Categorized as: TECHNIQUE

The Handstand Push Up

Most of our readers would probably have thought, if asked about a year before they began CrossFit, that they would never do a handstand push-up, let alone even think about doing more than one! You’ve probably seen some athletes in the gym knocking out a few handstand push-ups, have seen athletes every year completing these at the CrossFit Games and saw Ryan Gosling (or at least his double) crank out effortless handstand push-ups in Crazy, Stupid Love. So, you might be asking, how can I attain a handstand push-up? Or, if you already have one, how can I improve my technique?

To start, let’s establish a few things you should have before you look to build your Handstand Push-Up (HSPU) prowess. First, you should be comfortable kicking into a handstand against the wall. Become comfortable with being upside down and maintaining a stable position. This stable position should look like the photo above…a straight, rigid line from wrists to ankles.

To obtain a good stable handstand push-up position, think about squeezing your butt and gut tight to maintain a firm midline. Once you have established this position, then you can move forward to the first training phase.

We are going to first work on developing a strict handstand push-up. There are many benefits to obtaining a strict handstand push-up. Not only are you making your shoulders stronger and more stable, but you are also forced to maintain a tight, braced midline/core throughout the movement. This piece transfers over to many other CrossFit movements where a strong midline is required to perform the movement efficiently.

Just like you wouldn’t want someone performing a ton of kipping pull-ups when they don’t have the strength to do one strict pull-up, we don’t want someone doing a ton of kipping handstand push-ups if they don’t have the strength to do a strict handstand push-up. The shoulder strength required to complete a handstand push-up is great, and some may not have that strength just yet. Have no fear, we have created a simple training program to help you build your upper body strength to reach the goal of obtaining a strict handstand push-up. With dedication, patience and hard work, you too can successfully attain a strict handstand push-up! Read More…


Thursday, June 4th, 2015:

Teams of 3 – Max Distance Prowler Push for 10 Minutes

Teams of 3 – Max Distance Row for 10 Minutes

Teams of 3 – 20 Sec Air Dyne Sprints for 10 Minutes

Rest 3 Minutes Between Rounds


coming Friday…

A) Deadlift 3×5 (TnG)
  • 20 KB Swings
  • 10 KB Box Step Ups
  • 20 Push Ups

Get a Grip!

Lately I’ve been noticing our members complain of their hands hurting during pull ups. When they tell me this, I look at their hands. In fact, I read their palms! What their hands say tells me a lot about how they are gripping pull up bars, barbells, dumbells, etc.

Grabbing the bar properly won’t necessarily prevent ripping of the hands. I can’t guarantee that. What I can guarantee is, with a proper grip, you can do many many more reps without pain. Not only will the pain be gone almost entirely, your grip strength will improve drastically.

So why do your hands hurt? Well to put it simply, your skin is being stretched, and that never feels great. Certain movements create a lot of rotation in the hand/grip that puts a ton of stress on the skin. As your calluses build up, more leverage will be put on the callus thus stretching the skin more. When I look at someone’s hand, and if there is a lot of white skin built up on the callus, I know for certain that it hurts. We need to never let our calluses get to the “white” phase. How this is done is a two fold remedy:

1. Proper Grip! Gripping the bar with the fingers first is a good place to start. When setting your grip your knuckles should be pointing straight. If you’re doing pullups, your knuckles (or if you had Wolverine claws) should be facing the sky straight up! On deadlifts, it’s the same thing but just facing straight into the ground. This method builds up the strength in your fingers, thus improving your grip strength. This also builds calluses on the first digit of your fingers as well as on the pad of your palm (the skin right under the finger). Too often our athletes “overgrip” by placing the bar below the pad of the palm. Overgripping is a result usually of the athlete having poor grip strength, and to get around this issue, they rely on the friction of their skin to keep them on the bar. This p uts a lot of pressure into the area of the pad. These overbuilt calluses (white phase) will eventually bring on pain and the chance for ripping your skin skyrockets. Fingers first on the bar, always.

2. Callus Maintenance is almost as important as proper gripping. You must take the time to “sand” your calluses and tend to them. If not, the white phase is just around the corner. I maintain mine by picking at them with my fingernails in the shower. The water softens the skin enough for your hard nails to pick away at the dead skin. Some people use pumice stones as well in the shower. I don’t have enough experience with them to recommend this method, but I’ve tried it and for me it’s not nearly as effective as my own nails. Some people swear by it. Quality of the stone does have something to do with it as well. If you’re looking for a nice smooth finish, get a nail file or something similar to “sand” away the rough edges. Callus maintenance is the Crossfitter’s DIY manicure.

That’s it! You may be thinking it’s too good to be true, but if you follow steps 1 and 2 you’ll be in a good place with your hands. I did about 300 pullups on Saturday and Sunday last week combined. No rips, some minor pain. The majority of those pullups were done without a hint of chalk to boot!

If you’re still confused about how to properly grip a bar, please ask a coach to get you set on the right path. Have a great week, and grip right for healthy happy hands.

Thursday April 30th, 2015:

  • Snatch – 1 Rep Max

12 Minute AMRAP:

  • 100m Run
  • 10 Knees to Elbow
  • 10 Push Press (115/85)

coming Friday…

8 Minute EMOM:

  • 10 TTB/High Knees/Dead hang hold

Teams of 2- 15 Minute AMRAP:

  • Partner 1 – Max Plank Hold
  • Partner 2 – 5 Man-Makers (35/25) video link

(Switch once Partner has performed 5 Man Makers)


Hand Stand Push Ups Progression

While good technique is important, you simply need a certain amount of strength to perform a strict handstand push-up. Luckily, there are all kinds of ways to build that strength.

Wall Climb
The wall climb is a great start as it safely places the athlete upside down while removing the fear of falling onto their head. It gives enough load to the shoulder to build strength but not enough where it makes it impossible.
Static Holds
Once the wall climb is mastered this would be the next step in the HSPU progression. Here the athlete can build comfort going into inversions. Inversions have been scientifically proven to help with balance in coordination. The athlete can still develop strength here as it is considered a static contraction of the shoulder musculature. 
HSPU (2 Abmat)
Once the athlete can hold the static handstand for 1 minute the athlete needs to start moving through some depth. Working this drill with sets of 3-5 reps is a great way to develop the strength needed to go into the full range HSPU.
HSPU (1 Abmat)
Here the athlete will be required to move even lower into the hand stand. If the athlete can perform 10 reps of hspu with 2 Abmats this would be the next logical progression. Breaking these hand stands  the same way into sets of 3-5 reps at a time will get them strong real quick. 

handstand variations

Saturday March 14th, 2015

14min AMRAP:
  • 7 Chest To Bar
  • 50 Wallballs (10ft/9ft)
  • 200 Singles

coming Monday…

4 sets of 60 secs Max Effort:

  • Handstand Push Ups
  • Medball Clean
  • Row
  • (rest 30 secs)

SCORE- Total Distance On Row