legs together straight up position but your middle split handstand and even your tuck should be pretty stable.
Building stronger shoulders and a resisting core will also come in handy so you do not collapse underneath the pressure of your legs being lifted off the floor.
Work on your active hamstring and middle split flexibility. In other words: get good at lifting your leg up high and balancing the leg up there. 1 legged downward dogs where you walk your hands very close to the leg or really any kind of ballet inspired drills will help the most here.
Last but not least work on your side bending flexibility. The more that you can side bend the closer you can get the standing foot towards the hand and the further over your hips will be to begin. This will give you a huge advantage and make your puppy presses easy like a Sunday morning.
As stated above Puppy Presses really aren’t for everyone. Yet, if they are for you chances are high that you will really love them!
Mastering the puppy press will give you a stable and relatively easy entrance into the handstand if you are very flexible. Being mobile often comes with the disadvantage that the entire body is not as resisting and straight handstands become more difficult to master. The puppy press is a direct entrance into the straddle handstand without any jumping allowing you to stay in control the entire time.
Puppy presses can also be great for rather advanced hand balancers creating a first progression of the one arm press to handstand.
Puppy Presses however will not really help you improve your 2 arm press to handstand or your overall handstand control.
If you are flexible and looking for an easy and stable way to get into the handstand or you want to play around with movement patterns and choreographies then Puppy Presses are absolutely for you. If on the other hand you are struggling with mobility or you are more interested in the strictly technical side of hand balancing then I would recommend not to invest too much time here.