Improving Handstand Push-Ups
Apart from Friday being the first day of the California Regional where our very own Briana Gaipa will be competing (which you can watch the live stream of here), we have a workout with one of my favorite alternating EMOM formats. We have the deadlift paired with a gymnastic skill, and in this case it happens to be the handstand. This is one of my favorite formats because it involves a barbell movement that will get your heart rate up just enough to make the gymnastics challenging but not too hard.
The first thing I want to talk about in terms of handstands is just doing a handstand hold against the wall. This is a good exercise for building comfortability in the handstand as well as isometric strength in the shoulders. For those who are not quite comfortable kicking up to the wall, you can use the wall walk to build of confidence and strength to be able to do so. If you have the wall walks down and feel like you are ready to kick up against the wall, but still aren’t quite comfortable yet, ask a coach to assist you in getting up against the wall in a handstand. Most people can support themselves in a handstand against a well, but do not kick hard enough to get all the way up due to technique or mental blocks. Myself and Erika recently were able to help Meghan Ghallagher kick up against the wall into a handstand hold even though she had never had the confidence to do so before. It took just a tiny amount assistance for her to get all the way against the wall. After that she was able to do it on her own no problem. Even just doing this a couple times can make a huge difference in someones confidence in the handstand hold. If you have a fear of being inverted on the wall do not worry, this is not an uncommon fear for people to have! I remember for a long time I would avoid handstand push ups because I was not comfortable trying to kick up on the wall on my own. With the help of a coach I was able to get up against the wall, learn handstand pushups, and I can now even do handstand walks! Sometimes we just need a watchful eye and a little bit of support to help us get past the mental and physical mental barriers.
The next tip I want to give is for improving the strict handstand push up. If you’re like me, strict handstand push ups are your bane. You’d rather spend 30 minutes driving loops in the sprouts parking lot looking for a parking spot, than see these come up in a workout. For me I can hit 4-5 strict handstands when I am fresh and 1-2 when I am tired, which isn’t very conducive for building volume in the strict handstand. Luckily there is a way for you to work on the strict hand stand push up even after you have hit muscle failure for the movement. You can perform handstand negatives to build up strength in the upper body to get better at strict hand stand push ups. The handstand negative is performed by kicking up against the wall and lowering yourself in a very slow and controlled manor. After you have lowered yourself all the way down you can kip back up to the top position or kick down off the wall and then back on the wall in the top position. Since you are only performing the eccentric portion of the handstand you will be able to do more reps than the regular handstand push up. Check out this video from CrossFit Invictus that explains the handstand negative, but don’t worry about the deficit set up he has, just get proficient with the normal range of motion before moving to the deficit. This is a great way to build up strength in the upper body for handstand push ups through full range of motion without dealing with the very frustrating muscle failure. Refer to the bottom two videos for examples of the handstand push up negatives, sorry their so big I couldn’t reformat them! If you need help from a coach to get up on the wall or to do the negatives please do not hesitate to ask!
This first video is an example of doing a controlled negative and kicking back up to the wall each time.
This second video is an example of using the kip to get back to the top of the handstand after the controlled negative