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Steps To Getting Your Handstand Push Up!

Here is our breakdown of all the steps necessary to progress to a full and complete handstand push up.


Step 1: Get Comfy Upside Down

On a box: this will be the very first step for any beginner. If someone has both a fear of being upside down and little strength to support themselves, they have a lot of work to do! Getting comfy in that inverted position is going to make all the difference. Learn to lock out, with head and chest forwards, and the torso as vertical as possible. Resting the legs on a box will lighten the load but still allow the learning process to start.

On the wall: If you are ready to support more weight upside down, throw some safety cushions under your head and then learn to “cartwheel” up onto the wall. Hold for 8 -12 seconds and then kick down safely. Learning to move into the handstand position.


Step 2: Work Through Light Ranges Of Motion

These are performed with a box, before you might be ready to press against a wall. This step can be worked on simultaneously to step 1. The objective is to gain some shoulder strength and confidence moving through the same range we will need later on.

Perform 3 sets of 10 with your knees on the box. This is the lightest load to move. If you are comfortable working here, move onto the next level of difficulty: lift your knees off the box and perform sets with your toes on the box and knees lifted off. This will add weight and you’ll be working through a good range and building shoulder strength!


Step 3: Learn To Maintain Posture Through A 2” Handstand Push Up

Now you’ll be up against the wall. You’ve been practicing the inverted position and should be comfortable against the wall. Place about 3 cushions under your head for safety and also to cut the range you will be moving to about 2 inches. Perform 2-3 sets of about 5-7 repetitions. Don’t move to step 4 until you are comfortable here! 


Step 4: Learn Negatives

Descend very slowly at about 4 seconds per dip, in total control. Then kick off the wall, and restart in an extended handstand position. Start off with progression of 1’ at a time. Use thin plates to augment the height under your hands or under the head cushions as you go.

Progress to combinations of strict push ups and negatives: let’s say you have a goal of performing 7 reps per set. The height of the cushions should allow you to perform about 4 strict, then perform the last 3 in negative format.


Step 5: Strict Handstands With 1 Cushion

Eventually, you will have worked your way down to a single cushion. You’re almost at RX height, which puts your hands and head flush! You should be able to perform 3 to 4 sets of 3 to 5 strict handstand push ups here before moving to step 6.


Step 6: Learn To Kip With Legs and Bum On The Wall

It is important not to use kipping in handstands until the strength of the shoulder girdle is absolutely ready. There is a big risk of injury to the neck and also of concussion because of the descent directly onto the head. It is not uncommon, and no one is immune to these sorts of injury!

The first kip to learn is with the heels and bum resting on the wall. Slide the heels down while your bum acts as a guide. You can drag heels to your bum if flexible enough, and then kick up, keeping the heels on the wall. It won’t take long to be comfortable performing 2 -3 sets of 4 to 6 repetitions of these. Then move to step 7…


Step 7: Learn To Kip Without Heels

This is the second option for kipping. The movement is quicker and we see a lot of crossfitters who are comfortable with handstand push ups performing this way.

When drawing the feet towards your body, bring knees to your chest. This will take the feet off the wall. You’ll lose your guide for a moment. Remember to kick up and back, into the wall, and not into the ceiling.


Step 8: Strength For Strict At 1 Cushion!

In order to be confident and strong in a WOD which will require rapid handstands for time, practice performing strict handstands at just 1 cushion (about 3inches from flush) for sets of up to 8 repetitions. 


Step 9: Kipping at RX Height (Hands and Head Flush)

If you have mastered steps 1 to 8, you are ready for kipping handstands at RX, which is hands and head flush to each other. Always descend with control. If you are performing sets of 10 without great difficulty, it is time to progress to the ultimate next step.


Step 10: Strict RX and Kipping From Deficit

Work towards strength in a deficit position by performing strict or negative handstand push ups at flush. Work towards kipping HSPUs in a deficit position. Place the hands higher than the head by adding a 1” plate under the hands. The amount of strength gain in the shoulders is incredible!

Remember to always keep your core tight and feet and knees together to honor a great gymnastics movement!

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