My Thoughts on the Handstand Pushup

I was having a conversation the other day (although it was not the first time I’ve had this conversation) about doing one’s first Handstand Push up… I know of an article that talks about very similar things, but since I can’t find it I figured I would just write one myself… Here it goes…

So I have to first talk about something “CrossFitters” are absolutely terrible at… PATIENCE! MY GOD HAVE SOME PATIENCE. I am about to give you the magic pill, the be all and end all, the “do THIS and you WILL be able to handstand push up” if you REALLY want to do this, you just have to be patient… I am going to give you progressions “A” “B” “C” “D” “E” “F” “G” “H” “I” “J” “K” “L”… If you look at these and think “well I can do a,c,f and g” so I will do those… NO! You MUST master every progression in chronological order… And not just “Oh I did step A once, good to go lets see step B… Be confident that you can do each progression very consistently FIRST, then move on… PLEASE! You might spend a month learning “B” or a couple days to master “F”, WHO CARES! YOU WANT A HANDSTAND PUSHUP DON’T YOU??? So please just trust me… do this program WITHOUT TRYING A HANDSTAND PUSHUP FOR ANY REASON UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE! You won’t do a HSPU until step “H”… MASTER A through G first before even thinking of thinking about trying to HSPU… Ok enough ranting… Here we go…

PS: if it helps, come show me each progression as you master it and ill “sign off” on it and let you move on, and I will be there for your first HSPU!!! I love that Sshit!

A: 20 Strict Push Ups. This means “hollow body” top position all the way down to chest
and thighs resting on the ground, and back up. ANY break in form (struggling with a hyper-extended back ect) is a zero. To master this of course doing push ups is key but also adding some Bench-press into your training program will benefit you greatly!

B: 60second Handstand hold While Breathing. If you have trouble getting into the
handstand position or you feel you lack shoulder endurance, it’s ok, that’s why we are here, handstand walk-ups (not to be confused with wall-walks) are a great progression to build that shoulder strength. Start in standing pike position. Walk hands one hand length at a time with straight arms until your body is extended with hands forward of your head. Repeat the process in reverse until back in the pike starting position. 10 walk-ups is a good starting point. Remember that the progression to master before moving is 60second hold, not 10 walk-ups.

C: 15 reps x 3sets Knees on a Box: using a box or chair you can create the right angle of
the HSPU, you will want your hands to be a bit wider than where you would do your regular handstand. The closer your hands are to the box the more upright your torso will be and the closer this will feel to an actual handstand push up. It is important to note that this is not an elevated push up; the aim is to have your torso as vertical as possible while performing the modified handstand push up.

D: 15 reps x 3 sets of Pike Pushups: with straight legs bend at the waist and set up the
arms as step “C”. Do a pushup until your head touches the ground. The same goes for this progression as in step “C”; this is not an elevated pushup.

E: 15 reps of Partial Range HSPU: get into the handstand position and practice
lowering until just before you lose control or feel like you’re about to fall then and press out of that…

F: 10 reps x 3 sets of 4second HSPU Controlled Decent: Get into the handstand
position against a wall and, with a partner, lower yourself down to the bottom and have you partner pull you by the thigh/knee up as you press it out. The goal is to build up to 10 reps of 4 second descents x 3 sets. This progression will take a little while. I do NOT suggest trying to hit 3 sets of 10 on the first try at this progression, build it up. Maybe do 5resps with 2 second decents then 3seconds etc. Respect the decent, have your partner hold you accountable for 4seconds down.

G: 5 reps of Self Spotted HSPU: Start in a headstand and have the top of your legs bent
backwards resting on a box. Use your legs to help assist the HSPU. The lower the box the harder this will be. Use your hamstrings to pull yourself up. This movement feels a lot like a glute ham calf raise if heavy assistance from the legs is required.

H: 1 Handstand Push Up: If you are one of 1% of people and made it this far
WITHOUT trying even one HSPU, you are probably ready to do one. Come find me and do 1 Strict HSPU.

I: Controlled decents with extra range of motion: Add a 4″ lift under your hands, with
weight plates that will allow your head to pass through. Repeat the progressions under step 6 (10 reps of 4 seconds descents x 3 sets)
J: 5 Handstand pushups: you should be well on the way to doing reps by now and once
you can obtain 5 reps we can do repeated efforts of that and your controlled descents to build to doing 10 strict HSPU’s.

K: Kipping HSPU: It is very important to note this is the ABSOLUTE last step. Kipping
HSPU will not get you to strict HSPU but strict will get you to high numbers of kipping HSPU very quickly. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE learn the strict versions of gymnastics movements before the “CrossFit” versions